You Can Ring My Nobel

December 10th, 2012 by Ran

Today is the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony, held annually in Stockholm, Sweden. The Nobel Prize is considered to be the most prestigious International award, even if the fields awarded don’t seem that important: Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Peace. Man, those Swedes are old-fashioned. We’re in the 21st century guys, how about A Nobel for Social Media activity, Reality TV appearances, side boobs or cat videos? What’s even more baffling to me is that the winners were already announced, so you can’t build up suspense and hype, or expose rivalries between the candidates. If I were head of the ceremony, I would fire everyone and nominate Donald Trump to organize and host this event, just to give it some class and popularity. Promise me you’ll think about it for next time, OK?

To my amazement, I found out that there are several films dealing with those same trivial topics, so I decided to list them for you and compare them to the actual winners of this year. We’ll see who comes out on top.

Literature

Actual Winner: Chinese writer Mo Yan

My candidates:

Reprise (2006)

This is a great tale of friendship, twenty-something life, and the delicate human psyche. Two writer friends deal with success and failure in this very compelling and original film. It draws a lot from the French New Wave, but combines it with MTV-style editing to create a mature and stylistic debut for a very promising Norwegian director.

Girls (2012)

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The trials and tribulations of an aspiring writer and her friends in Brooklyn and New York. Yes, they are dysfunctional. Yes, most of their actions are borderline incomprehensible, and more often than not, you want to smack them back to their senses. But, I can’t stop watching. For me, the biggest difference between this show to the automatically-compared Sex and the City is that Lena Dunham is not trying so hard to make you like her (or her friends. Except Shoshana, I guess). And I don’t (most of the time). What I am is entertained and intrigued. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Verdict: While I feel that both of my candidates are worthy, as a gesture to our future Chinese overlords I will let the Chinese guy keep his prize. I hope you’ll take that into consideration when you decide in which labor camp I should work (or run, perhaps)

Medicine

Actual Winners: John B. Gordon & Shinya Yamanaka

My Candidates:

M*A*S*H (1970)

Robert Altman’s free-flowing style comes to a military hospital in Korea, during the war. You’ll get the perfect blend of humor, wit and earnestness. With a great ensemble cast, a great script and clever humor, you get one of the greatest comedies of all time. It’s definitely a must-see film.

The Kingdom (1994)

Wanna see a four and a half hour horror soap opera in Danish? I know you do. Lars von Trier’s hospital drama has everything: murder, mystery, ghosts (and much more). If you think all von Trier has to offer are hapless women being exploited, think again. Nothing I write will prepare you for this offbeat extravaganza.

Verdict: So those guys discovered that mature cells can be converted to stem cells, big deal. My candidates are probably more fun.

Physics/Chemistry

Actual Winners: Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland (Physics), Brian K. Kobilka and Robert J. Lefkowitz.

My candidates:

Mythbusters (2003)

Hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage test popular beliefs, urban legends and myths. Have you ever wondered whether you get wetter if you walk or run through the rain? Is yawning contagious? Can you pull a tablecloth out from a fully set table? Every question has an answer, and the way to that answer is usually fun, exciting and full of explosions. It’s a great way to learn stuff.

Contagion (2011)

A disturbingly realistic account of how a deadly plague spreads and how the world deals with it. Although Steven Soderbergh’s thriller boasts an impressive all-star cast, none of them are immune to the deadly disease. That creates great tension and suspense.

Verdict: If you’re more into protein-coupled receptors or light particles than plagues and ghosts, you’re a lost cause in my book.

Economics

Actual winners: Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd S. Shapley

My candidates:

Freakonomics (2010)

Based on the book by the same name, this film gives us a different look at the relationship man has with money. Not only that, you’ll see how economic theories (or incentives) apply to a wide range of topics, from baby names to wrestling. The film is comprised from a collection of short films by notable documentarians like Morgan Spurlock, Eugene Jarecki, Seth Gordon and others. While slightly uneven, it’s an eye-opener that will make you look at the world differently.

Moneyball (2012)

Although this seems like your regular underdog sport film, it’s much more than that. How to manage a tight budget and compete with the wealthiest teams by using math and statistics? How that was made into a movie still surprises me. How it was made into a GOOD movie that appeals to more than baseball fans is beyond me. But it is what it is. If there’s a sports guy who deserves a Nobel Prize it’s definitely Billy Beane.

Verdict: I got lost while looking up what the hell “the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design” means. Sorry.

Peace

Actual Winner: The European Union

My candidates:

Des hommes et des dieux (2011)

The true and tragic tale of peaceful monks who did not flee Algeria during its civil war. Lambert Wilson stars as the head monk of a monastery that decides not to cave in to the terrorists’ threats and stays to help their impoverished community. We usually talk of ‘fight or flight’ in face of danger; here they decide to take a third option. While not cheerful, this is a thought provoking look at religion, violence and sacrifice.

Princess Mononoke (1997)

A princess tries to make peace between humanity and nature in Hayao Miyazaki’s essential animation film. What’s extraordinary about this fantasy film is that there are no villains. Both sides of the conflict have their merits, and the princess tries to solve it by understanding each side’s claims. If only someone could apply this method to today’s conflicts… I recommend you watch this great film with your kids. The educational benefits are grand.

Verdict: If Europe gets the Nobel, we’re in trouble. I thought that the Nobel Peace Prize was given to those who actually made or promoted peace where there was a need for it, not for those who didn’t make war. With all due respect, if you don’t have anyone to give the prize to, say so, don’t try to distract us with hyperboles, it’s not helping.

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