Here we go! Middle-earth March Madness 2020 begins today!

This year we’re pitting against one another various scenes from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, in the categories of Tearjerkers, Scenic, Laughter, and Drama/Action. (Those listed are the moments as they appear in Peter Jackson’s movies; though you can of course feel free to reread the appropriate sections in the book and use your imagination, when making your choices!) Do you love the part when the Ents stride out to war? Or do you prefer Theoden’s stirring speech to the Riders of Rohan on the edge of Pelennor Fields? Which makes you laugh more: Pippin’s, ‘Great, where are we going?’ or Gandalf’s command to him that ‘it’s better if you don’t speak at all’? Take a look at all the magical moments vying to be 2020’s Champion:

Film Scenes - Middle-earth March Madness 2020

(Don’t worry if some of those seem a little unclear; when you go to the actual survey to vote, you’ll see a longer description to help you place the scene. We just had to fit succinct summaries on the bracket image!)

So, how do you play along, I hear you ask? Simple! Click here to go to a survey, where you can vote in each of the battles in this first round. You only get to vote once, so choose wisely! Round One runs until 10pm ET on Thursday 2nd April; on Friday 3rd in the morning we will post results, with an updated bracket, and voting on Round Two will begin. So it continues until only two remain, with the Grand Final happening on April 14-15. Which scene will be declared the overall winner? YOU decide!

Maybe you need to revisit PJ’s films to weigh up all these stirring scenes – a perfect excuse for a marathon viewing! Maybe you want to lift your copies of the books down from the shelf, and read aloud certain moments, in the Professor’s own words. Discuss online with friends, have a remote viewing party, and make the case for your preferences. HOW you decide on your vote is up to you! We’ve given you four days for this first round, so you have plenty of time to ponder, and to savour all these magical moments in the realms of Middle-earth.

We hope you’ll share your opinions with us too: here in the comments, on the message boards, in the Facebook group, via Twitter (#memarchmadness), etc. Are there incidents you think should be on there, which we’ve omitted? Finding it hard to choose? Share your thoughts and dilemmas! Let’s virtually gather together in this time of social distancing, to enjoy these stories we love; and to engage in a bit of friendly dueling!

Click here to vote now in Round One. Let the games begin!