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Movies of 1985 Bracket Game: Back to the Future Vs. Fletch

Fletch vs Back to the Future

With the start of a new year, there’s a whole new slate of movies to look forward to.  Hollywood is hoping 2015 will be a better year at the movies than 2014 was.  But how will the movies of the new year stack up against the movies from 30 years ago.  1985 gave us some classic movies and its share of forgettable ones.  In this month’s bracket game we’re going back in time to 1985 to pick our favorites from 30 years ago!

1985 Bracket Game

Before we get started, let me say a few words about the selection process.  I looked over the Top 100 movies of 1985 and made a list of the movies that I thought were the most memorable today.  Paring that list down to 16 movies was a daunting task.  I had to drop some movies I would have liked to have included.

When in doubt, I picked movies I could pair against other movies in the opening round.  Some movies paired up better than others.  The Sylvester Stallone and Brat Pack pairings were naturals.  I had to stretch a bit to pair up Commando with Witness.  Unfortunately, I had to leave off Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Fright Night and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  There were also forgettable movies like Jewel of the Nile and Teen Wolf that were relatively big at the time.

I won’t say these are the best movies of 1985.  They are just a cross-section of 16 movies that I think represent the year reasonably well while also fitting into the structure of the game.

With all of that in mind, our first match is between two classic comedies from 1985.  Chevy Chase had a busy year starring in National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Spies Like Us and Fletch.  Of the three, Fletch was the most successful and the best remembered today.  Fletch faces off against the time travel comedy, Back to the Future.  Robert Zemeckis’ generational comedy starred Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson.

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Posted on January 8, 2015, in bracket game and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. This contest may have an even more obvious champion than the SNL battle!

    Too bad you didn’t include Pee Wee. That would probably be my second favorite choice behind Back to the Future. Not sure why you picked something like Prizzi’s Honor over it. I barely remember that movie existed and it doesn’t have anywhere near the longevity or nostalgia value of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

    I was also going to pick on Out of Africa, but I guess you can’t leave out a movie that won best picture and director!

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    • The final outcome is probably a pretty easy guess. In fact, just like the SNL game, I’m expecting Chevy Chase to get stomped by the eventual winner in the first round. 😉

      But there’s some hard races to call along the way. Will Back to the Future face off against Rambo, The Breakfast Club or Commando? Goonies has a lot of devoted fans. How far will that take it? When I ran through the brackets myself, there were quite a few I was uncertain of.

      Pee Wee almost made the cut. I was going to pair it with Brazil with the idea that they were both visually interesting movies from quirky directors. A bit of a stretch. Then I realized I had left off Commando and felt like that needed to be included over Pee Wee. This was a pretty last-minute switch.

      I don’t love Out of Africa, The Color Purple or Prizzi’s Honor. But they were the big Awards movies that year. Prizzi’s was nominate for 7 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Also, since I passed over Jewel of the Nile, I figured I’d better show 1985 Kathleen Turner some love with Prizzi’s (j/k).

      I debated cutting the Real Genius/Weird Science match-up in favor of maybe Mad Max 3 vs. Fright Night. But the science comedies just pair so well.

      This was a very tough line-up. I drew up a double-sized bracket, but it was just unwieldy and you ended up with some pretty unworthy movies at 32. I feel like this 16 is a pretty representative line-up of prestige movies, box office hits and cult movies.

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      • jeffthewildman

        The Color Purple was a better book than movie. I wasn’t a fan of Out Of Afruca at all. I’d say that of the nominees that year the best one was Witness.

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        • I have a real soft spot for Witness, I really love that film. I never did see Out Of Africa myself so I couldn’t compare the two fairly but I always felt like Witness was such a beautifully crafted film that it should have won Best Picture. I’ll say this: Harrison Ford has never been better, and I say that as a big fan of his who has seen almost every film he’s ever done.

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        • Some of the mainstream movies came up with awards and nominations that year. Witness, Cocoon and Back to the Future were all winners. I do think it’s funny that the front runners from 30 years ago are mostly forgotten now.

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  2. Brazil is one of my all-time favorite films! It is funny and dark, with excellent design and visuals. It boasts an impressive supporting cast, including Bob Hoskins, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Jim Broadbent, Robert DeNiro, and more.

    That said, I don’t expect it to advance very far.

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    • Knowing that, I HAD to include Brazil.

      Realistically, whoever wins in the first round match-up between Brazil and Prizzi’s Honor is almost certainly losing to whichever Stallone movie it faces in the second round. If it somehow makes it to the second round, there’s almost no chance of it advancing to the semi-finals.

