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Movies of 1998 Bracket Game: Saving Private Ryan Vs. Out of Sight

In the first round of this bracket game, I tended to give some general information about the origins of the movie in question, its overall nature, and the resulting reactions to it both critically and financially. I then included a video of the trailer for the movie, just in case anybody needed a reminder of what the movie was like (or maybe more accurately, how it was marketed). With our list of films whittled down to eight, I’ve decided to take a different tack in this second round. Hopefully, with fewer films to cover, the chances that I’ll find the information and sources I need will be pretty decent.

First up, we have a pair of movies featuring people with guns. In one, we have soldiers fighting other soldiers and in the other we have a cops and robbers sort of situation. I think if we consider how each film was executed, we will see this difference reflected. Come take it in with me!

Things are really heating up in this bracket game, as we saw an amazingly close race between Rushmore and Shakespeare in Love yesterday. Wes Anderson and company rushed out to an early lead, but then the Tom Stoppard-penned Oscar-winner came all the way back and led by two votes in the late afternoon. Just before I went to bed the two were locked in a flat-footed tie, and when I got up this morning I found that Rushmore had finally pulled ahead by just a single vote. So Shakespeare in Love goes down swinging and Rushmore moves on to face Pleasantville in the second round.

A person would be forgiven for believing that the winner of this matchup has a pretty easy path to the championship round, so stakes are pretty high here. Let’s take a listen.

As I mentioned above, Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan is a drama focusing on a story set in wartime. In this case, we’re looking at the Second World War. Clearly this is a job that calls for “dramatic,” “reverential,” and “patriotic” music, and clearly we know that a film composer as great as John Williams is more than up to the task. Give a listen.

I don’t think, given the themes and tone of the movie in question, that it’s any surprise that Williams chose the individual instruments heard here. Drums, horns, and choral voice are pretty much in the wheelhouse for the score of this kind of story. It’s almost too easy, isn’t it? This was a recipe for making an emotional and evocative connection with the material, and Williams’ Oscar nomination for his work here seems pre-ordained. Oh, and even though the ball was on the tee, he did actually knock it out of the park. Williams is one of the most respected and accomplished composers of film scores to ever do the job, with iconic music from films such as Star Wars, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Schindler’s List, and the first three Harry Potter movies. If you can’t already hear those scores in your head simply when I mention their names, go to YouTube and look them up real quick. We’ll all wait. You recognize them now, don’t you? It’s work that has gained him fifty Oscar nominations and five wins. This year his original work on Star Wars helped gain The Last Jedi a nomination for Original Score, leaving his score for The Post wanting.

It might be possible to imagine a soundtrack more different from Saving Private Ryan than the one David Holmes put together for Out of Sight, but it’s not that easy. Instead of a traditional orchestral score, career DJ Holmes was initially brought on to do a few isolated bits of music, but director Steven Soderbergh liked his work so much that he hired him on to complete the entirety of the soundtrack.

Holmes, not surprisingly, uses sampling and instruments evocative of 1970s era funk and jazz to tell the story of an escaped bank robber looking to make his next score in the Detroit area while romancing the female federal agent who is on his tail. The result is smoky and street level, and you’d be forgiven for letting it remind you of plenty of other urban movie soundtracks. Curtis Mayfield’s work on 1972’s Superfly can certainly be credited in ways, as can influences such as Sun Ra, Miles Davis, and Quincy Jones. Holmes simply takes these influences and uses the strategies of the late 1990s to make sounds which were both recognizable and contemporary. Scoring an Elmore Leonard story sure seems like it could be fun. Holmes work on Out of Sight was just the beginning of a continued collaboration with Soderbergh, with additional work on the Oceans Eleven movies, The Girlfriend Experience and last year’s Logan Lucky.

You’ve heard parts of the soundtracks. Hopefully you’ve seen the movies. Vote based on the entire product. Which movie do you think should be sent on to our final four? Vote here and talk about it in the comments section.

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Posted on January 25, 2018, in Bracket Game, Movies, Nostalgia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Out of Sight has my vote for as long as it is in the competition. I’m hoping to take it all the way to the end!

    I got to see John Williams in concert one night. It was a terrific show. A friend of mine got to meet him backstage and said he was incredibly gracious. There were hugs.

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  2. This one’s easy. Which of the two am I more likely to watch? Which one did I watch last night as a matter of fact? Which one do I actually own on DVD? Out Of Sight. If it makes it to the final round and wins, all the better.

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  3. Another Out of Sight supporter checking in here. My favorite film of this bracket game, and in fact for all of 1998.

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  4. Based on the comments, I was expecting OoS to have a massive lead. Right now, it’s all tied up!

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  5. Out of Sight is definitely my favorite of the films in the top half of the bracket, but my tastes are more accurately depicted in the bottom half where there will be some pretty tough matchups prior to the championship round.

    I’m not surprised to see Saving Private Ryan being well represented. It has a very faithful set of fans.

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    • Clearly you are right out SPR’s fanbase. I never met anyone who was especially fond of it, but that just goes to show you that your own experiences aren’t always reflective of the greater reality.

      My two favorite movies of the year (Out of Sight and A Simple Plan) are in the top half of the brackets, but overall I prefer the bottom half. The disaster movie round really drags down the overall appeal of the top half. And the animated movies, while watchable, are not classics.

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      • My overall top five is spread out among the brackets. Aside from 1 and 5 which weren’t included.

        1: Dark City
        2: Out Of Sight
        3: The Big Lebowski
        4: The Truman Show
        5: Bulworth

        It was a year for would be cult classics.

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