Movie Musical Bracket

March 24, 2017

My good buddy, Mike Sheehan, and I recently recorded a podcast episode debating our favorite movie musicals since the year 2000. In celebration of March Madness, we used a bracket-style to determine the rankings, match-ups, and eventually the winner. Here is the process that went with figuring out the rankings and at the bottom is the episode. Enjoy!


This post is to explain how we came up with the movies and the rankings for our Movie Musical Bracket.

First, we needed a topic and both Mike and I love movie musicals, and statistically there weren’t too many of them to choose from. Well, that’s what we thought at first before realizing there are plenty of classic movie musicals, so to stay clear from them we decided to keep the pool of films to more recent memory. We decided to only allow movie musicals since the year 2000 to be in the bracket, but even deciding that would be a lot of work. Luckily, we found a Buzzfeed article where Louis Peitzman ranked his favorite movie musicals that were released after the year 2000.

Perfect! Until Mike realized it omitted one of his favorite movie musicals: Moulin Rouge. So we just decided to throw that film in the mix as well. So we had Moulin Rouge plus 23 of the films Mr. Peitzman had on his list as the pool of films trying so hard to make it into our bracket. Now we needed to decide how to get that list down to 8.

We decided to have an Objective Score and a Subjective Score. The Objective Score was the sum of the film’s IMDB Rating + 10% of its Rotten Tomatoes Score + the films domestic box office gross/10,000,000 (with 10 being the max score). Basically, each category’s max score would be 10, so a film’s perfect score would be 30. And we felt that the mixture of IMDB (fan voting) + Rotten Tomatoes (critic’s gauge) + Box Office (pop culture relevance) was a fair enough system.

But then we had a Subjective Score, which was our separate rankings of our favorite 8 films from the pool. We ranked them 1 through 8 and used a point system: 15 points to the 1st ranked film, 13 points to the 2nd ranked film, 11 points to the 3rd ranked film, etc. Again, the max score for any film would be 30 points.

After combining all of the scores, we had our rankings. But then we discussed our main problem: what if we disagreed with a match-up? What would the tie-breaking mechanism be? We can’t just flip a coin or have the higher seed win. So we decided that since we’re the ones debating, our rankings should matter as the tie-break. Whenever we have a tie, we would look only at the Subjective Totals and the film with the higher Subjective Score would win. If that also resulted in a tie, then the higher seed won.

And there you have it! Here are how the rankings ended up and the first round match-ups:

1. La La Land (47.7 points)
2. Les Miserables (44.5 points)
3. Once (38.6 points)
4. Moulin Rouge (35.9 points)
5. Tangled (33.7 points)
6. Chicago (30.8 points)
7. Sweeney Todd (30.2 points)
8. Sing Street (28.9 points)

1. La La Land vs. 8. Sing Street
2. Les Miserables vs. 7. Sweeney Todd
3. Once vs. 6. Chicago
4. Moulin Rouge vs. 5. Tangled

Enjoy Episode 25 of Popcorn and Pop Culture Podcast:


Movie Review: Begin Again (2014)

July 9, 2014

Begin Again (2014)
104 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by John Carney
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Adam Levin, Hailee Steinfeld


Grade: C+

John Carney gave us the magical, musical film Once in 2007. Several years later he tries his hand at the romantic-musical flick, but this time it’s set in New York City and boasts a talented cast instead of newcomers. Unfortunately, the result is disappointing.

In the opening scene we hear Greta (Knightley) playing one of her songs at an open mic in an East Village bar. She’s nervous but sings a heart-felt, sweet song while picking the acoustic guitar, which barely makes it over the constant chatter. She’s embarrassed but there was one person who was impressed by her performance, a record label talent scout. This guy is Dan (Ruffalo) who has recently been fired from the label because of his inability to find the next big artist, but he’s not interested in finding a pop star. He wants someone unique and authentic and he feels that Greta is that artist.

The set-up is fine, but the way the film predictably unfolds makes it forgettable. It’s funny how Greta and Dan are in pursuit of breaking musical tradition to maintain their honesty in their songs, but Begin Again is more of the same we’ve seen hundreds of time before. On top of that, the music is okay at best. Knightley doesn’t have much vocal range but does her best with a smile and her sweet-spoken voice. The lyrics are quite elementary, with prose that could litter a high schooler’s notebook.

The main problem is the lack of effective emotion throughout. Dan and Greta both have had terrible heart-breaks in their past, but the film does little to really make us feel their pain. In the first half hour of the film we see how Greta’s rock-star boyfriend (Levine) falls for another girl while on the road. The whole sequence is lackluster, partly due to Levine’s weak performance but also due to the situation. What worked so well in Once is that we didn’t exactly know what happened with its characters’ past. We knew they each had a partner that didn’t work out, but they brought each other back to life. Here in Begin Again, we dive into both Greta and Dan’s past of exes and betrayal, but it all falls flat.

The part of the film that makes Begin Again worthwhile is the idea of live recording Greta’s songs at different locations all over New York City. The montages of the full band playing her songs while Dan runs the show are the true charming moments. Why? Those scenes were the most natural. It felt like these were a group of misfits trying to make a name for themselves in the busy and crowded city where it’s easy to get lost, and they achieve exactly what they set out to do. These scenes are shot beautifully as well, whether they’re playing in the subway, on the roof of a building, under a bridge or in an empty alley.

In the end, everyone finds their way to exactly where they wanted to go, which is quite the opposite compared to Once. The thing is that Dan and Greta don’t seem to share that connection that makes us want them to end up together. Sure, they’re about fifteen years apart, but the lack of affection makes the scenes they share seem less important. The message here is that music can save anyone, no matter where they are or what dilemma they’re in. It’s a great message, but the road to that conclusion needed a lot of work.

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