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Category Archives: Movies
Today we have a matchup between films by two unique and widely admired directors who aren’t afraid of taking on violent or upsetting subject matter. Unfortunately, despite our admiration for both of these movies, neither one managed to fulfill expectations at the box office. The Game spent a week in the number one spot and raked in more than $100 million (if you include overseas receipts), but when compared to Fincher’s hit Se7en from just two years prior, this number had to feel disappointing to the film’s producers. The fact that the film’s production budget is not easily available also suggests that Fincher and company might have over-spent on it. Meanwhile, Jackie Brown‘s production budget was a pretty reasonable twelve million dollars, which would make its eventual domestic gross of close to forty million more than acceptable in most cases. But, like Fincher, Tarantino’s most recent full-length project Pulp Fiction had not established reasonable expectations for some people, not only because of its domestic take of more than $100 million, but because the director had become a star in his ow right. Both have continued to do the kind of work they’ve wanted to and have had some successes along the way, making these movies simply look like well-reviewed base hits in the long run. But which one do we want to stick around another round in our game?
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Okay, so these two films have only very tenuous similarities. What it came down to was that I found most of the mainstream action films of 1997 to be pretty forgettable or outright bad (coughCon Aircough), but also thought that the crowd-pleasing action movie Air Force One was one that couldn’t be ignored here. That left it with no naturally matching group of films to share a bracket with. What I’ve done is basically to create a “crime” bracket and awkwardly include this Harrison Ford-led box office hit alongside Jackie Brown, The Game, and L.A. Confidential. Hopefully everybody is okay with that. If not, well…it’s done already. Let’s see what we can say about these wildly different films in which people shoot at one another.
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In this top portion of our 1997 movies bracket game we’re focusing mostly on those films of the year which garnered a lot of critical and awards season attention. In some cases this also means that we’re reliving those moments when people we didn’t really know at the time took that next step and became actual movie stars. It’s a never ending process in the entertainment industry: the “next big thing.” Sometimes it’s a dream that actually pans out with an honest to God A-list career and sometimes we look back and realize that was their one big project. Sometimes it’s something in between.
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Can it possibly have already been 20 years? That’s what I find myself asking when I look at this set of movies. Sure, ten years easy, maybe even fifteen. But 20? My math must be off. That’s what it is.
With the 1987 bracket now in the books, next up is a decade’s move up to the most memorable movies of 1997. We were slap dab in the middle of the Bill Clinton Presidency, the internet was the new hip thing, the Green Bay Packers returned to the top of the American football world, the Teletubbies premiered on BBC, Princess Diana was killed in an auto accident, the U.S. economy was booming, and the world began to slowly come to an end when The Spice Girls and Hanson became top-selling musical artists. Was this an important year for you? How did our movies here reflect that? Come along as we talk about two of them!
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Much like a Coen brothers comedy, our Movies of 1987 bracket game got a little crazy in spots. But after an unprecedented three-way vote in the finals, we have a definitive winner. Readers picked Raising Arizona as their favorite movie of the year. Ironically, both Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter starred in movies that were both more popular and more acclaimed thirty years ago. Cage starred opposite Cher in Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck and Hunter was part of the central love triangle in Broadcast News. But three decades later, those movies have faded from relevance while Arizona, which was more or less ignored in theaters, shines bright.
A little later today, we will crown the winner of our Movies of 1987 Bracket Game. But before we close the book on 1987, I thought it would be fun to look at the sequels which were released that year. None of these movies were included in the bracket game largely because most of them weren’t very memorable. Still, a couple of them endure and it’s fun to laugh at the others. So let’s get to ranking the sequels of 1987.
Happy MLK Day everyone! Let’s celebrate by picking our favorite movie from thirty years ago.
We’re making Le Blog history today with a three-way finale. Readers were deadlocked yesterday on whether they preferred Raising Arizona or The Princess Bride. So we’re just going to let all three of our top picks battle it out and see who comes out on top.
In the late eighties, Tim Burton became one of the hottest directors in Hollywood. The former Disney animator brought a unique visual style to his movies which included hits like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman. Burton rode that momentum into the 90’s with his most personal movie to date, Edward Scissorhands and a dark Batman sequel. In 1994, Ed Wood was praised by critics but flopped at the box office. By 1996, Burton’s career path was staring to look murky.
Just in time for the holiday season, Burton directed a B-movie based on kitschy trading cards from his youth. The cards depicted scenes of malevolent aliens conquering the earth. There was very little narrative to adapt, just bizarre and often gruesome imagery. To make the movie more commercial, Burton packed his cast with familiar faces including Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Michael J. Fox and Jack Nicholson.
The gamble did not pay off. Mars Attacks! was a box office flop. Afterwards, Burton took a three year hiatus before directing his next movie. In this cover story from the January 1997 issue of Starlog, Burton talks about his new B-movie.
Today in the Movies of 1987 Bracket Game, we will reveal the first of our two finalists and vote on which of two classic comedies will face off against it in the final round. Today’s match pits Rob Reiner’s off kilter fairy tale against the Coen brother’s screwy kidnapping comedy.
Our final four is split into two genres; action and comedy. Today, we’re tackling the former with two of the more memorable action movies not just of the year, but of the decade. Lethal Weapon didn’t invent buddy cop movies. But it sure did shape them. Predator didn’t define a genre, per se. But it mashed up two existing genres in a way that was uncommon at the time. Both movies launched franchises which remain on-going with the help of recent reboots; Lethal Weapon in the form of a TV show and Predator with an upcoming movie. Today, we decide which movie will represent the action genre in the final round.
Director Michael Ritchie had a career that could be described as scattershot. If there’s a through-line, it’s that most of Ritchie’s movies were comedic. In the seventies, he made a name for himself with movies like The Candidate and The Bad News Bears. After a cold streak in the early eighties, Ritchie rebounded with Fletch and to a lesser extent the Goldie Hawn comedy Wildcats. Then he drew the short straw and had to direct Eddie Murphy in the limp action-comedy, The Golden Child.
While The Golden Child was a hit, it performed poorly when compared to Murphy’s recent releases at the time. Critical reaction could be summed up with a shrug. While The Golden Child won’t be remembered as anybody’s best work, it was a big movie at the time. Starlog talked to Ritchie in their January 1987 issue about what it was like to make a special-effects-heavy fantasy film with one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.
1987 is just flying by. Or at least the Movies of 1987 Bracket Game is. Today, we’re bringing Round Two to a close with two movies that will leave you laughing. Planes, Trains and Automobiles took audiences on a road trip home with Steve Martin and John Candy. And Raising Arizona showed what happened when an ex-con and an ex-cop resort to kidnapping to start a family. Which movie will reign as the top comedy of the year? That’s up to you guys. I just work here.