So here at Table 71 we have decide to to an ultimate movie bracket for each year. What that means is that we take the Top 10 movies by Domestic Gross Sales, put in six wild cards and have them duke it out to see what will reign supreme as the top movie of the year. We seed the movies based on their Rotten Tomato score and may the best one win.
First year that we are going with is the year 1990, or as I like to call it the year of the awful sequel. The movies that missed the cut on this list were Godfather III, Rocky V, Robocop 2, Look Who’s Talking 2, Gremlins 2, Young Guns 2, and Predator 2. Eesh. That is a hodgepodge of mediocrity and worse. As you can see Hollywood making bad sequels is not a recent trend. We also had two sequels make the cut in Back to the Future III and Die Hard 2. How far will they advance? It is time to find out.
(1) Goodfellas vs (16) Days of Thunder
With Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, Cary Elwes and a young John C. Reilly all in tow and directed by the late Tony Scott, Days of Thunder is a pretty strong 16 seed. Days of Thunder was Tom Cruise doing what Tom Cruise is good at. Being a cocky son of a bitch that you can’t help but love. Even in real life this happened as this is where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman met and fell in love.
Goodfellas is a movie that I grew up watching and admiring. This movie had Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, and Joe Pesci. This movie is deserving of it's #1 seed and will be a tough out for any movie in this bracket. You see Ray Liotta climbing the ranks of the Mob Ladder, and you see Pesci and DeNiro in their pre-Casino mob roles. Pesci was fantastic as Tommy DeVito and his Best Supporting Oscar won is valid.
Like I stated, Days of Thunder is a pretty strong 16 seed, but Goodfellas was the main inspiration for the Sopranos, only one of the greatest television shows ever. For that reason alone Cole Trickle drives his Nascar home and Goodfellas makes the Great Eight.
(8) Dances With Wolves vs (9) Back to the Future III
Let me start off by saying that I am not Kevin Costner fan. I think he has the depth of a puddle. However, the fact that he wrote, directed, and starred in the movie that won Best Director and Best Picture either shows you that he is quite talented, that it was a horrendous year for movies, or a combination of the two. I am choosing to go with the latter.
Back to the Future III was the end of a Trilogy that should have ended after one movie. The third one takes place in the old west and Doc falls in love. I’ll be honest the first Back to the Future is one of the best movies I have ever seen, but this movie falls incredibly short of that.
So who wins here? A movie where Kevin Costner played a prominent role or the last part of a trilogy that started so promising and just couldn't use their momentum to make another great movie? Sorry McFly but time has ran out on you. If only you went back in time and made this movie as good as the first.
(4) Arachnophobia vs (13) Home Alone
I'd watch Arachnaphobia just for John Goodman's character Delbert McClintock. For me, its one of the roles I think of when I think of Goodman. Distinct and hilarious. Not to mention, Jeff Daniels plays serious pretty well and the whole movie blends humor with the general fear of spiders pretty well. This is a great flick if for no other reason than hearing Goodman state "...A web would indicate an arachnoid presence.
Home Alone is the quintessential kids movie. Every single kid dreams about waking up and having the house to themselves, eating a giant bowl of ice cream, watching "grown up" movies, and sneaking through your older brothers room. This movie also made Joe Pesci a family fan and after his role in Goodfellas you might think that was impossible. Growing up I would always put together traps for my brother based on what I saw in this very movie.
Home Alone advances in the first seed upset of the year, and I don't think this is that big of an upset at all. Home Alone is criminally underseeded in this bracket and as one of the biggest grossing movies of the year, and now it wins another prize. A victory over Arachnophobia.
(5) Misery vs (12) Pretty Woman
I'm a sucker for romantic comedies, and Julia Roberts is quite charming in Pretty Woman, she's no late 80's/early 90's Meg Ryan, but who is really? Richard Gere is well, Richard Gere, smirking and wealthy and Jason Alexander does a great job playing Jason Alexander, a complete prick. Pretty Woman is solid and a good riff on the old Pygmalion story, but didn't really knock my socks off.
As for Misery well there is a difference between a movie I enjoyed and a movie that I thought was well made. Misery was not a movie I enjoyed, mainly because I was cringing the whole time. That is what Stephen King novels are about. They are sometimes not enjoyable to imagine but they are enthralling and you can't put them down. I thought the movie was the same way as the book. I couldn't look away at Kathy Bates torturing James Caan, even though I wanted too. The story telling is what makes this movie so good, and Steven King is one of the best at telling a story.
At the end of the day these movies could not be more different from each other. In Pretty Woman you have a romantic comedy that couldn't be more positive and in Misery you have a movie that just leaves you feeling sorry for everyone. Be that as it may Misery is one of those movies that you have to appreciate the chilling story and the brilliant way it was brought to the screen and for that it moves on. Sorry Julia.
