I don’t want to count scalps but I’d like to hear from any film production publicist who worked on more sports movies than I did. Let me count the ways: American Flyers (bicycle racing), Major League, Cobb, The Babe, Torre, The Sandlot (baseball), Tin Cup (golf), Blue Chips (basketball), Ali (boxing), Rush (auto racing).
What was my fascination with sports movies? The same as my passion for sports and movies: I liked character and drama.
We may not have much in the way of team sports this year. Very difficult to think of a team sport aside from cricket wherein you can maintain enough distance not to sweat or breath on someone. I’ll miss team sports.
But if, like me, your passion for sports is about characters and drama, maybe you’ll want to flip the channel from ESPN reruns of NBA finals and NFL playoffs and see your team through someone else’s eyes.
Sometimes, a movie can capture the spirit of sport in a way that the event itself can’t.
In this time of cancelled and aborted sports seasons, when live events can’t be attended live and most sports figures are benched for the year, why not try some of these to get you through:
BASEBALL – miss baseball? No better place to place your National Pastime nostalgia than Ken Burns’ 22 hour documentary masterpiece tracing the game’s on-field drama and panoply of personalities from its Civil War origins through its civil rights reckoning and into modern times. Runners up: BULL DURHAM, FIELD OF DREAMS. Kevin Costner is an athlete.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS – miss football? This underrated movie was good but the TV series was even better. Football hasn’t lent itself to as many fictional re-creations as baseball but there are still some movies that can fill your empty Monday nights. My personal favourite: HEAVEN CAN WAIT (get past Warren Beatty’s limited athleticism as a quarterback). Backup: Oliver Stone’s ANY GIVEN SUNDAY.
HOOSIERS – missing basketball? This one’s not just a great sports movie but a film classic with Gene Hackman at the top of his game. No shortage of All-Star backups: Spike Lee’s HE GOT GAME, the documentary HOOP DREAMS and my personal favourite WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP. The new Netflix series THE LAST DANCE is also worth watching.
MARADONA – missing world football/soccer? Considering it’s the most popular team sport in the world, soccer hasn’t seen a lot of screen time. This documentary about one of The Beautiful Game’s most accomplished and controversial players is a great one. Slim pickings after that with DAMNED UNITED the best drama and the girl-power pic BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM a fun watch.
BREAKING AWAY – missing bicycle racing? Not always thought of as a team sport, it’s nonetheless going the way of other team sports during the Covid crisis. And there are a couple of excellent movies here, starting with this coming of age classic. If you want to go to the darker side, the documentary THE ARMSTRONG LIE is a winner. I’d also put in a fist pump for AMERICAN FLYERS, with Kevin Costner again showing his sports chops.
Anything and Everything that has Nothing to Do with the Movies
Sometimes, we go to a movie to get away from the world and sometimes we go to see what’s going on in the world. This blog will offer comments on the world, the movies and their occasional overlap.