Sports Movies That Deserve Recognition
Sports movies are a trendy genre that is growing each year. The stories of rags to riches, overcoming all odds, and reaching the top in your sporting career, are all stories that resonate with us. While many of these movies are great, there are many movies that need a sequel and never get it. So here is a list of some of the most underrated sports movies:
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Hoop Dreams, one of the most acclaimed documentaries in film history, tells the story of William Gates (a Chicago teenager) and Arthur Agee (a Chicago native). Their dreams of playing in the NBA are shattered when they discover that their lives have turned against them.
Over five years, Steve James and co-producers Peter Gilbert and Frederick Marx take us to some of Chicago’s most challenging neighborhoods. A young Gates and Agee are first found and recruited to play high school basketball in Westchester, IL (St. Joseph H.S.). Gates grew up in Cabrini-Green, and Agee in West Garfield Park. They both traveled 90 minutes a day by public transport to reach St. Joseph H.S and quickly learned about race relations, socio-economic differences, motion offenses, and zone defenses.
The film is unpredictable, surprising, joyful, heart-wrenching, inspiring, and joyous. It was a favorite of many critics. However, it did not get any Oscar nominations in 1994. It’s a shame, and you should see Hoop Dreams if you haven’t yet; you won’t find a better sports movie experience than this one.
To become a long-distance runner, you need to be an exceptional athlete. A young man from Oregon, Steve Prefontaine, was one of the greatest long-distance runners.
Prefontaine’s story includes strong supporting performances by R. Lee Ermey, Oregon’s track & field coach Bill Bowerman, and Ed O’Neill, Oregon’s assistant coach Bill Dellinger. Prefontaine takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride from college to the terrifying Munich Olympics situation in 1972 to a tragic accident that ended the life of a remarkable but largely unheralded figure in American sports history.
Breaking Away (1979)
The film received significant Oscar recognition and critical praise at its time. However, it has lost its place in today’s top-of-mind great sports films. The heartfelt comedy/drama Breaking Away, released in 1979, deserves to be near the top.
Stoller and his friends skip college to forge their own paths. It’s an exciting ride as they attempt to find their next steps in life. Breaking Away‘s bicycle racing scenes are just as engaging as the moments of falling in love. Stoller’s dialogue with his friends and his parents is hilarious and touching throughout the film. The film’s director Peters Yates captures every bit of Middle American small-town life well, and Steve Teish’s clever script earned him the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. It’s a beautiful movie on numerous levels.
The Great Santini (1979)
Robert Duvall’s film career spans over 50 years. His Oscar-nominated role in The Great Santini in 1979 as Lt. Colonel Wilbur “Bull,” a decorated Marine pilot who attempts to enforce his strict, disciplinarian methods within his family, is one of his finest.
“Bull” intends to bring out the best of his son and his family, and there are a few scenes in the film that highlight those moments, but “Bull,” who cannot accept losing, is the reason things begin to unravel in his home.
Tin Cup (1996)
Ron Shelton is most well-known for his directing Bull Durham, a box office hit that is still in high demand. However, he also made a great film about golf and brought back his star for this 1996 masterpiece.
Tin Cup stars Kevin Costner playing Roy McAvoy (or Tin Cup), a natural golfer with little drive in his personal life. McAvoy accepts his life as it is and runs a shabby Texas golf course. He meets Dr. Molly Griswold, a psychologist played with ease by Rene Russo. Molly is looking for golf lessons from McAvoy. He is instantly smitten by her intelligence and beautiful looks. The problem is, Molly is the girlfriend of McAvoy’s long-time nemesis. He is currently one of the top players in the PGA Tour, David Simms.
Tin Cup’s most memorable scene, and one that should also be considered the best golf scene of all time, is McAvoy’s determination to not lie down on the 18th hole. Molly encourages him to continue even when all the odds are stacked against them. McAvoy makes multiple shots, which land on the green but then slowly spin back and end up in the pond. He finally hits it on the 18th…in his twelfth shot.
With so many movies not even making the list, what is your favorite underrated sports movie?