(2) Hunt for Red October vs (15) Ninja Turtles
The Hunt for Red October is the first of the Tom Clancy "Jack Ryan" novels to be made in a movie and it did not disappoint. You have an all-star cast here including Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan and Sean Connery, Stellan Skaarsgard, James Earl Jones, and Sam Neill just being the basic bad asses we have all come to know and love. The Hunt for Red October is about a USSR-USA Cold war fight and frankly that is not anything new. I enjoyed this movie and it was well made, but it was not one of those movies that I remember too much about.
Here is where my bias might show a little bit. The first Halloween I remember is when I was five years old and I was dressed up as Donatello. I had Ninja Turtle sheets and Ninja Turtle curtains and was absolutely obsessed. This was one of my top five movies growing up and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Usually the movies that you love as a kid you don't like as much as an adult because they don't age well. They are childish and not entertaining for adults. That is simply not the case with this movie. This movie still makes me laugh and it still is enjoyable to watch. Their are certain parts that I find funnier now as an adult than I ever did as a kid, and that is tough to do with a movie made for kids.
Even though Hunt for Red October is a very good movie and is very well acted it is ousted in a 2-15 shocker. The scene between Casey Jones and Donatello trading insults alone is enough to move it on to the next round.
(7) Ghost vs (10) Die Hard 2
Ghost is another Romantic Comedy that I thoroughly enjoy. It has Whoopie Goldberg as an Oscar winning psychic who works with Patrick Swayze to help Demi Moore figure out that he was murdered. This movie has one of the most iconic scenes in Romantic Comedy history, with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore together making a clay pot to "Unchained Love" by the Righteous Brothers. That scene always gets me.
Die Hard 2 has John Mclane doing what John Mclane does but this time we have one glaring omission. Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber is one of the best villains in cinema history and without him this movie just doesn't seem to be as good. Not too mention Mclane isn't fighting a terrorist from another country but a Special Forces Colonel. This bad guy just doesn't bring the same vigor that Rickman brought and because of that this movie just doesn't have the same affect on me.
I love John Mclane and think that he is a true American hero. He is an impossible man to kill and he has one of the most popular catch phrases in American movie history (Yippie ki-yay Mother Fucker!)
This might be the only time that Mclane goes out early but sorry Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore swoon their way to the great 8 and set up a matchup with the Ninja Turtles.
(3) Edward Scissorhands vs (14) Kindergarten Cop
This is Johnny Depp vs The Governator himself. First off you have Johnny Depp as the innocent Edward Scissorhands, a man with scissors for hands who is thrust into suburban life and tries to fit in. Depp dives into the role as the reclusive Edward and does a fantastic job of showing his fragile side. This movie has all the aspects of an early 90s movie. An estranged character, a woman he falls in love with, a jealous boyfriend, skeptical parents, crazy neighbors, and at least one person who loves the main character just for who he is. While the story itself is original it follows a similar pattern and does not do it as well.
Kindergarten Cop is a movie that broke the mold. Arnold Schwarzenegger had been starring in action movies the entire decade of the 1980s and now he makes a movie where he works with 15 6 year olds. Schwarzenegger is a cop who has to go undercover as a Kindergarten teacher to find a drug dealer. His rapport with these kids is fantastic and the action scenes are well done but not overdone.
While Edward Scissorhands is beautifully made, Kindergarten Cop was always a more memorable movie for me. The one-liners that the kids come up with is good enough to move on to the next round.
(6) Total Recall vs (11) Dick Tracy
I would say 1990 was a big year for two actors, as they have multiple entries on this list. The first one
is Pesci with Goodfellas and Home alone, and #2 is good ol' Arnie. He is back with Total Recall.
Total Recall is disgusting, over the top and ridiculous and still a really entertaining movie. Arnold has all of his usual one liners and there's all sorts of weird shit in this movie that makes it memorable. The guy who lives in the other guys stomach, the woman with three breasts and then those scenes where Arnold's face is about to explode and his eyes are bugging out of his head. The movie is kind of trippy, and now looks a little dated, but hot damn that's an entertaining movie.
Frankly, Dick Tracy sucked. I wish I could give a more thorough explanation of this movies general blandness, but I found the movie forgettable and I just didn't care what happened. Beatty was good as Dick Tracy, I'll give it that, but the rest of it was just kind of...meh
The last matchup of the first round is the easiest one to call. Total Recall advances meaning we have two Pesci movies and two Arnold movies in the Great Eight.
(1) Goodfellas vs (8) Dances with Wolves
On one hand we have the movie that won every Academy Award in 1990, launched the career of the lead actor as proof that he can succeed in a serious role, and is universally regarded as a very fine movie. And then we have the winner.
Even though I am not a Kevin Costner fan at all I will concede that Dances with Wolves is a fine piece of work, and one that is worthy of the Great Eight. You could even make a case that it should be in the Final Four, and if it was going against another movie you might be onto something.
