Movie News

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Best of 2000-NOW: The Elite 8

We are down to The Elite 8 in our Tournament to determine the Best Film of 2000-Now.
The above photo (click to enlarge) has all the Round 1, 2 and 3 Winners.

64 Films were cut to 32.

You can read Part I of the Round 1 Recap here.
You can read Part II of the Round 1 Recap here.

32 films were then cut to 16.
You can read the 32 to 16 Recap here.

Now, 16 Films have been chopped down to 8.

Vote on The Elite 8 in the Comments Section.

Dan (The North) is writing in italics.

Chris (The South) is writing in normal.

Sweet 16 to Elite 8 Recap:

Aronofsky/Scorsese Region:

The First Match of the Sweet 16 was a Best Picture Winner Crime Drama Showdown:

This match really began when these films won Best Picture Oscars in consecutive years
Both are epic dramas dealing with the law, the underworld and the personal ties of society. 
Each had a director previously nominated for an Oscar and a cast full of big time actors.
I figured the hardest part would be comparing two, almost equally, incredible films. 

However, some people took hard stances in one direction or the other. 
I had a 30 minute conversation with a reader about the high points and meanings of each film.
In the end, I think he decided on DEPARTED because of the importance of the soundtrack. 
Another was outraged that we were even taking votes: He had NO COUNTRY in a shut out.

The opinions of The North and The South were briefly split as well. 
But in a Tournament, one film moves on and one gets the old compressed-air gun to the dome:

THE DEPARTED works overtime to oust NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

I liked NO COUNTRY, but I think the film suffers from being an adaptation of a beloved novel.
Every adaptation has the "it wasn't as good as the book" detractors. 
That's because a movie is not a book. 
Great books can be bad films (THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES).
Bad books can be great films (THE GODFATHER (the book wasn't terrible, but not great)).
I think NO COUNTRY is probably a great novel and a good film.
Watching it for the first time, I liked it, but had the feeling I was missing a lot of something.
Wide open spaces in films and novels are just different, I guess.
Marty does his thing (so well) and moves on to The Elite 8.

Next up was #2 Iron Man versus #3 Requiem for a Dream. 
Both great in their own way, but two films that could not be on more opposite ends of the film spectrum. 

Released way back in 2000, Darren Aronofsky's Requiem barely made the year cutoff to be included in the tourney, but it is showing tremendous staying power. I guess a movie that intense and memorable has a way of sticking with you (or haunting your nightmares is more like it). 

Then there is Iron Man, a somewhat surprising hit from 2008. There are few movies that are a better example of why casting is so crucial. Could you imagine anyone else as billionaire-playboy-turned-superhero Tony Stark than Robert Downey, Jr.? But most imporantly, Iron Man can be credited with launching the entire multi-billion dollar Marvel/Avengers film universe, the now gold-standard for Hollywood franchises. 

But when you weigh the merits of each film, Requiem for a Dream is clearly superior. The voting showed the same opinion, and Aronofsky's film advances. His reward is showdown with Scorsese, in a match-up for the championship of the region named for them.

Click Read More For The Rest of The Sweet 16 to Elite 8 Recap

Tarantino/Jackson Region:

Quentin Tarantino was forced to face himself once again, in The Sweet 16.
This time, #1. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS bashed #4. KILL BILL VOL.1.
Eliminating KILL BILL VOL. 2 was easy enough, but taking out both was quite a task.

Watching BASTERDS a few times really makes you wonder: Is it QT's best movie?
Understating the magnitude of PULP FICTION or the brilliance of RESERVOIR DOGS is basically sacrilege among Tarantinophiles and film connoisseurs. 
However, BASTERDS is so ambitious and so wild, it makes you think Tarantino had to work harder to make it work. The sets, the costumes, the cast are all done perfetctly.
It's not even in English most of the time, but it always speaks in the language of Quentin.
I'm not ready to move it past PULP or DOGS, but it's a conversation at least.

KILL BILL VOL. 1 is a great movie, but it will never rank higher than #4 on the QT List.

#3 Adaptation vs. #7 Children of Men
Tough, tough match-up here, but this far in the tournament, they all are.

Adaptation is a fascinating and thoroughly entertaining trip inside screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's warped mind, plus it boasts what is arguably Nic Cage's best performance to date. Whereas Children of Men is a harrowing tale of a bleak and desolate future with one of the best realized/executed visions of a realistic, yet still futuristic world.

Adaptation handled business against Road to Perdition and Anchorman easily enough, but Children of Men (who tackled two Lord of the Ring films) proved to be too  much to handle, as Cuaron's modern day sci-fi masterpiece pulls another upset, to advance.

(Dan's Note: Both ADAPTATION and CHILDREN OF MEN were incredible in the theater.
The metamorphosis sequence in ADAPTATION is pure film bliss.)

