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My favorite Sports Movies

August 15, 2007

With Chak De India being the talk of the season, i thought it fine, to list out some of my favorite sports movies. Most of the sports movies are usually predictable, an underdog, loses first game, wins in climax, rousing musical score. At the end of the day, you pretty well know, the hero will win it. But you are still enthralled.

1) Chariots of Fire(1981)- Remains one of my all time favorite movies. Basically the story of 2 British athletes Harold Abrahams( Ben Cross) and Eric Lidell(Ian Charleson), who run in the 1924 Summer Olympics at Amsterdam. Both have different reasons to run. Abrahams because he is Jewish, working class and needs to prove himself, to overcome the prejudices. Eric is deeply religious, and sees running as a way of glorifying God. Excellent performances by the 2 lead actors and of course Vangelis outstanding musical score. 2) Cool Runnings(1993)- An often under rated movie, this deals with the real life story of the Jamaican bobsledding team at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Now Jamaicans are as familiar with bobsledding as Americans are with cricket. How this rag tag bunch, makes it to the Winter Olympics, and wins the hearts of the spectators is what the movie is about. The final scene, where the team picks up it’s broken bobsled, and walks across the finishing line to the applause of spectators is vintage Hollywood. Not a very great movie, but still appealing and has good doses of comedy, especially in the scenes where the Jamaicans arrive in Canada.

3) Raging Bull(1980)- A classic right from the word go, and a total antithesis to the standard Hollywood formula sports movies. The movie deals with the rise and fall of the real life boxing champ Jake Le Motta. Martin Scorcese takes us straight into the dog eats dog world of professional boxing, and reveals the ugly side without any filters. Match fixing, the brutality, the madness, and the hero’s own Othello like tendencies, where he suspects his beautiful wife of sleeping with his brother. And the boxing sequences shot in B&W, with wide camera angles gives you a feeling of being there. And not to be missed of course is Robert De Niro’s brilliant performance.

4) Remember the Titans(2000)– This has all the ingredients of a sports movie. A coach looking for success, a bunch of ego driven players, a losing team, and a winning climax. And also add the racial touches, with shots of racism in the American Deep South. But it works primarily because of Denzel Washington. As the black coach Herman Boone, who needs to over come the racial prejudices as well as mould his football team into a fighting unit, Washington’s performance elevates this movie to another level.

5) Somebody Up there Likes Me(1956)- Paul Newman stars as real life boxing champ Rocky Marciano, and along with Rocky, Raging Bull, this rates as one of the best boxing movies. As a person from a poor background, who is sent to a labor camp, discovers his potential to box, and his rise to fame, Old Spindly Legs, is in top form. And an excellent direction by Robert Wise, makes this a must watch movie.

This series is to be continued, keep watching out for more.

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