We started with 128 movies from the 1990s, and with the help of all you Cinematic Discussion followers, we have a winner…
Edging out the 2nd Place finisher, Jurassic Park, by a margin of only 2 votes, Pulp Fiction has claimed the crown and title of “Movie Madness (90s Edition) Champion”.
Here is the Completed Bracket.
It is worthy to note that, while losing in the finals, Jurassic Park finished the tournament with 216 total votes, compared to Champion Pulp Fiction’s 194.
Which seems like a good starting off point, for our Tournament Conversation.
I am now joined by my fellow Cinematic Discussion columnist, Nick Milks, to help break down the tournament and highlight some notable occurrences.
So… we have our winner and I can’t say that I’m surprised. Looking back at the start of the tournament, there were several films that I had pegged as “favorites” to win, i.e. Pulp Fiction, Se7en, Goodfellas. Jurassic Park was not on that list. I don’t necessarily find it to be an achievement of Jurassic Park’s, making it to the finals and putting up a stellar fight, as much as I find it to be an insight into the overall type of film-watchers that are our Cinematic Discussion followers.
Never underestimate the power of Jeff Goldblum! I mean come on, between Jurassic Park and Independence Day, he was king of the 90s CGI blockbuster! But in all seriousness, Jurassic Park is certainly worthy of the conversation based on the technical achievement. You can’t tell me that seeing that film on the big screen didn’t drop your jaw. It really felt like watching dinosaurs had roared back to life and it was a treat to watch. Now, while a lot of people would likely agree that Pulp Fiction is an all-around better film, you can’t discount how much pure fun JP is. And sometimes, people just aren’t in the mood for something that’s as heavy and long as Pulp Fiction.
Man, I’m glad I avoided the obvious penis joke there. Kudos to me.
Let’s take a look at each film’s respective path to the final showdown!
First Round: Scream (27-6)
No surprises here, Scream was a cultural hit of the decade but nothing on the level of Pulp Fiction. I’ll be right back! No you won’t, Scream…no you won’t.
Second Round: My Cousin Vinny (16-7)
A much smaller margin of victory with less votes coming in, but again, no shock here. Maybe some of the same people voted against PF in the first round as well and didn’t want to see it succeed? Either way, the objection was overruled, and Pulp moved on.
Third Round: Independence Day (21-11)
Another solid win, but reasonably close. Independence Day was a runaway hit of its time and an absolute blast to watch, but certainly a flawed film. So while 1996 saw this franchise launch into orbit, ultimately it crashed back to the ground here. Welcome (back) to Earth!
Sweet Sixteen: Se7en (40-26)
This was the first true test for PF, and it brought out the most voters for any film stacked against it so far. Quentin Tarantino vs David Fincher, two absolute heavyweights in the game. I have no doubts that this was a very difficult choice for most voters. What’s in the box? A plane ticket home, John Doe!
Elite Eight: The Shawshank Redemption (33-22)
Another nearly impossible choice here, as the tournament stakes were really being raised with each new round. Having to vote against either one of these felt wrong. But in the end, Andry Dufrense would go BACK to his cell.
Final four: Fight Club (35-31)
Now, this was an absolute dogfight. Two pure classics from a decade full of fantastic films. And, interestingly, the second David Fincher film that Pulp Fiction would have to topple to reach the finals. And that’s exactly what happened. I am Jack’s looming sense of rejection.
First Round: Candyman (28-0)
In the only shutout of the opening round, Jurassic Park dominated and sent the lower seed packing. No other way around it, Candyman…you got mollywhopped.
Second Round: Mallrats (19-4)
Comedies had some tough draws throughout the tournament, as sometimes it just felt odd to vote against something serious in favor of something lighter. Mallrats is classic and quite hilarious, but all the chocolate covered pretzels in the mall aren’t enough to feed a hungry T-Rex.
Third Round: A Few Good Men(19-4)
Courtroom procedurals have their place, and this one has enough star power to shine. But ultimately, it was up against an adversary far too powerful. And no, I don’t mean Jeff Goldblum. You can’t handle the truth…that you lost!
Sweet Sixteen: Braveheart (51-17)
This was a landslide vote that, while it couldn’t possibly be considered a Cindarella story, certainly felt like a bit of an upset on the surface level. William Wallace and his men charged up the hill…and were treated like a goat tied to a fence post. Because, you know…they were eaten alive.
