Wednesday, March 6, 2013

1993 Movie Bracket

So here at Table 71 we have decided to do 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 as supreme as the top movie of the year.  We seed the movies based on their Rotten Tomato score and may the best one win.  

The next year that we have is 1993.  This bracket took awhile because like 1992, we had a large disagreement on who should win.  We slept on it, changed our minds several times, and had to rewatch some of these movies before we made our decision.  So who will win?  The utter brilliance of Schindlers List, the hilarity of Groundhog Day, the groundbreaking graphics of Jurassic Park, or one of the other 13 movies that were lucky enough to make the cut.  It’s time to find out.

First Round

(1)  Schindler’s List vs (16) Indecent Proposal

Schindler’s List.  Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a ruthless businessman who turned out to have a heart.  After originally using the Jews to make money he saw the atrocities that took place by the Nazi’s he spent the majority of his fortune building the factory to employ workers while producing nothing.  This movie is based on a true story and shows a side of the Holocaust that you had never seen before.

Indecent Proposal is a good bad movie.  The premise is completely ridiculous, but it’s entertaining as hell, and this trainwreck made over 100 million in the states and 260 million worldwide. If you haven't seen this, Robert Redford plays a billionaire who pays a husband (Woody) one million dollars to sleep with his wife(Demi).  It just so happens this couple had lost their life savings on the roulette table trying to gamble their way to financing Woody's ludicrous real estate business idea.  They take up the suave Redford on his offer and then Woody gets all insecure and bent out of shape afterwards.  There are confessions, selflessness in unlikely places and rampant cheesiness abound.  I love this movie the same way I love The Replacements, the thing about this flick is, it took itself seriously.

This is an easy pick here.  Schindler’s List advances to the next round.

(8)  Cliffhanger vs (9) Philadelphia

Ok, I admit it, I saw Cliffhanger opening night, not just at opening night, but opening night at the drive in.  I've always dug Sly Stallone for the Rocky movies, but let’s be real here, this movie sucked.  John Lithgow is a pretty decent villain, as he usually is, but really, why should I care about a couple of hot shot climbers?  I know this is the whole "redemption" storyline that Hollywood beats to death, but I found myself not really caring and not really being entertained,

Philadelphia is a damn good movie.  This came out in an era where AIDS was still shrouded in relative mystery, but was becoming ok to talk about(Thank you Magic Johnson) and getting demystified.  I felt like this was an honest movie with an absolutely great cast.  This was the first time I can remember Denzel whipping out his charming, principled character.  Tom Hanks was amazing, and how about Antonio Banderas in a rock solid performance as the boyfriend?  I found this, and still find this to be a real intelligent movie. 

Philadelphia advances based on the fact that it is everything that Cliffhanger is not, intelligent, well made and well acted.  You felt something, this thing called emotion watching Philadelphia, the only emotion I felt watching Cliffhanger was disappointment.

(4)  The Fugitive vs (13) Grumpy Old Men

The Fugitive was Harrison Ford continuing his stretch of rock-solid flicks about losing his family.   This movie is another one that is on my top 10 list and the main reason why is the performance of Tommy Lee Jones.  He doesn’t care what anyone says or what anyone does, he just wants the truth.  His performance is US Marshall Samuel Gerard was so good it got him his own movie a couple years later.  That doesn’t happen very often.  The pacing of The Fugitive was so perfect that it doesn’t feel like you are watching a movie for 130 minutes.  Every single scene is crucial to the story, there is no wasted movement at all.

Grumpy Old Men is Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon being curmudgeonly neighbors to each other with a serious axe to grind.  Matthau and Lemmon have a fantastic report and work fantastically off each other.  This movie is great because you can join it at anytime and you will know right where you are.   Plus, I’m sure that everyone has that one neighbor they can’t stand, and some of the pranks pulled in this movie are fantastic ideas.

Look don’t get me wrong Grumpy Old Men is a good movie.  But it does not hold up when compared to the brilliance of Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, and The Fugitive.  The Fugitive advances and it will be in a dogfight in the next round.

(5)  Jurassic Park vs (12) Mrs. Doubtfire 

I love Jurassic Park.  It's not just a great movie, but it gave birth to one of the great theme park rides ever.  It's the King Kong ride without the constant malfunctions.  Jurassic Park is adapted from a novel by Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg does an outstanding job translating Crichton's often too scientific words into a movie easily understood.  Jurassic Park also holds its own over time, the special effects hold up, and its rewatchability factor is off the charts.  It's also damn quotable, especially the impeccable Dr. Ian Macolm. "Does anyone else feel that? That's an impact tremor, I'm fairly alarmed here." 

