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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Boogie Nights vs Jackie Brown

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Here we are in our final four, so it’s nothing but the cream of the crop from here on, right? Well, that certainly the case in this particular contest. Both started the bracket among my favorite five overall in the game, so I’m pretty pleased to have to make the tough decision when I cast my vote. Both movies feature top notch artistry from their actors, directors, cinematographers, and designers. For our final four round I’m going to be featuring members of the casts, covering not just their work in the films in question, but also in some other notable appearances.


In the last matchup of our second round LeBlog’s readers selected The Fifth Element (a movie Lebeau has called “a sloppy mess”) to join Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, and Jackie Brown in our final four for 1997. Anybody want to share what their actual favorite four movies from the bracket were when it started?

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First up is one of my favorite actors from my own adult lifetime. Perhaps the biggest reason Philip Seymour Hoffman developed into that for me is how he was so “stealth” about it. Before I had any idea who they guy was, I’d already seen him in movies like Leap of Faith and Scent of a Woman and Nobody’s Fool and Twister and the movie we’re (kind of) talking about right now, Boogie Nights, which featured this really painful scene.

It wasn’t until 1998’s The Big Lebowski and the following year’s The Talented Mr. Ripley that I started noticing that this same guy kept showing up in small, but memorable roles. As an actor who has spent most of his time on stage in these very same kinds of roles, this was strangely reinforcing, and when I showed up to see David Mamet’s State and Main in 2000 I was shocked to realize that this guy was actually the lead of the movie! “No wonder they’re selling it mostly based on a writer director best known for theatre” I thought to myself, “They’ve got an overweight supporting actor in the lead!”…and I was already a big fan of the guy.

Hoffman had literally pulled off the coup that every talented guy with an accountant’s physique dreams about. He could apparently show up in trash like Along Came Polly or cash a check in stuff like Patch Adams or Red Dragon without losing the credibility it took to grab challenging leads in art house flicks like Love Liza or Owning Mahowny. Just one year after showing up as a very sweaty player in a pick-up basketball game in that previously mentioned Ben Stiller/Jennifer Aniston rom com, Hoffman waltzed on screen as Truman bleeping Capote and won the freaking Oscar for it. What next? I’ve got an idea. I’ll totally sell out by playing the bad guy in a Mission Impossible sequel! AND IT WON’T HURT MY CREDIBILITY ONE BIT. And why? Because Hoffman never stopped taking those memorable supporting roles like in Charlie Wilson’s War and he never stopped appearing in interesting low budget movies like Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Want me to play a mildly successful baseball coach for a few scenes? Absolutely. I’m gonna knock that mess outta the park. Hoffman was a hero to everybody who loves actors instead of movie stars. Then he managed to let addiction kill him. That sucked. But as far as I can tell, Hoffman never gave less than excellent to whatever project he was in. This guy will be a legend for decades to come.

Less well known in the long run was a very sneaky choice for an important role in Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to Pulp Fiction. Robert Forster had been working steadily in television and film, but with only mild acclaim, for almost thirty years before the hottest young director on the scene handed him a career-defining part. He had started off pretty strong, with his film debut coming in a John Huston film and not long afterwards playing the lead in the counterculture classic Medium Cool. But his star never really took off, and he pretty quickly receded into supporting parts in genre films, perhaps most notably in Disney’s Star Wars exploitation film The Black Hole. Unbeknownst to myself, I first saw him in the Chuck Norris/Lee Marvin actioner The Delta Force, in which the son of parents of Italian and Irish descent played a Lebanese terrorist who hi-jacks a plane. I’m going to have to add a second video here because you’ve got to see this. Forster is the main terrorist in the white suit.

In case you didn’t notice, the plane’s passenger list is stocked with a pile of character actors who have seen better days like Martin Balsam, George Kennedy, Shelly Winters, Joey Bishop, Lainie Kazan, and Susan Strasberg. You’d think a terrorist would know better than to mess with that crowd. Clearly at least some of them are going to get rescued.

Within a decade Forster had fallen into mostly B features like Maniac Cop III and guest appearances on “Jake and the Fat Man.” He had read for Tarantino’s first big movie, Reservoir Dogs, and had felt like he’d done really well, but hadn’t been cast. It was only through a chance encounter five years later in a restaurant that he reconnected with the director who told him he was working on an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch and encouraged him to read it. Six months later, Tarantino walked into the same place and handed Forster the script to Jackie Brown. He went on to cast the veteran actor as bail bondsman Max Cherry, a role Forster would turn into an unexpected Oscar nomination.

Check out that very subtle smile as Max sees the parts fall into place. Forster was smooth as silk in this movie. And after grabbing a few more supporting parts in high profile movies, Forster again became simply what he always was: a good working actor. Which is really the dream at its most basic, isn’t it?

So whose movie is going to move on to the final? Vote here and then tell us what you’re thinking in the comments section!

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Posted on January 30, 2017, in Awards, bracket game, Movies, Nostalgia, Oscars, poll and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. These are both worthy movies, but only one of them is one of the most successful and faithful screen adaptations of one of my favorite novelists. One vote for Jackie Brown.

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  2. Interesting read about the actors!

    My favourite four movies in the bracket is:

    Jackie Brown
    Good Will Hunting
    Groose Pointe Black
    and Boogie Nights I guess, but it’s not in the same league as the other three.

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  3. I liked the piece on the two supporting characters: Philip Seymour Hoffman first left an impression on me as that condescending guy who kind of pulled me in despite himself in “The Talented Mr. Ripley”. Robert Forster is less straightforward: I first remember him in the 1991 film “Committed” with Jennifer O’Neill, then viewed “Jackie Brown”, then caught “Medium Cool” on The Fox Movie Channel. I was thinking, “man, this guy shouldn’t been so hidden so long”.
    For the vote, I’m going to boogie with “Boogie Nights”, because I was born to boogie…at night.

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  4. Tarantino is one of the most famous directors of the last quarter century, and yet I would say Jackie Brown is his most underrated film. Pulp Fiction turned into that rarest of things, a pop cultural phenomenon. When Tarantino returned 3 years later with another film I suspect most moviegoers expected another Pulp Fiction-type film. What they got instead was Jackie Brown. The film had a maturity to it that maybe threw people off a bit. Also, the film focuses on a middle-aged black woman. It’s not exactly John Travolta dancing and joking about foot massages. The box office results speak volumes: whereas Pulp Fiction earned $107M, Jackie Brown earned just shy of $40M domestically. That is a huge difference. It seems most people that loved Pulp Fiction didn’t even give it a chance upon release. A shame, because Jackie Brown is a genuinely great film, one that Tarantino should be proud of making.

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    • I remember Tarantino giving a quote about how he didn’t “have an Age of Innocence in” him sometime not long after Pulp Fiction came out. As much of a fan of his as I was at the time, I remember thinking that was a bad sign. When the relatively mature Jackie Brown came out I thought that maybe he would reconsider as the years went on, but it continues to be his most mature film. I also love Inglorious Basterds, but most of his movies over the last 20 years have been seriously lacking in some way or another.

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