With the news that the world is a better place now that the Space Jam sequel is entering production, The Sportsman considers perhaps the best movies ever made for each individual major sport.
Take a look at the list below, criticise, fume, and comment.
American Football - Any Given Sunday (Oliver Stone, 1999)
American Sports just translate better to the silver screen. That’s just an undeniable fact.
The best sports movies must have a universal appeal; that is they have to allow viewers with a degree of unfamiliarity in the subject matter
In the late 90s American Football was firmly an internal sport to the nation and hadn’t started becoming the global powerhouse that it is today, with a momentous following at home and abroad. Oliver Stone portrays the on-field action in riveting, thrilling fashion to equal the very best action movies with a stand-out ensemble including Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Cameron Diaz, James Woods and, of course, Al Pacino. Look out for the Stone-commentator cameo early on in the film.
Boxing - Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
Simply the best boxing film ever made with perhaps the greatest acting performance in cinema history. Martin Scorsese’s Robert De Niro-starring magnum opus depicts a portion of the life of the ultimate anti-hero Jake LaMotta.
Basketball - Hoop Dreams (Steve James, 1993)
Just a brilliant brilliant documentary, chronicling the lives of two aspiring basketball players - Arthur Agee and William Agee - in Chicago trying to make their talent stand-out in a ruthless world. Filmed by a crew headed by Steve James over an astonishing period of six years in the late 80s/ early-90s, the result is simply stunning. The side-story of one of the protagonist’s brothers is particularly heart-breaking. Has to be seen to be believed.
Football - The Class of ’92 (Gabe & Benjamin Turner, 2013)
It’s impossible not to be stirred by this revisit to Manchester United’s historic treble-winning season of ’98/’99, with all the usual suspects collected together to reminisce at their unprecedented achievement at the end of the last century.
The feat is unlikely to ever be achieved in the same manner again, particularly when one reflects on how much money is now thrown around football for instant success; genuine mates rising up to the pinnacle of the sport.
The talking heads collection in this doc' is fantastic; director Danny Boyle, United legend Eric Cantona, Stone Roses’ bassist Mani, and Tony Blair all feature.
Baseball - Moneyball (Bennett Miller, 2011)
Baseball is famously known as ‘America’s Sport’, and doesn’t screenwriter Aaron Sorkin know it. A sizzling script performed exquisitely by Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Brad Pitt as Oakland Raiders general manager Billy Beane trading barbs with a whole lot of gusto and heart. Baseball has never ever been this interesting to follow.
Motorsport - Senna (Asif Kapadia, 2010)
A absolutely stunning documentary of the late F1 driver Aryton Senna, who tragically died on the track at the San Marino Grand Prix. Made by the talented British director Asif Kapadia who also gave us the equally brilliant Amy Winehouse doc, Senna beguiles even those who have never been enamoured with the sport by highlighting one of the true icons of the sport, his rivalry with teammate Alain Proust, and the heart-breaking, overwhelming, outpouring of grief from the national of Brazil following his untimely death.
Cricket - Lagaan (Ashutosh Gowariker, 2001)
A moustachioed snarling villain gets challenged to a game of cricket by scintillatingly charismatic superstar Aamir Khan in this epic set during the colonial occupation of India by the British Raj, in the late 19th Century. Slightly predictable, but you’d have to a stone-cold corpse not to have the cockles of your heart warmed by the story’s conclusion
Golf - Happy Gilmore (Dennis Dugan, 1996)
You’re not gonna sink this putt, you jackass!