(Leaving out dance films, which will have to be another list entirely)
Anyone here who’s actually into ‘legitimate team sports’ may want to castigate me before this post is over, so consider yourself warned.
Mostly because I’m not a big follower of team sports- but if you’d like to watch something that you can’t catch on the television any afternoon, then read on.
Rocky and Creed: Boxing! These are the only two films from the Rocky franchise that I’ve watched and they’re pretty excellent- although I’m not exactly tripping over myself to watch the years and years of in-between movies made to cash in on the original. But if you haven’t seen Rocky you must- it’s a significant piece of cultural history at this point, besides just being very very good.
And while I can’t say anything for the movies that followed first, I can say that I feel Creed really lives up to the original.
Eddie the Eagle: If I think of what sports films should be, adjectives like inspirational, heart-warming, exciting, tense, and motivating come to mind. This one really ticks off all of the above while simultaneously being adorable (i.e. not writhing in the throes of testosterone, which is the issue with so many sports movies). And it has that excellent British sensibility expressed so well in Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day Speech:
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother”
From Henry V.
I’m over-educated. It’s a film about leaning into your advantages when your advantages are guts and a willingness to be maimed for your dreams.
Seabiscuit: Both racehorses and jockeys are astonishing athletes and this movie about Seabiscuit and his jockey, Red Pollard, is really beautiful. The owner and the trainer are also excellent characters and it’s an interesting look at Depression Era America, back when both boxing and horse racing were in their heyday. I believe it’s based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, which I loved when I read it many years ago. I remember that book is how I learned the word obstreperous.
Pride of the Yankees: This is the only traditional sport on this list- that sport being baseball. Babe Ruth is actually played by himself, which is neat. Honestly, it would take Gary Cooper to get me to watch a film about the Yankees. It’s a look at
Gary Cooper’s Lou Gehrig’s life, from childhood to retirement, when he began to be afflicted by Lou Gehrig’s disease, which forced him from the game he loved. Teresa Wright plays his wife, who is an excellent and surprisingly developed character. She was also in Mrs. Miniver and Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt.
Queen of Katwe: Chess is a sport, no? Whatever, because Lupita Nyong’o ( and David Oyelowo) make this movie too excellent not to include. Seriously, it’s excellent, do watch it.