The Wild World of Sports Movies
The players take the field. The fighter enters the ring. Engines rev. The clock winds down. The pitch. The swing. The final shot. The knockout punch. Contact. The flag is down. The buzzer sounds. A win. A loss. The crowd goes wild. The smell of victory. The agony of defeat.
Sports movies are as exciting as watching the real thing. Maybe, even more. For in the capable hands of filmmakers and the commitment of actors to their roles, sports movies become unforgettable experiences. Here are the line-up of the best sports movies of the decade (2010-2017):
I need this.
SPORT: Mixed Martial Arts
Directed by Gavin O’Connor
US Marine Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) returns home and becomes an MMA fighter with his father Paddy (Nick Nolte) whom he hates, training him. He also harbors deep hatred for his older brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton), who is an MMA fighter before him. The biggest MMA tournament called Sparta with a $5 million purse, attracts them both and soon they find themselves competing against each other, one, a knockout monster, the other a submission expert. Incredible performances are enough to see this movie, but Warrior has everything: a solid background story of brother vs brother, the excitement of the most bad-ass sport, thrilling wins and a volley of emotions that goes with everything.
A wise man can learn more from his enemies than a fool from his friends.
— Niki Lauda
SPORT: Formula One Racing
Directed by Ron Howard
Rush follows the rivalry between Britain’s James Hunt and Austria’s Niki Lauda, two Formula One drivers who defined the sport during the 70s. It is told from Lauda’s viewpoint, his words carry the emotional turbulence of the story, his obsession as well as devotion towards an opponent who seems to be forever tied to his legacy. Rivalry. Its what makes legends of men. In Hunt and Lauda, you have two different personalities (played to the hilt by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl) whose approach to the sport set the foundation for this riveting story. This is Ron Howard’s best directed effort, the camerawork, cinematography and editing will leave you breathless. This is the ultimate racing action movie.
But if we win, on our budget, with this team... we'll have changed the game. And that's what I want. I want it to mean something.
Directed by Bennett Miller
Its 2002, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), Oakland Athletics General Manager, struggles to rebuild his team with the departure of three key players and with limited funds, until he meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). Brand has an unorthodox and mathematical process of assessing player values and Beane employs this to the surprise of his staff. The new roster looks ready to fail, but will it? Moneyball is an inside look at baseball from the management’s point of view, and also focuses on the true-to-life story of Beane. Its not always about the players but also the people behind them that influence the game, and changes it. Moneyball gives that perfect balance of human drama, sports action and the science of baseball.
The Fighter (2010)
Come on, Mick! Head, body, head!
Directed by David O. Russell
Welterweight boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is managed by his mother (Melissa Leo) and trained by his crack-addict half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), who is a former boxer who once fought Sugar Ray Leonard. Ward’s career seems to be going nowhere, and with the urgings of his girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams), considers leaving his family’s influence for a better training opportunity. Will Ward and Ecklund ever make up? Its boxing and family. And no thicker-than-blood thing than this Irish family from Lowell, Massachusetts. 2 half-brothers, 1 mother, 2 fathers, 6 sisters, 1 girlfriend, and the rest of the kin, this is the truest story of boxing that makes the problems of Rocky Balboa seem meagre. Just phenomenal method acting and ringside camera work. This is the Goodfellas of boxing, ladies and gentlemen.
Eddie the Eagle (2016)
I've been kicked off every team before I even got a chance to prove myself.
SPORT: Olympic Ski Jump
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Growing up in England, all Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) wanted in life is to compete in the Olympics. What he lacks in physical attributes, he makes up with mental toughness and decides to be a ski jumper. He trains in Germany and gets help from Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a former American Olympic ski jumper and together, they set their minds on the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. This is a true underdog story that should inspire underachievers of all kinds. Edwards is quite the character, almost cartoony, and so interesting as to be an unlikely celebrity. He comes to life with Egerton’s wonderful performance. This is the very definition of a feel-good movie.
