I am looking for an experienced opinion re: the above two cameras. Specifically I want to know which one is best at delivering a "film-like" image. Also, if anyone would like to confound me further by recommending another camera in this price range, feel free.
Well, I've used both of these cameras quite a bit, and the one I choose to own personally is the DVX.
The XL1s does not have a true 24p shooting mode, while the DVX does, so for a "film-like" image the DVX will win hands down. The DVX also has higher-resolution CCDs and more film-like gamma curves available. Biggest thing the Canon has going for it is interchangeable lenses.
All that being said, it's becoming a high definition world now so you may want to consider cameras a bit more modern, such as the Panasonic HVX200 or Canon XL-H1, which seem to be the closest successors to your other picks.