“Oscar Sunday” Night At The Sport Flicks



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.

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Sunday Night At The Sports Flicks: Part 3


SENNA (2010)

It’s time for another installment of my favorite sport movies. Yes it’s Monday, but the Holidays have delayed my posting and I wanted to give you a few sporty classics to entertain you into the new year. Click the movie title or image for a preview. Happy and merry all!

This beautifully photographed documentary tells the remarkable story of Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna and spans the racing legend’s years as an Formula 1 champion, from his opening season in 1984 to his untimely death a decade later. Far more than a film for racing fans, Senna takes a cinematic approach and makes full use of astounding footage, drawn from over 15,000 hours of archival film, much of which was previously unseen.  Read More


Sport Flicks Part Deux



Welcome to another installment of Sunday Night Sports Flicks. Tonight I give you 5 more sport movies favorites inspired by the fall season, back to school and the great outdoors. Click the images/movie titles for previews (ignore cheesy voiceovers).

While some may argue that Breaking Away is the best cycling movie, my favorite is an 80’s classic called “American Flyers” starring a mustached Kevin Costner and Rae Dawn Chong. Directed by John Badham (Saturday Night Fever), the film is about two brothers training to compete in a grueling bicycle race across the Rocky Mountains called “The Hell of the West”. There is a family history of illness and the plot takes a twist when we see which brother is actually afflicted. Set in The Rockies and filmed during the Coors Classic, a now-defunct stage race that was one of the world’s leading cycling events at the time, the movie features breathtaking scenery and action packed race photography. Read More


Sunday Night Sport Flicks



Welcome to the first installment of Sunday Night at the Movies. I will be highlighting many of my favorites in the weeks to come, but tonight we begin with six classics. Click title to see preview.

Astonishing alpine locations, action-packed photography, a young Robert Redford in one of his earliest starring roles and the gorgeous Camilla Sparv, are just a few of the visual splendors of this Downhill Racer. Redford plays a ruthlessly ambitious skier competing in Europe for Olympic gold and Gene Hackman is the coach who tries to temper his narcissistic drive for glory.




This skateboard documentary chronicles the glory days of the Z-Boys, a team of hard-core surfers from the Zephyr Surf Shop in Venice Beach, California who sought to translate surfing moves onto their skateboards. In the mid-1970’s, skateboarding was widely seen as a fad of the 1960’s, but the radical moves and gnarly streetwise style of the Z-Boys changed skateboarding as a sport and blazed the trail for the extreme sports movement. Directed by former Z-Boy Stacy Peralta and narrated by Sean Penn, this might be my number one sports documentary.




This 1977 docudrama about the world of bodybuilding focuses on the 1975 Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions. Shot during the 100 days leading up to the competitions, the film focuses on the rivalry between Arnold Schwarzenegger, the five-time Mr.Olympia going for his sixth consecutive title, and his primary competitor, Lou Ferrigno. Schwarzenegger’s larger than life physique and persona are impossible to deny and with the box office success of the film a star was born. Lou Ferrigno also went on to star as The Hulk in “The Hulk”




As with boxing there are so many fantastic surfing movies like Endless Summer, Five Summer Stories and Point Break, but none of those star the incomparable Jan-Michael Vincent, along with William Katt and Gary Busey. Funny and poignant, this coming-of-age drama captures the tumultuous 1960’s with the California surf as the backdrop.



It is very hard to choose one boxing movie with such other greats as Raging Bull, Rocky and The Fighter, but the combination of Muhammad Ali and William Klein makes this my first choice. In William Klein’s fascinating documentary, photographed with his inimitable point of view, Ali demonstrates why he is known as “The Greatest,” both in and out of the ring. Events such as his defeat of Sonny Liston, transformation from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, and resistance to the Vietnam War draft were all captured during filming.


Personal Best


This film starring a young Mariel Hemingway centers on a group of women trying to qualify for the 1980 US Olympic Track and Field team. Their dreams are thwarted when the United States announces its boycott of the Games for political reasons. The movie was praised by critics for providing a realistic look at the world of women’s athletics and for exploring the complex relationships that can exist among teammates and their coach. It is probably most noted for its portrayal of the lesbian relationship between Hemingway’s character and her older teammate. For me, the 1970’s track and field apparel, Adidas’s finest era when shoes like the SL 72, Gazelle and Orion were born, makes this movie a style of sport classic.