Best Sports Movie Bracket – Rd. 1 – #4 vs #5

With the world going through a COVID-19 related sports withdrawal, it’s time to escape to the world of film to get our fix in! And since there aren’t any sports to compete in, it’s time to find out what the best sports movie of all time is! We’ve broken all movies into 4 different themed divisions of 8 teams each: Hockey, Baseball, Football and Fighting and The Rest. For the 1st Round, we’ll be looking at specific seeds each day. Today: The 4 seed vs the 5 seed.

Hockey: #4 Youngblood vs #5 Mystery, Alaska

By Brodie Cotnam

Youngblood: (1986) Staring: Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Cynthia Gibb, George J Finn, Ed Lauter, Keanu Reeves

‘Small town kid wants his shot at the big time.’ Dean Youngblood (Lowe) heads from his rural New York state home up to Canada to try and further his NHL dreams, trying out for the Hamilton Mustangs. Despite his offensive prowess, his lack of toughness is questioned in an era when that was essential.

The coach (Lauter) a former NHL star takes him on, and Dean soon strikes up a romance with his daughter Jessie. However, after his mentor Derek (Swayze) is injured he heads home forlorn. With help from his brother and father Blaine (former NHL player Eric Nesterenko) he perfects his fighting skills and returns to score the winning goal of the Memorial Cup playoffs in the waning seconds and confronts the tough guy who injured his friend.

Where to Watch: Not streaming at the moment

Mystery Alaska: (1999) Staring: Russell Crowe, Hank Azaria, Mary McCormick, Ron Eldard, Burt Reynolds

(Conveniently) Set in the hockey mad town of Mystery, Alaska, the story revolves around their renowned Saturday game, played outdoors, which brings the entire town out to watch. The game becomes so renowned it’s featured in a Sports Illustrated article, written by Charlie, who is originally from Mystery. Eventually, after some persuading, the New York Rangers decide to pay a visit to for an exhibition game.

After some legal wrangling the game is set and the under the guidance of their now returned former star, John (Russell Crowe) who was set to be cut from the Saturday game, the local team puts on a good show, eventually dropping a 5-4 decision to the big club, but ultimately earning their, and the towns folks, respect. As a result a few Mystery players are even selected for a big league try out.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Perhaps the biggest hockey story in Hamilton history (aside from Jim Balsillie’s attempt to hijack lure the NHL) Youngblood is of its time and perhaps best known for its depiction of old school hockey, culminating with its infamous stick swinging scene and, being an early Keanu Reeves outing rather than a brilliant depiction of the game itself. Mystery Alaska’s band of characters, humour, overarching story of the small town’s plight, actual hockey content, and passing of the torch within the Saturday game itself, resonates far more as a film.

Winner – Mystery, Alaska

Baseball: #4 A League of Their Own vs #5 Field of Dreams

By Joe Martini

Two movies that were ahead of their times. A league of their own goes back to world war 2 when leagues were threatened due to men leaving the united states to go abroad to stop the spread of evil and tyranny.

This movie shows a model that may work today, even while men’s leagues are flourishing. A star-studded cast is consisting of Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and Tom Hanks.

This comedy tackles serious notes while also giving the classic line, “There’s no crying in baseball!”.

While Field of ideas does not tackle the same hot button issues that A league of their own did. But it brings in another issue most sports fans can relate to. This is the relationship with the person who got you into the sport, and in Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner had a troubled relationship with his father.

That is before he can repair some of that after he passed by building up the Field and as the most used quote in the movie “if you build it, they will come.”

While Field of Dreams is a great movie, A League of Their Own carries so much more weight and is rewatchable even more so today.

Winner – A League of Their Own

Football and Fighting: #4 The Wrestler vs #5 Friday Night Lights

By Mike Laybourne

Portraying characters at the opposite ends of their careers, each movie deals with very different subjects but also share a lot in common.

Friday Night Lights (2004) is a fictional retelling of a true story about high school football in deepest Texas. In a town where football is the only reprieve from real life, a group of students have to contend with the pressures of school, relationships, oh and the whole town judging them on their performances come Friday Night.

“We gotta lighten up, we’re 17”

“Do you feel 17?”

“I don’t feel 17”

Although drama, Friday Night Lights is heavily based on the book of the same name by H.G. Bissinger and documents the Permian Panthers’ 1988 season and championship run, all of the characters are real, and Bissinger’s contribution to Peter Berg’s movie really has you buying into the intense macrocosm of the environment.

The emotions are real, as players struggle with self-doubt, over confidence and career-changing injuries. The movie itself is beautifully constructed, with well shot football games and nice wide shots of, well, nothingness. The performances are exactly what was needed. The spin-off series ain’t bad either.

At the other end of the career rainbow is The Wrestler (2008). Director Darren Aronofski took a break from his usual wierdness to tell the tale of Robin Ramzinski, a former professional wrestler now working in a supermarket while struggling to hang on to his glory days.

The title doesn’t just refer to the protagonist’s former role. Ramzinski is also trying to rebuild his relationship with his daughter and forge a romantic relationship, all while fighting his personal demons and that underlying heart condition.

At its heart, the Wrestler is a movie about an individual character, and Mickey Rourke’s portrayal of Ramzinski was so powerful that it gave Rourke’s career a real jolt, and garnered the movie a selection of nominations and awards.

Choosing between these two movies is difficult, as both are amazing for different reasons, but for me it has to be Friday Night Lights. Both are stories of self discovery, but Friday Night Lights rides the rollercoaster of emotions a little better for me.

Winner – Friday Night Lights

The Rest: #4 Happy Gilmore vs #5 Chariots of Fire

By Carl Landra

Happy Gilmore is from a time when Adam Sandler wasn’t considered a snub for an Academy Award. However, Happy Gilmore is arguably the best of his non-Uncut Gems movies. Combining hockey and golf to create one great movie allows this sports movie to check multiple boxes. Add on Carl Weathers, and this movie checks another very important Carl-based box for me.

At the heart of it, Happy Gilmore is a story of transformation, with Happy going from angry Boston Bruin fan to calm collected top golfer, able to save his grandmother’s home from Scooter McGavin. Add some laughs along the way and you have a great movie.

On the other hand, Chariots of Fire holds a longer legacy than just the running on the beach scene. If the matchup was most iconic scene we’d have “Running on the Beach” vs. “The Price is Wrong”, add Chariots of Fire would win that duel.

Eric Liddell had a debate that we have seen take various forms in sports history, deciding to follow what he believes in or compromise and have the chance to win what he’s always dreamed of. Liddell, with the help of his teammates, returns to the UK with a gold medal and becomes the face of track and field back home. Chariots of Fire shows the struggles and sacrifice that come alongside being a top athlete in a dramatic and effective way.

Happy Gilmore vs. Chariots of Fire. A story of a man trying to overcome his own personal hardships brought on by troubles in his family vs. Chariots of Fire. Happy Gilmore will never not put a smile on my face, and in this time of self-isolation, that’s an important thing to face. But Chariots of Fire is an Academy Award winner for Best Picture. Not Best Sports Picture. It was the best movie released in 1981 and the inspirational story still rings true today.
Winner – Chariots of Fire

 

We’ve had our say, now it’s your turn! Vote in the Twitter polls and decide who moves onto the next round. See you next time, when we have the 2 and 7 seeds matching up.

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