The Movie Bracket! - Winner announced!
Hello! Welcome to the first round of the Movie Bracket, a semi-competitive thread about movies, meant to provoke discussion and friendly competition.
How it works:
-Directors were drafted by different forum members, and films were chosen to represent them.
-The films go head-to head in an elimination bracket, the winners being decided by our votes each round.
-The director with the winning film moves onto the next round.
-One true winner prevails
Everyone can vote, but you must follow these three simple rules:
- IMPORTANT: You must have seen both movies in a matchup in order to vote.
- You must write a reason as to why you prefer one film over the other.
- Votes are final. Please do not edit your posts, it'll just confuse things.
Stanley Kubrick, as represented by alexwhiteplays.
The Players and Their Pawns:
-The Coen Brothers
-Stanley Kubrick (WINNER)
-Paul Thomas Anderson
Tokyo Slim's directors:
(only drafted to round out the bracket to a clean 32)
-Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Voting for this batch will likely go on for a little more than a week; we'll see how it goes!
I'd be happy to answer any questions!
So my votes:
The 39 Steps vs Moonrise Kingdom
Voting for The 39 Steps. Moonrise Kingdom is one of Anderson's better pictures in my mind. I especially like Bruce Willis in a surprisingly sensitive role, and the film's commitment to the children's perspective. But The 39 Steps is one of Hitchcock's best light thrillers: economical, funny, and smartly written.
Bad Boys vs True Grit
Voting for True Grit. Honestly, not a big fan of either of the movies. Bad Boys is unmistakable Bay, and True Grit is a mannered, slightly forgettable Coens film. I went with True Grit for its photography and dedicated character work.
I need to rewatch both Catch Me if You Can and Nausicaa before voting on the other two matchups. It's been over a decade since I've seen either.
alexwhiteplays last edited by
I'll revisit this thread once I've seen enough of the other movies to vote on more than just this matchup, but I'm voting for The 39 Steps. Yes, this is my pick, but I genuinely think it's a better film in the criteria that I evaluate.
Moonrise Kingdom falls victim to a pitfall that I think a pretty substantial number of Anderson's works struggle with: it's so obsessed with the idea of itself as a work of art that it forgets somewhere along the way to actually be enjoyable. The cinematography is fantastic, Anderson is one of the best filmmakers in the world when it comes to framing a shot. Every still tells a story, and every frame could be a painting all its own. But the intentionally understated acting, the use of animation, and the flat dialogue writing all stand as a barrier between me and my enjoyment of the film. From an academic standpoint, it's a dream come true, but when trying to watch it outside of a film theory class, it feels like sitting through it all is a painful duty rather than a genuine desire.
The 39 Steps has great acting, subtly brilliant camera movements, a story that is at once intriguing and witty, and a fantastic soundtrack to boot. There's even a comedic stage adaptation, which I'd encourage everyone to hunt down if you haven't seen it (though maybe just read the script, since I haven't found a publicly available stage recording that I like). It isn't necessarily a capital-G Great Film like some of the others that Hitchcock directed, but it's still a film from an incredible auteur with an undeniable sense of fun and excitement.
I recognize that what I've written about The 39 Steps is much shorter than my thoughts on Moonrise Kingdom. Part of that is that I think the positive factors of The 39 Steps is much easier to capture in words in an efficient way. Part of it is that I feel like I'm always pressured to justify my position to other film buffs when I talk about my general dislike of Moonrise Kingdom and Anderson more broadly (with one or two notable exceptions), since they tend to be so highly regarded by critics and academics alike. Part of it is certainly that I feel like I need to provide a lengthier justification/answer since I'm ultimately voting for my own selection. But these are my honest opinions. (Bonus points if you can find the Oscar Wilde reference in here!)
@alexwhiteplays So I take you're not a Wes Anderson fan in general then? Your criticisms are fair, but pretty easily leveled against any of his work.
alexwhiteplays last edited by
@Ringedwithtile Yeah, the things I mentioned are reasons why I just generally don't resonate with Wes Anderson. Though I did enjoy The Grand Budapest Hotel, I think the writing was a bit sharper and the characters had a bit more personality to them. What I think it really nailed was bringing out the irony in the moments in which the acting is understated by having a character that's needlessly overdramatic. To me, The Grand Budapest Hotel accomplished everything that I would want out of a director like Anderson.
SabotageTheTruth last edited by
@alexwhiteplays I had a real mental debate on whether I should put Budapest up against Hitchcock or Moonrise Kingdom. In the end, I figured he'd lose out to Hitchcock no matter what (probably) so I went with my personal favorite from him. So much heart and care in this particular story.
