I have a confession to make. I’ve become a relatively bitter Tolkien fan in the past 20+ years. Since founding TheOneRing.net with Corvar, Tehanu and Xoanon, I’ve gone through a devolution of my own personal fandom, that was neither apparent at the time, nor welcomed as a result. You see, when we started, so many ages ago, I had read The Lord of the Rings religiously every year since age 13. Every single year. It was a welcome escape from the challenges of 13-year-old-boy-dom. After all, I was a pretty damn awkward kid. I looked forward to the summer when I’d pore through the pages of Tolkien’s master work, and be whisked away on a journey in which I felt I was passionately participating.
When the idea of TheOneRing.net came to fruition, I was able to get that same satisfaction through simply enjoying the dawning of the internet age with other Tolkien fans online. I consumed everything and anything that was shared, written, argued, engaged, etc. That become my cup of Tolkien consumption for many years, lasting through the end of The Return of the One Party. Yes, through those years, I did not read a word of Tolkien – but the thriving community of TheOneRing.net kept me more than fulfilled.
Then came the in-between years – we can call them the dark times – that time when our personal interests fall to the side as we build up our family and professional lives. (Don’t get me wrong, those are great things on a personal level, but for my Tolkien fandom, that time was pretty dark.) I didn’t read a word of Tolkien, and I didn’t consume the output of the community that had sustained me for so many years. The significance of Tolkien in my life took a back seat.
Along came the excitement and rush of The Hobbit films! A return to the grandeur of the early 2000s, a thriving community engaged with a new vision…or was it really? The reality for many of us old-timers (BTW – I’m not ‘THAT’ old), was that the venture through The Hobbit films felt a bit more like Thorin’s struggles (*cough* gold fever) than true excitement. For me – and maybe not for you – it felt forced … non-organic. The community still thrived, however, and a whole new generation of Tolkien fandom was born.
But for me … I was done. Well, obviously not ‘done’ done. But I had reached my limit. I hadn’t read a word of Tolkien for years … decades … and I saw too much behind the curtain of the ‘business’ of Hollywood gleefully to ignore the obvious truths that evade most. (We won’t go into those here – let’s just say, behind the curtain is pretty ugly.)
Then comes the news of a biopic of Tolkien. *roll eyes* This bitter Tolkien fan immediately thinks, ‘Oh great. How are they going to diminish the legacy of one of the greatest authors and minds of all time? Will they make him out to be a racist? A religious zealot? Pull out some other horrific tidbit of information that could attempt to ruin a legacy?’ Yea, bitter. ‘What modern sensibility will we crucify Tolkien with today?’
Pretty sure that is as bitter as bitter gets. (Was anyone else there with me?)
When I was offered an opportunity to see Tolkien at the Montclair Film Festival in Montclair, NJ last night, I was just as bitter. It was cool that I would get to go see it early, but I was pretty well set for something annoying. Yes, a few other staff had already seen it and set praises upon it, but this bitter old fan chalked that up to youthful enthusiasm for community relevance. (Sorry folks, but that’s the truth!)
What I saw on the screen last night was quite unexpected. It was inspiring, tearful, joyful and engaging. It was exquisitely directed, and skillfully acted.
What I saw on the screen was a story I hadn’t known. It was obviously not just a reporting of Tolkien’s life; no, this was a unique interpretation of a famous life, pieced together from a relatively undocumented time. This is something that engaged this bitter fan from the first scene of WWI hell, to a realistic conclusion well before Tolkien’s published fame.
This is NOT a geek film. This is NOT a greedy attempt to piggy back on the success of LOTR, Hobbit or other fantasy films. This is a wonderful work of cinema that not only fully re-charged my interest in learning more about the one who started it all, but also my interest in re-reading the books.
Today, I made sure that The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books are front and center on my Kindle app. Guess what I’ll be reading later?
Congratulations to director Dome Karukoski (My new hero?) on an amazing film, worthy of the name of ‘Tolkien.’
The mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle-earth – Galadriel.
