The Movie Bracket! - Winner announced!

  • I'm not going to be able to see Eraserhead for another week when I have a chance to go to the video store (yeah, I could watch it digitally, but for important art films, I insist on watching them in the best available quality).

  • A Perfect World vs A History of Violence

    A Perfect World is another great movie that I got to see thanks to this game. I think it was really solid, but somehow it felt like a story I had seen before.. A History of Violence didn't have that issue in my opinion. While I agree with TokyoSlim's opinions of the final act, the rest had me riveted enough that I think it ultimately makes up for it. I feel like Cronenberg uses his horror origins to create a really unique atmosphere in what is essentially just a crime thriller. I think its also a great example of Viggo Mortensen's (in my opinion) incredibly underrated acting talent.

    My vote for this one goes to A History of Violence

    The Maltese Falcon vs Eraserhead

    This was an interesting round.. I thought for sure my vote would be going to The Maltese Falcon even as I was watching Eraserhead. Maltese Falcon is one of my favorite classic noir movies due to its smart writing, twisting narrative and good performances. While overshadowed by Citizen Kane, in my opinion The Maltese Falcon deserves just as much credit for innovative filmmaking and cinematography...

    Which brings me to Eraserhead.. another incredible innovation in storytelling and visual effects.. that baby.. jesus.. For the first few minutes I was wondering what the hell was happening and why I wasn't watching something more fun. It wasn't until the dinner scene that I started getting pulled in. As someone who has experienced a number of awkward dinners that I didn't want to be at, I felt a real connection to Henry and actually found it to be pretty humorous. Pretty much from that point on I started realizing how deliberately this film was put together.. all the more impressive that it was done over 5 years.

    My vote goes to Eraserhead!

  • My biggest problem with A History of Violence is William Hurt. It's a fine performance, but it feels like it's in the wrong movie, and I think it alone shifts tone of the film into something goofier in that last bit for sure. Ed Harris was a much more imposing and suitable villain in the film.

  • Yeah I agree. I need to go back and see it again.. I don't remember the ending as well as the first half or so

    Ed Harris does play a really good villain.. I thought he was great in Westworld recently as well

  • So I've decided I'll be ending the first round on Monday evening some time, so any more votes on the matchups should come in before then. Let's get this thing back and moving.

  • I'm really dreading some of these upcoming match ups.. its gonna get tough here soon

  • sigh I couldn't get to the video store today thanks to trains and construction (Winnipeg's infamous for those two things). The soonest I can see Eraserhead is Tuesday...

  • @Oscillator That's a bit of a shame, but you'd still be better for seeing Eraserhead. Super formative and well-worth seeing! If you're still compelled to see it, I'd like to hear your thoughts when you do.

    That said, round 2 is live. We're over halfway through now, and competition is only going to get more fierce (I think). Some of these matchups are real doozies. I'm going to have to give those top two some real thought, they're very close for me.

    All filmmakers who were advanced were done so because of vote leads except for Vaughn. I forfeited Kiarostami due to availability---although I love them, my first few picks don't have in-print home video and two of my first three aren't streaming anywhere online. Rather than hold out, I'd rather just keep things moving :)

    I'll probably post my votes tomorrow.

    I have no idea if I'll vote Jaws or North by Northwest. For my money, two of the greatest pieces of Hollywood entertainment holy moly.

  • Yep its getting tough.. a couple of these I need to see again and a couple I need to see for the first time but I should have my votes in this week!

    I'm relieved to see that Miyazaki pick.. its a great movie but there are a couple that are very close to my heart and would have made this even more excruciating lol

  • I get to exist again! (Graduation and moving happened.) For the record, I finally caught up to all of the films, but it wouldn't have mattered. My votes for last round were going to go to Yojimbo, A History of Violence, and Eraserhead. I'm hoping to see this round's films by Friday and have my votes up by that night! This round is a lot easier time-wise because the only films up that I haven't seen are Porco Rosso and I Vitelloni, but harder because I love a lot of these films dearly.

  • I Vitelloni

    I don't remember the plot very well, but I do remember that this film has fantastic atmosphere, as many of these 50's/60's Italian films do. I also remember that while it had good pacing and reasonably kept my attention, the 5 main characters were all pathetic and hard to like. I don't recall any real standout scenes or dialogue, which for me is a bad sign. I get that some films focus more on the mood than the content, but for me, a film still needs to have something that makes you take notice.

