TSFJ Goes To The Movies: 5 Sports Flicks You Need To See

Sunday night's Oscars offered little to the sports fan. The lone sports movie in the mix, "Foxcatcher," was shut out of the awards despite generating some serious buzz during its theatrical run. "Draft Day" was nowhere to be found. Klay Thompson didn't win best supporting actor, and "Birdman" took home Best Picture honors even though it's not, in fact, a biopic about Chris Andersen.

Still, it's important to celebrate sports' contributions to the movie industry. From "Raging Bull" to "Rocky," "The Natural" to "Major League," sports movies have covered all genres and well. And yet some of the best films slipped through the cracks.

That's where we come in. We're not here to tell you what to watch, only to add to your collection. Keep "Field of Dreams" in your VCR for when you need to show your significant other that you are capable of emotion. Flip on "Caddyshack" when you need a good laugh or a million.

But mix in these titles too. You won't be disappointed.

Win Win (2011)

In 2014, real wrestling — not "professional wrestling" — got its cinematic shine in "Foxcatcher." Detailing the troubling, tragic, real-life story of multimillionaire John du Pont and his obsession with U.S. wrestling and Olympic gold medalist brothers Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz, Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo did a masterful job. Just about everyone knows about this film.

On the flip side, there is a brilliant independent film starring Paul Giamatti as a struggling lawyer and volunteer high school wrestling coach who takes in — and at points takes advantage of — a troubled young teen and star high school wrestler. The 2011 film, "Win Win," is a wonderful watch, as is just about any movie Giamatti is in.

-Reverend Paul Revere

The Rocket (2005)

Aside from Jackie Robinson, perhaps no North American athlete meant more to his culture than the Montreal Canadiens' Maurice "Rocket" Richard. (Just watch this ovation from the last game at the Montreal Forum.) During an era when English-speaking Toronto controlled the National Hockey League, as well as many of the factories where poor French Canadians worked, Richard started out as a welder only to become the "Babe Ruth of Hockey." The Rocket used his platform to speak out against Anglophone oppression both in the NHL and at home. The first player to score 50 goals in a season and 500 in a career, Richard remains something close to a god in Montreal. He set the standard for the Habs dynasty that continued through much of the 20th century.

With cameos from NHL players Ian Laperriere, Vincent LeCavalier, Mike Ricci and even Sean Avery, the hockey scenes are among the best — if not the best — in film history. But it's Roy Dupuis's performance in the lead role that steals the show. He captures Richard's legendary determination, while revealing a profound character behind those steely eyes. Dupuis won the Best Actor at the 2007 Genie Awards (think Canadian Academy Awards) for his work.

-Dillon Friday

Finding Forrester (2000)

When I was a wayward juvenile, I gravitated toward watching Gus Van Sant's "Finding Forrester" because it was a basketball movie. That was all the motivation I needed at the age of 17 years old. However, as I've grown older, the movie has grown with me, and I've realized that it is hardly at all about sports. Yes, "Finding Forrester's" brilliance is how the game of basketball can shape the perceptions about a person, but the thing I always pull from the movie is the growth relationships can have if you open up and share who you are. The movie's main characters, Jamal Wallace (Rob King) and William Forrester (Sean Connery), allowed basketball and a love for writing make a new friendship between them. It's a movie I can never turn off.

If you're wondering if this is love story for sportswriters everywhere, the answer is yes. Yes it is.


The Great White Hope (1970)

With Sunday's Oscars still in our rear view, it's appropriate to mention the 1970 film adaptation of the Howard Sacker play a few years earlier. "The Great White Hope" was loosely based on the plight of Jack Johnson, the first black man to become heavyweight champion of the world back in 1908.

A lithe, brash and bold James Earl Jones played Jack Jefferson with the gorgeous yet tortured Jane Alexander fighting segregation, jealousy and the Mann Act. Both not only won Tony Awards for their Broadway performances, but they were also nominated for Academy Awards. The Johnson story was best told in the great Ken Burns' documentary "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson," yet the fictionalized account brought light to an almost forgotten champion.
-Jason Clinkscales

A Shot At Glory (2000)

Okay, so there are a lot of cliches here: a small-town club goes on a cup run with the help of an over-the-hill star. Oh, and that star player happens to be married, tenuously it should be said, to the manager's daughter. You can guess how it all plays out.

But there are a lot of things going for the soccer classic. For one, Rangers' legend Ally McCoist puts on a virtuoso performance in the lead role as Jackie McQuillan if only measured against other athletes-turned-actors. Academy Award-winner Robert Duvall plays the manager, while Michael Keaton (Hey, Birdman!) is the capitalistic American owner who wants to move the lowly side to Dublin, a much larger market. The cast of characters makes for an entertaining and sometimes poignant watch.

And even if the fluff weighs you down, the music never disappoints. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits provides the soundtrack.


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