"Pulp Fiction" and "Goodfellas" are two of the very best films of the past quarter century; full stop.
The latter is, really, the only American crime epic to approach (and arguably surpass) "The Godfather" parts I & II. Though tonally worlds away, Scorsese's masterpiece unlocks many of the same achievements: it projects an incredibly sensitive, well-observed portrait of American life - in particular, the experience of immigrant communities - against the machinery of organized crime, and does it with over-the-top attention to detail and poetry. It's also entertaining as hell. I can watch and re-watch "Goodfellas," and after 27 years, it's never gone even a little flat. All the key players feel at the top of their games.
"Pulp Fiction," for its part, remains a beautiful freak: on arrival, it was hailed as wildly original, irreverent and unexpectedly poignant in turns - and happily, whenever I return to it, those adjectives still apply. Tarantino's favorite trick - quoting tropes and pop culture conventions - somehow feels like an engine for invention in his hands (rather than facsimile). Each and every time I watch it, I ask myself, "how did he DO this? How did a self-taught scallywag of a nobody churn something so confident and stylish his second time around the block?" The skinny ties, the AM radio hits, the elements of funky LA pastiche: we've seem them all before, but somehow, there's never been a movie like "Pulp Fiction," before or since.
And that, perhaps, is why I voted against the movie which rivals "The Godfather II" as one of the finest American films of the modern era. Seriously, I love "Goodfellas." It's the kind of immaculate picture the canon was made for. But my gut, here, is pushing me in another direction: I'm rewarding wild invention over classicism.
This one hurts. I saw both of these movies during very formative years of becoming a cinephile. Honestly, I don't even know which one of these movies I would say is "better". What I do know is that, as much as I love Goodfellas, I don't think it's the best Scorsese movie, or even the best one on this list and I do think Pulp Fiction is the best Tartantino movie. It's also a more meaningful movie to me based on when I saw it.
Pulp Fiction it is.
I'm gonna become incredebly unpopular now! Both good, both not on par with some of the heavy weights somewhere else in this list. Their childish glee for the glorification of violence makes these two both not suited for this bracket. WHoever wins will fall in the next round if it's up to me!
Technically, Goodfellas is the only option here since, without it, Pulp Fiction probably wouldn't exist. So if Pulp Fiction wins it's erased (from existence, thank you Doc Brown) by virtue of killing one of its own parents. So we lose everything EVERYTHING, DAMN YOU.
Which mean the only sane way to vote is for Goodfells.
But I still voted Pulp Fiction. Come at me, causality.
Me: Pulp Fiction has better female characters.
Stranger on Subway: What?
Me: SAY WHAT AGAIN!
While I will always love QT, I have to come out of the closet and admit that my opinion of his body of work has taken a sharp decline over the last few years. Not because I had any strong negative reaction to any one recent project like the Hateful Eight, but just because the strings have always been showing and once you see them, it's hard to go back to pretending not to. When Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction first appeared, his style was so fresh and singular that it spawned an entire subgenre of "Tarantino knockoffs". What is less readily acknowledged by his fans and even his detractors is that, unlike maybe some other oft-copied auteur like Wes Anderson who can never be matched, a lot of the Tarantino knockoffs are actually fairly solid stand-ins for their inspiration.
On the other hand, a thousand filmmakers have made hard-boiled gangster sagas desperately hoping to be the next Scorcese, and how many of them even come remotely close to Goodfellas? Not a single one in my estimation.
This might as well be the final showdown. Both are in my top 10 of all time. Both have shaped my film worldview. I remember being 15 and cleaning the entire house to earn the 20 bucks to buy the Goodfellas DVD. I asked my parents if it was too late to be a gangster.
On the other side of that coin is Pulp Fiction. The most highly quotable film and quite simply the most Tarantino, Tarantino movie. I can't imagine a world without this work. And if there is a world where I have to choose between these two films, Go get your friggin shine box, Adam and Josh. Pulp Fellas 4 life.
You guys are cruel! This is too hard. I voted four seconds ago, and I can't even say with certainty which film I clicked. It was a blur. It felt like choosing a digit to retain. I probably saw these films within a month of each other in my junior year of high school, and they turned me on to movies as more than an entertainment, but a way of life. I am a child of two cinematic fathers, and they are Marty and Q. Forget Sophie's Choice, this was killing a parent. You bastards!
This felt like an impossible decision, and then I remembered Tarantino's cameo.
