Its Oscar Sunday and time for another installment of “Sunday Night At The Sports Flicks”. While the obvious choice would have been to go with only Oscar winning sport movies, there would have been quite a few boxing films in the mix, so for variety’s sake I decided to open it up to Oscar nominated films as well. For a fun trivia question, what are the three sports films to win Best Picture? Answer is at the bottom of the post. As always, click the image for movie preview.
Directed by Martin Scorcese, Raging Bull is the based on the rise and fall, life story of 1940’s middleweight champion, Jake LaMotta, a self-destructive boxer played by Robert DeNiro in his Academy Award winning role. The film launched the Hollywood careers of Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty, who also received Oscar nominations. DeNiro famously gained 60 pounds for the role to accurately portray LaMotta in his later years.
Academy award winner for Best Screenplay and nominee for Best Picture, Breaking Away is a charming movie about four friends coming to terms with life after high school. Doomed to live in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana, where the local kids are nicknamed “cutters”, a derogatory reference to their quarry working, blue-collar families, there exists a social struggle with the students of the nearby university. One of the friends is a talented cyclist, who in order to win the affections of one the college girls and emulate his cycling heroes, poses as an Italian exchange student. It is by chance an encounter with an Italian racing team that leads him and his friends to a cycling showdown with the local college boys where the true champions are victorious.
Chariots of Fire is indeed one of the three sport movies to win Best Picture. The film is the true story of two British track athletes competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics: one is a devout Scottish missionary who runs for God; the other is Jewish and is running to escape the anti-semitism and class struggles he faces in Cambridge society. The movie’s opening sequence, set to Vangelis’s iconic theme song, is probably one of the most recognized in movie history.
The most Oscar nominated sports film with six, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, Moneyball is based on the true story of Oakland A’a manager Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, forced to reinvent his team on a lean budget. Inspired by a young Yale grad played by Jonah Hill, Beane defies conventional baseball scouting wisdom by using a controversial method of computer generated analysis called Sabermetrics. He puts together a winning team made up of flawed and overlooked players, all of whom have an ability to get on base and score runs, outsmarting and beating the richer clubs.
The Wrestler is a gruesome look at the world of professional wrestling, and the physical and emotional toll it takes on its participants. Mickey Rourke’s comeback role and harrowing performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, earned him a Best Actor nomination for his poignant portrayal of a former superstar wrestler, who’s time in the ring should long have passed. The film also stars Marisa Tomei, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, and equally stellar, Evan Rachel Wood, as his daughter.
Considered one of the best basketball movies of all time, Hoosiers is the true story of the improbable run of a small-town Indiana basketball team that made it to the state finals in 1954. A classic tale of redemption, this film stars Gene Hackman as the coach, and Dennis Hopper, in his Academy Award nominated role as the town alcoholic and father of one of the teams star players. It is story about beating the odds and rising above one’s own limitations, the stuff of which all great sports movies are made.
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