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March Movie Madness

03/20/17: March Movie Madness Round 1, Part 7

Maximilian Rivera March 20, 2017
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By Scott Tennant | @Breakdown_Scott

Welcome back to March Movie Madness! Here are the results from our last batch:

#10 The Breakfast Club defeats #7 Do the Right Thing
#5 Jurassic Park defeats #12 The Silence of the Lambs
#2 The Dark Knight defeats #15 Big Fish
#11 Spotlight defeats #6 Nightcrawler

This is the penultimate ballot of the first round. We are really knocking these great films out fast. Here’s the latest ballot! Descriptions of each below!

1980’s #8 Blade Runner vs. #9 Aliens
Blade Runner: With another trip to the dystopian world coming up this year, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of Blade Runner in 1982. The adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is not only an excellent narrative worth revisiting, but is also largely responsible for the popularization of this dystopian aesthetic; the neon lights, the bleak darkness, the gleam of technology. Blade Runner builds an excellent world and a powerful narrative within it. The mood-setting soundtrack, grounded yet still impressive visual effects, and the incredibly well shot film all help build on the compelling story and make excellent use of the world it lives in. We can only hope that Blade Runner 2049 is as good. — Scott Tennant

Aliens: As another sequel that pushes the series ahead, Aliens picks up where Alien left off and builds us through Ripley’s struggle to cope with reality. Unfortunately, this coping takes her back to the alien-infested planet they just barely encountered before. This time, Ripley isn’t alone though- she’s joined by rough around the edges space marines, a survivalist kid, a grimy mid-level manager, and an android with a heart of gold. Aliens is a triumph in mixing horror elements with over-the-top James Cameron action. With all the style Cameron brings, this feels like a natural successor to Alien, while also taking the story much further. On a side note, with Bill Paxton’s untimely passing, Aliens becomes required viewing to catch one of his best bit parts- “Game over, man. Game over.”  — Max Rivera

1990’s #2 Saving Private Ryan vs. #15 Fargo
Saving Private Ryan: When Saving Private Ryan opened, there was an uptick in PTSD cases reported around the country. That’s what happens when Steven Spielberg makes a war movie. With the accuracy and frenetic energy of the landing at Omaha Beach, we’re tossed into a doomsday scenario that feels like it’s spilling off the screen. While it’s a long film, Saving Private Ryan is an emotional workhorse that captures your attention while showing you the horrors of war. And horrifying it is- we join these soldiers as they risk life and limb to save and send home one soldier whose brothers have all died in the war. If you didn’t already think Tom Hanks is one of the greats of our generation, his performance her will seal the deal for you. — Max Rivera

Fargo: Fargo the movie takes place in the last 80’s in Minnesota- wait, Fargo isn’t in Minnesota, why’s it called that? While a scene does take place in Fargo the film revolves around characters in Minneapolis and the surrounding area. This dark comedy is essential work from the Coen brothers, and captures their brand of humor, camerawork, and writing in brilliant form. The score, the Minnesota accents, the immaculate white snow all play harsh contrast to the actual happenings of the plot: it’s insurance fraud, it’s murder, it’s deceit, all wrapped up in a friendly Minnesota package. It’s hard not to admire the film for it’s quirks and originality in the face of rehashed stories and generic blockbusters; even the TV show bearing the same name doesn’t quite capture the same themes as the original movie. You betcha it’s good. — Scott Tennant

2000’s #4 Gladiator vs. #13 Wall-E
Gladiator: As one of Ridley Scott’s essential films, Gladiator has gripping visuals on exotic locations, thrilling action sequences, and enough tragedy to have you rooting for the titular character. The visceral gladiator fights aren’t just bloody for the sake of it, they’re completely satisfying and earned in every way possible. Not only does Russell Crowe play his character to a tee, Joaquin Phoenix takes villainy to new heights with his creepy, incestous Commodus.  — Max Rivera

Wall-E: A heart-warming and quirky movie about a robot in love in a post-apocalyptic Hellscape of earth without humans. I know, well-trodden territory, but Disney manages to avoid the tired “Robot-in-love” clichés and instead provides a novel but sadly prophetic tale of a future to come for our species. Plenty of your typical tearjerker Disney moments and manufactured suspense. A more prescient than normal setting and subplot set this film apart.  — Joe Leonard

2010’s #5 Star Wars:The Force Awakens vs #12 The Grand Budapest Hotel
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: It’s impossible to exaggerate the incredible impact of Star Wars on Western culture, and this film is no different. Once again, the Star Wars saga reintroduces itself to a new generation, but unlike the late 90s trilogy, this one lands hard with both kids new to the saga and long time fans. An almost impossible feat, made possible by stellar casting, excellent Disney production quality, commitment to the canon of the original series (aided by the return of some classic characters). It is a stand alone feature that has all the elements of a great film, sci-fi or otherwise, but works well within the series as well.  — Joe Leonard

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson makes unique films that can only be described with the creator’s name, building almost a sub-genre of movies that for the most part have been pretty successful and pleasing his fans. And before you say anything else it must be said: The Grand Budapest Hotel is most certainly a Wes Anderson film and feels like THE Wes Anderson film above his others. The framing of the shots with the beautiful props and sets is exceedingly creative and beautiful. A number of shots looks like they could just be paintings; this production truly is a work of art. A familiar ensemble of veterans of Wes Anderson films and newcomers alike perform well, and master the comedy of Anderson’s film, which is heavily reliant on timing, and comedic momentum. It all culminates in a wonderful story that is fun from start to finish.  — Scott Tennant

The first round is almost in the books! Be sure to stick around to make sure your favorite movie goes all the way! Keep your eyes on The Critical Breakdown for the next few weeks and help us narrow it down to the grand champion. And make sure to subscribe to our podcast for more from the podcast boys, every Tuesday.

Max is a marketing copywriter by day, filmmaker and screenwriter by night. He resides in Charlotte, NC, and loves his dogs, watching movies, building LEGO sets, and eating food. Lots of food.You can find Max at his personal website and twitter.