Mrs. Doubtfire is Robin Williams doing what Robin Williams does.  His wife left him and he can’t see his kids so he dresses up as an old women so he can spend time with them.  This movie is proof that parents will do anything, literally anything, to spend time with their kids.  You have to appreciate it.  A big shout out to Pierce Brosnan for being the boyfriend and being his typical pre-James Bond smug self.  He is brilliant in that role.  

Even though Mrs. Doubtfire is an uplifting movie about the love between a man and his children, it does not advance.  Move on to the next round Jurassic Park, you earned it.

(2)  Groundhog Day vs (15) Pelican Brief

Groundhog Day is an absolutely fantastic movie.  It would be easy to fuck up this movie.  They could've chose to make this a slapstick comedy, or it could've dragged along clumsily.  Instead, Groundhog runs along without a hitch and is an essentially perfect movie.  The movie is interesting philosophically as well.  What would we do if we kept living the same day over and over again?  Although much of what Phil (Bill Murray) does is offensive and even a little reprehensible, would we do any differently? 

The Pelican Brief is Denzel Washington doing Denzel Washington things, a young Julia Roberts as an upstart law student, and is based on a John Grisham novel.  You know that with John Grisham novels you are going to get a lot of dialogue about the law and the endings always leave something to be desired.  This movie is no different.  The beginning is solid but the end of the movie just drags on.  This is a solid movie and I think it is a little bit underseeded in this bracket, but rules are rules and it has a nightmare of a first round matchup.

I love movies that feature some kind of enlightenment, not just some hollow redemption, but a character growing and learning to appreciate life.  Phil had to live the same day over and over again until he learned to look at life different and stop being such an insufferable prick.  I love this movie and will watch it literally every time it’s on tv.  That is why it advances.

(7)  Menace II Society vs (10) The Firm

Menace II Society came quickly after Boyz N The Hood and is actually a pretty good movie.  It has essentially the same premise, "Young man trying to escape his crime riddled neighborhood" Tyrin Turner plays Caine, whose friend O-Dog(Larenz Tate) is your quintessential thug.  There's a murder and Caine is innocent, well, not entirely innocent, nobody is in this world that this movie depicts. Menace II Society kicked off a flurry of movies in the Boyz N The Hood vein, but none of them, Menace II Society included, could rival Boyz N The Hood.

The Firm, great setup, great acting, great cast.  The Firm is one of those movies that runs with the "Things are too good to be true" idea and executes it well.  Tom Cruise plays a young lawyer fresh out of law school who is lured to an old, established law firm with promises of a new BMW, a new house and a nice salary.  Of course, this law firm is up to nefarious things that Cruise soon uncovers.  I'll admit that the final twenty minutes of the movie clunk along with poorly described reason, but it doesn't ruin the rest of the flick, and once again, the performances are first rate all around. The Firm advances.

(6)  Homeward Bound vs (11) Sleepless in Seattle

This is the toughest matchup of the first round for me.  Homeward bound is a heartwarming tale about two dogs and one cat being left behind at a farm and going on a long journey to get back to their masters.  You have Chance who is the young rabble-rouser, the prissy miss Sassy, and the thoughtful old-timer in Shadow.  Chance is always getting in trouble and Shadow is always bailing him out of trouble.  The end of the movie is a real tear-jerker.  Chance and Sassy have already made it home, but did Shadow?  The wait is agonizingly long but when he limps over that hill and in too the arms of that little boy the water works start.  I am not ashamed to admit this.

In the pantheon of romantic comedies, Sleepless In Seattle is outshined by only one film.  The opening radio show sequence was an instant classic.  Nora Ephron's writing is, of course, filled with wit and charm.  The movie is cheesy, but it knows its cheesy, and the characters know its cheesy.  I really love this movie.  

We here at Table 71 have an affinity for Rom-Coms.  That is why Ghost went so far in 1990 and that is why Sleepless in Seattle wins here.  Two movies in this bracket, Homeward Bound and the movie in the next match-up were two movies I would always watch as a kid.  Writing about this makes me feel so old and wish for the days when movies like Homeward Bound would hold my attention for two plus hours.  But alas we all must grow up.

(3)  In the Line of Fire vs (14) The Sandlot

Clint Eastwood plays an aging tormented "insert name of occupation here" who is embroiled in one last saga.  This time, he's a secret service agent who is still kicking himself over not saving JFK. Now, 30 years later, a clever lunatic (played by John Malkovich) is determined kill the President.  He leads Eastwood through a fascinating game of cat and mouse.  I've seen this movie a few times, and every time I see it on tv, I'm compelled to watch again. Even Renee Russo is sufferable in this. This is a smart and entertaining movie, another dandy from Eastwood.

