The Movie Bracket! - Winner announced!

  • 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!

  • @Ringedwithtile said in The Movie Bracket! Round 2, H1 Voting!:

    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!

    I was waiting to see if it would be close, Now that it is, my reviews will be up in a day or two! :)

  • Sorry for the short delay, the hockey went to double overtime tonight. Reviews up in a couple hours.

  • No problem! I might be in bed when it goes up, so I'll manage the deal at work tomorrow morning.

  • North by Northwest

    Was this movie meant to be a spoof? The whole thing jumps from one incredible coincidence to another, and one goofy scenario for Cary Grant to ham it up in to another. He does do a good job at that, certainly, but to spend so much money on sets, stunts, and (excellent) locations, and then use them to film something bordering on slapstick? That can work - see It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - but when you're expecting an honest thriller, and then get those expectations reinforced by actual intrigue early on, the whole experience tends to leave you laughing in the wrong way.


    This, on the other hand, does the "lighthearted thriller" formula a turn better. Again, some scenes are seriously unbelievable, but the laid back acting, sparse settings, and excellent building tension help you shrug those moments a degree. Some unintentional silliness still makes itself known. And while we're waiting for the action scenes, there's way too much dead air and filler. The good stuff is worth getting to, but the journey there is a snoozefest.

    Winner: Jaws

    Should've picked a grittier Hitchcock, like Frenzy or Strangers on a Train. Oh, well...

  • And with that, we enter the second half of the second round! Spielberg, Kubrick, the Coens, and Bigelow make up one half of the quarter finals.

    This next group of matchups carries a lot of peculiar works. I wouldn't be surprised if the votes were pretty divided.

  • Honestly, when I built my lists, I did them on the assumption that more people would be voting than just the players. This skewed what movies I picked and in what order they went towards a mass audience, rather than specifically film nerds. I picked The Martian early because I felt like it was a good, recent Hollywood blockbuster that would be a stepping stone to introducing new people to Ridley Scott's older and sometimes weirder work, Rope wasn't on my list for Hitchcock because the cinematography is cool but the plot shows its age when it comes to clear cultural influences, and I didn't even think Cronenberg would make it past the first round despite being one of my all-time favorites. Part of me wishes I could have planned better for the audience I would be pitching my selections to, but part of me is happy to see things get shaken up a bit. (Though I don't get the North by Northwest hate! It's one of my favorite Hitchcock films because of its mix of the tense and the wildly improbable, plus it conveniently presents almost all of Hitchcock's quirks as a director in one movie as a good introduction to themes to watch out for.) If you were curious, here's what you didn't see:

    The 39 Steps
    North by Northwest
    Rear Window

    Ridley Scott:
    The Martian
    Black Hawk Down
    Thelma and Louise
    Blade Runner

    As you can see, there's a tendency to go with more accessible films early on and recognizable films towards the end. I was banking on that strategy to push my picks through, but oh well! Among all these greats, some have got to go. And now we're on the weird side of the bracket, so I'm looking forward to seeing new films and revisiting old ones. I'm hopeful that we'll see Blue Velvet out of Lynch, it's up there as one of my favorite films of all time.

  • High and Low and Escape from New York are my babies. I don't think I could vote on this matchup unless it was to force a tie. :p

    Brazil over Magnolia, no contest. Magnolia is a fine film with an excellent soundtrack, but it hasn't got the nuance or charm or world building of Brazil.

    I think I'm also going to go with X-Men First Class It's a fun film that was more successful in re-booting the dead in the water X-Men franchise than I'd had any hope for. They managed to tie together the modern day and "First Class" franchises relatively seamlessly, and gave important and flawlessly realized context between Xavier and Magneto. eXistenZ is a movie that resides firmly (to me) in the first major lull period of Cronenberg's work sandwiched between Crash and A History of Violence where both eX and Spider were kind of just dull movies that were trying to capitalize on the style, but without the cutting, visceral technological or psychological commentary of a Videodrome, The Fly, or Dead Zone. I feel like he underwent a transformation where he kind of realized that the specific kind of satires he'd been making had kind of passed him by at this point. When he made eXistenZ and Spider instead of feeling fresh and relevant, they felt like your dad lecturing you as a teenager on the hazards of the internet, or nagging you about going to an out of state college in a big city. One of Cronenberg's greatest feats was reinventing his own style with A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, but I'm not judging Cronenberg's oeuvre - but specifically eXistenZ, which is a film I found lacking.

    Since Eastwood was knocked out and we're sharing our dead comrade's lists here was his:

    High Plains Drifter
    Gran Torino
    The Outlaw Josey Wales
    A Perfect World

    I could have gone a bit weirder, I almost put The Eiger Sanction first on the list, followed up by Honkeytonk Man, because though flawed and in the case of The Eiger Sanction, pretty racist and sexist in many ways - it's an interesting counterpoint to early Bond films which you don't necessarily associate with Eastwood. And it's not very often you see an assassin movie set in and around the lifestyle of mountain climbing. Might have been fun.

