The 5th (Mostly) Annual Dionysus Awards

Sunday, July 29, 2018
First Aired: 
Sunday, February 18, 2018

What is it

Josh and Ken talk to philosophers, film critics, and listeners in presenting their fifth (mostly) annual Dionysus Awards for the most philosophically compelling movies of the past year. Categories include:

• Most Searing Depiction of Humankind's Propensity to Dehumanize the Other
• M
ost Philosophically Absurdist and Cinematically Transgressive Film
• Richest Investigation of the Drivers of History

Listening Notes

Josh and Ken first consider Get Out and The Shape of Water as contenders for the “Most Searing Depiction of Humankind’s Propensity to Dehumanize the Other” award. While the hosts agree that The Shape of Water portrays a “gallery of responses to Otherness,” Ken proposes that Get Out is a braver movie. After continuing to debate the merits of each movie, Josh and Ken pick a winner.

In the next segment, Josh and Ken invite Tim Sika, president of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Leslie Francis, a professor of law at the University of Utah, and Jorah Dannenberg, professor of philosophy at Stanford, to the show. With Tim, the hosts discuss the comparative merits between A Ghost Story and Mother! — with Josh and Tim holding polar attitudes toward A Ghost Story. Next, the hosts consider a winner for the “Richest Investigation of the Drivers of History” award with Leslie, deliberating between Dunkirk and The Darkest Hour. Finally, Jorah joins the show to discuss Blade Runner and the philosophical questions it poses, including whether the capacity for language or for morality qualifies one as human.

In the last segment, Josh and Ken hear from a listener, who makes a case for Star Wars: the Last Jedi to win a Dionysus award. The hosts consider the caller’s comparisons of the Light and Dark Side in Star Wars to Taoism and the concept of Yinyang Eastern philosophy. In the end, the hosts decide whether Star Wars: The Last Jedi deserves an award, too.

  • Roving Philosophical Report [Seek to 2:41] - Liza Veale considers female representation in film and how the end of male hegemony in this field, which shapes how we think of the world, still has a long way to go.

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Tim Sika, President, San Francisco Film Critics Circle


Leslie Francis, Professor of Law, University of Utah


Jorah Dannenberg, Professor of Philosophy, Stanford University

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