Being that baseball player that I was going growing up the Sandlot was one of my favorite movies throughout my youth.  Still to this day when I see Squintz making out with Wendy Peffercorn, Ham insulting the team with the real uniforms, and the Fourth of July where tey can play a night game I just smile and remember my childhood.  I always was happy that Smallz found some friends and I cringe whenever I see him hit that Babe Ruth ball over the fence.  That climactic chase between Benny, wearing his P.F Flyers, and the Beast is absolute gold and James Earl Jones cameo is not to be forgotten either.  This is a top-five baseball movie and should be much higher than a 14 seed but here we are.

So who wins?  Eastwood being Eastwood or the immortal Hamilton Porter saying “You are killing me Smallz!!”?  It absolutely pains me to say this but In The Line of Fire advances by the slimmest of margins, taking out Yeah-Yeah, Bertram, and Denunez.  I just hope they will let me play if they need one more!

Great Eight

(1)  Schindler’s List vs (9) Philadelphia

Schindler's List isn't just one of the greatest movies of 1993, it is one of the greatest movies ever.  It isn't a joy to watch, as it tackles a sordid and horrifically depressing part of human history, but it is ultimately a story of hope, and one man doing what he knew was right.  I saw this movie when it came out, I was eight, my family was on a camping trip and apparently my parents decided I was old enough to witness the graphic depictions of the realities of The Holocaust.  I was pretty stunned and horrified, which, was probably the point.  I missed the ending hopefulness of the movie on my first viewing, as I couldn't unsee some of those scenes for months.

Philadelphia is an excellent, important movie. The performances are first rate.  But it’s going against a titan here. This is like a Foo Fighters album going against Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.  Admirable, but mistaken.

(4)  Jurassic Park vs (5) The Fugitive

Wow.  So this is the matchup that the two writers of this blog couldn’t figure out the winner of.  I mean look at these two choices again.  That is why doing this bracket is both a blessing and a curse.  We had a blast discussing who should win this matchup, but we both think that this matchup was one round too early.  The way we figured this out was thru seven criteria.  I will share these with you now:

1. Rewatchability factor:  Yes this comes up a lot in our bracket, but it is one of the most important part of movies.  Both of these movies rate very high on the rewatchability factor scale, but we gave a slight edge to The Fugitive, because when this movie is on I am no doubt watching it to the end.  The Fugitive and A Few Good Men are the only two movies where I am stopping what I am doing, sitting down and taking a break for a couple hours.  

2.  Soundtrack:  Big win here for Jurassic Park.  John Williams iconic orchestra when the dinosaurs are being seen for the first time is one of the best pieces of music in movie history.  In fact when we make our movie song bracket, the Jurassic Park Theme Song will be a top-2 seed.  You can book that now.

3.  Story Writing:  After discussing this for what seemed like eons we decided that the better writing goes to the Fugitive here.  The script is a lot tighter and just kept building and building all the way to the end.  The Jurassic Park script climaxes in the middle with the first time seeing the T-Rex and latter third drifts off a little bit.  The whole part with Dr. Grant and the kids getting lost deters what was great about this movie in the first place.  The dinosaurs.

4.  Idea/Originality:  Another slam dunk win for Jurassic Park.  While The Fugitive was a good idea for a movie, there had been similar plots done before.  Jurassic Park was so completely out of left field that it literally left movie-goers speechless.  The idea behind Jurassic Park was completely original.  This is something that had never been done before.

5.  Acting:  The acting is superb in both movies.   Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones play well off of each other and all of the U.S Marshalls fit their roles to a t.  The Chicago Police department is supposed to be an inept group that can’t keep tabs on an escaped convict, and they play that role very well.  As far as Jurassic Park the chemistry that you see between Dr. Grant and Dr. Sadler is superbly done, and the kids did a good job.  The real money maker for me in Jurassic Park was Richard Attenborough as John Hammond.  Attenborough steals the show as the developer of this theme park, and a more perfect actor could not have been cast.  Since I still can’t decide this category I am calling it a push.

So when you look back on these criteria you have 2 huge wins for Jurassic Park, 1 win and 1 small win for The Fugitive, and 1 push.  I think the edge goes to Jurassic Park because of the originality of the picture, and because of the soundtrack.  Jurassic Park squeaks by to face another tough opponent in Schindler’s List.  