However this is a horrible matchup for Dances. Goodfellas is the #1 seed here for a reason. Martin Scorsese directed this movie that is widely regarded as the second best mob movie of all time, trailing only the Godfather. At least Costner beat Scorsese in the Best Directing Oscar for 1990. He sure isn't winning here, and to be honest which is more prestigious.
Goodfellas advances and is the first one in the Final Four.
(13) Home Alone vs (5) Misery
McCauley Caulkin vs Kathy Bates.... James Caan vs Joe Pesci...
The first time I looked at this matchup I thought that Home Alone would breeze into the Final Four, but the more I look at it the tougher it becomes. Sure Home Alone was THE kids movie when I was growing up, but was it that good of a movie? It had its funny moments with all of the booby traps that young Kevin McCallister set for the marauders that were invading his house. John Candy was fantastic in a small role as the band leader who helped get Kevin's mom home to him.
Then you have Misery. You have Kathy Bates winning an Oscar for her chilling role as Annie Wilkes. Rob Reiner was directing hit movie after hit movie after hit movie. He had a five year stretch where he made 4 fantastic movies. However if you had me rate those four movies Misery would not make the medal stand.
Anyways, back to the contest. While this matchup was closer than I anticipated I am still going with Home Alone for one simple reason. If you put me in a house with two rooms, one is playing Home Alone and one is playing Misery I would choose Home Alone. I could turn on Home Alone right now and be set for the rest of the night, while if Misery was on I would be flipping channels to see what else is on.
(15) Ninja Turtles vs (7) Ghost
Ninja Turtles, fresh off the huge upset over Hunt for Red October, now goes against underappreciated Ghost. My heart wants to pick Ninja Turtles, but my head is going to say Ghost and here is why.
Let's take a look at some of the characters in this movie. You have Casey Jones in the Ninja Turtles, squaring off against Oda Mae Brown in Ghost. Few characters can match the wit of Casey Jones but Oda Mae is one of them. I would say advantage Oda Mae by the slightest of margins. As far as the female lead that isn't even a contest. Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) is much better than April O'Neil, as Molly helps out while April usually stands idily by.
Another character that takes the Ninja Turtles down a peg is Danny, April's boss' son. He is a sniveling little weasel who steals money from April, then all of a sudden gets a heart as soon as Splinter tells him the story of his childhood. Danny took the movie down a notch, and no one from Ghost did that.
The Ninja Turtles were full of one-liners and the rewatchability factor is off the charts, but Ghost is just a better movie overall, and for that it advances to the Final four.
(6) Total Recall vs (14) Kindergarten Cop
We have the Arnold Schwarzenegger bowl! This was a fairly easy pick and we have one main reason for that.
Total Recall was an Arnold we have seen before. It was the same loud screaming, shooting Arnold that we got the entire previous decade. While the idea of the story was original, the acting was not.
The role of John Kimble in Kindergarten Cop was something that Arnold had never done before. He wasn't running around shooting everything the entire movie, he actually had to act a little bit. Arnold became more of a well rounded actor because of this movie and because of that the magic carpet ride continues, as Kindergarten Cop makes it to the Final Four.
(1) Goodfellas vs (13) Home Alone
First we had Arnie going against Arnie, and now we have Pesci going against Pesci. If we were just voting on the Pesci characters than Goodfellas would win in a landslide because Tommy DeVito is the perfect mafia cronie. However we are not picking based on Pesci characters... and Goodfellas still wins in a landslide.
Don't get me wrong Home Alone is a very enjoyable movie, but it doesn't hold a candle to Goodfellas. Goodfellas was some of Scorsese's finest work and to this day I still can't figure out how Kevin Costner beat him for the Best Director Oscar.
The great thing about Goodfellas is that even though Pesci won an Oscar I don't know if he did the best acting in that movie. Ray Liotta was so fantastically good in this movie and Robert DeNiro was so fantastically.... Robert DeNiro that Pesci might have done the third best job in this movie, and if the third best actor in a movie wins an Oscar that movie is obviously doing something right.
(7) Ghost vs (14) Kindergarten Cop
Kindergarten Cop is a fine and charming movie. But Ghost gives me absolutely everything I could want from an early 90's movie. The rewatchability factor is off the charts, the soundtrack(Unchained Melody) is solid, the special effects are almost comical. I love movies about the afterlife and I dig any movie with such a sound appetite for justice. What is more perfect for a couple of murderers than being dragged down to hell by a bunch of shrieking jawa's in dark cloaks? This was back when Swayze was absolutely kicking ass too. Just a solid movie all around and I will never get tired of watching it.
(1) Goodfellas vs (7) Ghost
Only one thing I have left to say:
Coming soon will be the 1991 movie bracket. Please leave comments below on how you feel about this bracket.