Tag Archives: The Bling Ring

March Madness of Movies: Introducing the Brackets

Now that it’s March and the NCAA will be hosting its annual March Madness tournament soon, we at MovieMinis thought to have our own tournaments, but, of course, with movies.

In the bracket style of March Madness, we will run through four different topics in what we’re calling the March Madness of Movies.

But rather than stick to general topics, such as Best Superhero Movie or Best Animated Movie, we wanted to get specific, to vote on aspects of film that could potentially make for a much more fascinating tournament.

The four topics we ended up on are:

  • Best A24 Films
  • Best Superhero Villain of the 21st Century
  • Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century (cutoff at a $75 million production budget)
  • Best Cinematography Since 2010

In this write-up, we’re introducing the brackets, and in subsequent weeks, we will release the results of each round.

For each bracket, we laid out tons of potential contenders, and after a week of painful voting, we seeded each bracket. We must note that, in working through the seeding process, we were reminded of a terrible reality in the film industry.

In the potential contenders for Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century, with a cutoff at a $75 million production budget, there were only nine films directed by women, many of them with male co-directors. Only one ended up making our bracket, certainly not as a representation of talent, but as a magnification and emphasis of the problem. For perspective, there were literally hundreds directed by men, and the men were mostly white. This is a rampant problem in Hollywood. Women and people of color — and above all, women of color — are not only not given many chances, but when they are, failure, in any way, results in horribly unfair consequences; in essence, they’re less likely to get another chance than a white man is. This problem applies to cinematography too. In the potential contenders for that bracket, there was a proportionally similar compilation. While female cinematographers received votes, none made our bracket — again, not as a representation of talent, but as a magnification and emphasis of the problem. Hollywood must change, and part of that change comes from not ignoring the problem anymore. We need more big budget films directed by women and people of color, and we need more films, in general, lensed by women and people of color. We need women and people of color involved in every level of pre-production, production and post-production. For more statistics on female directors of big budget films, read Terry Huang’s piece on The Black List blog.

With that in mind, let’s move into how the brackets shaped up:

Best A24 Films

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Moonlight and Lady Bird earned #1 seeds. Joining them were The Florida Project and A Ghost Story. Those four films will face off against #8 seeds Green RoomMorris From AmericaDe Palma and Menashe.

The next set of top films, the #2 seeds, were Swiss Army Man20th Century WomenThe Lobster and Ex Machina, which will face off against #7 seeds The LoversWhile We’re YoungKrisha and Spring Breakers.

The #3 seeds were a mix of widely awarded films and incredibly acclaimed genre/indie pictures: LockeRoomThe Witch and Good Time. The #6 seeds that they’ll compete against leaned more toward the indie darling: The Spectacular NowThe Bling RingUnder the Skin and Enemy.

Finally, in the middle of the pack were #4 seeds American Honey, Obvious ChildA Most Violent Year and It Comes At Night, as well as #5 seeds AmyThe End of the TourThe Disaster Artist and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Best Superhero Villain of the 21st Century

This bracket is made up of four subcategories — MCU villains, DC villains, X-Men villains and villains from other properties — and we pulled eight contenders from each subcategory to compete. Instead of leaving them in their own sections, however, we then mixed them up and seeded from there. And we kept it to just eight per subcategory because it seemed more interesting than a likely lopsided MCU bunch had we not had that limit.

And this bracket is not just about performances. It’s about the villain, the character. That involves the writing and the directing of that character too.

With that said, the first three #1 seeds were rather simple to come to: Heath Ledger’s The Joker from The Dark Knight, Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger from Black Panther and Ian McKellen’s Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto from X-MenX2 and X-Men: The Last Stand

Perhaps surprisingly to some who dislike the character, our staff showed strong support for Tom Hardy’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, who took that final #1 seed.

Those four will take on #8 seeds Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw from X-Men: First Class, Ed Skrein’s Francis/Ajax from Deadpool, Mark Strong’s Frank D’Amico from Kickass and Kurt Russell’s Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

The #2 seeds went to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki from various MCU films, Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2, the other Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (played by Michael Fassbender) from the most recent X-Men trilogy and the second The Dark Knight inclusion, Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent/Two Face.

