American sports seem to be inherently cinematic. Whether it is this year's "
Probably the most successful British sports film of all time, this 1984 sporting epic won four Oscars despite the competition of "Reds" and "Raiders Of The Lost Ark", and with Hugh Hudson directing proceedings, it is easy to see why. The slow-motion scenes and musical interlude have been parodied for years with the old adage proving true-mockery is the greatest form of flattery.
"The Flying Scotsman".
Graeme Obree was one of the greatest cyclists of all time, but he also suffered from manic depression, and his talents in the velodrome were not enough to help him spiral out of his state of mind. Jonny Lee Miller's intimate portrayal of the cycling deity is a wonder to behold, and Brian Cox equals his efforts throughout. This is a heartbreaking viewing.
John Hurt has made a name for himself playing cult characters like John Merrick in "The Elephant Man" and Kane in "Alien", but he has also proved himself to be quite a good jockey. This heartbreaking true story revolves around Bob Champion, who was one of the best jockey's in the world until he has struck down with testicular cancer. The film eventually culminates with Champion riding at the 1981 Grand National, and it is an emotional tale to its bitter end.
"This Sporting Life".
Lindsay Anderson is regarded as one of Britain's cinematic luminaries, and it was this early 60s kitchen sink drama that cemented his reputation. Richard Harris (of Dumbledore fame) plays the lead character, Frank Machin, and the story is based on a novel by David Storey. Harris was a rugby player who had to quit after he was diagnosed with TB, but he shows off his immense talents throughout this gritty movie.
"Escape To Victory".
Nazis? Soccer? Stallone? Pelé? What else do you need from a movie? John Huston's 1981 adventure depicts a group of allied prisoners of war who do battle with German prison officers during World War 2. Rather than doing it on a battle field, they decide a football game would suffice. What transpires is one of the greatest football matches of all time, a last-minute overhead kick being the only difference between the sides. I won't tell you who wins, though.
Elijah Wood as a football hooligan? Well, someone thought it was a good idea. Young Frodo tries his best, but it is impossible to image the former hobbit as a knife-wielding psychopath. His terrible accent doesn't help proceedings, though this film is worth your time just to hear how not to sound like a cockney.