Nolan/Fincher Region:

I was a little disappointed when the #1. THE DARK KNIGHT defeated #4. ALMOST FAMOUS.

ALMOST FAMOUS is so good. If you like it, you have to get the Director's Cut, UNTITLED.
It's a complete film that takes your on the emotional ride of the characters. You become invested in them and hope they will come out alive and on-top. A warning to those who have never seen UNTITLED, your views on Penny Lane may be vastly changed. 

I like DARK KNIGHT, but I think it's vastly overrated a film because it was such a blockbuster.
The word of mouth surrounding Heath Ledger and his performance made this movie an event. 
It was then hailed as great because it was so successful. I really don't love The Nolan Batmans. It may be an unpopular opinion, but I think BATMAN BEGINS was good, DARK KNIGHT was decent and DARK KNIGHT RISES was pure trash. Like most series, he couldn't recreate thing that made the original so fresh and exciting. In this case, I think he locked Christian Bale in a small box, with a stupid voice. We never again saw the torn and interesting Bruce Wayne from BEGINS.

#10 Memento is another film on a bit of a hot streak, having upset both Snatch and Inception. On the other hand, #6 The Social Network has easily taken care of business against Atonment and Gladiator.

Memento is a love it or hate it kind of movie. It is a twisty, stylistic film that you either bought into or you didn't. Its competition on the other hand, The Social Network, is pretty much universally appreciated, some even called it the film of a generation. Now that is a bold statement, but a convincing argument can be made. I mean, most of you probably came to this site from Facebook, am I right? 

In a fairly close vote, Social Network continued it's roll through the field and beat Memento. I know Dan, who is not particularly high on Memento, is glad to see Social Network, a film we both love, advance on to the next round. The result of this game leaves us with a third, and tie-breaking, Fincher vs. Nolan match-up.

Anderson/Coppola Region:

Wes Anderson gave himself a run for his (own) money.

It was a sad day for The North. 
In a dream scenario, they would not have faced off until the championship.
But the Tournament is a cruel game, and it was our task to name a winner.

I saw LIFE AQUATIC on Opening Night, Christmas 2004. I went with 4 other people.
Two of them loved it, two of them hated it. 
I loved it, so it was a 3-2 win for the Zissou Society.
My friend then dropped this gem:
"It was like I was watching the best movie I'd ever seen. 
Then they went to the island, and then, that was the best movie I've ever seen."

Here is a full video of that sequence:

The scoring and pacing of that sequence is a better bit of filmmaking than most are capable of doing.

I think the deal with Wes Anderson is that you love it or hate it.
I saw RUSHMORE in the theater with my older brother when I was 13.
It was a blizzard, we had the day off and I made him take me because I saw a preview on TV.
He hated it and was mad we didn't see PATCH ADAMS.
I loved it and did the "Pull your head outta your ass" Reach-back, for the next six months:

Wes hooked me with RUSHMORE.
My father and I went to see TENENBAUMS on Opening Day.
And he asked me what I thought. 
16 year old me answered, "Best Movie I've Ever Seen."
I'm sad to bid farewell to my friends on The Belafonte, but the family on Archer Street moves on.

Next up was #2 There Will Be Blood squaring off against #3 Traffic.

As good as Traffic is, it had a fairly easy path through the tourney so far, beating Fantastic Mr. Fox and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - both good and thoroughly entertaining films, but not exactly heavyweights. Needless to say, Steven Soderbergh's drug film has yet to see the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood and Daniel Plainview . . . until now that is.

There was not much of a contest, as There Will Be Blood pulled out its trusty bowling pin and pummeled Traffic into submission - leaving no doubt which is the superior film.
 Let's just say only one film is drinking a milkshake now.

The Elite 8 is set.
All of the #1 seeds are alive, but that may not last much longer.
Here are the match-ups to see who will move on to The Final 4:

Scorsese vs. Aronofsky in the Region named for them:

Made Up History vs. Made Up Future:

The Nolan vs. Fincher Rubber Match in the Region named for them:

North/South Mount Rushmore Match--Wes Anderson vs. Paul Thomas Anderson:


  1. Dan I dont know what people you are collecting to umm vote on these, but Social Network Beats Gladiator. who is overseeing this, can we get an electoral college to overrule the idiot masses. and one last thing to say about no country. One movie person put it this way. There will be blood tried to be a great movie, No Country for Old Men was a great movie. with that said, seeing a ridiculous ammount of ABSURD upsets, i will say. The Departed, Children of Men (written by a guy who lives next to my uncle in South Burlington), There will be blood and the Dark Knight. that is all

  2. Glad to see we inspire the passions.

  3. Requiem, Basterds, Dark Knight, Tenenbaums