The #7 seeds who will battle these four are Zach Galifianakis’ The Joker from The LEGO Batman Movie, Hugh Jackman’s X-24 from Logan, James Franco’s Harry Osborn/New Goblin from Spider-Man 3 and Michael Shannon’s General Zod from Man of Steel.

Two of the #3 seeds went to the last two Captain America films; Daniel Brühl’s Helmut Zemo from Civil War and Sebastian Stan’s The Winter Soldier (not Bucky Barnes) from The Winter Soldier. Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins and Jason Lee’s Buddy Pine/Syndrome from The Incredibles earned the other two #3 seeds. 

Competing against them are #6 seeds James Cromwell’s Professor Robert Callaghan from Big Hero 6, Dane DeHaan’s Andrew Detmer from Chronicle, Peter Dinklage’s Bolivar Trask from X-Men: Days of Future Past and the Sentinels that Trask unleashed onto the X-Men, also from X-Men: Days of Future Past.

In the middle of the pack, earning #4 seeds, were Cillian Murphy’s Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow from the entire The Dark Knight trilogy, Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn/Green Goblin from Spider-Man, Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass from Unbreakable and Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue from Avengers: Age of Ultron and Black Panther. They’ll match up against #5 seeds Hugo Weaving’s Johann Schmidt/Red Skull from Captain America: The First Avenger, Brian Cox’s Col. William Stryker from X2, Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes/Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Best Big Budget Directing of the 21st Century

This bracket was split up into four different subcategories. Those were “Superhero Directing” (in the upper left), “Franchise Directing” (in the lower left), “Prestige/Original/Non-Studio Franchise Directing” (in the upper right) and “Animated Directing” (in the lower right). We took some liberties with this. Mad Max: Fury Road is a part of a franchise, but we concluded that it felt more in line with its current group than it would’ve among the franchise contenders.

In Superhero Directing:

Christopher Nolan easily earned a #1 seed; many even believe that he should’ve gotten an Oscar nomination for his efforts on The Dark Knight. He’ll face off against #8 seed Tim Miller for the subversive Deadpool.

Coming in behind Nolan in the #2 seed was Ryan Coogler for Black Panther, a cultural phenomenon that many believe could become the first superhero film nominated for Best Picture.

The #3 seed went to Joe Russo and Anthony Russo for Captain America: Civil War; the Russo brothers also placed in the #7 seed for Captain America: Civil War. James Gunn will take on the Civil War Russos with #6 seed Guardians of the Galaxy.

The middle match-up comes from 2017 films: the #4 seed James Mangold for Logan and the #5 seed Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman.

In Franchise Directing:

Peter Jackson quite easily snagged the #1 seed for his directing job on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. He’s the only Best Director winner out of five nominated efforts in this bracket. Facing of against him is #8 seed Martin Campbell for the first Daniel Craig James Bond film Casino Royale.

Sam Mendes, director of another Craig Bond film, Skyfall, made the bracket as the #6 seed. He’ll compete with #3 seed Matt Reeves for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Like Bond, Matt Reeves made his subcategory twice, earning the #2 seed for War for the Planet of the Apes. He’ll take on our perhaps surprising Star Wars inclusion, #7 seed Gareth Edwards for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Finally, with some of the most acclaimed films of the subcategory, #4 seed Alfonso Cuarón for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will battle #5 seed Denis Villeneuve for Blade Runner 2049.

In Prestige/Original/Non-Franchise Studio Directing

David Fincher’s Zodiac has become regarded as on the best films, in general, of the 21st century, so he glided into a #1 seed pretty smoothly. But his contender is a tough one: #8 seed Alfonso Cuarón for landmark sci-fi film Children of Men.

George Miller earned the #2 seed for his masterful work on Mad Max: Fury Road, and will face of against legendary director and #7 seed Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street.

Scorsese made this subcategory twice, taking the #3 seed for his directing job on The Aviator. His opponent is #6 seed Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk, who also made this subcategory twice, placing as the #4 seed for Inception. He’ll take on #5 seed Peter Jackson for King Kong.