Over 2000 votes were cast in our final event, and Galadriel took 66% of the vote – a significant victory.
We hope you enjoyed our unique twist on Middle-earth March Madness this year, and as always, we’d love to hear your comments and suggestions below. Do you have a unique way to run this event? Let us hear about it!
A note on how the bracket combatants were determined. TheOneRing.net created a document containing all combatants, sub divided into divisions. We asked staff to cast sixteen votes per division, with the votes having a weight of 1-4. Each staffer cast four 4 votes, four 3 votes, four 2 votes and four 1 votes in each division. We then totaled all the votes from each division to determine their rank, and ultimately placed those into our bracket for seeding.
Congrats to the Villanova Wildcats as they won the ‘real’ March Madness last night. But while that was possibly the most dramatic ending in college basketball history, it pales in comparison to our final of Middle-earth March Madness 2016!
Galadriel vs. Morgoth
Could there be a more epic battle? Beauty and Brains facing the ultimate Baddie with Brawn.
Voting was close for the winners of the Beauty and Brains divisions. Galadriel pulled out of the victory over last year’s Champ by only 50 votes! Unfortunately for Beorn, the other match-up was not quite as close. Morgoth blew-out Beorn, garnering 60% of the votes.
So it all comes down to this. Will we have our first female character champion? Will an ultimate baddie win for the first time? Only time, and your votes, will tell!
Voting is now open below. Voting will remain open until tomorrow night (April 6) at 10pm ET.
While the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament may have set their final last night, we at TheOneRing.net are getting set for our Final Four match-ups!
The winner of the Beauty division, Galadriel, will take on the two-time champion from the Brains division, Gandalf. In the 2012 edition of Middle-earth March Madness, Gandalf defeated Galadriel in the Elite Eight round…can he do it in 2016? If Gandalf wins this year, he will be our first repeat champion and will lead the total championship count with three.
On the other side we have two first time Final Four combatants. Defeating Eowyn by just 9 votes, Beorn wins the Brawn division and moves on to face the ultimate Baddie – Morgoth! As an interesting side note, this is the first time Morgoth has made any type of run in Middle-earth March Madness. He has soundly defeated all combatants in this year’s event, but he is coming up against the top seed from the Brawn division in the form of Beorn. (Speaking of, which ‘form’ will Beorn take in this match-up? We’ll let you decide.) It’s an ultimate battle of two number 1 seeds…let’s see who wins!
Hold the presses! The Sweet Sixteen has been set, but not without a bit of controversy. For the first time in the storied history of Middle-earth March Madness, we’ve had a tie – yes, a TIE!
In the Beauties bracket, the Cinderella story (16) Feanor tied with (9) Varda when voting ended at 10pm ET today. To solve this tie-breaker, we decided to randomly pick one to win…no no, we wouldn’t do that. Instead, we did something a bit more logical. We took the total votes from round 1 and 2 and combined them for each contestant. The general idea being, if one contestant got more overall votes in those first two rounds, they should win. After the tally, (9) Varda made it through to face (5) Melian. Should be an interesting match-up!
However, one could argue that is not the most interesting match-up of the Beauty Bracket…we have (3) Galadriel facing a fan favorite (10) Legolas!
In the Brains bracket (8) Elrond managed to slip by the number one seed Tom Bombadil and will face (4) Luthien. Two of the top seeds, (3) Faramir and (2) Gandalf will face off in the other match-up.
Both the Brawn and Baddies brackets are advancing all the top seeds into the Sweet Sixteen.
In the Brawn bracket we have (1) Beorn facing (4) Eomer, while (3) Boromir will face (2) Eowyn. Will we have a sibling battle in the Elite Eight??
The Baddies contestants read like a who’s who of bad-arse Middle-earth antagonists. We’ve got (1) Morgoth facing (4) Sauron, and (3) Smaug facing (2) The Balrog of Moria. I only wish we had a couple hundred million dollars and the special effects wizards at WETA to visualize these match-ups for us!
