OSCARS WEEK: Top 5 Oscar-nominated sports films based on true stories
Nothing captures the imagination like a sports film based on true events. With the Oscars coming up on Sunday, Sports Gazette looks at five such films which have been recognised by the Academy.
1) Raging Bull (1980)
Based on the life and career of boxer Jake LaMotta, Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull has come to be considered one of the best films of all time. Starring Robert De Niro as the incendiary LaMotta and Joe Pesci as his brother, the film is as much a look at the turbulent personal life of ‘The Bronx Bull’ as it is a film about his extraordinary boxing career. Shot in black-and-white, Raging Bull contains some of the most influential boxing sequences ever created for film, and is regarded as one of Scorsese’s best. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, with De Niro winning the Best Actor gong, and was the first film to be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry during its first year of eligibility. A must-watch for boxing and film fans alike.
2) Chariots of Fire (1981)
One of the most iconic sports films of all time, Chariots of Fire tells the contrasting stories of two British runners who won gold medals at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Scotsman Eric Liddell, a devout Christian missionary, runs for the glory of God, using it as a tool to prove his steadfast faith. Harold Abrahams, an English Jew, runs to overcome the anti-Semitic prejudice he has always received. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1982, winning four, including Best Picture.
3) The Blind Side (2009)
A film based on the heartwarming tale of Carolina Panthers’ offensive lineman Michael Oher, who, with the help of his adoptive family, overcame his fractured upbringing to become a first-round draft pick in the NFL. The combination of Oher’s touching story and brilliant acting meant The Blind Side was surprisingly nominated for Best Picture at the 2010 Oscars, with Sandra Bullock winning Best Actress for her role as Oher’s adoptive mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy.
4) The Fighter (2010)
Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale star in David O’Russell’s film about boxer Micky Ward, who became the WBU Light Welterweight Champion in 2000. While Ward is actually best known for his trilogy of fights against Arturo Gatti, The Fighter serialises the earlier part of his career and his family life in the deprived former mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, with Christian Bale winning Best Supporting Actor for his role as Micky’s crack-addict half-brother Dicky Eklund, and Melissa Leo winning Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Micky’s mother, Alice Eklund-Ward.
5) Invictus (2009)
The only film on the list to not win an Oscar, Invictus tells the story of South Africa’s triumph at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, a victory that united a nation divided for so long. Morgan Freeman fittingly plays the role of Nelson Mandela, who joined forces with captain Francois Pienaar, played by Matt Damon, to reclaim the tarnished Springboks jersey for the Rainbow Nation. The film earned both Freeman and Damon Oscar nominations for their performances.