In Animated Directing:

Quite predictably, Pixar dominated this bracket, with #1 seeds Pete Docter and Bob Peterson for Up, #2 seed Brad Bird for The Incredibles, #3 seed Lee Unkrich for Toy Story 3, #4 seed Andrew Stanton for WALL-E, #6 seeds Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen for Inside Out and #8 seeds Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina for Coco.

But other animation directors made it through with their beloved films. Rounding out the eight were #5 seeds Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders for How to Train Your Dragon, and #7 seeds Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall and Chris Williams for Disney’s Moana.

Best Cinematography Since 2010

Even with setting the parameter of cinematography since 2010, there were still an overwhelming number of potential contenders and our votes were widely varied, resulting in a bracket that truly represents a mix of our opinions.

The #1 seeds did stand out, however: Mihai Malaimare Jr.’s lensing of The Master, Andrew Droz Palermo’s work on A Ghost Story, Roger Deakins Oscar-winning efforts on Blade Runner 2049 and Hoyte van Hoytema’s unforgettable photography on Her.

In fact, both Deakins and van Hoytema made this bracket three times. Deakins also earned a #3 seed for Skyfall and a #6 seed for Sicario. van Hoytema’s other two were Christopher Nolan films, a #2 seed for Dunkirk and a #6 seed for Interstellar.

Bradford Young also made this bracket three times, taking a #2 seed for Arrival, a #7 seed for A Most Violent Year and a #8 seed for Mother of George.

But, of course, 3-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki placed more than everyone with four spots: a #2 seed for The Tree of Life, a #3 seed for Gravity, a #5 seed for The Revenant and a #7 seed for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

The rest of the bracket is filled with stunning photography. Oscar winner Linus Sandgren earned a #2 seed for his work on La La Land. Other cinematographers of 2016 took spots as well, with James Laxton earning a #4 seed for Moonlight and Rodrigo Prieto earning a #4 seed for Silence.

Work from 2015 films rounded out the #3 seeds: Dick Pope for Mr. Turner and John Seale for Mad Max: Fury Road. The other #4 seeds were Luca Bigazzi for The Great Beauty and Bruno Delbonnel for Inside Llewyn Davis.

While Hoyte van Hoytema may have two Nolan films on this bracket, Nolan’s former cinematographer, Wally Pfister, earned a #5 for his Oscar-winning work on Inception. Rather recent photography also seeded #5: Rob Hardy for Annihilation and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom for Call Me by Your Name.

In fact, a couple of Roberts placed here. Robert D. Yeoman placed in the #6 seed for The Grand Budapest Hotel and the #7 seed for Moonrise Kingdom. Robert Richardson also seeded #6 for Django Unchained, while Robert Elswit was another Paul Thomas Anderson cinematographer to place, earning a #8 seed for Inherent Vice..

Finally, the last few contenders are #7 seed Masanobu Takayanagi for Hostiles, #8 seed Darius Khondji for The Lost City of Z and #8 seed Seamus McGarvey for Godzilla.

 

Follow along throughout March as we vote on these brackets and determine the best of each topic!

 

Featured image via Marvel Studios/Warner Bros./A24.

Eight great female director/actress duos working today

Recurring partnerships between directors and actors are a long standing Hollywood tradition. Even the casual movie-goer probably recognizes the more famous duos by now: Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Christopher Nolan and Michael Caine, Wes Anderson and Bill Murray.

Some male directors also work repeatedly with the same female actress, often referred to (somewhat creepily) as their “muse.” Pedro Almodovar has done five films with Penelope Cruz, for example, and the Coens keep working with Frances McDormand again and again (she is married to Joel Coen, though, so this one makes sense.)

But in reading about these partnerships, female directors are rarely, if ever, mentioned. We’ve compiled a list of the best female director/actress duos working today, from Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst to The Wachowski sisters and Doona Bae.

Talk about girl power.

Sofia Coppola/Kirsten Dunst

Columbia Pictures/Courtesy

The magical connection between Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst began in 1999 with The Virgin Suicides, continued in 2006 with Marie Antoinette, and most recently resurfaced this year in The Beguiled. (Not to mention her short cameo in The Bling Ring.) Most directors may not see Dunst as a period piece muse, but Coppola saw the potential there before almost everyone else (for more of Dunst’s pitch-perfect period work, check out season 2 of Fargo.) Coppola and Dunst may not have anything else lined up at the moment, but it’s only a matter of time— and we can’t wait for their next dark, dreamy, pastel-colored partnership.

