One thing we at Place to Be Nation like to celebrate is the subjectivity inherent in entertainment — be it in wrestling, comics, music, television or, indeed, film. With that in mind, ten members of the PTBN staff spent the last several months picking the movies of the PTB generation. In this series, panel members collected their five favorite films of each year, beginning with the year in which the oldest writer was born — 1976. The only rule given to each contributor was to provide his or her own criteria. Some writers went with the most artistic films, while others might side with the most iconic blockbusters. After several months, the year-by-year project has come to a close. Each year has a top 5. But, that leaves the question — what is THE movie of the generation? Well, we’re about to find out. The Movie of the Generation tournament will see 64 movies battle for that title over the course of a single-elimination tournament. A film earned its way into the tournament by winning or tying for the top spot in its given year or by earning a total of 20 or more points. The movies are seeded from 1-64, much like the NCAA basketball tournament. Each round, our panel will be giving you its take on each matchup and providing you with its votes on which films have earned the rights to advance. In the case of a tie among the 10-member panel, special contributor Tim Capel has been called upon to break any ties. So, without any further adieu, let’s take a look at this edition’s matchups.
Here we’re in the Endor Region, home to the tournament’s No. 3 overall seed, Return of the Jedi, for the last of our first-round matchups. Before we get started, let’s take a look at what the overall tournament bracket looks like. A larger version can be viewed here.
And with that, let’s get into the matchups.
(1) Return of the Jedi vs. (16) Thor
Return of the Jedi: Finished No. 1 in 1983 with 45 points, ranked by 10 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Glenn Butler, Nick Duke, Aaron George, Greg Phillips, Kati Price, Russell Sellers, Steve Wille and Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
Thor: Finished tied for No. 1 in 2011 with 14 points, ranked by 5 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke at No. 2.
Nick Duke: I think it’s safe to say that of our 10-person panel, there’s no bigger fan of the God of Thunder and the Realm Eternal than yours truly. The first Thor film, to me, was a revelation because it proved that you could take these characters and concepts and execute them in a fairly straightforward manner on screen without it ever coming off as hokey or cheesy. Plus, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston were born to play these lead roles. Throw in an absolutely stellar supporting cast, and you’ve got the makings of a damned fine film.
However, long before I ever knew that Marvel published a comic book featuring Norse mythological characters, I was enthralled by the original Star Wars trilogy. I still am, as the upcoming The Force Awakens is easily my most anticipated film of 2015, far exceeding even Age of Ultron in that regard. And, as Star Wars fans go, I’m the rare breed who doesn’t just unabashedly love Return of the Jedi and everything about it, but I also think it’s the best film of the series. Empire is a classic without question, but to me it’s always harder to end a story on a high note than it is to put the characters through the ringer during the story’s middle chapters. Jedi provides a more than satisfactory climax for what used to be the finest movie trilogy of them all. In fact, for most of my life, Return of the Jedi wasn’t just A favorite of mine — it was THE favorite. Sorry, Odinson, but the Ewoks are dancing their way to victory here.
Final tally: Return of the Jedi 10, Thor 0
(8) The Lion King vs. (9) Iron Man
The Lion King: Finished tied for No. 2 in 1994 with 25 points, ranked by 8 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Kati Price at No. 1.
Iron Man: Finished No. 2 in 2008 with 24 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
Kati Price: Until recently with the release of Frozen, The Lion King was the highest grossing film for Disney. The Lion King was the perfect mix of comedy, fun and real life issues. Based on Hamlet by William Shakespeare, The Lion King follows young Simba on his way to adulthood. With the heart wrenching loss of his dad, Disney touches on grief in a way like no other animated film.
I chose The Lion King over Iron Man for several reasons. While Iron Man was a great movie, The Lion King is truly a classic that has stood the test of time. Whereas in 20 years, I think Iron Man will be lost in the shuffle of all of the other Marvel movies of late. I fear people will be questioning “what was that one about again?” While there are sequels to The Lion King, there is no doubt the original will not be lost in the shuffle.
