The envelopes, please
Page 2 staff
While we've handed out our trophies for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Moment in a sports movie, those aren't the only awards being presented this week by the Page 2 Academy.
Here's a quick look at the winners in the "other categories" for our Sports Movies Week ... cue the snappy music for this quick montage.
|"Hoop Dreams" captures five years of trials and triumphs for two basketball phenoms.|
Not an easy call. "When We Were Kings" has Muhammad Ali, physical power fading, mental acuity peaking. The angry young champ, George Foreman, a powerful foe. Don King. Zaire. Mid-'70s pop and political culture in all its full glory. "Hoop Dreams" is the story of William Gates and Arthur Agee and their trials and triumphs through five years of high-level teen basketball. So we've got two guys
on top of the world (they're kings) versus two guys on their way up (they're tenuous princes).
Our decision: "Hoop Dreams."
Roger Ebert, reviewing the film in the Chicago Sun-Times, explains why better than we can: "A film like 'Hoop Dreams' is what the movies are for. It takes us, shakes us, and make us think in new ways about the world around us. It gives us the impression of having touched life itself."
OUR TOP 5:
1. "Hoop Dreams" (1994)
2. "When We Were Kings" (1996)
3. "Endless Summer" (1966)
4. "Pumping Iron" (1977)
5 (tie). "One Day in September" (1999) and "Go Tigers" (2001)
Also receiving votes: "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" (1988), "Beyond the Mat" (1999), "Everest" (1998), "Dogtown and Z-Boys" (2001), "Michael Jordan to the Max" (2000).
Best TV Documentary
1. "Baseball" (Ken Burns, 1994)
2. Bud Greenspan's "Olympic Glory" series
3. "When It Was A Game" (1991, 1992, 2000)
Best Kid Flick
|"Bad News Bears" was one of the original kids flicks ... and it's still the best.|
No contest here -- "The Bad News Bears" was really the first of the modern sports movies, with kids acting, well, like kids really act. It has stood the test of time, and spawned many imitators.
OUR TOP 5
1. "The Bad News Bears" (1976)
2. "The Mighty Ducks" (1992)
3. "Space Jam" (1996)
4. "The Karate Kid" (1984)
5. "The Sandlot" (1993)
Also receiving votes: "Rookie of the Year" (1993)
Making a good movie about an athlete who's either still alive or still seared in our collective memory might be the filmmaker's toughest task. He can't just recreate reality, but he can't forget about it, either. But this wasn't that tough a decision, either.
We cried during "Brian's Song" and "The Pride of the Yankees," because the stories were inherently sad, and the movies were well-done -- they pressed all the right buttons. But it's Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull," that's still under our skin. It's an ugly bunch in an ugly, corrupt sport, but it's also a one-man epic. Robert De Niro's Jake La Motta is hungry for the belt, Scorsese's reaching for the brass ring. They both get what they want. But it takes a whole lot of blood, sweat, and "Cavalleria Rusticana."
OUR TOP 5
1. "Raging Bull" (1980)
2. "Brian's Song" (1971)
3. "The Pride of the Yankees" (1942)
4. "Rudy" (1993)
5. "Chariots of Fire" (1981)
Also receiving votes: "The Rookie" (2002), "The Hurricane" (1999), "Paper Lion" (1968), "Jim Thorpe: All American" (1951), "61*" (2001), "Knute Rockne, All American" (1940), "The Stratton Story" (1949), "Pistol: The Birth of a Legend." (1991).
|No biopic has captured its subject as thoroughly as Robert De Niro's Jake La Motta in "Raging Bull."|
Most of the villains we remember we could point to, pick out in a crowd. But the best villain is a crowd -- Hitler's Germany, the Nazis. In "Victory," Allied P.O.W.'s play soccer against their German captors in Paris, but the most important "game" is happening on another level, and the villain's no cartoon character -- he's a whole country, he's real, and he's smart. But we've
got Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone and Pele, one of the most bizarre sports film trios, on our side.
OUR TOP 5
1. Hitler's Germany in "Victory" (1981)
2. Citrus State Prison Warden Rudolph Hazen (Eddie Albert) in "The Longest Yard" (1974)
3. G.D. Spradlin as coach Moreland Smith in "One on One" (1977) and as coach B. A. Strothers in "North Dallas Forty" (1979)
4. Yankees coach Roy Turner (Vic Morrow) in "The Bad News Bears" (1976)
5. Bert Gordon (George C. Scott ) in "The Hustler" (1961)
Also receiving votes: Judge Smails (Ted Knight) in "Caddyshack" (1980), Head Guard Wilhelm Knauer (Ed Lauter) in "The Longest Yard" (1974), Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in "Rocky" (1976), "The Man" in "The Hurricane" (1999), The Judge (Robert Prosky) in "The Natural" (1984), Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey) in "The Natural" (1984).
Lifetime Achievement Award
Paul Newman: He laced up the gloves as Rocky Graziano in "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (1956), he chalked up the cue as "Fast Eddie" Felson in "The Hustler" (1961) and "The Color of Money" (1986), and he sharpened his stick as Reggie Dunlop in "Slap Shot" (1977). The recipient of Page 2's award for greatest acting service to the world of sports movies, because he could act, and he could play.
