Honor roll: Sports films

Each of these Sports films has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Film:Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire

Hugh Hudson

The come-from-behind winner of the 1981 Oscar for best picture, Chariots of Fire either strikes you as either a cold exercise in mechanical manipulation or as a tale of true determination and inspiration. The heroes are an unlikely pair of young athletes who ran for Great Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympics: devout Protestant Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a divinity student whose running makes him feel closer to God, and Jewish Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), a highly competitive Cambridge student who has to surmount the institutional hurdles of class…

Film:Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

Phil Alden Robinson

A phenomenal hit when it was released in 1989, Field of Dreams has become a modern classic and a uniquely American slice of cinema. It functions effectively as a moving drama about the power of dreams, a fantasy ode to our national pastime, and a brilliant adaptation of W.P. Kinsella’s exquisite baseball novel Shoeless Joe. Kinsella himself found the film a delightful surprise, differing greatly from his novel but benefiting from its own creative variations. It is the film that cemented Kevin Costner’s status as an all-American screen star, but the…

Film:Breaking Away

Breaking Away

Peter Yates

Peter Yates’s flag-waving film stands with To Kill a Mockingbird and American Graffiti as one of the best films about small-town Americana. Steve Tesich won an Oscar for his semi-biographical screenplay about four 19-year-olds who don’t know what to do after high school. Dave Stohler (Dennis Christopher) and his three friends—ex-football star Mike (Dennis Quaid), wily comedian Cyril (Daniel Stern), and tough kid Moocher (Jackie Earle Haley)—are doomed to live in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana, where the local kids (nicknamed “Cutters”—a…

Film:Moneyball (2011)

Moneyball

Bennett Miller

Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) challenges the system and defies conventional wisdom when his is forced to rebuild his small-market team on a limited budget. Despite opposition from the old guard, the media, fans and their own field manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Beane—with the help of a young, number-crunching, Yale-educated economist (Jonah Hill)—develops a roster of misfits…and along the way, forever changes the way the game is played.

Film:The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter

David O. Russell

Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale) is a former boxing hero that squandered his talents and threw away his shot at greatness.

Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), his half brother, is the struggling journeyman boxer who spent his life living in his big brother’s shadow.

The Fighter is inspired by the true story of two brothers who, against all the odds, come together to train for a historic title bout that will unite their fractured family, redeem their pasts and, at last, give their hard-luck town what it’s been waiting for: pride. The story unfolds on the gritty, blue-collar streets of Lowell, Mass, where Dicky was once known as “The Pride of Lowell” having gone the distance with the world champion Sugar Ray Leonard. However, after losing that fight, like the town of Lowell, Dicky’s fallen on hard times. His boxing days are behind him and his life has become shattered by drug abuse.…[more]

Film:Seabiscuit (2003)

Seabiscuit

Gary Ross

Proving that truth is often greater than fiction, the handsome production of Seabiscuit offers a healthy alternative to Hollywood’s staple diet of mayhem. With superior production values at his disposal, writer-director Gary Ross (Pleasantville) is a bit too reverent toward Laura Hillenbrand’s captivating bestseller, unnecessarily using archival material—and David McCullough’s familiar PBS-styled narration—to pay Ken Burns-like tribute to Hillenbrand’s acclaimed history of Seabiscuit, the knobby-kneed thoroughbred who “came from behind” in the late…

Film:Raging Bull

Raging Bull

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese’s brutal black-and-white biography of self-destructive boxer Jake LaMotta was chosen as the best film of the 1980s in a major critics’ poll at the end of the decade, and it’s a knockout piece of filmmaking. Robert De Niro plays LaMotta (famously putting on 50 pounds for the later scenes), a man tormented by demons he doesn’t understand and prone to uncontrollably violent temper tantrums and fits of irrational jealousy. He marries a striking young blond (Cathy Moriarty), his sexual ideal, and then terrorizes her with never-ending accusations of…

Film:The Blind Side

The Blind Side

John Lee Hancock

Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw and Oscar® winner Kathy Bates star in Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Blind Side, which depicts the remarkable true story of All-American football star Michael Oher.

Teenager Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) is surviving on his own, virtually homeless, when he is spotted on the street by Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock). Learning that the young man is one of her daughter’s classmates, Leigh Anne insists that Michael—wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the dead of winter—come out of the cold. Without a moment’s hesitation, she invites him to stay at the Tuohy home for the night. What starts out as a gesture of kindness becomes much more as Michael becomes part of the Tuohy family despite the differences in their backgrounds.

Living in his new environment, the teen faces a completely different set of challenges to overcome. And as the family helps Michael fulfill his potential, both on and off the football field, Michael’s presence in the Tuohys’ lives leads them to some insightful self-discoveries of their own.

Film:The Hurricane

The Hurricane

Norman Jewison

In his direction of The Hurricane, veteran filmmaker Norman Jewison understands that slavish loyalty to factual detail is no guarantee of compelling screen biography. In telling the story of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter—who was wrongly convicted of murder in 1967 and spent nearly two decades in jail—Jewison and his screenwriters compress time, combine characters, and rearrange events with a nonchalance that would be galling if they didn’t remain honest to the core truth of Carter’s ordeal. Because of that emotional integrity—and because Denzel Washington…

Film:On the Ropes

On the Ropes

Nanette Burstein, Brett Morgen

That every cliché and stereotype has some basis in fact is axiomatic. Boxing movies have long relied on archetypes such as the tough-but-big-hearted trainer who acts as a mentor, the crooked promoter, the hard-nosed kid who fights his way from the streets to the top. On the Ropes has all of these, but the kicker is this film isn’t fiction; this is a remarkable documentary that follows three young boxers, George, Noel, and Tyrene, in and out of the ring as they struggle with tough circumstances in their Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood while they train…

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