I believe that a man can be either a sports geek or a movie geek, but not both. This sentiment is sort of like that deleted scene from “Pulp Fiction,” in which Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) interviews Vincent Vega (John Travolta) before their big date, and asks him if he is an Elvis fan or a Beatles fan. “Elvis fans can love the Beatles, and Beatles fans can love Elvis, but no one loves them both equally,” she says. I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment (and I’m a Beatles fan, for the record), and I believe that the sentiment applies to sports/movie geek-dom as well.
You can put me firmly in the latter category. I like sports…but I love movies. I don’t follow NFL football or NCAA basketball, but I’ll happily see a movie on the subject. I have never attended a boxing match, but I always enjoy watching a good mano-a-mano, pugilist drama on the big screen. It does seem to me that boxing and baseball movies strive for greater realism than other sports films, and you won’t be surprised to find three of each on the list below.
With the advance disclaimer that I have never seen “The Bad News Bears” (gasp!), I present my ranking of the top ten sports movies:
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I recently watched the film “Mr. Turner,” a biopic from director Mike Leigh about the last 25 years in the life of British seascape painter HMW Turner. Although I love art, I must confess that I wasn’t too familiar with Turner’s work, as the majority of his collection is housed inside the Tate Britain, a museum that I have yet to visit. The movie suggested that Mr. Turner (played by Timothy Spall) was always composing art in his mind, and that he failed at most other aspects of life, including relationships, until he finally settled down with a widowed innkeeper late in life. The “script” for the film was conceived by Leigh yet was comprised largely of dialogue improvised by the cast during rehearsals prior to shooting. The result is a long movie of vignettes, some of them funny, linked by some of the most painterly cinematography I’ve seen in a film in a long time.
Naturally, I started thinking. What are the best screen biographies to come out of Hollywood, or out of cinema in general? The aforementioned, at times aimless “Mr. Turner” wouldn’t quite make the cut, but the “artist” category no doubt produced at least one-half dozen contenders in a single sub-genre. Ditto for the categories of actor/actress, singer/musician, athlete, politician/war hero, physically/mentally challenged, etc.
Continue reading “Top Ten Screen Biopics”