Please note that many films throughout history have reused the titles of cheesy B-films that barely saw the light of day. Those aren’t listed here. Neither are titles with preceding articles, such as Michael Mann’s Heat vs. Paul Feig’s The Heat. All the films on this list have identical titles, are somewhat well known, and were released free of a producer pissing contest.
Charlie Chaplin, 1921 – Jon Turteltaub, 2000
Simply put, Chaplin’s iconic Tramp film is one of the best movies ever made, Turteltaub’s film, about Bruce Willis hanging out with his younger self, is not.
Buster Keaton/Clyde Bruckman, 1926 – John Boorman, 1998
A Keaton classic in one era, an IRA manhunt thriller in another era. In all honesty, Boorman’s film is pretty damn good, and boasts a stellar performance from Brendan Gleeson, but nothing tops Keaton.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Alfred Hitchcock, 1941 – Doug Liman, 2005
Hitch’s film is about a married couple whose extended arguments are nearly killing each other, Liman’s film is about a married couple whose careers are nearly killing each other. I go with Hitch. Always Hitch.
Heaven Can Wait
Ernst Lubitsch, 1943 – Warren Beatty/Buck Henry, 1978
The former is about a guy trying to get into Hell, Beatty’s film is about a guy trying to get out of Heaven. Though this is somewhat similar material, each movie is based on an entirely different play. I like them both equally.
Alfred Hitchcock, 1946 – George Tillman Jr., 2009
A Hitchcock masterpiece vs. a Biggie Smalls biopic. Well, at least there’s certainly no confusing these two.
Rick Roseenthal, 1983 – Michael Bay, 1995
While it’s amusing to see a very young Sean Penn fight to protect himself in a reform school, Bay’s romp is an action/comedy classic.
Rowdy Herrington, 1992 – Ridley Scott, 2000
Herrington’s film about underground boxing is just barely above direct-to-video fare. And while I’m not the biggest fan of Scott’s film, it wins here by a mile.
Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994 – Robert Schwentke, 2010
This may be a bit of a cheat, as Kieslowski’s film is usually referred to as Three Colors: Red, but still. There’s also a pretty lame crime thriller starring Tom Sizemore that shares the same title.
Andrew Sipes, 1995 – Doug Liman, 2010
Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin battling bad guys, or Naomi Watts and Sean Penn battling the U.S. government. Yeah, gee, tough choice.
Kicking and Screaming
Noah Baumbach, 1995 – Jesse Dylan, 2005
Baumbach’s film is a smart ass take on smart ass kids trying to figure out their post-college lives. Dylan’s film is about Will Ferrell coaching soccer. Baumbach, for the win.
David Cronenberg, 1996 – Paul Haggis, 2005
A creepy, sex-and-car-crashes fetish film vs. didactic race relations in L.A. Cronenberg’s Crash will always be my favorite of the two.
Robert Benton, 1998 – Catherine Hardwicke, 2008
An aging private investigator (Paul Newman) gets tangled in a murder mystery, or, well, that other one.
Larry Clark, 2001 – Lee Hirsch, 2011
Clark’s warped film is true story about a group of kids who murder a psychopathic bully who torments them. Hirsch’s documentary is about a group of kids who try to cope with bullies who torment them. Both are effective, but rather misguided as well.
Werner Herzog, 2001 – Ericson Core, 2006
The former is about a Jewish strongman who performs in Berlin, barely masking himself as a blond Aryan for his Nazi crowd. The latter is about Mark Wahlberg playing football. Herzog wins, always.
Neil Burger, 2006 – Sylvain Chomet, 2010
Actually a tough choice here. Burger’s film is a moody, turn-of-the-century flick about a magician (Edward Norton) trying to win the love of a woman. Chomet’s lovely animated film is about a magician traveling to Scotland for work. Both are great in their own way.
A few more:
Morning Glory (Sherman, 1933 – Michell, 2010)
Broken Arrow (Daves, 1950 – Woo, 1996)
Betrayed (Reinhardt, 1954 – Gavras, 1988)
Possession (Żuławski, 1981 – LaBute, 2002)
Heat (Richards, 1986 – Mann, 1995)
The Avengers (Chechik, 1998 – Whedon, 2012)
The Patriot (Semler, 1998 – Emmerich, 2000)
Flawless (Schumacher, 1999 – Radford, 2007)
Sunshine (Szabó, 1999 – Boyle, 2007)
Unknown (Brand, 2006 – Collet-Serra, 2011)