Draft Day (2015)
The great ones always find a way to slow things down.
Directed by Ivan Reitman
It’s the NFL Draft and the Cleveland Browns makes a deal with the Seattle Seahawks and acquires the 1st pick overall which by consensus, would be quarterback Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), the Heisman winner. Ohio rejoices, but, general manager Sonny Weaver, Jr. (Kevin Costner) has other plans in mind. On Draft Day, he makes several moves that nobody expected, and clashes with the owner (Frank Langella) and the head coach (Denis Leary). Commentators, player analysis, locker room talks, front office disputes, last minute wheelings and dealings, for the obsessed sports fan who eats and sleeps stats, this is one hell of a movie. It may even be more exciting than the real thing.
Win Win (2011)
This is your place. This is your place, you control it!
SPORT: Scholastic Wrestling
Directed by Tom McCarthy
Small-town Jersey lawyer Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is trying to make ends meet. Thus, he takes guardianship of a sick client, Leo (Burt Young) in order to get a monthly allowance. When Leo’s 16-year old grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer) arrives, Mike and his wife Jackie (Amy Ryan) have to take care of him, too. Kyle turns out to be a talented wrestler, and Mike, who is also a high school coach, decides to enroll him to boost the school’s mediocre team. Debut film of Alex Shaffer, who has wrestling experience gives the movie authenticity and his acting is just as genuine. As Kyle, he has this unique personality that stands out, matching even Giamatti’s. Well-written script that does not go corny on you, this is the kind of light-drama/comedy that you’d just sit back and enjoy.
Everybody loves the soldiers until they come home and stop fighting.
— Ross Rhea
Directed by Michael Dowse
Tough but gentle bartender Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) becomes an overnight hockey sensation after he's seen beating up a player, and gets signed by a hockey team, the Halifax Highlanders as an enforcer to protect their star player Xavier Laflamme (Marc-Andre Grondin). Dubbed “The Thug” he gets the attention of legendary enforcer Ross “The Boss” Rhea (Liev Schreiber), who swears to put him down if ever they meet on the ice. No longer a side attraction, hockey fist fights take center stage in Goon, a wild, violent but heartwarming movie based on real-life hockey player Doug “The Hammer” Smith with a wonderful performance by Sean William Scott.
One step at a time. One punch at a time. One round at a time.
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Street tough Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the illegitimate son of former heavyweight boxer Apollo Creed is taken in by his widow (Phylicia Rashad) and against her wishes, trains to follow his father’s footsteps. And he gets the needed mentoring from none other than Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and soon rises to contend for the title. Coogler’s direction is flawless though the script is too vintage Rocky, overflowing with enough homage, coincidences and overt sentimentality, that the only thing missing is Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed whispering tactics from the beyond. Ring action is less hammy—Michael B. Jordan is spectacular, and the camerawork is exceptional. This is a solid reboot of the well-loved franchise.
Million Dollar Arm (2015)
Directed by Craig Gillespie
Hotshot sports agent J.B Bernstein (Jon Hamm) wishes to jumpstart his company by searching for cricket bowlers in India and converting them to baseball pitchers for the major leagues. With financial backing, he stages the Million Dollar Arm contest in Mumbai with two winners each receiving cash prizes and baseball training in the US. The hunt is on. There’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned real-life, rags-to-riches baseball story. Million Dollar Arm is a delightful and funny sports movie where cultural barriers are broken, players find their groove, people learn from each other, dreams come true, and everything just comes together in baseball. With Bill Paxton, Alan Arkin and Lake Bell.
GJones (author) from Manila, Philippines on July 08, 2017:
I'd definitely take a look at "42" again. Thanks for the reminder, Ryan.
Ryan from Louisiana, USA on July 05, 2017:
I would add 42 to this list. I loved Eddie the Eagle and Moneyball. Both great films. I have yet to see the Warrior but it is on my Netflix list. I have heard nothing but good about the film