I'll try my best to watch 39 Steps tomorrow as my first Hitchcock film and post impressions. Persona 5 is kinda consuming me right now but I can definitely squeeze in some movie watching up in my lonely projection booth tomorrow night.
TokyoSlim last edited by
I'm gonna hit this thread this weekend when I take a mandatory P5 break.
Inustar last edited by
@SabotageTheTruth Well I get choosing your fave, though I do think Budapest is just a better over all movie. I just liked the performances better.
More importantly, you've never watched a Hitchcock movie?!
SabotageTheTruth last edited by
@Inustar I agree, I think Budapest is a better movie as well, but I wanted to save something in the tank, just in case he somehow made it to the finals. Yep, I'm spoiling my pick for the finals! Even if he survived Hitchcock, he might have Spielberg to contend with. Rough placement for him.
I know, I'm a failure at life for never witnessing Hitchcock do his thing... but that should be changing, hopefully.
Inustar last edited by
@SabotageTheTruth I know it's cliche to say but Psycho. You have to watch Psycho! It's amazing. The ending is perfect.
TokyoSlim last edited by
The 39 Steps vs Moonrise Kingdom :
To be honest, if you'd have gone Grand Budapest Hotel, I'd have voted for that over 39 Steps, which I feel hasn't aged as well for my contemporary sensibilities in dialogue and cinematography as other Hitchcock films of the same ilk, such as North By Northwest. But Moonrise Kingdom overstays its welcome, IMO. It's charming and fun but around when lighting strikes the kid I just checked out. Even a (to me) mediocre Hitchcock is better than the failed promise of an almost good Wes Anderson film. (Grand Budapest Hotel, however - I think is a masterpiece) This is going to rear it's head in the next matchup for me as well, but I greatly dislike the Academy aspect ratio used in the 39 Steps, which may be why I feel that it's aged quite poorly. I'm still voting for The 39 Steps and Alfred Hitchcock to move on.
Catch Me if You Can vs Stagecoach:
I didn't really like Stagecoach. I generally find it to be problematic and exploitative in the way that many Westerns tend to be. Native Americans are generally treated as an "obstacle" or natural disaster to be overcome by the heroic white folks. It's cinematography and composition give me a big "stage play" vibe. I generally dislike the Acadamy standard 1.37:1 aspect ratio and am greatly in favor of Ford hypothetically choosing any number of the widescreen options that were being experimented with at the time that would have greatly enhanced the compositional beauty of Monument Valley.
Catch Me if You Can, on the other hand, is a near modern masterpiece. Based on a true story, flush with Oscar winning talent and memorable performances. It's got the best parts of a Coming of Age film, a chase film, a heist film, a buddy road trip movie, pop culture callbacks, and a docudrama all rolled up into one. Christopher Walken, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, and Amy Adams are all spectacular in this movie. I vote Catch Me If You Can and Spielberg move on.
Breathless vs Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind:
I love you Belmondo, and Godard does what he can, but the narrative of Breathless written by Francoise Truffaut is kind of garbage tier. Sociopath kills a cop and then plans a romantic vacation...I'm giving this one to the eco-robots and flying steampunk civil war movie. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Hayao Miyazaki move on.
Also, our 3rd Academy vs Widescreen aspect ratio battle, and Widescreen wins 2/3 for me and basically only due to me thinking about Hitchcock losing in the first round to Wes F'ing Anderson and having to slap some sense into myself. That's why I'm glad for this next matchup...
Bad Boys vs True Grit:
Holy shit, both of these movies are in bearable aspect ratio formats!
Bad Boys is probably the 4th best Michael Bay film, after The Rock, Pain and Gain, and Playboy: Kerri Kendall - September 1990 Video Centerfold . True Grit is a remake of a John Wayne Classic that allowed Jeff Bridges to yell at a small girl for two hours directed by the Coen Brothers. One was Will Smith's third movie (and arguably first good one) and one was Hailee Steinfeld's First movie of many to come, hopefully. The real kicker though, and why I'm voting for True Grit, is that I will always vote for a movie with Domhnall Gleeson in it over one without. Coen Bros and Domhnall Gleeson move on.
Faaip last edited by Faaip
The 39 Steps vs. Moonrise Kingdom:
I really enjoyed 39 Steps. I've only seen a couple Hitchcock movies but you can definitely see the roots of his genius in this one. I think I'm going to have to be a rebel though and give my vote to Moonrise Kingdom. Maybe I'm biased due to spending my youth as a Boyscout in New England, but there's something about this movie that really connects with me. I feel like it nails the innocence, adventure and sometimes pain of childhood. Everyone gives a great performance too, even though none of the big name actors really have a large role.