Voting is now open and will remain open until March 30th at 10pm ET. We will calculate the winners at that point and post the next round on March 31st. Follow after the break for a complete bracket image (download it), and to vote on all of our Round 3 match-ups! [Sweet Sixteen Bracket] [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]
Middle-earth March Madness Round 2 is here! With 1000+ votes for each match-up, some of our first round match-ups came down to just 5 votes!
In the Beauty Bracket, and with the biggest upset of the tournament so far, (1) Goldberry was beaten by the (16) Feanor! In the Brains Bracket, (6) Gwaihir managed to hold off (11) Turgon. In the Brawn Bracket, the battle of the dwarves was won by (11) Gimli when he took down (7) Dwalin. And in the Baddies Bracket, (3) Smaug decimated (14) Lurtz.
Round 2 has its share of interesting match-ups – what are your favorites?
Voting in Round 2 will remain open until March 26th at 10pm ET. At that point, we’ll calculate the winners and post the next round on March 27th. Follow after the break for a complete bracket image (download it), and to vote on all of our Round 2 match-ups! [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]
While fans of basketball were enjoying a Duke victory in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, Middle-earth fans were preparing for the epic final of Middle-earth March Madness: Gandalf vs. Bilbo Baggins! This year we decided to keep the poll results hidden to heighten the suspense. I must admit, I took full advantage of my special access to watch the results intently. When we first opened the battle, Bilbo took an early (hobbit-sized) lead of only 1%. Over the next 48 hours, the combatants exchanged that lead nearly every hour. It was a neck and neck competition that only revealed a clear winner in the last 12 hours.
We closely watched for voter fraud and we are pleased to report that no over-voting was recorded. Each vote had a unique IP. So without further delay, we are pleased to announce that the 2015 Middle-earth March Madness Champion is….
This is it! The Finals are set! An epic battle of historic proporations! In one corner we have Gandalf, the Istar responsible for helping save the fate of all Middle-earth. In the other, Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit who would successfully weild and then, more importantly, pass on the most powerful object in Middle-earth, The One Ring.
Since this is the finals, we are not going to share the results until the contest is complete. So you will NOT see a percentage of votes when you cast your own vote. Don’t fret, the committee will be monitoring the competition behind the scenes.
Middle-earth March Madness has been touched by scandal! When we tallied the votes in our Elite Eight round-up last night, we noticed the votes in The Hobbit division were suspciously more than those of the other divisions. While yes, certain match-ups spur passionate participation, the numbers on this particular match-up were significantly different. So we dug a little bit deeper. As it turns out, one person managed to bypass the system and vote 2300 times!
As the commissioner of Middle-earth March Madness, I took it upon myself to resolve the issue. I converted those 2300 votes to 1 vote. I also reviewed any other multiple votes and converted those to a single vote. As a result, the winner of The Hobbit division for 2015 is…. Bilbo!
So we have our Final Four!
The Silmarillion division winner is, not too surprisingly, the creator of all existence, Eru Ilúvatar. Eru will face off against Bilbo Baggins, fresh off an attempt to wipe him out of this entire tournament!
Coming out of The Lord of the Rings, non other than Gandalf! Can he easy sweep past The Others division winner, Hurin? Or will Hurin pull off the biggest upset of the year!
Stay tuned and vote!
Voting in this round will remain open until April 6th at 10pm ET. And oh yes, you can count us keeping a close eye on any potential cheaters out there!
No April Fools here folks! We’ve reached the Elite Eight in our 2015 Middle-earth March Madness! This round will determine who will represent each division!
Because today is April 1st, and there are a slew of April Fool’s jokes out there, we’re going to just get right too it! Can (4) Bilbo take out the tournament Cinderella, (11) Thranduil? Can (14) Elrond really take out (5) Gandalf?
We are down to the Sweet Sixteen as the chase to crown the 2015 Middle-earth March Madness champion continues!
Look for special analysis of the match-ups in this round coming soon!
But what about you? Have any strong opinions about this round? Send us a report and it just may make it to the homepage of TheOneRing.net! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your display name and a small bio, and article.
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