Okay, so the last DECADE DUEL had some flaws, I’ll admit that. I don’t think I fully realized the POWER of the topic and the level to which people would want to crown a legit winner. Because of this, I cut some corners in my analysis. Sue me. Actually don’t. I’m broke.
So, undaunted by last time’s lukewarm effort I’m back at it. In this edition of the DECADE DUEL, the 70’s take on the 90’s in what’s sure to be a closer fight then our last matchup. Most film experts credit the 70’s with being the decade that introduced the modern blockbuster. This gives that ten year span a certain synergy with the 90’s as it was in the 90′s that the blockbuster was perfected, maybe over-perfected actually. Both combatants in this duel also boast some heavy hitting film gems ranked among the greatest of all time, as well as some real achievements in special effects and storytelling.
What we’re going to do here is once again break it down into genre. This time pitting Drama, Comedy, Action, Horror and Science Fiction against each other. I also used a more diverse system to decide the winners this time, which combined Box Office numbers, aggregate critical score from a host reviewing websites, and the wild card which is the “MEO” factor. The MEO factor stands for My Effing Opinion, which will be entered into all these films. Alright, it’s time. Let the DECADE DUEL begin.
Representing the 70’s The Godfather.
Representing the 90’s Pulp Fiction.
First off, let me say that the MEO factor was a big deal in the 90’s pick. Pulp Fiction beat out films like Schindler’s List, The Shawshank Redemption, Philadelphia, Goodfellas, and American Beauty to face off against the Corleone family. See, in the DECADE DUEL not only does the greatness of the movie matter, but it’s signature as well. By signature, I mean how the movie affected and encapsulates the decade to which it belongs. Take The Godfather for example. The film defines the time in which it was released. Helmed by a young filmmaker part of a brash new segment of talent that would destroy the classic studio system, the movie was a commentary on the previous generation that had built our country by any means necessary. It’s nuanced yet brutal take on the American Dream changed cinema. By that same token, and more then any of the other 90′s films I named, Pulp Fiction did the same thing. Tarantino’s opus was a new style of storytelling, with a fresh sound, look and tempo. It was clear upon watching the film, that cinema itself would look different after its run was finished. It challenged audiences with its hipness, and from top to bottom was the one film in the 90’s that managed to satisfy the shorting attention span of the Gen X’ers while blissfully unnerving and impressing the older and wiser Baby Boomers. Having said that, Pulp Fiction simply cannot win here. It’s up against the perfect film. The Godfather is moive nirvana. Perfectly paced, brilliantly acted, and even for all its old school Mafia themes, totally relatable. Pulp Fiction might just be the hippest movie ever made, but The Godfather is the BEST movie ever made. 70’s 1. 90’s 0.
Representing the 70’s National Lampoon’s Animal House.
Representing the 90’s There’s Something About Mary.
I was VERY tempted to go with The Big Lebowski for the 90’s representative. And despite it losing out, I still maintain it’s the funniest movie of the 90’s. However, using the formula that I did, it lost to There’s Something About Mary, which is incredibly hilarious and was also a gigantic hit. In either case, this is a tough one. Animal House (which barely beat out Blazing Saddles) means so much to me. It’s like one of those nostalgia deals from the last DECADE DUEL. This is one of the duels that in order to call it, I had to go back and watch each movie again. I laughed both times, but I have to admit, I laughed much harder and more often at Mary. Animal House no doubt a classic film directed by a comedy master and featuring one of the most talented comedic actors we’ve ever lost, but I must admit, There’s Something About Mary ties this duel up. 70’s 1. 90’s 1.
Top Action Movie
Representing the 70’s Enter The Dragon.
Representing the 90’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The 70’s were an awesome decade for movies no doubt, but this is probably their weakest category. The Action genre really hit its stride during the 80’s when Arnold, Sly, Bruce, and the rest of the bunch took it to the next level. That’s not to say the 70’s didn’t pack any action punch though. You had Dirty Harry, The French Connection, and Walking Tall just to name a few of the heavyweights. For pure action though, Enter The Dragon has to be the go-to 70′s action flick. It features an iconic star, a diverse and entertaining cast of characters, plus non-stop foot-fist martial arts delight. As for the 90’s, there are a lot of great choices is well, but to name them would just be a waste of time to me. Aside from maybe Die Hard, T2 is the greatest action movie of all time. It’s pure celluloid adrenaline with a kick ass heroine and one of the most sinister and intense villains in movie history. Think about it, didn’t the T-1000 as portrayed by Robert Patrick become almost scary at some point? Like he could have his own horror franchise? That’s not to say Arnold was shown up though. He was up to the task against the T-1000, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day is up to the task against Enter The Dragon. T2 wins, as the 90’s snaps the tie. 70’s 1. 90’s 2.
Top Horror Movie
Representing the 70’s The Exorcist.