Wow, this shook me... it wasn't head vs heart so much as soul vs sanity... To not vote Pulp Fiction felt like ignoring the core of my being as a cinephile but I could not rationalise denying Goodfellas continuation in this gut punch you call a tournament.
Tatantino's scene in the penultimate act shreds the legacy this film could have had.
This is the hardest for me. Two of my all time favorite movies. Going with Goodfellas simply because you can watch it a hundred times without getting bored.
This was the hardest choice. I love Goodfellas, but I'll still have Casino. I love Pulp Fiction, I'd still have Dogs and Jackie Brown. This comes down to the periphery for me: visited America for the first time in 1994, saw Pulp in a $1 cinema in Myrtle Beach in the middle of the day with my then Kentuckian girlfriend, after buying a Budweiser beach towel. Ah, memories! (she hated it, obviously we weren't meant to be)
If I knew my life would never again include seeing a majestic push-in of Robert De Niro coolly smoking a cigarette to "Sunshine of Your Love," or an extreme close-up of Paulie lovingly slicing garlic with a razor, or a freeze-frame of a hapless mailman having his head forcibly inserted into a pizza oven, well... that is a life I would not care to continue living.
two of the most fun films of all time.
jungle boogie, doggy daddy.
Jackie Brown is my favorite Tarantino (I'm a noir fan who is still weeping about Chinatown's loss) but Pulp Fiction is the only other film by him that I'd consider a masterpiece.
When it doubt, go with cultural relevance. Goodfellas may have been under appreciated when it came out, but Pulp Fiction has withheld its iconic stature over 20+ years. C'est la vie, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell.
Do you think your funny?
Two crime classics, head-to-head, and I imagine it's a tough choice for some, but for me, it's easy. I'm 31 and saw Goodfellas twice before I turned 20 and it had almost no impact on me either time. A rumbling buzz of hype and admiration always follows whenever its title is uttered and it's hard for me not to feel like there is something I am missing, but aside from the allure of that hype, it's a film I have no interest in revisiting. The "like a clown" bit is fantastic, and, of course, de Niro and Pesci are the archetypical gangsters, but the tone of this film which, from my memory, neither takes itself too seriously nor loosens up enough to really have a blast, didn't work for me, and a couple of memorable characters and a lot of violence are not nearly enough to turn a crime movie into legendary and important work of art.
Pulp Fiction, on the other hand, took me into its fully realized world and reached inside of me with its hella vibing surf soundtrack and, with one extremely unexpected kinky sex scene/revenge katana killing, pried my heart open just enough to take my appreciation of film to a new level. Even though at age 8 or 9, when PF was released, I was already seeking out as many R-rated and serious, adult-themed movies as I could, Tarantino's culture-bomb of a film escaped my viewing for years, but I remember seeing its poster and watching the music video for Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon on MTV and I knew that the film was already iconic. I saw the clips of the famous dialogue - the Royale with Cheese scene - and I knew that this was a special movie, full of flair and excitement and sass. When I finally got around to watching it at age 16, and everyone at the party where we were watching it EXPLODED when Butch finally chose the katana, and I literally got up off the couch and paced around the room with my breath held tight, almost unable to bear the tension that would soon be released so gloriously with "I'ma get medieval on yo ass!", I had experienced something I would never forget. I claimed Pulp Fiction as my favorite movie ever for a few years, and while I no longer consider it so, the rich characters, the playfulness, that epic soundtrack, the heart - and boy does Tarantino nail the tone here, with tremendous humor paired alongside those touching little moments of deep humanity (e.g., when Vincent and Mia part ways) that always remind you that these people and life really matter - the costumes, the trademark visual style, the Big Kahuna burgers - it's still in my all time top 10, and Tarantino has still never been better. It's Pulp Fiction all day.
I'm pretty f****ing far from alright after this one.
Goodfellas is a master craftsman's work, perhaps Scorsese's epitome as a director and has one of the best Joe Pesci performances, and the man can perform. The plot structure leaves little more to desire. It's clearly a masterpiece.
I do think that pulp fiction is more ambitious in the way it challenges narrative and form and the way that it deals with symbolism, WHAT IS IN THAT SUITCASE??? (JK, I categorically reject any answer to that question), it's a gangster movie that rethinks gangster movies, a boxer movie that rethinks boxer movies, and i'll just say it, more fun to watch.
Goodfellas can burn for all I care, I'm not going back to a world without Pulp Fiction.
