Life imitates art far more than art imitates life, so said Oscar Wilde. In the case of sports, this may also be true. Athletes performing great feats are as much entertainment as a popcorn flick on the big screen. And since the first black and white silent films hit silver screens, sports and sporting heroes have been the subjects. These movies mix fiction, non-fiction, humour, pathos, drama, tragedy, romance, comedy and great characters. One such movie was Jerry Maguire. If any one movie combined fact and fiction well, it was Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Oscar vehicle. Tom Cruise’s conflicted sports agent and Gooding’s underachieving wide receiver represented the central plot figures. Along the way you get a love interest and love story, a cute kid, several comedic situations, boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl, redemption, real football players and insight into how the sports machine works. Not a classic, but a funny, poignant look at the religion that his football in America.
Sorry Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights doesn’t cut it for best racing movie. The tale of the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt is edge-of-your-seat entertainment from Ron Howard, who also directed the very good boxing movie, Cinderella Man. For the uninitiated, Lauda and Hunt staged one of the best head-to-head racing that F1 has ever seen in 1976. Most of which happened after a dramatic crash in Germany nearly ended Lauda’s life. He escaped with severe burns and was back racing in six weeks. Lauda being the serious tactician and series front-runner, was the perfect foil to Hunt’s playboy-like, partying ways. While Lauda recovered, Hunt took over the F1 standings and would eventually capture the championship in the last race of the season.