    Honkeytonk Man is just a good underrated musical roadtrip movie, and I feel like it's super underrated, even within the conversation of Eastwood directed titles. It ultimately didn't make it because I really wanted to get Josey Wales and A Perfect World in there, but it's worth a mention.

  • So High and Low is my favorite Kurosawa film, it's that one. As much as I love Kurosawa's work, it's the one that has a pretty unmovable spot as a real favorite. It's a smart, relentlessly tense film with excellent performances. Kurosawa's direction is so on-point too. Blocking densely filled rooms of characters is so fucking hard, and it's just pitch-perfect use of physical direction. Endlessly dramatic, compelling craft.

    Carpenter is a director I carry in higher esteem than Kurosawa personally, and yet Escape From New York rests outside of my 10 favorites from Carp. I actually prefer L.A., as I think it's much more aware of how goofy it is, and I think it has more to say about its titular city. I dig the punk atmosphere and how surprisingly quiet NY is, but I have to give it to High and Low

    I really like Magnolia. It was a pretty formative high-school film for me. It's almost an embarrassing film to have made, a sprawling, practically presumptuous high-stakes melodrama stripping all it's characters to absurd catharsis. And it's filled with performances that are up to the task, and a directorial panache that's super admirable. It's silly, but I still like this one a lot.

    Brazil is just off-the-wall. Throw everything we can at the wall baby, it'll stick, and it'll be glorious. Brazil's universe is in this constant stage of regurgitation, its people are all delusional and it looks like someone exploded the first half of the 20th century and photographed right as everything was suspended in the air. It's awesome. Brazil gets my vote.

    So I saw X-Men First Class and I thought it was one of the better Xmans. I don't know how much that says, because I think most of the Xmons are pretty bad, but I remember Fassbender being neat and there being a surprising focus on costuming and production design which was refreshing. It's still got your super dupers, but they've got old hairdos and gaudy, throwback colors. I give it 3 exmens out of 5.

    eXistenZ is totally not a great Cronenberg. It has about two or three sequences that are drop-dead great, but I don't think Cronenberg had much to say about virtual reality or gaming---he almost avoids those as thematic strands holding the film together which only allows it to play as a series of odd sequences.

    So I think both films are 'alright', but eXistenZ has mechanic Dafoe and fishgun, so I'm voting for it. It's just more up my alley.

    It's a bit weird saying sexiest Wong Kar-Wai film, since they're all sexy with their music-led editing, their luscious photography, their attractive people falling in love for a minute and spending the rest of their time tearing themselves up about it. Despite that Days of Being Wild is really sexy. It has a violence, a pent-up, frustrated quality that really bewitched me. I called it my favorite from Wong for a while, but then I watched it again and found it scattered. The great sequences were still there, but they didn't hold together as well. I didn't buy the relationships. It's still damn good, but I think it diminishes a bit after its emergent pleasures have already been experienced once.

    I didn't like Lost Highway the first time I saw it. I mean I was riveted by the first section, I mean how fucking creepy can you get? Its use of low-fi footage, effectively repurposing the home video format into something dark and invasive. Then that second half hit and I wasn't just as engaged. It developed a little predictably and it didn't get at my insides as much.

    Then I caught the last two thirds late at night on TV a year or so ago and I was glued to the screen. Every shot and edit was like a punch to the chest. It was a real experience and it made me reconsider how I felt about it.

    Ask me tomorrow and I might vote the other way, but recency bias, baby. Lost Highway.

    edit: I haaaaaate The Eiger Sanction hahaha. Agreed that Honkytonk is great, though. Eastwood has a lot of stuff that flew under the radar!

  • Unlike @alexwhiteplays, I figured it would mostly be the players voting and not the community as a whole. Even I have to admit, I haven't voted as much as I would have liked and this has shown how much film I need to catch up on!

    To tip my hat with my "order", I mostly tried to place my personal favorites first (as they don't ever seem to match up with popular/critical opinion) and then slowly ramp up to the darlings for each director. The hope was that even if a director I loved got knocked out early, my favorite from them still got some views. So here's my knocked out director's list!

    Darren Aronofsky
    1st round - Pi
    2nd round - The Fountain
    3rd round - The Wrestler
    4th round - Black Swan
    Finals - Requiem for a Dream

    Wes Anderson
    1st round - Moonrise Kingdom
    2nd round - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
    3rd round - The Royal Tennebaums
    4th round - Rushmore
    Finals - The Grand Budapest Hotel

    You all are monsters, I just want to remind you of that.

    Except not really.