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Home » Culture and Criticism

Cinemarch Madness: Wilder Division Poll

Submitted by on March 21, 2013 – 9:57 AM13 Comments

grunge film background

And we end the prelims on a doozy. So many worthwhile votes! So many multiple-nomination entries!

So, let’s start with the popular contenders. Boys Don’t Cry is almost flawless as a film; I can’t think of a foot any of the actors puts wrong. The sexual assault is hideous. Sevigny got robbed by the Academy. It gets through easily, and Hilary Swank joins the CM Poster Girl sweepstakes.

Brokeback, also robbed by Oscar, is so mournful throughout, and that much sadder now that Heath Ledger is gone. The shirt, the postcard… In this draw, though, I may not vote for it. Something about the endurance of the great love gives it a top note of hope, and it’s actually a poppy-fields movie for me; I always watch it when it’s on cable. But I think it gets through as well.

Many people mentioned The Fox and the Hound, too; I haven’t seen it, but an animal(s)-in-peril film is a good bet, and this is likely our third semifinalist from the Wilder division…

…unless enough people have seen Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about His Father. It’s more an experience than a movie, Dear Zachary; it’s a scrapbook, it’s a keening wail, it’s group therapy and a love letter to warrior parents. It’s funny; I always forget that. Mr. S and I spent a good 15 minutes the other night trying to explain to Little Three why it’s such a impressive document — without spoiling it, or making him avoid it like the plague — and it seriously was like a prisoners-of-war reunion, talking about it. I strongly, strongly recommend it, and we are here for you afterwards, I promise, but either way, understand that if it doesn’t get enough votes, I may bye it through anyway just on GPs. It’s that good.

Moving on to the “might have a chance in another division but not here” contenders, we have Ace in the Hole, a fantastic and underrated film whose bleakness is likely too subtle (and/or stylish) to contend here; Frozen River, visually and tonally frigid and the performance Melissa Leo should have won for, but nobody really saw it and that’s just how it is sometimes with the Academy; Gummo (all I remember is the cat and no thank you); Monster (ugly, but not quite dark enough for this flight); and Heavenly Creatures, a spot-on rendition of how Girl World can go south on you in a hurry that’s also witty and relatable enough that it’s probably not going to chart.

Happy just to be nominated: Incendies (powerful, good gotcha on the one hand; nobody saw it and an irritating performance from one of the leads on the other); Naked (I hear y’all, but, while I liked the movie, it came off more tricksy to me than brutal); Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (still rage-making, but you can’t unknow that the Three are out now); and Repulsion (his real-life story aside, I don’t think a lot of Polanski’s work — much of which is quite good, or at least striking — is terribly well known).

…What the hell: I’ll vote Boys, Zachary, and River.

Wilder Division: Vote for the THREE (3) harshest films.

  • Boys Don't Cry (28%, 163 Votes)
  • Dear Zachary (19%, 108 Votes)
  • Brokeback Mountain (16%, 94 Votes)
  • The Fox and the Hound (11%, 61 Votes)
  • Heavenly Creatures (8%, 45 Votes)
  • Monster (4%, 25 Votes)
  • Frozen River (4%, 21 Votes)
  • Paradise Lost (3%, 16 Votes)
  • Naked (2%, 12 Votes)
  • Gummo (2%, 11 Votes)
  • Incendies (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Repulsion (1%, 7 Votes)
  • Suicide Kings (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Ace in the Hole (1%, 3 Votes)
  • In a Lonely Place (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 220

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Not sure what’s going on? You’ll fit right in around here (heh) but in the meantime, the Cinemarch Madness FAQ is here, and a poll overview is here.




  • Kitty says:

    Oof, “Dear Zachary”. A couple of years ago a friend and I mistakenly got this from Netflix thinking it was a different film. And boy, did our nice little Friday popcorn & movie night to turn into a downer of an evening.
    The first time you cry ugly tears in front of a friend changes the dynamics of that friendship forever.

  • ferretrick says:

    Brokeback is certainly sad, and I wouldn’t exactly call it hopeful, but did it leave me on the floor going can’t ever watch it again? No, not seeing that.

    Don’t understand Suicide Kings on this list at all, if it’s the movie I’m thinking of with a bunch of the lower tier of the 90s equivalent of the Brat Pack kidnapping Christopher Walken.

  • Bryan says:

    I saw “Dear Zachary” because of sars; to this day I don’t know whether to thank her or blame her. I also voted for Paradise Lost because I can still clearly remember the pain it caused when I first saw it…and for many years afterward.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I’m sorry! (Not really.)

  • SolitaryBlue says:

    I’ve never seen Dear Zachary, but I had to vote for it just based on reading the plot summary on Wikipedia. DAMN. I… don’t think I can ever watch it.

  • Jinxie says:

    Funny, I hadn’t realized Naked was on the Cinemarch list and was just the other day commenting on the Awl about how it was a great movie I will very happily never watch again. (Though, disturbingly, it sparked a crush on David Thewlis I’ve never quite been able to understand.)

  • Meri says:

    Another one who saw Dear Zachary because Sars recommended it. I mostly held it together (by which I mean I was quietly crying) until close to the end. No spoilers, but Andrew’s mom said something, and then she burst into tears and I started sobbing.

    We gave the DVD to a friend with the description “It’s really good, you’ll be glad you watched it, and you’ll never want to see it again.”

  • Tarn says:

    Wow. I just read the Wiki recap (the closest I will ever get to watching most of these movies) of Dear Zachary, and my jaw dropped.

    How awful. AWFUL.

  • Katie says:

    I just finished Dear Zachary and cried the entire way through it. @Meri. I know the exact part you mean because I thought I could not possibly cry more until poor Kate broke down at that moment. It isn’t quite completely hopeless though, to me. The immense love these friends and family and colleagues have for each other and the films subjects made me cry, sure, but it made me grateful that they had each other. And experienced that love and friendship in their lives, although the outcome was unfair.

  • J. says:

    I have not seen Gummo and now that I have looked it up, I know I will never see it.
    Based on the description it sounds like it has absolutely no plot, mostly just a bunch of animal killing and general depravity.
    Can someone tell me if it DID have a point? Or, better yet, why would anyone want to make this movie?? I just don’t understand…

  • MP says:

    I also watched Dear Zachary because of the post SDB wrote here a few years ago. My daughter loves documentaries so I gave it to her this year for Christmas. When she opened it I told her it was the best and most horrible thing I had ever seen. We watched it over Christmas break together and now she hates me. So… Thanks?

    PS – I 100% support the bye should it not garner enough votes.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Sorry, guys. Mr. S watched it when I wrote about it, and then made Gen watch it while she was pregnant with Master S, which she is still kind of mad about and also kind of blames me for, rightly, so: circle of love?

  • Sandman says:

    I just read the Wikipedia entry for Dear Zachary, and, Jesus Murphy! I don’t think I could watch that.

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