espnW: Academy Awards

And The Winner Is...

February, 28, 2014
2/28/14
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Gina CaranoGerard Julien/AFP/Getty ImagesFormer MMA fighter Gina Carano is just one of several athletes to make the transition to Hollywood movie star.

In honor of Sunday's 2014 Academy Awards, we're casting the spotlight on five of our favorite athletes-turned-actors.

1. Gina Carano: MMA's first female superstar caught the attention of Hollywood producers with her incredible athleticism and good looks. She was cast in the lead role of the 2011 action flick "Haywire" and the breakout role has led to a number of other acting gigs. She appeared in 2013's "Fast & Furious 6" and just finished filming "In the Blood," set to be released later this year.

2. Ray Allen: While Allen is still very much an athlete (and two-time NBA champion), his starring role in Spike Lee's classic "He Got Game"" is widely considered one of the best cinematic performances by an athlete. Sixteen years after its release, the Heat guard is still often referred to by his character's name "Jesus Shuttlesworth" and even wore the name on his jersey this season during a nickname-themed night.

3. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: A defensive lineman on the 1991 Miami Hurricanes national championship football team, Johnson had a brief stint in the CFL before becoming one of WWE's most celebrated wrestlers. His charismatic personality and massive popularity caught Hollywood's attention, and he made his film debut as the Scorpion King in "The Mummy Returns" in 2001. He since has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows.

4. Carl Weathers: After failed attempts in both the NFL and the CFL in the early 1970s, Weathers managed to quickly climb the Hollywood ladder and landed the role of Apollo Creed in the "Rocky" series. He played the role in four films and has since been featured in a number of other films and television shows.

5. Shaquille O'Neal: While O'Neal's acting ability hasn't exactly received rave reviews, we think he deserves a spot here for managing to find work after playing the lead role in 1996's thoroughly panned "Kazaam."

Can sports score another Oscars win?

February, 24, 2013
2/24/13
9:46
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Hilary Swank
AP Photo/Kevork DjansezianIn 2004, Hilary Swank won Best Actress for "Million Dollar Baby."
At the Oscars, "Silver Linings Playbook" looks to join “Rocky,” “Chariots of Fire” and “Million Dollar Baby” and become the fourth sports film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. It is the fourth straight year that a sports film has been nominated for Best Picture. “Silver Linings Playbook” follows “Moneyball” in 2011, “The Fighter” in 2010 and “The Blind Side” in 2009. The last sports movie to win Best Picture was "Million Dollar Baby" in 2004.

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