Kevin Costner: If there was a baseball-only award, Costner would take it. He's convincing on the diamond in three starring roles -- "Bull Durham" (1988), "Field of Dreams" (1989) and "For Love of the Game" (1999). Also does a good job in the golf flick, "Tin Cup" (1996). But Newman can act his pants off.
|Denzel Washington has compiled an impressive body of work in the sports movie genre.|
Denzel Washington: A latecomer to sports movies, Washington's done a lot in just the past few years, with superb performances in "He Got Game" (1998), "The Hurricane" (1999), and "Remember the Titans" (2000).
Wesley Snipes: Hilarious as Willie Mays Hayes in "Major League" (1989). A convincing hustler and trash-talker par excellence in "White Men Can't Jump" (1992). And he has been getting good press for the just-released boxing flick, "Undisputed" (2002).
Robert De Niro: Good off the field in "Bang the Drum Slowly" (1973). Extraordinary in "Raging Bull" (1980). Too
bad he was in "The Fan" (1996).
Best Screen Coach
Gene Hackman of "Hoosiers" (1986) takes the prize, because he's hard, soft, and can smile. And an all-around guy you can talk to.
Almost, but not quite: Denzel Washington is utterly convincing in "Remember the Titans," but we don't want a daddy, and we want a coach who can laugh a little. In the day in, day out that is minor-league baseball, we'd want Robert Wuhl's Larry Hockett, the Durham Bulls assistant manager because he'd make us laugh, on purpose: "Lady Kenmores. Nasty, whoa, nasty."
Best Acting Performance by an Athlete
Carl Weathers, the former Oakland Raider, as Apollo Creed in "Rocky," by a landslide. He was so good as Apollo that few people even remember that he was an NFL player.
REST OF THE TOP FIVE:Alex Karras in "Babe" (1975)
Ray Allen in "He Got Game" (1998)
Nolan "Super Gnat" Smith in "M*A*S*H" (1970)
John Matuszak in "North Dallas Forty" (1979)
"The Color of Money" (1986), the sequel (starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise) to "The Hustler" (1961).
"Rocky II" (1979) is a close second.
"Bad News Bears Go To Japan" (1978). After they broke training, nobody wanted 'em back in the U.S. After they went to Japan, nobody wanted 'em back, period. Fortunately, this clunker didn't wipe out the great memories of Walter Matthau, Tatum O'Neal, Vic Morrow and co. in the original.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention how bad "Rocky V" (1990) and "Caddyshack II" (1988) were.
"For Love of the Game" (1999) is our winner. What can we say? It's a good movie that folks like to diss because it's
not nearly as good as Costner's other diamond gems, "Bull Durham" and "Field of Dreams."
|Kevin Costner's "For Love of the Game" got hit hard by the critics.|
Also worth noting is "Searching for Bobby Fischer" (1993) -- Chess is a sport, and speed chess in Washington Square Park even more so.
Michael O'Keefe in "The Slugger's Wife" (1985) looked more likely to hit .062 than 62 homers in a season.
The runners-up include Keanu Reeves in "The Replacements" (2000), Russell Crowe in "Mystery, Alaska" (1999), and Adam Sandler in "The Waterboy" (1998).
Best Sports Scene in Non-Sports Movie
This prize goes to the football game scene in "M*A*S*H," mentioned by many Page 2 editors and writers. Page 2 columnist Ralph Wiley kudos director Robert Altman and Nolan "Super Gnat" Smith for making this scene work: "Smith runs back kick for opening TD in game vs. 4077th, then takes hypo of morphine in the buttock during pileup, weaves around, slurs his speech to the coach,
takes mark, gets set and goes as first half gun sounds, knocks over cheerleaders, scattering 'em like bowling pins."
Also worth noting is the wave scene in "When Harry Met Sally" (1988). Page 2 editor Kevin Jackson says, "In 10 seconds, it perfectly captures what it's like to be a single guy."
Also receiving votes: The Colts quiz in "Diner" (1982), and Bob and Doug's hockey game in "Strange Brew" (1983).
Best Fan Flick
Worst Fan Flick
"Buffalo 66" (1998): Billy (Vincent Gallo) is named after Buffalo's NFL franchise. His parents house is a shrine to the Bills, with endless loops of old games rerun on videotape, Jack Kemp and O.J. Simpson among the "family" photos. This isn't a sports film, but football permeates, insinuating itself in every nook and cranny.
Plenty to choose from, but "The Fan" (1996) is the worst -- especially considering that it wastes the talents of Snipes and De Niro. Plus, it has one of the most ridiculous premises of any movie ... a sports movie or otherwise.
"Remember the Titans": "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Spirit In the Sky," "Spill the Wine," "Peace Train," and, of course, Buck Owens singing "Act Naturally." You want an education in early '70s pop, get the soundtrack.
Also: "Jerry Maguire": We could live a few lifetimes without ever hearing "Secret Garden" again, but dig some of Cameron Crowe's offbeat selections -- Paul McCartney's "Singalong Junk," an alternative version of Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm," and Rickie Lee Jones' "Horses."
Get it on DVD
Does bare knuckles basement brawling make this into a sports film? Probably not. But get the DVD of "Fight Club" (1999), and while you're at it, get one of those home theater surround-sound systems. You won't be sorry. This movie is aural. And there's a ton of goodies on the DVD.