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The Best of Sports Movies


3. Moneyball (2011)

Symposia: 7.9/10

IMDb: 7.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

The movie is a true story based on a book about how the Oakland Athletic’s general manager, Billy Beane, transforms his team’s survival in the top league with a unique, data driven tactic. Being a story that revolves around baseball, several believed that the movie wouldn't do well in the box office as the sport has a fairly low following. However, once Moneyball hit the big screens, it was far better than what they expected.

Starring Brad Pitt, supported by Jonah Hill and Chris Pratt, this movie was a huge success. Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, is a failed baseball player who is back in the scene to attain redemption through his unorthodox, mathematical scouting system. The depiction of the previously underperforming team as they build their empire and stride ahead in the West title is exceptional.

The team shocks the world as they break the all time American league record of the time by winning 20 games in a row. Jonah Hill earned himself a special mention in this film. While he plays Beane’s assistant, Peter Brand, we see him step out of his conventional comedic nature into the serious role of a highly intellectual Yale graduate. All in all, this movie is one for the baseball fans for sure, but equally engaging for those unacquainted with the sport.

2. Coach Carter (2005)

Symposia: 8.2/10

IMDb: 7.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%

Keeping viewers glued to the screen for 2 hours and 16 minutes, ‘Coach Carter’ is a movie that communicates the values of motivation and passion. The story is based on a real life incident of the Richmond High School basketball team’s coach, Ken Carter, who made headlines in 1999 for suspending his team that was undefeated in the season only due to poor academics and discipline.

The movie showcases one of the most versatile actors, Samuel L Jackson, who embraced the coach's character commendably. The main focus throughout the film is the coach himself, and the way he deals with his uncooperative and arrogant team. The journey of the Richmond High basketball team is one that truly entertains the viewers as we see their rise from being a group of overconfident, careless teenagers to true sportsmen; on and off the court. The movie divulges the importance of discipline, hard work and stepping out of your comfort zone through the arduous training coach Carter puts his team through.

‘Coach Carter’ uses basketball as a medium to convey larger messages of how one’s life could change by being persistent, and building character. Richmond High’s coach prioritises education despite the movie's inherent focus on sports. As a side note, the movie makes active social commentary on the difficulty of the lives of African-American individuals in the state. While discussing the gym shut-down in front of his students, Coach Carter posed a rhetorical question that resonates with recent events of police brutality and racial injustice in the US; “Where do these students end up after graduating high school? The answer for those who do not make it to college or into a professional sports career is, for many, probably prison.”

The film is truly eye opening. One can see reflections of their own personal lives in this revolutionising movie, and actively strive for change.

1. Ford vs Ferrari (2019)

Symposia: 9/10

IMDb: 8.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

This cinematic masterpiece is just like any other which projects the growth and risk taken by an underdog team to beat the giants of the game. The question to ask is what makes it so much better? What makes it worth 2 oscars and 10 awards in total? What about it bags a 225 million dollar box office turnover?

‘Ford vs Ferrari’ is the story of the 24 hour long endurance race, Le Mans, from 1966. The movie highlights the underlying rivalry of two automobile giants, while its true focus is on two racing legends who helped develop Ford's revolutionising program : Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby, played by Christian Bale and Matt Damon.

Living lavishly, the posh designers at Ferrari casually sip on espressos as the idolised Italian carmaker cruises to victory, year after year. Conversely, the lionhearted heroes at Ford combine American ingenuity and elbow grease to build an underdog auto that can win it all. Despite the drastic difference in the teams, James Mangold, the director, avoids these stereotypes attached to the teams and depicts true passion for racing, where being faster and crossing the line first is all that matters. The movie is a genuine embodiment of “eyes on the prize” and repeatedly conveys that being successful is entirely reliant on attitude. The portrayal of two dyspeptic race car jockeys who are trying to get through life teamed up with powerful CEOs adds a lot more depth to the race. The concept of “competing” has been given importance from the very beginning. The simple title “Ford vs Ferrari” helps set the overall theme of competition between two of the, namely, biggest automobile companies. The film honestly showcases the political decisions made during these nasty battles that scar with no physical marks.

The cherry on the top of this movie that everyone loved to see was the powerful bromance between Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby, as they pushed each other to be their best. The film is less about the fierce competitors and their vehicles, and more about the men who pilot the exceptional machines to greatness, and battle against short-sighted employers.

The checkered flag is out and Ken Miles is stolen off his much deserved Le Mans win due to politics, leaving the audience fuming. However the brothers walk back with pride, knowing their worth. The blunt end to the story provides it with the emotional touch that a blockbuster needs. The old-fashioned period sports drama that balances thrills and laughs in equal measure, while allowing their audience to relive the legendary 1960’s triumph is heartwarming.

It doesn't consist of anything particularly revolutionary: it hews to a classic sports-movie structure that’s been tried and tested but does so extraordinarily well. Like his two protagonists on screen, the director knows how to go under the hood of a vehicle with a spanner, and he’s made this one fly. Even if you’re not a motorhead, chances are you’ll be thrilled by this high-velocity bromance, powered by masterful acting and Mangold’s meticulous direction.

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