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I’ve given myself an Impossible Mission of selecting the best sports movies for 2018, and, going Solo, here, I do expect there to be some Fallout of opinion in the comments section below. Do you ever watch a movie and feel as if You Were Never Really There? The movies I’ve chosen are all for you, Ready Player One, and are an Upgrade only if you’re going to Night School.
Feel free to be the First Man and give your reaction to these movies below, or Support the Girls and provide comments to other movies that are your Favourite sports movies of all-time! Don’t be Unsane. I’m asking for A Simple Favor, consider it Game Night if you want, but please comment below. If you decide to Leave No Trace, then Sorry to Bother You. You can be a Mule or The Grinch and say nothing. (Can You Ever Forgive Me for saying that?)
If Beale Street Could Talk, I swear it would leave a comment below. It’s not Assassination Nation in our comments section. No Venom is allowed. It’s A Quiet Place here because our site moderator is like The Old Man and the Gun and will go all Hunter Killer on you ’cause he likes to make Widows out of trolls: “To the Isle of Dogs!” Well, Here We Go Again. So, without going into My Own Private War, I present to you (drum roll, please), my four “Best Sports Movies of 2018.”
BEST SPORTS MOVIES OF 2018
TENNIS: Borg vs. McEnroe
Released: April 13, 2018
Summer, 1980. Sweden’s Bjorn Borg, one of the greatest tennis players ever, is on the verge of winning a record fifth Wimbledon title. “The only thing standing between Borg and that record is you,” says a TV commentator to a young 21-year-old challenger.
That challenger is John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), portrayed here as a temperamental, slightly unhinged player lacking mental discipline. The contrast in personalities between McEnroe and Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and their playing styles is seen in the public eye. The movie explores this supposed contrast and demonstrates that their quest for greatness made them more similar than different.
The story follows each tennis player leading up to the 1980 Wimbledon Championship Finals, where they meet in an epic battle that is quite inspiring, and the tennis scenes are riveting. Will McEnroe upset Borg and keep him from the record? The ending is torturous, conflicted and thrilling. Highly recommended
FIGURE SKATING: I, TONYA
Released: January 19, 2018
I, Tonya is about Oregon’s very own Tonya Harding, and it plays out as a faux-documentary, splicing together interviews, behind-the-scenes drama and skating competitions.
The story begins with Tonya’s mother, LaVona Harding (Allison Janney), trying to get her four-year-old daughter into skating school with a reluctant teacher, Julianne Nicholson (Diane Rawlinson). Her teacher encourages the mother to have Tonya wear a fur coat to competitions in order to fit in better with the other girls.
And here is where we get to the heart of the story. Tonya takes the rabbits she’s shot in the woods with her dad. He skins them, and her mother sews together a rabbit-pelt jacket in an attempt to rival her peers’ fur coats. Tonya (Margot Robbie), the tomboy, doesn’t fit in the world of ice princesses: she wants to skate to ZZ Top, and they want her to skate to Tchaikovsky.
This is a heart-wrenching film with great acting. It’s a commentary on poverty, on parenting, on society and its gatekeepers, represented in this film by the US Figure Skating judges. Had Tonya won a medal at the 1994 Olympics, her story would inspire moviegoers like Rocky does. Instead, because of the Nancy Kerrigan incident, it’s more like a Shakespearean tragedy.
It’s a brilliant film and quite comedic, but it’s raw in all the right ways, and makes us examine, like all great art does, life itself. WARNING: By the end, you may be surprised to find yourself feeling quite sympathetic toward Tonya Harding.
VOLLEYBALL: The Miracle Season
Released: April 6, 2018
Miracle Season is based on the true story of the defending state-champion volleyball team from Iowa City’s West High School. Two best friends, Caroline, nicknamed “Line,” and Kelly, have grown up together and now play volleyball for West High School.
As the season starts in 2011, coach “Brez” Bresnahan (Helen Hunt) challenges the team to win state again, but the unexpected death of their star setter and charismatic leader, Caroline “Line” Found turns the girls and their ambitions upside down.
How does one deal with grief? How does a team respond with a leadership void?
Miracle Season explores the value of sports in life-teaching moments, and the compelling cast of Hunt (her coach) and William Hurt (Caroline’s father) work through their own issues of grief, but also provide some direction to the students.
After losing the beginning part of the season due to forfeit as the players mourn, Caroline’s best friend, Kelly Fliehler (played by Erin Moriarty) is forced out of the shadows of her best friend and into the spotlight as the team attempts to win its final 15 games to qualify for the state tournament. With a juiced soundtrack, Miracle Season is a treat for any fan of competition, and the rarity of a volleyball movie makes it all the better. (Hint: stay for the credits.)
BOXING: CREED II
Released: November 21, 2018
This is the eighth movie in the Rocky series and a generational movie that weaves together threads across the whole franchise. The movie is mesmerizing.
The original Rocky was really never about winning and boxing, but about finding self respect. Rocky’s goal was never to beat Apollo Creed but simply to finish the fight: “Adrian! Adrian!” The theme for Creed 2 is “Know what you’re stepping into the ring for.” The movie contrasts the life of the two boxers: the son of Apollo Creed, Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), and his Russian opponent, Viktor Drago (Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu), who is trained by his father, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren).
Decades earlier, Drago had killed Apollo Creed in a fight. Now, the sons have come of age. Textured subplots work throughout with all the characters, and this is no surprise, as Sylvester Stallone has a credit as a co-screenwriter. Bianca (Tessa Thompson) gives a rich performance as Adonis’s fiancee, and Phylicia Rashad as Adonis’s mother is a treat, as well.
The boxing venues are some of the most spectacular sets I’ve seen, and the music is superb, especially when the triumphant chords of Bill Conti’s 1976 soundtrack come in at the most emotional moments. There is a climactic boxing scene that does not disappoint, and the training sequences before are no let-down either.
Surprisingly, the franchise hasn’t lost its punch. When Rocky gives Adonis advice in the corner in the final fight, it becomes a hallmark quote: “I’m telling you it’s all about pressure. If you want to give pain, you gotta be willing to take the pain.” Creed II is a knock-out.
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Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in digital marketing in Chicago, Illinois.
Ugly Duckling was part of a flock that migrated from east of the Cascades many seasons ago, was raised in Willamette Valley Ponds, and is proud to be part of the green and yellow.
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