Lisa Langseth/Alicia Vikander

Gus Kaage/Courtesy

Anyone who has only seen Alicia Vikander’s English-language work is missing out on some of her best performances to date. The Oscar-winning actress got her first few leading roles thanks to Swedish director Lisa Langseth, who cast Vikander in Pure and Hotel long before she caught the Tulip Fever. This year, Langseth reteams with Vikander for Euphoria, the director’s first English-language film, also starring Eva Green and Charlotte Rampling.

Kelly Reichardt/Michelle Williams

Tribune News Service/Courtesy

Williams has worked with Reichardt three times to date, in Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, and Certain Women. Just as Reichardt is known for her subtle, quietly emotional films, Williams has built a career on understated but poignant performances; in other words, they’re a match made in movie heaven.

Ava DuVernay/Oprah Winfrey

Paramount/Courtesy

Leave it to Ava DuVernay to choose the one and only Oprah Winfrey as her partner in crime. DuVernay first cast Oprah in her Oscar-nominated film Selma, and directed her again in the upcoming adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. Oprah and Ava are also partners off-screen; DuVernay’s TV series Queen Sugar debuted on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network) last year, and it’s still going strong. DuVernay also notably uses all female directors for the series, and primarily hires women of color.

Nicole Holofcener/Catherine Keener

Tribune News Service/Courtesy

Holofcener and Keener are a standout duo on this list due to the fact that Keener has been in every single movie Holofcener has ever made — five films by now, and more in the works. From 1996’s Walking and Talking to 2013’s Enough Said, Holofcener and Keener have an unprecedented female director/actress partnership. According to an interview with Variety, the two met at the gym, while Keener was on the StairMaster.

Gillian Robespierre/Jenny Slate

A24/Courtesy

From their first outing together in Obvious Child, it was clear that Gillian Robespierre and Jenny Slate are a creative match made in heaven. It takes a lot to make abortion funny, but Slate’s wacky and relatable sense of humor mixed perfectly with Robespierre’s lightning quick script and canny direction. The duo teamed up again this year for Landline, an ode to New York in the ‘90s, which follows Slate’s character as she discovers her father’s infidelity. Both films are similar in tone, if not in plot, and both films have proven that Slate and Robespierre’s creative personalities go hand in hand. Here’s to many more witty, sneakily heartbreaking collaborations.

Jane Campion/Holly Hunter

Sundance TV/Courtesy

Campion and Hunter first teamed up for The Piano in 1993, which won Hunter the Oscar for Best Lead Actress, as well as Campion for Best Original Screenplay. Despite the success of their first outing together, it took twenty years for the duo to reteam — this time on the small screen. Campion’s Top of the Lake, which just aired its second season, follows a female detective (Elizabeth Moss) as she returns to her New Zealand hometown to spend time with her dying mother and solve a missing persons case. When casting mysterious, androgynous cult leader GJ, Campion told Radio Times that she immediately thought of Hunter. “ [She was] this enlightened character, who is kind of wild and fierce and crazy and astute. I thought Holly would be perfect, because she’s got an unusual strength of character. She likes to take a risk.” Top of the Lake may not have won Campion and Hunter the kind of recognition they got for The Piano, but both seasons have aired to critical raves and a burgeoning cult following.

Lilly and Lana Wachowski/Doona Bae

Netflix/Courtesy

The Wachowskis have gone through a lot of personal changes in the past few years, as both Lilly and Lana have come out as transgender women. Their work, however, has remained characteristically inclusive, ambitious, and outright bonkers. From Cloud Atlas to Jupiter Ascending and Netflix’s popular series Sense8, the Wachowskis have worked with Korean actress Doona Bae three times to date. As muses go, Bae has to be one of the more badass on this list; her action scenes as Sun in Sense8 were some of the best on television, and we can only hope that the Wachowski sisters see fit to give her a lead role in their next inevitable team-up.

Featured image via Paramount.