We are officially halfway through the L.A. Times Ultimate Summer Movie Showdown, our 16-week contest to program the greatest summer movie season ever. Or at least since 1975, the year that “Jaws” forever changed the landscape of moviemaking, gross tallying and beach bumming forever.
To recap the rules: Each week, I present you with a list of 16 movies from 1975 to 2019, all of which were released during a particular summer time frame. You may vote for your favorites on my Twitter account, @JustinCChang; each week’s polls are posted at 5 p.m. PT Tuesday.
Our first eight winners are “The Avengers” (Week 1, May 1-7), “Bridesmaids” (Week 2, May 8-14), “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Week 3, May 15-21), “Alien” (Week 4, May 22-28), “Finding Nemo” (Week 5, May 29-June 4), “Jurassic Park” (Week 6, June 5-11), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Week 7, June 12-18) and, of course, “Jaws” (Week 8, June 19-25).
At 6 p.m. this Thursday, I will be hosting a live chat on our two most recent winners, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Jaws,” that will be streamed on the Los Angeles Times Classic Hollywood Facebook Page and YouTube as well as Twitter.
And now, let’s look ahead to Week 9. We’re in the thick of summer movie season, the moment when the studios usually pull out all the stops, so it’s a more competitive week than ever. For this reason, I am going to do what I did in Week 6 and give you not 16 but 24 films to choose from initially. We’ll vote our way through them all and end with an exciting three-way finale.
Seeding movies can be a tricky process. This week, I threw my already far-from-traditional bracket metrics out the window and went with a series of themed match-ups, simply because this week’s movies lent themselves to it. Here are our 12 opening match-ups:
Warren Beatty in the movie “Heaven Can Wait.”
“Heaven Can Wait” (1978) vs. “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)
Warren Beatty! Meryl Streep! Heaven vs. the Devil! Titles with declarative sentences!
“The Secret of NIMH” (1982) vs. “Ratatouille” (2007)
Which rodent-centric animation do you prefer — Don Bluth’s moodily enchanting fantasy or Brad Bird’s glorious ode to culinary artistry?
“Labyrinth” (1986) vs. “Spider-Man 2” (2004)
“Labyrinth” follows a young woman’s quest to find her missing brother, Toby. “Spider-Man 2” stars Tobey Maguire. Probably this week’s lamest match-up, sorry.
“Full Metal Jacket” (1987) vs. “The Hurt Locker” (2009)
Two singular war movies that analyze the mindset of the American soldier with sardonic intelligence and remarkable craft.
A scene from the movie “Ratatouille.”
“Coming to America” (1988) vs. “The Nutty Professor” (1996)
Eddie Murphy, two ways — or rather, eight ways, if you count all seven characters he plays in “The Nutty Professor.”
“Do the Right Thing” (1989) vs. “28 Days Later …” (2003)
Spike Lee’s searing panorama of racial animus and Danny Boyle’s tour de force zombie thriller: two very different portraits of rage and social collapse.
“Days of Thunder” (1990) vs. “A League of Their Own” (1992)
NASCAR vs. baseball. I’d give the edge to baseball, but Tom Cruise fans will get another chance to back him this week with “War of the Worlds.”
“Apollo 13” (1995) vs. “WALL-E” (2008)
To outer space and back: That’s the journey undertaken in both Ron Howard’s harrowing account of the Apollo 13 mission and Andrew Stanton’s Pixar masterwork about two soulful robots saving a doomed planet Earth.
Tobey Maguire and Alfred Molina in “Spider-Man 2.”
“Face/Off” (1997) vs. “Men in Black” (1997)
Two out-there entertainments that made the summer of 1997 an especially fun one. I’d watch a movie that forced Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith to trade faces.
“Out of Sight” (1998) vs. “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” (1999)
George Clooney stars in Steven Soderbergh’s pitch-perfect crime thriller and has a voice credit in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s deliriously hummable South Park musical.
“A.I. Artificial Intelligence” (2001) vs. “War of the Worlds” (2005)
After winning the last three consecutive Showdowns, Steven Spielberg competes again with two speculative fictions — one an intensely harrowing doomsday thriller, the other a stunningly ambitious attempt to merge with the spirit of Kubrick.
“Magic Mike” (2012) vs. “Magic Mike XXL” (2015)
The Soderbergh-directed original may have been the bigger stripper-themed summer hit, but the pleasures of Gregory Jacobs’ sequel are arguably at least a few dollar bills richer.
Lori Petty, Tom Hanks and Geena Davis in the movie “A League of Their Own.”
(Louis Goldman / Columbia Pictures)
How to vote: If you have a Twitter account (and if you don’t, you can sign up for one for free), you may vote in the polls that I will post this week. Here’s the schedule:
Tuesday, June 30
5 p.m.: Polls open for knockout round; voting ends at 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Wednesday, July 1
8 a.m.: Polls open for quarterfinals; voting ends at 4 p.m.
5 p.m.: Polls open for semifinals; voting ends at 1 a.m. Thursday.
Thursday, July 2
8 a.m.: Polls open for final vote.
4 p.m.: Final polls close; winner announced.
Happy voting — and stay tuned for Week 10.