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 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.
For the first edition in our tournament series, we’ll be starting with the Tattooine Region, where the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, Star Wars, is placed. 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) Star Wars vs. (16) Independence Day
Star Wars: Finished No. 1 in 1977 with 48 points, ranked by 10 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Glenn Butler, Nick Duke, Aaron George, Greg Phillips, Kati Price, Andrew Riche, Russell Sellers and Steve Wille at No. 1.
Independence Day: Finished tied for No. 1 in 1996 with 14 points, ranked by 4 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Anthony Estrada and Kati Price at No. 2.
Kati Price: So why did I pick Star Wars over Independence Day? Mainly because it’s freakin’ Star Wars. Don’t get me wrong, Independence Day is a good movie from its decade. Star Wars, however, is great for all decades. Star Wars will stand the test of time and it’s just a classic. To me, Independence Day doesn’t live up to its hype. It has some great CGI, some good scenes and good acting, but Star Wars just did it all better.
Final tally: Star Wars 10, Independence Day 0
(8) Superman II vs. (9) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Superman II: Finished No. 2 in 1981 with 24 points, ranked by 6 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Glenn Butler, Aaron George and Greg Phillips at No. 1.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Finished No. 2 in 1989 with 23 points, ranked by 6 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Glenn Butler, Russell Sellers and Andrew Woltman at No. 1
Tim Capel: Let’s see, it’s the well-received (sort of) sendoff to a beloved franchise against the (other) pretty decent Christopher Reeve Superman. Perhaps that’s an unfair classification; I realize there are some proponents of Superman II who will argue that it’s actually the superior entry in the series over its predecessor. There was a time I might have been among them. Now, not so much, and I think that’s a byproduct of having grown apathetic towards the Salkind Superman flicks in general. Nevertheless, consider for a moment: how fondly remembered is Superman II specifically? Outside of the built-in fandom, that is? In the collective consciousness, I feel like it’s mainly recalled as “the one with Terence Stamp” — that is, if the average moviegoer can even manage to keep it distinct from the original film.
Meanwhile, Last Crusade manages to be a standout in an already crowded year for blockbusters. More importantly, it’s a fitting bookend for a trilogy that was threatening to go out with a whimper after a lackluster middle installment. Considering the third film curse that has dogged so many otherwise-excellent series (which granted wasn’t really a thing in 1989), restoring prestige in the final act is a remarkable achievement. Outside of inspiring some rather enduring General Zod memes, what’s the legacy of Superman II? Two lousy sequels and a bizarre, ill-defined follow-up some 26 years later (seriously, what to make of Superman Returns)? I don’t want to hold these latter-day sins against the movie that was, but on its own – there just isn’t much to Superman II.
If we’re pitting Last Crusade against 1978’s Superman, the latter wins, no contest. It’s innovative, charming, iconic, and checks all the boxes. The sequel is entertaining enough, but doesn’t tread any new ground. Each of the three Indy flicks is special in its own way and deserving of individual spots as Movies of the P2B Generation. On the other hand, I could live with only a single Superman entry on the list–and it’s not the one that lost its director.*
*And no, consideration of Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut does not overturn my decision.
Final tally: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 6, Superman II 5
**Tim Capel served as a tiebreaker when the panel was split.
(4) The Fellowship of the Ring vs. (13) Rocky III
The Fellowship of the Ring: Finished No. 1 in 2001 with 31 points, ranked by 8 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Aaron George, Russell Sellers and Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
Rocky III: Finished No. 2 in 1982 with 20 points, ranked by 5 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke, Anthony Estrada and Aaron George at No. 1.
Aaron George: Ugh! Place to Be Nation why are you doing this to me??? Two films that are undeniably beautiful for totally different reasons. In a perfect world we would declare a tie, end this tournament and focus on things that don’t feel like a dick straight to the heart. Unfortunately our masochism runs deep, so here we are.