Another big selling point for The Lion King is the soundtrack. From fast and upbeat to dark and scary to sweet and romantic, The Lion King has it all. A and of course we can’t forget, “Naaaaaa Sabanya…..” Well you know the rest. There is no need to tell you to watch this movie because you already have. Several times.
Final tally: The Lion King 7, Iron Man 3
(4) Rocky vs. (13) Vacation
Rocky: Finished No. 1 in 1976 with 33 points, ranked by 8 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke, Anthony Estrada, Aaron George and Greg Phillips at No. 1.
Vacation: Finished No. 2 in 1983 with 20 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Aaron George, Greg Phillips and Russell Sellers at No. 2.
Greg Phillips: Rocky features my all-time favorite script in any movie. It is a masterpiece, and the strength of the writing alone would be enough to edge it out over a good comedy like Vacation. No knock on Chevy and the gang, as I love that film, but it doesn’t compare to Sly at his very best.
Final tally: Rocky 8, Vacation 2
(5) Batman Begins vs. (12) The Truman Show
Batman Begins: Finished No. 1 in 2005 with 30 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke, Anthony Estrada, Aaron George, Russell Sellers and Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
The Truman Show: Finished No. 1 in 1998 with 20 points, ranked by 5 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Anthony Estrada and Russell Sellers at No. 1.
Russell Sellers: In 2005, we were just eight years removed from the fiasco that was Batman & Robin. Most people still hadn’t put it aside so when a new Batman movie was announced, it didn’t really get anyone that excited. Except, you know, nerds like me. It’s not that it was the best Batman movie ever made (that would be its sequel from 2008), but what it represents that makes it more impactful than Jim Carrey’s dynamite performance in The Truman Show. Batman Begins rebooted Batman in a darker, more realistic way than anyone thought possible. It was still fantastical, but it felt like watching a real-world Batman starting his journey as Gotham City’s guardian angel. And with that Christopher Nolan touch, it was bound to hit just the right mark. Some jarring action sequences aside, the characters had never been portrayed better on screen and the tone was perfectly set. It was the Batman film we needed to wash away the horrible taste of Joel Schumacher’s atrocities. The Truman Show was a breakout moment for Jim Carrey and an excellent dramatic comedy, but it didn’t exactly change the way people thought about the genre in the way Batman Begins managed. The landscape of superhero films was altered forever and they’ve been better for it.
Final tally: Batman Begins 7, The Truman Show 3
(6) The Two Towers vs. (11) Spider-Man
The Two Towers: Finished No. 1 in 2002 with 28 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Glenn Butler and Aaron George at No. 1.
Spider-Man: Finished No. 2 in 2002 with 21 points, ranked by 6 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke and Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
Tim Capel: The Two Towers is the best installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s probably the better adaptation of its source material than Spider-Man. Maybe the better movie too. But the fact is, Spider-Man was a phenomenon. The phrase “Movies of the Generation” evokes a kind of larger-than-life imagery, and Spider-Man just embodies all of that beautifully. The Raimi series fell out of favor… for about two years, until the dismal Amazing Spider-Man came along and reminded everyone that, yeah, we really didn’t have it that bad the first time through. I think people are coming around on the earlier films again, but even if that wasn’t the case: you cannot deny what the first one meant at the time, and how impressive it still looks in the sea of superhero moves that has since expanded around it.
This is a match between an outstanding sequel and a game-changing original. We might have a more even fight if it was between two of the sequels. Or even between the two first entries of the respective series. As it stands, Spidey gets the lopsided win. I don’t expect it’ll win the tournament or anything, but it’s bound to make a very good showing.
I guess this doesn’t make the earlier advance of Groundhog Day over Return of the King look any better. Hey, at least Fellowship is still kickin’. I’d feel bad if LotR got completely shut out of the tournament (but I regret nothing).
Final tally: Spider-Man 6, The Two Towers 5
**Tim Capel served as a tiebreaker when the panel was split.
(3) Terminator 2: Judgment Day vs. (14) Boogie Nights
Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Finished tied for No. 1 in 1991 with 36 points, ranked by 9 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Glenn Butler, Anthony Estrada and Russell Sellers at No. 1.
