Welcome to the 2012 Urchie Awards!
The Urchademy has been in deliberation for weeks, Heming(way) and Haw(thorne)ing over this year’s wonderful nominees. After many late nights of heated discussions over choc bikkies, tea, and Skype, here they are, world! Your 2012 Urchie Award winners!
Book of the Year
Green is the New Red by Will Potter
When we first read Green is the New Red last year, we said it was ‘at times scary, at times hopeful, and at all times important.’ We can now confidently say that it was the most important book of the year. In Green is the New Red, Potter discusses the ‘Green Scare’ – the use of fear tactics by the government and corporations to discredit and discourage environmental and animal rights activists, who are currently considered the number one domestic terror threat by the FBI. The researching, writing, and publication of this book were acts of bravery and show an unwavering commitment to both journalism and civil liberties. Whether you are passionate about animals, activism, or great journalism, this is a must-read book.
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
Citizens of London by Lynne Olson
Writer of the Year
The Urchins often find ourselves reading authors in simultaneous waves, unbeknownst to the rest until one of us writes an article naming the author, or, as in the case of John Steinbeck, Geo sends an email containing no less than five block quotes from the first 30 pages of Travels with Charley. Picasso had his Blue Period. Last year, the Urchins had our Bryson Period. This year, it was all about Steinbeck. As we each devotedly toted around our copies of Travels with Charley, stopping what felt like every other paragraph to swoon over Steinbeck’s spot-on analyses of America, travel, race, the environment, and writing, many of which seemed either presciently wise or as though he could read our minds, we rejoiced in the discovery of yet another Urchinspiration to join the ranks of Joyce, Woolf, Bryson, and Stein. And we’re not the only ones who think he’s great. Novelist, playwright, and journalist Steinbeck will be squeezing his new Urchie Award onto the shelf next to his Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Peter Jon Lindberg
Film of the Year
The silent French film The Artist was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and just won five. We have to agree. As Geo said in his review, ‘It’s gorgeously shot, meticulously faithful to the idiosyncrasies of the art form it homages, and the acting is phenomenal. The Artist‘s use of caricature and formula…brings to light the period of time when those caricatures were characters, those formulas were inventions, and those characters and inventions worked, which of course is why they’ve been used over and over again and thus losing all their lustre. In film as in literature we celebrate both tradition and innovation, and The Artist is the rare artistic endeavor that manages to incorporate both.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Performance by an Actress
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep’s performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady solidified her status as one of the greatest actors of our time. From Thatcher’s voice to her movement to her minute nuances, Streep herself is nowhere to be seen in this film. As the film spans Thatcher’s life from girlhood to old age, Streep adeptly transforms from an audacious politician to a grief-stricken older woman. When accepting her Academy Award on Sunday, Streep said she knew it would probably be her last win. While it is hard to imagine any actor delivering a performance to top Streep’s in The Iron Lady, we certainly hope she proves herself wrong.
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Performance by an Actor
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Gary Oldman’s performance as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is one of quiet, subtle brilliance. It was said during the Oscars that Oldman’s performance was like a masterclass in acting. In one scene, Oldman’s character recounts a conversation he once had, flawlessly and convincingly playing both speakers at once. Unlike some star performances, Oldman didn’t carry this movie in a big, showy way, but it absolutely would have failed without him as its backbone.
Peyman Moadi, A Separation
Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
Exemplary Human Being
In addition to writing Green is the New Red, this year’s Urchie Book of the Year award winner, Potter maintains a website of the same name on which he regularly publishes articles relating to the topics of civil liberties, the environmental and animal rights movements, and politics and government in relation to the Green Scare. Potter is an independent journalist of the highest order, a wonderful writer with a deep commitment to uncovering and disseminating the truth. We applaud both his dedication to journalistic integrity and support of the movements we hold dear. We had the pleasure of meeting Potter at a reading and discussion hosted by Diesel, and greatly anticipate his next work.
Musical Artist/Band of the Year
tUnE-YarDs on record is Merrill Garbus, an Oakland-based Smith graduate who recorded her first album BiRd-BrAiNs on a digital voice recorder in 2009. Her 2011 album w h o k i l l is a dance-inducing, thought-provoking work of musical experimentation and political, social, and global awareness. While Garbus now performs with a band on stage, she was originally a one woman show, and still creates drum loops live in concert. She describes tUnE-YarDs songs as more like ‘quilts or collages or something,’ and has collaborated with artists such as Thao and Mirah.
Portugal. The Man
The Black Keys
Song of the Year
Dilettante – St. Vincente
Lonely Boy – The Black Keys
Super Bass – Nicki Minaj
Briton of the Year
As an actress, Carey Mulligan is able to access a stunning vulnerability of emotion. She has received great critical acclaim for both her work onscreen in An Education and her work onstage in the Atlantic Theatre Company’s off-Broadway production of Through a Glass, Darkly. With Mulligan set to star as Daisy Buchanan alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, a Spike Jonze’s film written by Charlie Kaufman, and an adaptation of My Fair Lady, she is our number one Briton to watch in 2012.
Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge
Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn
A wonderful neighbourhood independent bookstore in Brooklyn, Greenlight Bookstore also happens to be Geo’s new home in New York after leaving our beloved Diesel in Los Angeles. With a great variety of literature, and a constant schedule of events, Greenlight is the perfect place to search for a new book, attend a reading, or just pass an afternoon. If you decide to drop in, be on the look out for the Urchin with the black hair and say hello!
City Lights, San Francisco
Northsire Bookstore, Vermont
Atlas Cafe, New York City
Atlas Cafe is Geo’s favorite vegan joint in New York City, and for a city chock-full of vegan restaurants, cafes, and bakeries, that’s saying a lot. Being dedicated journalists (food lovers), the Urchins are keen researchers (piglets), so one can assume Mr. Ong’s done his homework (eating.) After viewing some pictures of the vegan desserts Atlas Cafe serves from Philadelphia-based Vegan Treats bakery, I guarantee you’ll move Atlas Cafe straight to the top of your NYC must-visit list.
The Chicago Diner, Chicago
Taos Pizza Outback, Taos
Best Television Show
The Daily Show
For the past 13 years, Jon Stewart and The Daily Show team have been producing arguably one of the smartest, funniest, and most interesting show on television. Rather than grow stale, The Daily Show continues to push the envelopes of both comedy and politics. Stewart’s comedic timing and sensibilities, combined with the intelligence of the entire writing team, allow The Daily Show to successfully straddle the line between hilarious satire and serious political commentary. With media outlets like Fox, NBC, CNN, etc. growing increasingly biased and sensationalised, The Daily Show offers acute commentary on the state of modern media, politics, global affairs, and current events infused with a biting sense of humour.
Urchin Travel Destination of the Year
New Zealand is one of the most geographically beautiful places on Earth. From the aquamarine waters and pristine white beaches of the Northland to the rolling green hills of the Waikato to the awe-inspiring mountains and fjords of the South Island, a jaw-dropping vista awaits around every corner. The people are some of the most genuine, kind, and laid-back found anywhere. They are surrounded everywhere by natural beauty and wonder and live in an overall safe, happy society. Sarah has been traveling, living, and working in New Zealand for the past five months and Margaret want to hike its 3,000 kilometer Te Araroa trail. It might be far away, but it is so worth the trip.
Best High Noon Picture
Margaret interprets D.I.Y.
Geo’s birds of a feather
Sarah as a cool customer
What a show! Thanks for tuning in, and congratulations to all of this year’s winners!