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      • Other favorites from 1985 include Ladyhawke, Lost in America, Murphy’s Romance, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Silverado.

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        • Murphy’s Romance? I’ve never actually watched it. I can vouch for all the others.

          1985 also brought us Police Academy 2, A View to a Kill, Mask, White Nights, Pale Rider, Brewster’s Millions, The Jagged Edge, Teen Wolf, Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Desperately Seeking Susan and The Black Cauldron. Among obviously a lot of other movies.

          It wasn’t a great year like 1984, but it was a pretty good year overall.

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        • jeffthewildman

          It was definitely a step-down from 1984. But it still had some good ones.

          Murphy’s Romance was one of my mom’s favorites and I always saw it as one of the few chick flicks that guys could enjoy too.

          http://letterboxd.com/jeff_wilder/list/top-10-films-of-1985/

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        • That’s a solid list.

          Years like 1984 don’t come around all that often. That’s why 30 years later, we’re still talking about how good it was. 1985 was a much more typical year, but it still had a few movies that have stood the test of time.

          From memory, the next great year after 1984 was 1989.

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        • jeffthewildman

          Agreed with that. 1985-1988 weren’t outstanding. But they did give us some good stuff that stands the test of time,

          1990 and 1991 weren’t outstanding on the whole. But they did give us a few truly great ones. Of the 1990s, 1993, 1995, 1997 and especially 1999 were outstanding or close to it. 1994, 1996 and 1998 weren’t on the same level. But still gave us a few that still hold up (you can’t look down on the years that gave us Pulp Fiction, Shawshank, Fargo, Trainspotting, Dark City and The Big Lebowski).

          The 2000s in general were a step down form the quality filmmaking of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Of that decade only 2006 and 2007 were outstanding. The 2000s started off with the relatively weak 2010 and the very weak 2011 before picking up steam with 2012 and 2013.

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        • For some reason, I lost track of what movies came out in which specific year around 1990. The 90s were a great time for movies in my opinion. The “indie” movement really shook things up. You stopped getting a parade of boring Oscar movies like Out of Africa. I mean, they were still there. But it wasn’t like the 80s where you got Ghandi, Chariots of Fire and Out of Africa every single year. I was actually more in tune with the movies through the 90s than maybe any other time in my life. But I can’t keep my years straight without looking things up. I’ll have a general sense of early, mid or late. But that’s about it.

          For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be looking back at 1985. But later on, I’ll probably put together some kind of look back at 1995. Probably not another bracket game (unless I’m desperate for game topics) but something.

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        • Agreed. It was the indies of the 1990s (along with films form the 50s and 70s) that made me want to become a filmmaker myself. Dazed And Confused in a way was the movie that showed me “you could do this too”.

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  3. Overall I would say this bracket is a very good representation of 1985 in film. I’m looking forward to seeing how some of these brackets play out. No matter what, though, Stallone will be winning at least one of them! I’d like to see Rambo go toe-to-toe against Commando….. I honestly don’t know who would win that battle.

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    • I think there’s a pretty good chance we’ll see that match-up. While I’m pretty sure I can guess the eventual winner, the contests along the way have the potential for some surprises I think.

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  4. I voted Back to the Future this round. Yes, it was a tough choice, being a Chase fan. But even though my contemporaries of the day seemed to prefer Fletch over Vacation, I didn’t end up watching Fletch over and over, and I’ve largely forgotten it. It’s probably time to check it out again. If this was BTTF against Vacation…. it would still be difficult but I’d have gone with Vacation.
    BTTF, on the other hand, seemed to hit us almost like “Star Wars” as one of those life changing movie events. It was more than a good comedy or a fun concept. Lots of water cooler talks about time travel and DeLoreans. Also, the massive popularity of Michael J. Fox, and the genuis of Christopher Lloyd. Yep. BTTF it is!

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    • Back to the Future is beloved on a level few movies are. And yet it’s not universally beloved. Mindy had never seen it, so I put it on. She found the incest humor creepy which I can’t deny. She couldn’t really overcome that.

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  5. jeffthewildman

    I also went for BTTF. But Fletch is cool too. I once observed that its like Chase used up his comedic energy in Caddyshack, Vacation and Fletch and then sentenced himself to a bunch of lesser roles.

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    • If you’re willing to include Three Amigos in that list then I would happily agree with you 100%.

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    • Fletch was the last time I found Chase to be truly funny. Yeah, Christmas Vacation was good. But by then, the series was kind of on autopilot. Fletch is the last time we saw the Chevy Chase from SNL in all his glory.

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  6. Is ‘The Jewel of the Nile’ a forgotten film? I remember that better than some of the movies listed.

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