I love Rocky III, but let’s be honest, it’s great…for what it is. It’s an adrenaline rush that punches you in your fat face and doesn’t let up for ninety minutes. Fellowship, on the other hand, is a bit more of a slow burn, but it’s infinitely more engrossing on every conceivable level. The firework opening of Rocky is met with an spectacular ominous history of the one ring. Mickey’s death, while sad, is obliterated by Boromir taking about three hundred arrows and finding his decency within. The homo-erotic race/lovemaking on the beach is easily topped with the elf orgy after the council of Elrond. (Ok that didn’t happen but what can you put up against that damn beach scene?) Last but not least, as much as I love Mr.T and Hulk Hogan as bad guys, they’d both be decimated by the God damned Balrog that our heroes face in Fellowship. Hulk would hulk up…only to be burned to cinders while Mr. T looks on, his heart filling with fear instead of pity for the first time in his life.
Rocky III is a great movie – it’s fun and makes you want to get out of your chair and cheer. The Fellowship Of The Ring sucks you into a world that you never want to leave. (Until perhaps The Battle Of The Five Armies) It’s a cinematic achievement that excels on every conceivable level: acting, directing, cinematography, soundtrack and yes…even fight choreography. Aragorn blocks a dagger thrown at him by an Orc with a sword, which is exactly one more block than is shown in the entirety of Rocky III. So while it pains me and makes me want to have a good cry to Eye Of The Tiger, it’s got to be Fellowship.
Final tally: The Fellowship of the Ring 6, Rocky III 4
(5) Forrest Gump vs. (12) X2: X-Men United
Forrest Gump: Finished No. 1 in 1994 with 31 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Aaron George, Greg Phillips and Andrew Riche at No. 1.
X2: X-Men United: Finished No. 2 in 2003 with 20 points, ranked by 6 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke, Greg Phillips and Russell Sellers at No. 1.
Greg Phillips: This was a tough call for me, as X2 is not only one of my favorite superhero films, it’s one of my favorite action flicks. Ultimately, though, I had to go with a movie that transcends genres and generations. Gump is just as engaging now as it was back then, and it works on so many different levels that it’s tough for an action flick to compete.
Final tally: Forrest Gump 6, X2: X-Men United 4
(6) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial vs. (11) Jurassic Park
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Finished No. 1 in 1982 with 27 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Andrew Riche and Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
Jurassic Park: Finished tied for No. 1 in 1993 with 21 points, ranked by 8 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke at No. 1.
Nick Duke: Here we have a pair of Steven Spielberg films that both involve unusual creatures interacting with children and other humans. Granted, that’s about where the similarities end. E.T. is one of the more heartwarming films of the 1980s, anchored by Spielberg’s direction, a fantastic script and some great work making the E.T. creature come to life. However, despite its status as a true cultural icon, there’s no way in hell I’m taking E.T. over Jurassic Park. I wrote before about my love for all things Jurassic, and that love can’t be ignored here. Jurassic Park has the iconic moments, the fantastic score and above all else, Ian Malcolm. E.T. is a great film in its own way, but give me John Hammond’s ill-advised tourist attraction any day.
Final tally: Jurassic Park 8, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 2
(3) Inception vs. (14) Wayne’s World
Inception: Finished No. 1 in 2010 with 37 points, ranked by 9 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke, Greg Phillips, Russell Sellers, Steve Wille and Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
Wayne’s World: Finished tied for No. 1 in 1992 with 18 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Steve Wille at No. 1.