(3) In the Line of Fire vs (11) Sleepless In Seattle

I love Sleepless in Seattle. But let's take it for what it is here, it's a cute romantic comedy with a flurry of borderline iconic scenes.  It’s not a great movie, it drags a little in the middle and Bill Pullman's character is necessary, but painful.  In the Line of Fire is a thriller, it builds and builds, there is some good old fashioned mind-fucking by the villain.  It’s the better movie.  I'll watch the whole thing.  With Sleepless in Seattle, it’s the beginning and end, with a jump to the "I cried at the end of The Dirty Dozen" scene.  Not a complete movie, In The Line of Fire is.

(2) Groundhog Day vs (10) The Firm

Groundhog Day is a movie with a perfect, inevitable ending. It is also content with not explaining everything, what happened happened, there isn't a need to delve into the metaphysical.  It is also essentially a takeoff on The Christmas Carol, as a complete dickwad experiences a redemption in the course of "one" night.  If Bill Murray played took more roles like his character of "Phil" in Groundhog Day, I'd like him more.  Instead he sits and stares vacantly, utters little, and we are supposed to opine about the "depth" of his performances. 

The Firm loses this matchup for a couple of reasons.  The ending just didn't really work and I didn't ever really like Cruise's character of Mitch McDeere.  The only morality he abides by is his lawyer/client confidentiality agreement.  Hell of an interesting movie and Wilford Brimley, Hal Holbrook, Gene Hackman and Ed Harris are all amazing.  I really like this movie, but it can't hold up to Groundhog Day.

The Final Four

(1) Schindler’s List vs (4) Jurassic Park

The all Stephen Spielberg part of our Final Four!! By the way I have never trusted Ralph Fiennes in any movie he has been in since I saw his portrayal of Amon Goeth in Schindler's List.  That is a testament to the performance as he added depth to a, according to the history books, ruthless animal.  The music is dark and raw, the filmmaking unflinching and excellent. How can this not advance?

When the T-Rex attacked in Jurassic Park, I promptly climbed out of my seat, and spent the rest of the movie next to my dad.  That scene is one of the most famous in the last twenty years.  It's terrifying, it's thrilling and it’s a little funny too.  It's when all of the awe inspiring discoveries of the first 45 minutes come to a screeching halt and the movie, in essence becomes a monster movie.  I know Chrichton was trying to, once again, prove man's undisciplined approach to science, but Spielberg made the first half of the movie so amazing, so enrapturing, that the last half of the movie, the lesson teaching part, seemed like a letdown.  Yes, it is a testament of man's inability to control nature, but it appears like a monster movie with dinosaurs.  I really like Jurassic Park, but this nagging complaint over the years results in its demise at the hands of a film like Schindler's List.

(2) Groundhog Day vs (3) In the Line of Fire

Obviously the less heralded of the final four matchups, these two movies none the less are worthy to make it this far.  Clint Eastwood vs Bill Murray.  A matchup you don’t see very often but thanks to the magic of the movie bracket you get to see it play out right before your eyes.  Bill Murray was just a jack ass as that TV Weatherman sent to hell on earth that is Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  Let’s be honest for a second here, if you had to wake up every day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania you would probably hate your life too.  Murray keeps getting more chances to do what is right, and the highs and lows of this movie are absolutely hilarious.  When we first came out with this bracket I was a little surprised to see it at a 2-seed, but once I looked back at how damn funny this movie is, the two seed and a chance to be in the championship matchup are well deserved.

In the Line of Fire is the complete opposite.  It does not have one funny moment.  This movie is serious but it is a well made serious movie.  Where Groundhog Day doesn’t take itself too serious, In the Line of Fire doesn’t mess around with puns, quips, or anything else that might make you crack a smile.  You got to respect that.

After thinking about this for awhile we decided that while In the Line of Fire is a very good movie, Groundhog Day gets the nod and makes the final!!


(1) Schindler’s List vs (2) Groundhog Day

Ideally, this bracket would've ended with Jurassic Park and Schindler's List in the championship.  However, we are faithful to our seedings, and must accept the way they roll out. Groundhog Day is a good movie, but its lacks that grand movie feel that Jurassic Park has and of course lacks the depth of feeling and purpose of Schindler's List.  It's amazing that a story as that of Oskar Schlinder was kicked around Hollywood for over a quarter century before Spielberg finally decided to make it.  Spielberg has always been about the grandness and spectacle of movies.  Schindler's List is a leap in the opposite direction, it is stripped down and honest.  That was really the only way to make a film like that.  Naturally, Schindler's List is the best movie of 1993, case closed.

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