Catch Me if You Can vs. Stagecoach:
"How'd you do it, Frank? How did you cheat on the bar exam in Louisiana?"
Spielberg would probably make 5 of my top 10 favorite movies if I allowed it haha. Needless to say Catch Me if You Can gets my vote. Its a fascinating story that was brilliantly realized in my opinion. The film really moves along at a quick pace but it never feels tiring to watch and manages to stay fun throughout. I'm curious if my favorite film of all time will make the list :D
Stagecoach is a tough one for me. Its easily one of the most iconic westerns (if not films) ever made and pretty much jumpstarted the genre. Spielberg just inches by for me.. it really just came down to personal taste.
Bad Boys vs. True Grit:
Its sounding like I cut it a bit close with True Grit. Hopefully the Coens can survive a few more rounds!
Honestly this one was tough for me as well.. I haven't thought about it, but I could see calling Bad Boys my favorite Bay film. However, at the risk of a perceived conflict of interest I have to pick True Grit because it hits me on an emotional level that Bad Boys doesn't quite reach. This is also why it made my list over some other Coen films I was considering for the slot. I understand some of the criticism it receives, but I think its a beautifully shot and written, wonderfully acted, epic modern western adventure (with a bit of Coen Brothers spice sprinkled here and there).
PSA: I want to recommend the new Netflix documentary Five Came Back. Its about the use of film during WWII and focuses on a handful of film makers including Ford, Capra, and Huston. I just watched the first episode and thought it was really interesting and relevant to this game. A relatively unknown chapter in these famous filmmakers' careers.
I haven't seen Five Came Back, but I'm familiar with their work during World War II. I may give it a watch, but I don't have Netflix right now.
Huston's documentaries in particular are harrowing. Let There Be Light is incredible. God, that interview with the soldier trying to talk about his girlfriend.
Faaip last edited by Faaip
@Ringedwithtile Cool I'll definitely have to check those out. I've seen a few of those war films but admittedly don't know a lot of the story behind it. That's one of the reasons WWII is one of my favorite topics.. there's a seemingly endless supply of stories
Edit: A perfect, Let There Be Light is on youtube :D
SabotageTheTruth last edited by SabotageTheTruth
I just finished 39 Steps.
This being the first Hitchcock film I've seen, I can understand a little more why he is loved; it was a fun ride. Some of the acting wasn't always the best but the overall adventure was absolutely there and the ending was probably the best part.
That being said, I'm still (not so surprisingly) going to vote for Moonrise Kingdom. As I've already mentioned, this is my favorite Wes Anderson movie, although I wouldn't consider it his best. He has a knack for making very interesting but miserable characters, so sometimes it's difficult to know how to "root" for. Rushmore, while wonderful, is a perfect example of this. Moonrise Kingdom accomplishes making me care about the characters and wishing the best for them.
39 Steps was a fun adventure with a mix of espionage. But... that's all it was. Moonrise Kingdom captures the very essence of innocence and broken youth in a way few films can.
Plus, better cinematography. Yeah, I said it.
Even if Wes does get knocked out this round (which... looks likely), that just means I'll get to watch more Hitchcock. Doesn't seem like such a bad deal to me.
So I rewatched Nausicaa and Catch Me if You Can.
I'm going to vote Stagecoach over Catch Me if You Can. I have an interesting relationship with Spielberg, where I vastly prefer his lighthearted blockbusters over his more serious, 'important' work. Catch Me if You Can is somewhere between; a personal, dramatic story given a glitzy, blockbuster appeal. It's very watchable, but I wish it was messier, sexier. Its pristine production design and Kaminski's backlight-heavy photography ring a little false to me. It could play into the narrative relationship of fake/real, but Spielberg is too assured and conventional to bring that sort of thing to light. It runs well for the first 90 minutes, but its obligation to stay true to fact make for what I feel is a spotty last act. It's still very good, and in the upper half of Spielberg's work, though.
Ford's work of similar modern mythologizing is tighter, more broadly allegorical. Ford's balancing of an ensemble, and his ability to strike to the core of a character so quickly is really remarkable. I have troubles with the John Wayne character, a practically flawless force of heroism, but hey, that dolly in on him holding a rifle and a saddle tells us that's exactly who he is. Ford's stringent direction, his attention to how characters look at one another, his jabs at the poisonous effects of classism and greed in Western society, I really like all that stuff. It has its problems, but its such a dense, precise film, which has me preferring it.