Boogie Nights: Finished No. 1 in 1997 with 19 points, ranked by 6 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Anthony Estrada, Andrew Riche and Steve Wille at No. 1.
Aaron George: So why do I prefer Terminator 2 to Boogie Nights? I’m not sure, to be honest. It feels like an intangible thing. I mean, I enjoy the song You’ve Got the Touch as much as the next guy, but I guess in the end I’d rather watch robots fight than be depressed about how sad a guy with a big dick is.
Terminator 2 pumps you up and doesn’t stop kicking your ass from start to finish. Arnold is arguably at his best and I’ll be damned if I didn’t have something in my eye as that hunk of Austrian metal was being lowered into that molten metal. Sure, I feel bad for famous cuckold William H Macy, but I feel worse for the poor guy who gets shot up in that lab and leaves his wife a widow and his child a drug addict.
Look, I don’t know why I like it more, I’d just always rather watch T2 than Burt Reynolds’ comeback. Dirk Diggler can have as giant a penis as he wants, but that liquid metal Robert Patrick can always make his longer, thicker and more sharp.
Final tally: Terminator 2: Judgment Day 6, Boogie Nights 3
**One voter abstained from voting on the basis of having seen neither movie.
(7) The Departed vs. (10) No Country for Old Men
The Departed: Finished No. 1 in 2006 with 26 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Anthony Estrada at No. 1.
No Country for Old Men: Finished No. 1 in 2007 with 22 points, ranked by 5 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Greg Phillips and Russell Sellers at No. 1.
Andrew Riche: It is apropos that these two films wound up going head-to-head because while they have plenty of differences in a variety of ways, at the same time they are very much alike. Firstly, these were back-to-back Oscar winners for Best Picture in 2006 and 2007. They both earned long overdue first time Oscar wins for three of the most legendary directors of all time in Martin Scorcese and Joel & Ethan Coen. Both films’ stories are deeply engrained in the world of crime, the men who commit them, and at what lengths they will go in order to escape judgment, fair or unfair. The question of morality is a little muddier between the main characters in The Departed, a Boston-based street battle between the local police and organized crime lord Frank Costello, played by Jack Nicholson.
Final tally: No Country for Old Men 5, The Departed 4
**One voter abstained from voting on the basis of having seen neither movie.
(2) Raiders of the Lost Ark vs. (15) Drive
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Finished No. 1 in 1981 with 41 points, ranked by 9 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke, Andrew Riche, Russell Sellers, Steve Wille and Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
Drive: Finished tied for No. 1 in 2011 with 14 points, ranked by 3 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Greg Phillips and Andrew Riche at No. 1.
Anthony Estrada: The Case for Drive: It’s creative in terms of how it uses the medium of film. The narrative is interesting, but the mood, style and symbolism are what make it stand out. It’s dark without being bleak and somber without being boring. It’s off putting but still alluring, like some of David Lynch’s best work. The violence is stark and memorable, like peak Cronenberg. So basically, it reminds me of my favorite works from some pretty amazing directors. Gosling kills it per usual, as well.
The Case for Raiders of the Lost Ark: The introduction of Indiana Jones, one of the most iconic film characters of the past fifty years. Jones is two characters at once – the charismatic nerd and the vulnerable hero – and each is fantastic. The best love interest of the Indiana Jones series – Karen Allen is both fragile and badass (and adorable. I’ve crushed on her for years). Also, my wife hates Drive. Like, really hates it.
Why Raiders of the Lost Ark wins: Drive is an interesting and original movie, but it never stood a chance. Indiana Jones is embedded in the fabric of American culture and Raiders is likely the best of the series – the opening action scene with flying darts and a rolling boulder is still thrilling, fun and perfectly executed, thirty years later. Indy’s quest for the ark itself follows a logical chain of incredible events that culminates in another all-time classic scene. This movie is gold.
Final tally: Raiders of the Lost Ark 9, Drive 1
That does it for the first round in the Endor Region. To see how each voter cast their votes, click here. Check back soon to see the second round in the Tattooine Region!