Four Corners: What was the best sports movie of 2000s?

March 08, 2010

'Miracle' gets job done
Steve Svekis

Sun Sentinel

Kurt Russell's performance as 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks in "Miracle" vaults the 2004 film to the top of the list, edging 2000's "Remember the Titans."

It faced the daunting challenge of telling a story in which most viewers knew most of the details. Russell, though, with his steely expressions and dead-on Minnesota accent, brings the hard-edged Brooks to life as the centerpiece of a cast that, not unlike the team it portrayed, was made up of little-known players.

The action scenes don't smack of the amateurism Hollywood usually slaps on celluloid when sports are involved. "The Blind Side," while telling an inspiring story, stands as glaring evidence that the Academy should have not have doubled its Best Picture nominations to 10 .

ssvekis@tribune.com

'Baby' tugs at the heart
Shannon Owens

Orlando Sentinel

Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" didn't hold back any emotional punches with a shocking plot twist that saw its heroine, professional boxer Maggie Fitzgerald ( Hilary Swank), suffer a tragic death after she clawed her way to the top. I loved the pairing of Fitzgerald's spunkiness with the grumpiness of her reluctant trainer, Frankie Dunn (Eastwood).

They need each other for reasons outside of boxing. Dunn is looking for redemption after a nonexistent relationship with his daughter. Fitzgerald is emotionally abused by her family. Dunn nicknames Fitzgerald "Mo Chuisle."

But tragedy awaits as Fitzgerald breaks her neck during a fight, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down. She repeatedly asks Dunn to euthanize her.

Just before administering the injection, he finally tells her the meaning of the nickname: "My darling, my blood."

sjowens@tribune.com

'Lights' an American tale
Diane Pucin

Los Angeles Times

Other films may have gotten more critical acclaim - Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and " The Wrestler," highlighted by Mickey Rourke's heartfelt performance - but my favorite sports movie of the decade was "Friday Night Lights."

The book it was based on was a fabulous read, and the movie was mostly true to the story. That led to a quirky television series that is very well done.

It's an American story. What we have with high school sports, you just don't find in most of the rest of the world. Buzz Bissinger's book brought us deep into Texas, where high school football matters so much. Director Peter Berg took that story and kept it real. And in playing the coach, Billy Bob Thornton gave a speech that rivals Knute Rockne's best.

dpucin@tribune.com

'Talladega' memorable
Brian Hamilton

Chicago Tribune

Humans haven't discovered a large enough number to count the reasons "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" isn't a landmark cinematic feat.

I offer two counterarguments: Shake, and bake.

"Shake and bake!"

It's the ridiculous motto of NASCAR star Ricky Bobby and his marvelously vapid best friend, Cal Naughton Jr., and it just made me laugh out loud. Again. As does Bobby ( Will Ferrell) naming his sons Walker and Texas Ranger.

As does this gem from John C. Reilly's Naughton: "I like to think of Jesus as a mischievous badger."

"Million Dollar Baby" has the hardware, but "Talladega Nights" is just as memorable in its ludicrousness.

So, yeah: That just happened.

bchamilton@tribune.com

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