    Dr. Strangelove

    The plot is highly unbelievable, but as it's a "black" comedy, I can totally forgive that. The humour is mostly subtle, though the thing about

    the guy's fake leg

    did procure a chuckle. The sets, camera angles, and characters are all excellent. The film really bristles with excitement, though aside from Slim Pickens, the acting needed some work (though props to Sellers for playing multiple, greatly differing characters). Overall, I felt the film was good, but uneven. The flight half was better than the ground half, but none of it was terrible.

    Both movies have something to recommend them, but for me, Dr. Strangelove has more things to recommend it.

    P.S. Apologies for the lack of detail. I haven't seen either of these films in several years, but I do clearly remember which one I liked better and why. I hope that's enough.

    P.P.S. I'll have to re-watch NxNW before I review that pair. Thankfully, this one I don't mind doing digitally.

  • Porco Rosso isn't on my list of favourite Miyazaki films, but it has an interesting setting. We're pretty far away from the fantasy elements that are otherwise typical for its brother and sister films.

    But yeah, I just have to vote for No Country For Old Men. That film is incredible. I mean it has solidified its position in my Top5 movies of all time, it just works so damn well. I love the plot and how it's presented. It's pretty simple when you think about it, but there's an incredible amount of tension built there throughout the whole journey. The performances are all top-notch, all the way to Gene Jones as that gas station clerk who got luckier than he ever could've guessed.

    And yet, there's one name that wraps this all up in a BEAUTIFUL package: Roger Deakins. My God. This man has got the touch. His cinematography is my absolute favourite in this business. It's simply glorious to witness how he captures the story unfolding with all the angles and wideshots and whatnots. The man's a genius with the camera.

  • North by Northwest vs Jaws
    This is easily the hardest matchup, right? Two near perfect movies, both with an incredible sense of adventure, great pacing, and moments of nail-biting tension. This is kind of a coin toss, but I give a slight edge to Jaws. It's had the larger cultural impact, what with birthing the summer blockbuster. Both are damn incredible, though.

    Porco Rosso vs No Country For Old Men
    This is just bizarre. I love the Coen Brothers, but No Country isn't close to my favorite of their catalogue. Porco Rosso is great fun, but it's nowhere near as masterful as some of Miyazaki's other works. From an aesthetic standpoint, the clear winner would be Porco Rosso. That Ghibli style is always going to be beautiful, and this actually has one of my favorite scores by Hisaishi (listen to Bygone Days and just feel the tide roll over you as those horns bleed in, and then just let them carry you away...). No Country, on the other hand, has one of the most iconic villain performances in film history, brilliantly tense action, and an underratedly great screenplay that emphasizes silence. Even though I personally don't love it, I can't deny it's a technically brilliant movie. The ending could be better, though.
    Giving it to No Country for Old Men. It's just objectively the better movie.

    The Fountain vs The Hurt Locker
    I'll be honest here: I hate both these movies. Two great directors, sure, but these are both so incredibly flawed. The Fountain is, I believe, the movie where Aronofsky started believing his own bullshit. I appreciate its ambition, but man, just about everything in this movie falls flat to me. Some of the more memorable visuals I remember mainly for being absurd. He was trying to be deep. He failed.
    The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, is just a poorly paced movie. It would have been better as a Band of Brothers style miniseries, allowing both the characters and the scenarios to breathe. Instead, it feels haphazard, episodic, and stitched together. I didn't grow attached to any of the characters (though apparently I'm in the minority on that front).
    If I have to choose a winner, I'd say it's The Hurt Locker. No real reason other than I dislike it marginally less than The Fountain.

  • North by Northwest vs Jaws:

    So both of these movies are brilliant, wildly entertaining films with memorable performances, setpieces, MUSIC. I think it comes down to what you prefer, the travelogue pageantry of North by Northwest, or the concise, looming danger of Jaws. I think I have to give the edge to North by Northwest. I remember its images more strongly, and find it to be a more wild and idiosyncratic film.

    Porco Rosso vs No Country For Old Men:

    This is another really tough one for me. Porco Rosso feels like such a treat. I really love the setting, and I'm a sucker for movies that capture flying in a really cool way (which is part of the reason why I like Miyazaki so much!). I think dramatically it drops the ball here and there, but I really love looking at this one.