As much as it pains me to bid adieu to a filmmaker as important as Quentin Tarantino, no amount of rationalizing can make me believe PULP FICTION is a better film than GOODFELLAS. Tarantino is A master at combining violence, music, incredible visuals, and tight scripts. Marty is THE master. So no more Tarantino for me. Hey - maybe we will end up with an all Marty final?
Sweet Jeebus! Don't make me choose! Layla v. Misirlou? Spider vs. the Gimp? Dueling Sam Jacksons? Heroin v. a nice marinara? Impossible!
While I cherish the memory of seeing Pulp Fiction for the first time - probably the most fun I've ever had in a theater - and it's lines, characters and soundtrack have permanently nestled themselves into my DNA, it does not consistently deliver the way Goodfellas does. The masterful pacing and camerawork and Ray Liotta's voiceover lock me into the Goodfellas ride on each viewing no matter how familiar I am with its every beat. I can remember the way Pulp Fiction made me feel, but Goodfellas makes it feel like the first time every time.
Now go get your shinebox!
This one was tough, but I'm going Pulp Fiction, mostly because of how it made me feel the first time I saw it in the theater- the shock ending of the cold open followed by the titanic title scroll over that incredible Dick Dale tune... it completely took my breath away.
Both are great, obviously. If I watch Pulp Fiction, I love most of it. If I watch Goodfellas, there are just no dry spots. It achieves much of what Pulp Fiction does, and then some. Side by side, Goodfellas is great, and Pulp Fiction is clever. The fact that Pulp Fiction is actually great just makes this vote better, not harder. it honors them both.
Pulp Fiction, a film I learn more from every time I watch it, or Goodfellas, a film I vow never to watch again? Not much of a choice for me.
If I'm going based off of the idea of what I want to show my children, then I have to go with my family's favorite movie when I was growing up. Pulp Fiction it is.
Oh good god. Do I really have to chose?
Both of these masterpieces are staples of nostalgia from my childhood. Both would make my personal top 10 (if not top 5). Definitely the most difficult matchup yet; I will lose sleep over this one.
If I was voting based on directors, Marty would edge out the win, however, with tunnel vision on these two films alone, my gut is telling me Pulp, so I'm going Pulp.
This tournament is truly madness.
If Goodfellas would be wiped from the earth, never to have been so much as a glimmer in Scorsese's eye, it would have to take Pulp Fiction with it. More than any other filmmaker represented on this poll, Tarantino's movies are riffs on what has come before, and Scorsese's potent blend of violence, vulgarity and humor has certainly been a key influence on him. Could Pulp Fiction exist if not for Goodfellas? I doubt it.
(That said, would Goodfellas exist without The Godfather, and would The Godfather exist without Citizen Kane, and would Citizen Kane exist without... oh, I give up.)
The Generation Y Masculinity Special: two movies that male non-film buffs of roughly my age (33) always choose as favorites, despite completely misunderstanding them. I'm going Scorsese all day, though.
Adam: You're a pistol, you're really funny. You're really funny.
Poll (voiced by Sam): What do you mean I'm funny?
Adam: It's funny, you know. It's a good poll, it's funny, you're a funny poll.
Poll: What do you mean, you mean the way I destroy Filmspotting listeners' souls? What?
Adam: It's just, you know. You're just funny, it's... funny, you know the way you remind listeners about how Pulp Fiction is amazing but Goodfellas is better and everything.
Poll: [it becomes quiet] Funny how? What's funny about it?
Josh: Poll no, you got it all wrong.
Poll: Oh, oh, Josh. He's a big host, he knows what he said. What did ya say? Funny how?
Adam: Just... ya know... you're funny.
Poll: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like the Tree of Life obviously getting destroyed by Alien in the first round, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
Adam: Just... you know, how you force listeners into an existential crisis, what?
Poll: No, no, I don't know, you said it. How do I know? You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what's funny!
For as long as I can remember, people have hailed both these movies as the likable criminal tales. We are taken through their lives and witness them dealing with the basic day to day troubles mixed with their unscrupulous obligations. While Pulp is alluring with its crackle pop dialog that has become the stuff of pop culture legend, I'm voting for Marty and his merry band of wise guys. Scorsese has a knack for making us root for antagonistic characters and Goodfellas may be his greatest achievement in empathetic bad guys. What can I say? Scorsese's care with his characters makes me the kind of guy that roots for bad guys in the movies.