Who's In It: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg
The Basics: A man and a woman, grieving the loss of their young child who fell out a window while they were busy having sex, go off to a terror-forest called "Eden" so that the man--a misguided therapist who thinks he can turn his wife's frown upside-down with psychological torture and the withholding of affection--can learn a real lesson about how not to treat a lady. Then comes the talking animals and the genital mutilation.
What's The Deal: I'm weird and can't speak for everyone on this, obviously, but when you take a highbrow, inscrutable, pretentious, symbolism-heavy art film about the inversion of Christian theology and history's treatment of defiant women (director Lars von Trier even dedicates this movie to the late Andrei Tarkovsky, all-time master of "...and what does the tree in the final shot mean?") and then you dunk it in a bath of deranged horror sex-gore, style it up with freaked art direction and sprinkle it with Satanic woodland creatures spouting doom-comments you'd more likely find on a black-metal record, it's like asking me if i want whipped cream on everything--even raw meat--for the rest of my life. The most awesomely despair-filled trek through hell of the year.
Who Deserves Just As Much Praise As Willem Dafoe And Charlotte Gainsbourg Are Getting: Not counting the part where Gainsbourg angrily masturbates while naked on the forest floor, it's the body doubles doing all the heaviest lifting around here. They wound with all the most difficult, revealing stuff like crazy close-up penetrations and orgasm shots (yes, really, this isn't PG-13 stuff) and they'll soon spend happy times with their friends and families pointing out their private bikini areas on DVD. ("Look, there's my erection! Now watch what happens next!")
It Even Comes Equipped With Its Own Anti-Award: The Cannes Film Festival ecumenical jury gave it a special citation as being the most misogynist film at this year's festival, as though making a movie in which a female character is mistreated means the filmmaker is advocating that mistreatment. Anyway, one of von Trier's ongoing themes involves ideas about the suffering, sacrifice and control of women. So you can judge that award's merits on your own.
How It's Like Where The Wild Things Are: A lot. Sort of. It's got people going off to a private, possibly psychological environment where they meet talking animals, it's got stuff getting destroyed in a major way, and everything the characters do mirrors their own internal traumas. Just don't confuse the two films and then accidentally bring your kids to this one.