Something went a bit rotten in the first round of this “Secrets and Lies” quadrant. Strangers on a Train, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1951 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s equally classic novel about a criss-cross murder scheme, lost to The Good Shepherd, Robert De Niro’s 2006 vanity project about the founding of the CIA. How? The former is a time-worn thriller layered with then-controversial undertones about anti-Communist hysteria and the sexual politics of the Cold War. The latter, an Oscar-grubbing period piece that nabbed a single nomination for art direction. What skewed the results? Is The Good Shepherd, even with its rare Joe Pesci appearance, really much better than Hitchcock? No, of course not. But in the first round, The Good Shepherd’s credentials as a Washington movie were that “the Yalies have too much power.” Boola, boola. Brackets are nothing without their maddening upsets. If La Salle can beat Kansas State, The Good Shepherd can topple Strangers on a Train.
Enough shaming a No. 13’s defeat of a No. 4. The rest of this quadrant behaved as expected in the first round, even if top-seeded DC Cab scraped by State of Play by 22 percentage points. (Honestly, the margin should have been three times as wide.) Damn Yankees cruised to an easy win over Protocol, No Way Out coasted past The Walker, and Enemy of the State crushed Seven Days in May. New Republic hot takes proved popular as ever, with Shattered Glass blowing past The Man With One Red Shoe by 45 percentage points.
Also popular: Aaron Sorkin. The hack behind three of the most insufferable television dramas of the last 15 years went three-for-three in the first round, with A Few Good Men advancing over The Distinguished Gentleman. (Sorkin’s other entries, The American President and Charlie Wilson’s War, are currently trying to make it to the round of 16 in other quadrants.)
But the most perplexing result of all was No. 2 Minority Report’s razor-thin win over No. 15 Arlington Road. Besides being one of Steven Spielberg’s best films, Minority Report offers a disturbing forecast for Washington becoming a dystopia ruled by invasive police technology. Arlington Road is mostly forgettable, save the domestic terror attack on the FBI. But in the end, they were separated by only 1.2 percentage points. You guys must really hate the J. Edgar Hoover Building!
In the second round, it’s DC Cab versus Damn Yankees, No Way Out versus The Good Shepherd, Enemy of the State versus A Few Good Men, and Shattered Glass versus Minority Report. Remember, it’s not about what movie should scared you the most, it’s about what movie made you feel the ickiest about this town. Voting closes Thursday, March 11 at 11:59 PM.