Russell Sellers: It’s not easy to choose between these movies, sometimes. This was a particularly hard decision because these films are so vastly different from one another. It really came down to which one did more for its genre. Wayne’s World was hilarious, timely and featured a great soundtrack for its day. But Inception has upped the game for heist films and special/visual effects. That’s the power of Christopher and Jonathan Nolan. Wayne’s World came about at a time when audiences really were asking for more Saturday Night Live spin-off films. Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey made the transition to the big screen quite nicely, even if several of their peers didn’t. But Inception gave us something more. It bent the rules of what makes for a good heist flick along with some mind-bending, fourth-dimensional thinking that required the audience to pay closer attention than they would have in a standard action movie. Keeping up with what’s real and what isn’t might even require multiple viewings and even then you’ll wonder at the end. All of that coupled with some great performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Ellen Page makes it a fairly easy choice, in this case. However, it might be fun to think of Wayne’s World through the Inception lens. Watch the movie and think of it all as Wayne’s dreams of fame and fortune. How much of it is imagined and how much is real? Did he really meet the hot bass player of his dreams and go on to battle the evil TV exec for creative control of his show and his lady’s affections or was it all some fantasy playing out in his head, just like the one where he openly talks to the audience? Whoa.
Final tally: Inception 8, Wayne’s World 2
(7) The Return of the King vs. (10) Groundhog Day
The Return of the King: Finished No. 1 in 2003 with 26 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Glenn Butler, Aaron George and Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
Groundhog Day: Finished tied for No. 1 in 1993 with 21 points, ranked by 5 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Glenn Butler and Anthony Estrada at No. 1.
Tim Capel: And now the part where I blow any trace of objectivity I might have earned completely out of the water! But perhaps not in the way you expect. The big budget, Oscar-winning catharsis to Peter Jackson’s epic treatment of Tolkien’s saga versus… a philosophical, comedic Bill Murray curio that opened to middling reviews. Though Groundhog Day has taken on something of a cult status over the years, all things in their proper place, right? Then again, wasn’t that Best Picture nod for Return of the King more of a consolation prize/lifetime achievement award? And we’re in agreement that The Two Towers, widely overlooked in 2002, was actually the better film? Yeah? But still, it’s just Groundhog Day. Come on.
I’m trying to shake my critical faculties awake and failing miserably. Much as I’ve tried, I’m afraid I simply can’t muster any enthusiasm for the Lord of the Rings series. Can’t. Do it. Whatever shortcomings Groundhog Day possesses are more than made up for by its personal value to me. I always find myself revisiting that movie at different points throughout my life. I won’t go so far as to say I find it instructive–but it is tremendously meaningful in the way that few movies are. And fittingly enough, takes on new dimensions each time I repeat the experience. I just can’t set my bias aside in favor of the more qualified candidate here. My opinion is wrong and I should feel bad about that. I don’t.
Sometimes these things are like choosing which of your children gets to live (spoiler: I pick Groundhog Day over that movie too). Luckily, this is a choice between my dumb kid and your snooty honor roll student. I can’t intellectually defend my decision, but you and your kid can go to hell.
Final tally: Groundhog Day 6, The Return of the King 5
**Tim Capel served as a tiebreaker when the panel was split.
(2) Superman vs. (15) Robocop
Superman: Finished No. 1 in 1978 with 39 points, ranked by 9 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Aaron George, Greg Phillips, Andrew Riche, Russell Sellers, Steve Wille and Andrew Woltman at No. 1.
Robocop: Finished No. 1 in 1987 with 18 points, ranked by 7 of 10 voters, highest ranked by Greg Phillips at No. 1.
Glenn Butler: This thing is going to feature a lot of matches between genuinely good movies; like the late rounds on Chopped, some of these votes turn on fine gradations. So what does Superman: The Movie have over RoboCop? Optimism, friends! Where RoboCop has glorious cynicism and cutting social commentary, Superman has a more straightforward feel-good story. (What can I say? Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.) Brought to life with charm and panache, Superman defined an aesthetic for the superhero movie of its time so thoroughly that it both paved the way for more serious superhero movies and served as a point of opposition for some of the more dour DC movies that eventually followed.
Final tally: Superman 5, Robocop 4
**One voter abstained from voting on this matchup on the basis of not having seen either film.
That does it for the first round in the Tattooine Region. To see how each voter cast their votes, click here. Check back soon to see the first round in the Hill Valley Region!