The Movie Waffler We Pick The Winners Of 15 Movie Duels Of 2017 | The Movie Waffler

We Pick The Winners Of 15 Movie Duels Of 2017

i, tonya
15 times similarly themed movies went to war in 2017...and our winners.

Words by Eric Hillis

The 1998 asteroid apocalypse duel fought between Armageddon and Deep Impact is the most oft-cited example of two similarly themed movies hitting cinemas around the same time, but the truth is it happens on a regular basis and 2017 gave us more than a few examples.

Here are 15 duels fought between thematic twins in 2017, and our picks for the winners.

A Quiet Passion vs Neruda
a quiet passion
Revered poets Emily Dickinson and Pablo Neruda both got the biopic treatment in 2017. Terence Davies' examination of the former was a real meal of a film, as hilarious as it was tragic, while Pablo Larrain's tribute to his Chilean compatriot suffered from a disjointed, rambling narrative that never quite got to the core of its subject.

The winner: A Quiet Passion

Alien Covenant vs Life
life rebecca ferguson
Ridley Scott continued to rub fans of the Alien franchise the wrong way with another sequel that like Prometheus, was more concerned with cod-philosophical musings than generating thrills. More satisfying was the unpretentious Life, an old-school spam in a can sci-fi thriller that owed much to the '50s b-movies that inspired Scott's original.

The winner: Life

The Babysitter vs Better Watch Out
better watch out
The end of the year offered two horror comedies featuring pubescent boys in love with their pretty blond babysitters. McG's Netflix original gave us rising Aussie star Samara Weaving as a Satan worshipper whose occult practices are rumbled by her young charge (Judah Lewis), while Chris Peckover's seasonal thriller gave us rising Aussie star Olivia DeJonge as a teen who finds herself the target of an entitled tyke (Levi Miller) who won't take no for an answer. The former was a moronic and immature time-passer, while the latter was one of the smartest horror satires of recent years.

The winner: Better Watch Out

Battle of the Sexes vs I, Tonya
i, tonya
The sporting molehill that was the 1973 exhibition tennis match between a top of her game Billie Jean King and the retired Bobby Riggs was ludicrously transformed into a social justice mountain for our binary times in Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris's Battle of the Sexes, making a mockery of King's athletic prowess, and indeed women's tennis, in the process. More charitable to its subject was Craig Gillespie's energetic biopic of disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, a film packed with beguiling performances and one which made us pine for the pre-internet days of news cycles that ran for months rather than minutes.

The winner: I, Tonya

Baywatch vs CHiPs
chips movie
Two hugely popular retro TV shows got the big screen treatment in 2017, following the comedy template set by adaptations like The Brady Bunch Movie and Starsky & Hutch. Both are atrocious spectacles, but just for Dwayne Johnson's embarrassing 'we made it for the fans, not the critics' hissy fit, we're giving this round to CHiPs.

The winner: CHiPs

Berlin Syndrome vs Hounds of Love
hounds of love movie
2017 wasn't a good year to be a young Australian woman out for a few thrills. Backpacker Teresa Palmer was locked in a nutjob's apartment in Berlin, while Ashleigh Cummings was subjected to much degradation at the hands of the Bogan couple whose bed she ended up chained to. Neither movie quite worked for us, but Hounds of Love had enough style to make us look out for future work from its first-time director Ben Young.

The winner: Hounds of Love

Call Me by Your Name vs Princess Cyd
princess cyd
In terms of the quality of the two paired films, this is very much the top of the table clash of this list. Both movies featured a teenage protagonist falling for a member of the same sex during a balmy summer break, and both were among the very best cinema gave us in 2017. We can't stress enough how you should see both Call Me by Your Name and Princess Cyd, but thanks to the outstanding performance of Rebecca Spence (are you listening Academy members? of course you aren't!), the latter just pips this photo finish.

The winner: Princess Cyd

Churchill vs Darkest Hour
darkest hour
Two of Britain's finest actors gave us their takes on the iconic wartime Prime Minister in 2017. Brian Cox delivered an impressive performance but never quite physically convinced as Churchill, unlike Gary Oldman, who gave us a serious contender for a Best Actor win at this year's Oscars. Jonathan Teplitzky's film resembled a TV movie, while Joe Wright's was a tour-de-force of quietly cinematic storytelling.

The winner: Darkest Hour

Death Note vs Ghost in the Shell
death note
Fans of Japanese anime were incensed at the Hollywood treatment meted out to two of their beloved properties in 2017. Both Adam Wingard's Death Note and Rupert Sanders' Ghost in the Shell failed to impress either hardcore fans or mainstream viewers, and both were quite terrible, but Wingard's film takes this round for having the decency to go straight to Netflix and not take up valuable cinema screen space.

The winner: Death Note

The Death of Louis XIV vs The Death of Stalin
the death of louis xiv
The demises of two European tyrants were examined in satires in 2017. Albert Serra's The Death of Louis XIV was a smart and witty exploration of political sycophancy that played like a Monty Python sketch directed by Ingmar Bergman, while Armando Ianucci's The Death of Stalin relied too much on the gimmick of hearing Russian historical figures speak in broad regional British brogues.

The winner: The Death of Louis XIV

The Disaster Artist vs Redoubtable
You won't hear Tommy Wiseau and Jean Luc Godard compared too often, but James Franco's The Disaster Artist and Michel Hazanavicius's Redoubtable shared a similar comic roast approach to portraying their filmmaker subjects. Both movies were highly entertaining, but Redoubtable takes the round for its glorious recreation of Godard's '60s aesthetic.

The winner: Redoubtable

Endangered Species vs Heal the Living
endangered species french film
Gilles Bourdos' Endangered Species was a slick French ensemble drama revolving around a victim of domestic abuse. Katell Quillévéré's Heal the Living was a slick French ensemble drama centred around an organ donor. The former was a beautifully played, insightful take on its subject, while the latter was a laughably earnest drama of the sort you might expect Will Smith to remake.

The winner: Endangered Species

From the Land of the Moon vs Lady Macbeth
lady macbeth florence pugh
Marion Cotillard and Florence Pugh were both sold into loveless marriages of convenience in From the Land of the Moon and Lady Macbeth respectively. Pugh had much more fun as the murderous and backstabbing antihero of William Oldroyd's film than Cotillard had as the dullard heroine of Nicole Garcia's.

The winner: Lady Macbeth

Justice League vs Wonder Woman
wonder woman gal gadot
The over the top and often dubiously motivated praise for the mediocre Wonder Woman became unbearably insufferable in 2017, but compared to the pathetic and limp Justice League, which was meant to be the real blockbuster of the two, it played like a masterpiece of comic book cinema.

The winner: Wonder Woman

The Shape of Water vs The Untamed
the untamed
Two Mexican directors gave us outrageous tales of willowy Latinas getting jiggy with inhuman monsters in 2017. Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water was initially endearing but ran out of steam once its plot kicked in, while Amat Escalante's The Untamed kept us gripped up to its climax with imagery that we couldn't decide was disturbingly beautiful or beautifully disturbing.

The winner: The Untamed