    No Country isn't one of my favorite Coens, but it's so damn assured. It's looming threats, expressed through Deakins' shadowy photography is its strongest asset, I think. This movie feels dangerous, and the Coens amplify it masterfully, especially in its quiet, stunning action sequences. I don't find its determinism, or its dialogue very attractive though, but I feel that's more of a disagreement with the source material than anything else.

    I'm giving my vote to Porco Rosso. Good viiibes.

    I Vitelloni vs Dr. Strangelove

    So I like I Vitelloni a lot, I think it's an underrated, personal film from Fellini free of the exuberant excess that would become his m/o. That downbeat sense of disconnect felt from growing up in a dead-end town is something I can definitely identify with. It's an intelligent, nicely made film that anticipates the personal 'my generation' films that would define following decades.

    Dr. Strangelove though. If you had me watch every other Kubrick film, this is the one I wouldn't believe he could have made. A spicy, formally wacky film about the ineptitude of America's political and military psyche. Everyone is so weirdly exaggerated, the craft is all over the place from the blatantly fake looking flying scenes to the obscenely realistic ground combat scenes. There's a vulnerability, a humanity here from Kubrick that I don't think shows through in many of his other films. There's only one remaining Fellini film I prefer to Strangelove, and I didn't pick it this round. Dr. Strangelove gets my vote.

    The Fountain vs The Hurt Locker

    So I don't like The Fountain very much, but I appreciate films that so clearly lay their director bare. It has some good photography, a great score from Mansell, but it's all over the place, and just doesn't communicate its story well enough. All of its theatrics and metaphysics just obscure the emotional content instead of amplify it. It feels a bit compromised, and a film like this can't afford to be.

    The Hurt Locker I like! It's tough-as-nails, men-on-the-ground story is compelling from beginning to end. Like a good war film, it's troubling, but I suppose I never reconciled if what troubles me is the subject matter (good!), or some of the writing (bad!). Either way I think it's a solid film, good enough to get my vote. Hurt Locker.

  • North by Northwest vs Jaws

    Both of these movies are top notch thrillers, but I've got to give my vote to Jaws. I already mentioned my Spielberg bias, but Jaws is easily in my top 10 favorites. In my opinion, its a good example of a near perfectly paced movie and like Ringedwithtile said, it never really lets you forget the danger, even in the quieter scenes (Quint's monologue for example). It also accidentally popularized the horror trope of saving the monster reveal for the end, which is good because I think it allowed the film to age much better.

    Porco Rosso vs No Country For Old Men

    While not one of my favorite Miyazaki movies, I still think Porco Rosso is very good. It doesn't blow me away like Spirited Away and I don't have the attachment like I do for Kiki or Princess Mononoke, but it still has all the pieces that I love in Miyazaki's movies.

    I feel bad but I need to give my vote to No Country For Old Men. In my opinion its an impeccably crafted film with fantastic performances, cinematography, and an unrelenting intensity. For me its a film that just pulls you in and doesn't let go.. I think its undoubtedly the better of the two in this matchup.

    I Vitelloni vs Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

    This one's easy for me. I enjoyed I Vitelloni, but I need to give my vote to Dr. Strangelove, one of the best satires/comedies of all time. Leave it to Kubrick to look at arguably the height of Cold War tensions and make a comedy about it.

    The Fountain vs The Hurt Locker

    I watched the Fountain this evening and actually kind of liked it. I found the premise interesting but I thought the execution was poor.. it didn't do a great job of getting its point across (though I appreciate that it doesn't shove it down your throat either). I felt like I understood what the movie was getting at but I wasn't totally sure.. I guess that could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it, but I didn't get the sense of assuredness that I did from say Eraserhead.

    That being said, I'm giving this vote to The Hurt Locker. I agree that it stumbles occasionally in a few areas, but I honestly really only noticed on a second viewing because the first time I saw it I was totally along for the ride. I could also gripe about the abundance of military inaccuracies (a pet peeve of mine) but like for example, Platoon the themes, action, and strong performances more than make up for it. A quick word on the theme.. I found it interesting that while countless films focus on the heroism or terror of war, few focus on the just as real phenomenon of people that enjoy it.. I think this one did a good job of showing that.

