We asked. You voted. And the most quintessentially Michigan movie is...
All our dreams of March Madness office bracket pool glory were quashed after the NCAA canceled their annual men’s and women’s basketball tournaments amid the COVID-19 outbreak. To fill the void, Stateside stepped in with a bracket of their own: the Michigan March Movie Madness tournament.
We asked Michigan Radio’s Instagram followers to help us find the most quintessentially Michigan movie. It started out with a list of sixteen films set in, filmed in, or about Michigan. After a week of intense competition, we have a winner!
8 Mile, the 2002 film starring Detroit rapper Eminem, won the championship by a landslide. It won 68% of the vote, beating out its competition Grosse Pointe Blank.
Ahead of the final match-up, Stateside interim executive producer Laura Weber-Davis talked to two film critics about the tournament’s upset, the “Final Four,” and which movie they thought deserved to win the championship. Corey Hall is a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society, and his work can be found in the Detroit Metro Times and on WDET. Andrea Riley is a film critic who writes for the website Movie Sleuth.
Out of the final four contenders, Riley said there were two that stood out as being quintessentially Michigan films to her.
“8 Mile and Grosse Pointe [Blank] not only have a lot of Michigan locations in them, but they also kind of seem to embody the spirit of Michigan for me,” she said.
The biggest upset in the tournament, both Hall and Riley agreed, was that Robocop hadn’t made it to the Final Four. The 1987 action film got knocked out in the first round by Grosse Pointe Blank. Hall said that was baffling to him, given the fact that Detroit could soon be home to a RoboCop statue that's been in the works for years.
“It’s a very iconic character, and that loss really rattled me. I’m still stunned. I can’t even recover,” said Hall.
At the time of the conversation, Beverly Hills Cop was slightly edging out 8 Mile, something that both Laura and our guest critics thought was a shame. 8 Mile has some pretty serious Michigan cred. It stars one of Michigan’s most famous musicians, was filmed in the city, and auto industry workers are central to the plot.
There’s no question Beverly Hills Cop is a fun movie, Hall said. And in its defense, he said, the movie did shoot some of its scenes “in Detroit and made the late great police chief of Detroit, Gil Hill, famous.” But the plot of the film ultimately has very little to do with the city itself.
“I am beside myself,” said Weber-Davis. “And I have to be honest with you, to maintain my journalistic integrity, I tried to pad the vote here. Because I was so incensed right before I walked in that I encouraged my fellow Statesiders to go vote for 8 Mile, and we could not move the needle.”
In the end though (perhaps with a little help from Weber-Davis’ impassioned plea to her co-workers), 8 Mile took its place as the most Michigan movie of them all.
Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.