Munz Awards of 2011: Part I.

December 28, 2011

Last year, I compiled a list of the top five things in movies, books and music, chronicling my favorite things of 2010, and I think it’s time to start handing out some awards, Munz-style. Mmm hmm. I’m currently sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight from Jackson to Phoenix for New Years, so this is a perfect time to reflect on the awesome of 2011 and clear the slate for the upcoming epicness that is 2012. Ba BOOM!

Since this is the first annual Munz Awards, I should probably give you an introduction to my criteria and what actually constitutes as an award. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m notoriously curious, and everything interests me. It’s hard for me to really pinpoint my likes and dislikes because they change sporadically. So, in order to receive a Munz award you have to corral my wandering mind and really make me pay attention to what’s in front of me. And this year I fell in love with quite a few things that made me say “HEY! That’s preddy coool!”

No two Munzys are the same; nominees need not be present to win.

Best “Move to Chicago” Album
Winner:The Head and the Heart”, by The Head and the Heart
Runner Up: “Safari Disco Club”, by Yelle

I wasn’t expecting to be so swept up by The Head and the Heart. When Rachel “wullhay” S. and I were doing our radio show, this was one of those albums that plopped into the new arrivals rack that burrowed its way into our souls. It’s hard not to love this band’s catchy lyrics, their killer harmonies and very attractive faces… The lyrics “Merrin moved all of her shit to Chicago/her mother made sure that she left with her bible/but you won’t find her face on Sunday” on the song “Ghosts” really stuck with me, but the song that makes me tear up EVERY time I hear it (yes, every) is on the song “Rivers and Roads”, when the band builds this lyric: “Been talkin’ ‘bout the way things changed,” then belts: “AND MY FAMILY LIVES IN A DIFFERENT STATE!” Powerful stuff. Then I saw them on June 6th opening for Iron and Wine and since then I’ve fallen in deep, unrequited, devotional love.

Best Jackson Hole Connection in Chicago
Winner: Randomly meeting Chris Z. on the Redline Train
Runner Up: Swing dancing to Head for the Hills bluegrass at Martyr’s

To me Chicago felt, and still feels incredibly far from everything that I know. It’s nice having Emma P. around, but I feel quite disconnected, despite being in the center of everything. So imagine my surprise when I boarded the Red Line CTA back in August and vaguely recognized a guy wearing a Wyoming 22 cap (22 being the county code for Teton County where Jackson resides). Upon saying hello he immediately recognized me from being in my hometown improv group, The Laff Staff. It was the most bizarre colliding of worlds. Since that interaction we’ve run into each other randomly TWICE. Again on the Red Line, and once more at Target just last week. Truly crazy. Here I live in a city of 9.2 million, and somehow the one other guy from Jackson and I keep bumping into one another. On top of that, Nadja R. (from high school) and I have seen each other twice. Small world.

Best New Obsession Involving A Foreign Country
Winner: Iceland, Iceland, Iceland, All Things Iceland
Runner Up: Reading the Harry Potter books in German

Iceland has always been in the back of my mind as a country I’ve wanted to visit, and in 2012 I’m going to make that desire a reality. I’m not sure what exactly ignited my recent obsession. Perhaps it was the unyielding, unstoppable repetition of Sigur Ros in my headphones since June or the pictures Todd and Kate K. posted from their trip a year ago. All I know is that it’s rural, it’s cold, it’s full of interesting people, and there are mountains, geysers, glaciers, sheep, sweaters and icebergs. It’s practically Wyoming without pine trees. Plus my favorite band of 2011 (just beating out The Head and the Heart) is Of Monsters & Men, which brings me to my next Munzy.

Best Holy-Shit-Where-Have-You-Been-All-My-Life Band
Winner: Of Monsters & Men
Runner Up: Devotchka

Out of nowhere, Of Monsters and Men fell into my lap. I purchase (yes, purchase) music from a Russian-based website. The albums listed are not classified by genre so it’s a bit like window-shopping in the sense that I really only have the album covers to entice me to sample the music. Lucky me for stumbling into the musical arms of these six pop-folk geniuses. From the sing-along-able lyrics to the steering-wheel-tapping rhythms and (my personal favorite) the La-La-Laaahs, I eased into this band like a warm bath.  They were just right; everything fit well in my ears and I learned the lyrics faster than I did any band before. I like to be a little selfish about these things, and would LOVE to just steal these Icelanders, lock them in my house, and have them play for me every day…but I guess you can listen to them too.

Most Effective Storytelling in a Film
Winner: Shame, dir. Steve McQueen (no, not that Steve McQueen)
Second Winner: Midnight in Paris, dir. Woody Allen (yep, that Woody Allen)

This is difficult as the two films I’ve awarded are about love and relationships, but express two incredibly different moods. Shame succeeds in portraying the story of a man (Michael Fassbender) whose sex addiction has poisoned every aspect of his life, including his dwindling relationship with his sister (Carey Mulligan). The film ensures that there’s enough sex to warrant its NC-17 rating, but the overexposure to nudity and sex throughout its two hours suddenly alters your initial qualms with this gross, pervvy man who can’t keep his pants on even at work. Midnight in Paris takes the fluffy road into a troubled relationship between Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams as they make their way to Paris. Wilson’s character escapes into the romantic urbanity of 1920s Montmartre leaving the real world behind. Through a series of hilarious, wily adventures he discovers who he really is and what he wants. In a similar way, Fassbender’s character goes through a variety of obstacles that alter his habits greatly. I’m totally stretching it comparing these two movies, but let’s just say I was equally effected in very different ways. In closing, I’d much rather go traveling in Paris than jerk off at work. So that’s good! Nice work, you good films, you.

That concludes Part I of the Munz Awards. I’m gonna jump on this plane and hopefully post Part II by the time the new year hits. Plus, I have loads to share about my Jackson trip. More to come, readers. Happy Wednesday!



One Response to “Munz Awards of 2011: Part I.”

  1. rach. said

    i la-huved this.

    …and felt the same way about of monsters and men. they almost made my top eleven… should’ve put them on the runner’s up!

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