  • @pinecone It's a shame to see Miyazaki go out this early. I haven't seen Porco Rosso, but I know that it's not regarded as highly as some of his other films. Why pick that one, when he has plenty of bigger guns to go around? Heck, even if you thought you had to include it, why not use it up in the first round?

  • North By Northwest vs Jaws. I like this matchup quite a bit. North By Northwest is a great adventure film, and the faceoff against the backdrop of Mount Rushmore is one of the first real iconic setpiece action sequences in cinema. It's a nearly flawless film. A kid at the visitor center plugs his ears before the gun is fired, I see it every time I watch this movie. :) Young Martin Landau is cool as the antagonist muscle.

    Jaws revolutionized summers at the cinema. It made people afraid to go swimming. I think ultimately It's a very Hitchcockian type of film. Spielberg has been quoted in saying (after the mechanical shark that was supposed to be in most of the movie didn't work) "I tried to imagine how Hitchcock would have done it" You don't see the shark until well into the film and it's presence is implied through camerawork, scoring, and reaction shots. The first appearance of the actual shark itself during th 4th of July weekend and then the up close and personal scale reveal during the chumming sequence are super impactful because so much of it is built up in your imagination before you even see it. If the mechanical shark had worked as intended, Jaws would likely have been a lesser film. One of the most documented and analyzed films of the 20th century, even set stories, anecdotes, and documentaries are super entertaining. Voting for Jaws

    Honestly, while I fully recognize that the Coen Brothers are masterful filmmakers and that the films they've directed are by most subjective measures "good" - there's not more than a few of them I actually like. The adaptation of No Country for Old Men is one of them. It may be because they didn't write it. I'm not sure. I'm voting a little against type here, because generally I appreciate the fun action movie more than the depressing serious Cormac McCarthy crime drama, but Anton Chigurh is just too damn good. Miyazaki is a master, but Porco Rosso is for sure one of his lesser works. I liked it a lot, and I have a certain amount of nostalgia for it, but Porco Rosso is more or less a saturday morning cartoon. It's fun, but mostly unremarkable. No Country For Old Men.

  • Woof, I don't know what's up with me, I just have not been in the mood for some serious movie watching lately, which I suppose is alright since this round seems to be fairly decided already. I just wanted to give a few thoughts on The Fountain without actually voting - I have zero desire to see The Hurt Locker.

    All the complaints lobbed against The Fountain here are beyond valid but... if I'm being honest with myself, it's my favorite Aronofsky film. It certainly lacks focus and can be a bit convoluted at times, but it just has a certain raw appeal that makes me gravitate towards it. It's certainly one of his most visually stunning pieces and the color palette might be one of my favorite in any movie, period. Considering I'm always saying how much story and characters mean to me, I should find tons of problems with this film, but for whatever reason, it's one I bring up often when asked what my favorite movies are. I'll chalk up my undying love to vibes on this one.

  • Forgot about this site for a few days, life has been hectic. I plan on voting in all matchups, but here's what I'm ready with!

    North by Northwest vs Jaws: North by Northwest
    To me, these two are pretty much perfectly on the same page. They're both fantastic movies, and I love each of them. So for me, this is just a vote of preference, and I happen to enjoy North by Northwest more. It so perfectly encapsulates a lot of what makes Hitchcock great--soaring soundtracks, the everyman finding himself in a position of sudden and unexpected danger, the femme fatale, the Mt. Rushmore sequence, and (of course) one of the most famous visual innuendos in all of film history.

    Porco Rosso vs No Country for Old Men: No Country for Old Men
    I don't have anything meaningful to add that hasn't already been said on this one. Porco Rosso is charming in the way that all of Miyazaki's work is charming, but it doesn't feel like it has much substance beyond that compared to his other work. And while I'm with TokyoSlim on No Country not being my general type of movie, I can't deny how well it was written. The entire film really thrives off of its good script-writing *executed through some amazing acting) and no-frills visual style.

  • I was thinking of closing voting on this round on Thursday. I'm pretty happy with this round---a good turnout on all matchups, even if 3 of the four turned out to be blowouts.

    I would like to see one more vote on the Hitchcock/Spielberg matchup now that it's close!