Elite Eight: Office Space (37-18)
Faced with another amazing comedy, Jurassic Park looked to have an uphill battle this time around, but dispatched of every piece of flare brought to the table with relative ease. Hey Peter, what’s happening? I’m gonna need you to…take the whole weekend off. Cause you lost.
Final Four: Goodfellas (36-29)
Finally faced with a true, heavyweight test, the amusement park from Hell would have to overcome a tremendous foe in this round. It came down to the wire, and in a true buzzer-beating moment in a tournament to remember, the gangsters were bumped off, on their way to the third place match. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to win the tournament. Well, better luck next time.
I don’t think it is much of a question: Jurassic Park had a much easier road to the finals. Candyman, Mallrats, Office Space… even A Few Good Men isn’t all that formidable of an opponent, relatively, when you look at Se7en being the 3rd toughest opponent for Pulp Fiction. This most certainly factored into the total vote count, by tournament’s end.
I was not overly surprised to see the dominance that Jurassic Park showed in the early rounds, but when it toppled a pre-tournament Final Four favorite, Braveheart, I knew our fans would have it in the finals.
Well, just like in the NCAA tournament, all you can do is play whoever is in front of you. The randomized seeing made it so that the matchups in every round were never intended to be lopsided. It certainly helped to keep things interesting! Once the brackets were released, there were several votes that many of us thought would go differently than they did. Beyond that, some films made some very surprising runs, given their competition. Just like any tournament of this nature, upsets are bound to happen.
Speaking of upsets, let’s take a look at some of the movies who had captured some of the biggest upsets of the tournament.
The Silence of the Lambs
After go toe-to-toe with The Sandlot in a highly contested first round match, The Silence of the Lambs put up 3 landslide victories in a row, book-ended by upset performances. There was much talk about Lambs during that first round, which I believe contributed to its stellar performance in the subsequent rounds.
The Coen Bros. written and directed masterpiece, Fargo, was doubled in votes in the 2nd round. Regardless of seeding, Fargo was an easy Elite Eight favorite heading into the tournament. The momentum that Jurassic Park carried on from its shut out victory of Candyman could not be stopped.
After taking on (and crushing) a childhood favorite of everyone, Hook, The Silence of the Lambs had an even bigger test than Fargo, in the Sweet Sixteen: The Green Mile. The Sweet Sixteen was the round with the highest engagement throughout the tournament and I would have thought that would help The Green Mile’s chances. The Silence of the Lambs proceeded to dominate with a whopping 45-19 victory.
It could be looked at as a reach to say that any Best Picture Academy Award winner would be an upset, if winning, but let’s be honest: Bugsy and The Prince of Tides aren’t necessarily the stiffest competition in that field.
The first round saw a tightly contested matchup with Boondock Saints, whose cult status kept this win from being a true upset. Troy Duffy’s crime thriller (also released in 1999) has equal measures of grit and wit, but not enough mass appeal to take on something that has entered the cultural lexicon like Office Space has.
However, starting in the second round, things got interesting. Tasked with taking on the juggernaut American Beauty, it looked like Milton would be moving his desk even deeper into basement storage. But even a Best Picture winner couldn’t stop Lumbergh and the gang.
The round of 32 looked to be the end of the line for Office Space, as most would agree that Terminator 2 would be making a deep run in the tournament. But T-1000 proved no match for Michael Bolton in a very close fight. And just to drive home the point that guns are no match for red Swingline staplers, the Sweet Sixteen saw Tombstone fall as well. It was quite a run for the Mike Judge hit!
It was a heck of a tournament! There were some surprising runs, massive upsets and complete and utter dominance.
If I could go back in time, I would want to better seed these films. Even if it wasn’t the best it could be, any (honest) seeding other than the randomization done would have been an improvement. Fargo and The Silence of the Lambs faced off in the 2nd round; The Shawshank Redemption and Reservoir Dogs in the 3rd round.
But even with a more accurate seeding, there is no preventing Office Space from upsetting American Beauty, Terminator 2 and Tombstone in a 3 match stretch. While it may not have been my choice, the people spoke.
The people also spoke when they sent The Usual Suspects packing in favor of The Matrix, which wasn’t a choice either of us agreed with (but I totally saw coming, personally). But that’s the kind of thing that made this so much fun! And yes, a true seeding system may have caused a major shift in some of the results, but in the end we would have seen many of the same films advance and quite possibly the same champion, regardless.
One thing is for sure, we will know how to make this even better next time, and we’re glad people enjoyed participating! Whenever we do this again, hopefully we see the same kind of turnout in the early rounds that we saw in the later ones. Thanks, Cinematic Discussion followers!