Representing the 90’s Scream
Almost the exact reverse of the last category. The 70’s was a horror fans dream. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre brought us Leatherhead, Carrie turned her prom into a real scream, and Halloween made everyone think twice about trick or treating. Conversely, by the time the 90’s had rolled around, the genre began to lose a lot of its luster. There were of course some decent ones like Candyman, From Dusk Till Dawn, Jason Goes To Hell, and some really good foreign ones like Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and Peter Jackson’s comedy/horror Dead Alive. For my money, the most purely frightening movie of the 90’s is IT, but that could be just a case of Coulrophobia. Scream wins because it was a phenomenon, and was the epitome of the horror genre for the next like ten years until Eli Roth and Rob Zombie would once again up the ante. No matter what though, nothing in the 90’s could stack up next to the pulse pounding, almost unsettling fear caused by The Exorcist. So, the possessed preteen beats the slaughtered pretty teens and helps the 70’s tie the score. 70’s 2. 90’s 2.
Quick note: I didn’t mention The Blair Witch Project anywhere. It’s not a good movie.
Top Sci-Fi Movie
Representing the 70’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Representing the 90’s The Matrix.
Forget the other movies, these are the two clear cut best films in there genre in their decade. What can you say about Star Wars? Pure imagination, pure genius, everything film making should be plus the merchandising. It is, for an entire generation of kids, the film that taught us how to dream. Its wizards, magic, damsels in distress and evil empires all with lasers and star fighters. Very simply put, its type of movie adventure that’s so enriching and enthralling that it’s almost not good enough to simply watch it. You wish the shit was real and that you were in it. And just when you thought a bar had been set that could it not be reached, just when you thought you had seen everything on film that would ever amaze you, you wandered into a theater in 1999 and saw The Matrix. I was 19 when this happened to me. I don’t think I was fully ready for the film. Too much of everything I loved. It was smart, action packed and totally original. The Matrix is antithetical to Star Wars in that it’s decidedly un-epic. It’s a lean, sexy, can’t miss a second story that requires your every iota of attention for maximum enjoyment. The film was enthralling not just for what it showed you visually, but from what it asked from you in return. It asked you to be a little smarter than the average film does. To occupy both a post apocalyptic world where it seems like nothing is possible for humanity, and a computer generated dream world where a computer hacker can be superman. Now that I’ve finished gushing over both films, here comes the decision.
I can’t. It’s a push. I tried. I really did. I even tried to hate on The Matrix because of the sequels, then I remembered that Star Wars had a set of prequels that disappointed me as well. For me, in MyEffingOpinion, I can’t choose a winner. Sure, Star Wars was way more profitable, but The Matrix did make over 450 million worldwide itself, in a much more competitive Box Office era. So the money can’t even sway it. I have to say, it’s a push. No one wins here.
So it’s still 70’s 2, 90’s 2, meaning we need another category. I had a lot of thoughts on this. I was going to do Steven Spielberg Berserk Creature Thrillers pitting Jaws against Jurassic Park, but that was a little too hokey. Then I was going to do top overall money maker, but that’s a little too boring. So you know what’s going to decide this DECADE DUEL? Cool. Cool will decide it.
Representing the 70’s A Clockwork Orange.
Representing the 90’s Fight Club
This makes sense. It makes sense that style gets into the argument. Both decades had other cool movies like The Warriors and Being John Malkovich, but in my opinion these two films are the coolest. We’ll start with ACO. For me it’s one of those movies where if you’ve seen it, and you don’t like it, it could be tough for us to be buddies. It’s delectably violent and graphic in a way that makes you question whether it’s an actual film or just the late Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic masturbation. But that line is where the film is genius and cool. It’s completely out of left field, the type of experiece that will have you laughing one minute, appalled the next, and sort shaking your head in the end like “what did I just see?” Then you go back, and you fall in love with it. It’s like an art film with bite. I heart it. As for Fight Club, you guys already know. Brilliant, aggressive and gritty. Based off wonderful subject material by Chuck Palahniuk, FC is the film most likely to start a revolution. It made every man look for his inner Tyler Durden, avoid Ikea (at least for a while) and in my case, listen to The Pixies (is there a better end credits song in the HISTORY of cinema then “Where is my mind?”). I’d actually argue that the moment we learn Tyler is imaginary severely trumps the moment we learn Bruce Willis is dead in The Sixth Sense (which didn’t beat Scream because I don’t believe it to be a horror movie). Anyway moment of truth time. Space Monkeys vs Droogs, Alex vs. Tyler , Fincher vs. Kubrick.
And I’m going with Fight Club. I’m going with Fight Club as being the coolest movie not just in the 90’s, but maybe ever. A Clockwork Orange loses by a paper thin margin here, but alas it does lose and it takes the 70’s with it.
Final Score : 70’s 2. 90’s 2 (1). 90’s wins on tiebreaker.