Box-Office Blockbuster Tourney – Round Final!

So as explained before, we are now concluding a seeded tournament-style elimination game amongst each of the US domestic box office champion movies from the last 32 years.  Seeding was done via Rotten Tomatoes scores, with ties broken with Metacritic scores.  Three of our six judges have voted on each match-up of two films, with the winner advancing to the next round and the loser skulking off into obscurity, until we have arrived at today, where we will pick our overall Champion!


You can read the full voting from Round One here and here, Round Two here, Round Three here and Round Four here.

Normally, victory has been decided by the best of three votes from a pool of six judges, including me.  But for this Grand Final Championship, I’ve decided to let all six judges have their vote.  If it’s a tie, I’ll pull in a seventh judge–but only if it’s necessary.

So…the contestants:

Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story 1a


The Dark Knight (2008)

Batman The Dark Knight

Josh M: This makes for a very interesting showdown. On the whole, my favorite movies tend to be funny, happy, feel-good, and fun. Toy Story is all these things. I also appreciate movies that excel in writing and other technical areas. Toy Story also meets these criteria.

The Dark Knight, for its part, is kind of the opposite of happy and feel-good. And what fun and funny it gives us is decidedly dark. But darn it all, it’s just a really good movie. Writing, acting, directing, all the technical aspects are strong and solid.

My Vote:  The Dark Knight

Ben: Well, this isn’t difficult for me.  Spoilers:  I’m going to vote for The Dark Knight.  I have said so from the beginning.  I don’t have anything against Toy Story.  It’s a high quality film with a great cast, a good story and a breakthrough visual style.  But, it has been outpaced multiple times since then, specifically by its own sequel Toy Story 2The Dark Knight, on the other hand, has never really been outpaced.  There are bigger superhero films, more outrageous ones, and even darker ones and bigger financial hits–but somehow there’s never been another film that brought it all together so effectively as this.  Christian Bale is far and away the best screen Batman that I’ve ever seen, and though this movie isn’t the most interesting treatment of Bruce Wayne himself, he still anchors an incredibly committed cast who are all doing their things in the sort of  compelling and immersive visual and narrative landscape that Christopher Nolan is so good at.

My Vote:  The Dark Knight

Rod: Two films that couldn’t be farther a part. Both are great. I prefer watching Dark Knight a lot more than Toy Story. In fact, like a lot of people, I love the movie.

It’s funny to me that we are about to get a “Joker” movie….The Dark Knight is the Joker movie. Heath Ledger was extraordinary and earned every bit of credit he got. This was the winner from the start, and for all the reasons that everyone else has said. Makes me want to go watch it again.

My Vote:  The Dark Knight

PeteToy Story and The Dark Knight are powerhouses of their respective genres, and both films represent a seismic shift in film–Toy Story paving the way for 3D animation, while setting an extremely high bar for stories in that medium — The Dark Knight proving that the superhero genre was something to be taken seriously, while setting a bar so high that in my opinion only Batman Begins pars with it. (I would go so far as to say that Batman Begins is better, and the legacy attributed to The Dark Knight really belongs to Begins, but that’s not a point for here, but thank you for indulging me.)

Now, I love both these films, but I can only vote for one…so here’s my reluctant reasoning.

 Toy Story is not only a rare example of a near-perfect script, it left the filmmakers with so many options to follow in regards to sequels, and as well as setting the groundwork of tone for all Pixar animations to come. 

But, despite the genius of The Dark Knight, where did the trilogy end? In my opinion, not in the best place. If anything The Dark Knight made it harder for Warner Brothers moving forward, because they could never refill those shoes.

 Too bad it was Batman Begins which inspired the tone of Casino Royale (2006), otherwise I may have voted differently. (That point did belong here!)

My Vote: Toy Story

Josh L: Don’t make me choose! These are such different and equally brilliant films, both of which did something that we’ve never seen before. The opening scenes of The Dark Knight were the beginning of Nolan experimenting with IMAX in dramatic film, the culmination of this being his latest film (Dunkirk) which was shot entirely on IMAX, this time largely shoulder-mounted for an even fuller effect of Nolan’s immersive, cinematic style. Equally inspiring, though, is the effort, ingenuity and dedication to excellence involved in making the first fully computer-generated feature film such a ground-breaking success.

It’s been a while since I saw The Dark Knight and even longer since I last watched Toy Story. To help me approach this a bit more scientifically I’ve made a list of things that I most value in film and used it to rate each film:

Believable Characters/arcs
DK:10     TS:10
Engaging story
DK:10     TS:10
Emotional Journey
DK:11     TS:10
Satisfying ending
DK:10    TS:10
Inspired personal change
DK:7     TS:6
Pushed the boundaries of cinema
DK:8     TS:11
Technical Mastery
DK:10     TS:10
Cinematic experience
DK:10     TS:9

So anyone who is good at maths would know that while this gives me a better picture of the films, it hasn’t actually verified a winner–with both movies totaling seventy-six!?! What are the odds of that??? I’ve been thinking about this for three days and I still can’t decide. I think ultimately I have to go with my gut, despite my feelings of betrayal towards the more significant cinematic milestone.  If I had a choice of which one to watch right now I would strap myself in for two hours of tension-filled chaos. Sorry, Ed.

My Vote:  The Dark Knight

Bruce: In many ways this would be a photo finish. We could argue all day but second place would still be just as deserving of the Blockbuster Battle Throne. But ties only happen with hand grenades. And that’s just the way The Joker planned it. 

My Vote:  The Dark Knight

The Winner and undisputed Box-Office Blockbuster Tourney Champion:

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight 3

And so there we go!  Exciting, eh?  Certainly for me, as this was my pick from the beginning (although I did try to be as fair as possible with the voting).  Looking back, I see that The Dark Knight only had two votes against it over the entire process–both from Pete (once losing against Home Alone, and then in this round against Toy Story).

Special thanks to our six judges (well, five judges other than me) for your time and energy to vote and communicate the reasons why!  It was cool to hear all the different opinions. You guys are awesome!

As an interesting (to me) side corollary), I decided to have a look at how our judges rated up against each other in terms of voting.

The two judges who had the most agreement in terms of percentages were Rod and Bruce, who agreed with each other 100% of the time.  However, they only voted on five of the same contests.  Rod actually had more agreements with Josh M and Pete (6 each), but there was a lower percentage of agreements: 75% with Josh M and only 55% with Pete.  Josh M and Josh L agreed with each other the least–only 25% of the time, but again there were only four common contests.  Also agreeing less than 50% of the time were Ben & Bruce and Josh M. & Pete (both 37.5%).

The Dark Knight 2

And anyway, that’s it!

Or is it?!!

Rod pointed out to me, rightly, that all of my judges were dudes.  This wasn’t intentional, but it’s certainly true.  He wondered how things would have turned out if the voters had been women instead?

So, in the best tradition of movies like Ocean’s Eight and the recent Ghostbusters reboot, I’ve decided to now run…

The Box Office Blockbuster Tourney – Gender-flipped Edition!

Details coming soon!

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