Sports come ready made with incredible storylines. It is what makes them so popular among the general populace, creating the sort of plots that usually only arise in soap operas or telenovelas, as well as dramas that people obsess over and spend hours each day attempting to predict.
This presents a challenge to film directors and producers, who wish to tap into this ready-made audience, but risk creating stories that don’t live up to the real life ones played out every week on sports fields and race tracks all around the world.
Here is a list of some of the movies that captured the true spirit of athletic competition and were rewarded for doing so by some of the biggest movie awards the industry has to offer. On your marks, get set, go!
When it comes to sports that made successful transitions onto the big screen, boxing is the undoubted king and the most famous of them all is Rocky, the first installment of which was released way back in 1976.
Despite the fight scenes being devoid of any kind of defensive nous, this movie captured the hearts of cinema goers around the world and spawned a series of movies that continues to this day. The original won three Oscars in total, ousting other hot favorites like Taxi Driver.
Off the back of the movie, Sly Stallone even started his own boxing reality TV show called The Contender, which bizarrely had world ranked boxers you could actually wager on taking training advice from a man whose only experience of fighting was fictional. Still, it was a pretty decent watch.
Chariots of Fire (1981)
A movie that was about so much more than just sport, Chariots of Fire used athletics to face up to pertinent social issues of the time. It won four Oscars, as audiences loved the old English setting combined with a bygone sporting world that was all about excellence and pride rather than money.
The other thing that truly set the movie apart was its score, which to this day is used by sports television shows around the globe and is seen as something of a theme song for the Olympic movement as a whole.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Unlike Rocky and Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby really captured the essence of what it means to be a fighter, depicting the incredible bond that forms between boxer and coach. What made the movie all the more special was that it put a female boxer front and center, as Clint Eastwood took a back seat to Hilary Swank.
Swank’s stellar, Academy Award-winning performance drove the movie to four Oscars, with co-stars Eastwood and Morgan Freeman also picking up well-deserved awards.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
This movie was so good that it managed to humanize a sports agent, as Tom Cruise went about trying to get in touch with his emotions while helping his embattled client played by Cuba Gooding Jr, the latter winning an Oscar for best supporting actor.
What set the movie apart from others was the fact that a white character was actually at the behest of a Black character, (Gooding Jr.), eventually helping Cruise to see the light rather than the other way around.
The sport of baseball itself never played a significant part in the movie, but that is really beside the point. So often the best stories in sport are those that happen behind closed doors, in the sweat drenched locker rooms or hard nosed boardrooms.