In the other matchup I vote for Nausicaa. I've been choosing my films based on what I'd recommend someone start with if they've never seen a film by the director. I wasn't sure where to start with Godard, but his first feature is so important I had to go with it over the stuff I prefer to it. And it still has its ability to agitate. It's jazzy, removed, slacker tendencies are still pretty attractive. I like that it's focused on someone who's borrowed all he is from what he's seen in a theater. His standards of cool, of what to base his relationship on feel so unsustainable. Tokyoslim zeroed in on Truffaut's writing, and I totally agree that's where it falls apart. Not on premise, but on insight. Truffaut never understood women (half his films are about how he doesn't get them), and although Seberg embodies the role and does what she can to sell her dialogue, it's too big a task to overcome.
Nausicaa's got big bugs ya'll. Big bugs win.
Oscillator last edited by
Only pair I've seen both of this round is CMIYC vs. Stagecoach. I'm voting Stagecoach.
CMIYC is a good movie. Well acted, briskly edited, great production values, fun story. But it's too slick. It's one of those Oscar-bait movies that's constantly screaming "I'M A PERIOD PIECE!!!". I suspect that I'd prefer the original version with Tony Curtis, "The Great Imposter", if I could locate a copy.
Stagecoach has it's problems, mainly it being slow and stagey (no pun intended). But compared to CMIYC, it's way more down to earth. And when the action picks up, it does so in absolute style. Great outdoor photography too.
naltmank last edited by naltmank
Is there any chance we can get a more streamlined voting system?
I haven't seen Stagecoach, so I won't vote on that round. That said, there's been some serious disrespect to Catch Me if You Can. People calling it oscar bait should try re-watching it. That movie just sizzles. The script is sharp, the camera work kinetic, and the leads are so damn charming and have such great chemistry that you root for pretty much everybody. It's amazing.
The 39 Steps vs. Moonrise Kingdom:
The 39 Steps I'd say is one of the more "chill" Hitchcock films, in that there are fewer scenes that are nailbitingly intense than in most of his other movies. That's in no way a knock against it, though. I think it has one of his tightest scripts, and I love the way he makes every little detail count. Fun fact: my grandpa used to have this movie memorized line for line back in the day.
Moonrise Kingdom is my number 2 Wes Anderson movie, behind The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I love his style, and the ensemble cast completely knocks it out of the park in this one. It also has one of my favorite lines of all time: "Was he a good boy? Who's to say?"
That said, the kids are a little too precocious at times for my taste, and it has the same tendency as all his other films to get a little twee at times.
The 39 Steps gets the edge for me.
Breathless vs. Nausicaa:
I think the others have kind of hit the nail on the head with their analyses of Breathless. Great direction, great lead, kind of a weak script/story. If I have anything to add, it's simply just that it hasn't aged as gracefully as it should have; other films have taken similar concepts and gone in more daring directions. While there's something to be said about being the original, I feel like other movies have built upon its foundation in more exciting ways.
Nausicaa was my favorite Miyazaki film when I was a baby. I apparently used to watch it on repeat. I rewatched it just the other day, and it holds up fairly well. The animation is gorgeous, and while it's not Hisaishi's best score (the synth tracks are pretty bad), the Requiem is absolutely gorgeous. There are a few story contrivances that I still groan at, including one glaring continuity error near the end that almost undermines the finale, but it's still good fun.
Ultimately, both are flawed, but I give it to Nausicaa simply because it's more enjoyable all around.
Bad Boys vs. True Grit:
Look, I don't hate Bay as much as some other people, but come on here! Bad Boys is one of his best movies, almost entirely due to the strength of its leads, but it still reeks of cheese. True Grit is just a great movie. Great cast, cinematography, script... It's not even the best Coen Brothers movie but it's still just so good. True Grit gets it in a landslide for me.
naltmank last edited by
@Inustar ... I don't love Psycho because of the ending. It just sort of happens, and everything is tied up in a monologue. Great final shot, but still...
@SabotageTheTruth check out Vertigo, The Rear Window, North by Northwest, and Rope. Rope is one of my personal favorite movies of all time - shot in "real time," with only one visible cut in the entire movie. It's a real feat.
@naltmank Thanks for your votes! What do you think might work as a voting system? I agree that the system that I have up is a little messy, but I like that everyone is writing about the movies; and that isn't something I want to discourage (by linking to another site or something).