Critique and Decision of the Juror:
I find myself facing a more complex decision than I first thought. The “assignment” was to video an impression of “Amy after having eaten cooked onions”; as everyone knows, onions make Amy sleepy. No other instructions were provided. Once the assignment was made, it belonged to the contestants to make of it what they would.
I received the submittals in timely fashion and eagerly previewed them this morning with two other viewers, including the subject. Let me be clear that neither of these other viewers had a vote. The critical commentary and subsequent awards are my own.
Steve’s Epic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPb6P7gLyqU
Let me discuss Steve’s submittal first. Entitled, “Amy vs. the Onion,” this nearly five-minute, high-production-value, multi-scene film demonstrates the importance of having a collaborative crew and impressive post-production facilities for thorough storytelling. Its craftsmanship is unmistakable.
The filmmakers ably capture some of the whimsical black comedy of early Woody Allen “apartment” films. Quick shots, familiar rooms, background sound, and hand-held camera work combine to produce the intimacy these filmmakers presumably strive for. But what of the cross-dressing actor who plays “Amy”? Will other viewers, other than me, see flashes of Hitchcock’s Anthony Perkins dressed as his dead mother in Psycho? Chilling, truly chilling. And that bottle of Ambien appearing in virtually every shot? Did I SEE an image of Hitchcock himself on the bottle in one scene? No? Yes? Masterful, in any case.
Speaking of Hitchcock and Psycho, WHO is Larry? Why doesn’t he speak?
And what of the voice that calls Amy’s name as she sleeps fitfully with the crossword puzzle book on her stomach (for the non cognoscenti, this is so Amy)? Whose voice is it? I immediately thought of Kubrick, of course. The voice is . . . Hal!
Finally, throughout the piece, we see the influence of the early 60s Italian and Brazilian filmmakers as we realize, slowly and painfully what the onions finally represent. I wish I could think of a word other than “masterful.”
Stacy’s Tone Poem
Minimalist. Bare-bones. No-frills. A tiny diamond with many facets. A true tour de force in miniature. Stacy has accomplished all of this with a 43-second, breath-heavy monologue that distills the subject and object to their perfect essence.
We begin to think of poignant haikus and William Carlos Williams lines . . . “So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow . . .” I can’t believe she’s given us so much in those weighty seconds.
And we don’t feel anything is missing, do we? We find we need not wonder about “others.” Did we ever require them? No scene changes, no dramatic shifts, nothing. We completely GET the beginning, middle, and end of this deeply disquieting subject.
Obviously there were no makeup or costuming or craft services, either, but that goes to another discussion.
Stacy’s previous acting skills are in play here, in this one-woman show. I remember starring roles in her younger years, too many to mention here, and she has matured as an actress in a most ethereal way. Jennifer Aniston could take a few lessons from Stacy on being silent and still as the camera rolls.
Stacy, too, has produced a masterpiece.
Best performance by an actor: Stacy Ross
Best performance by an actor playing another gender: Steve Murphy
Best director: Carol Murphy
Cannes Palm D’or Prize: Stacy Ross
Sundance Independent Spirit Award: Stacy Ross
Best picture Oscar: Amy vs. the Onion
All prize monies have been generously donated to the subject of the film. She says thanks, and we're going to Target.