Root for the Underdog in these Sports Movies

Thursday, October 20 by Jason Cuthbert

Apparently, the decade of the 1980s was a memorable time for sports movies. From basketball and baseball to boxing and golf, these movies about sports cover the main theme that real life athletic showcases confront – the competitive nature of people. Overcoming obstacles and remaining in good spirits in spite of loss are both easier said than done. But these sports movies provide the dream fulfillment of victory as well as the torment of defeat. There’s plenty more of that to go around over at Buzzer Beat, too, if you’re so inclined.

Raging BullCinema’s magical director/actor partnership of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro capitalized on their chemistry with astounding results in this biographical tale of aggressive boxer Jake LaMotta. The sport of boxing is covered from mostly outside of the ring in this 1980 black and white photographed journey of LaMotta’s self-destructive temper, as well as his burning desire to succeed. De Niro famously set a record for his gain of 60 pounds to depict Jake LaMotta as he got older in this dramatic sports movie.

“Bull Durham” Kevin Costner plays a minor league baseball catcher who meets his match – a seductive baseball fan played by Susan Sarandon. This sports movie explores baseball from the players’ and the fans’ perspectives in a small town where this Durham baseball team is treated like the New York Yankees by local baseball buffs. Every season, Sarandon’s character Annie Savory dates a different player, trading her life lessons for their temporary intimacy.

CaddyshackThis ensemble cast of comics combined for this sports movie that marked the beginning of the 1980s as a decade where comedy hits were dominated by alumni of the long-running television comedy series “Saturday Night Live.” In the case of “Caddyshack,” Chevy Chase and Bill Murray starred, with support from Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight. The privileged society of country clubs is the arena for this sports movies about golf, and a competitive line has been drawn – the snooty versus the unpretentious.

“Field of Dreams” Once again, Kevin Costner stars in a baseball movie, but this 1989 sports film has a fantasy element imbedded in it. Costner plays a rural farmer in Iowa who hears a voice in a cornfield telling him to build a baseball diamond. This dynamic sports movie also hits home runs in the area of critical acclaim by earning three Academy Award nominations – including for Best Picture. Famed movie critic Roger Ebert even gave “Field of Dreams” 4 stars, the highest rank in his rating system.

“Hoosiers” This 1986 sports movie tackles the athletic world on high school basketball. With a cast as reputable as Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, and Dennis Hopper, this true story has true talent to fill its roles. The storyline revolves around how a basketball coach with a questionable past and a basketball-loving alcoholic help to take an Indiana basketball team to the state finals. Both Dennis Hopper’s supporting role and Jerry Goldsmith’s original score were nominated for Academy Awards.

- Jason Cuthbert

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