Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Top 5 Sports Films of All Time

Film Critic Kevyn Knox has an ongoing weekly "Top 5 Films" project on his website Cinematheque. Just this past week he and 20 other critics, film students, film historians and film enthusiasts took on the challenge of listing their favorite sports movies. One film boxing-film fanatic listed 5 boxing movies as his favorite sports movies. (How's that for wearing your biases on your sleeve?) Some of the nominations could hardly be considered sports movies. Spelling bees? Chess? Billiards? The Big Lebowski!!!? (Nothing against bowling as a sport, but the movie was hardly a ringing endorsement of athleticism.) How do you suppose films about track & field and/or running fared?

Running/Track & Field movies did not make the overall top 5 (Raging Bull, Hoop Dreams, Bull Durham, The Hustler and Million Dollar Baby topped the list), but there were a few pleasant surprises:

David Sterritt, Chairman of the National Society of Film Critics, voted The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962) as his number 4 movie, ahead of Raging Bull.

Carrie Rickey, Film Critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, voted Leni Riefenstahl's 1938 documentary Olympia, about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, as the number one sports movie of all time. It was supposed to be a Nazi propaganda film, but – since it celebrated "multi-national themes and its celebrations of the athletic successes of peoples from all nations and all races" – it ended up working against Hitler.

Kevin Cassidy, Film Enthusiast, voted Kon Ichikawa's 1965 documentary film Tokyo Olympiad as his 2nd favorite athletics-focused film. Running greats Bob Hayes and Abebe Bikila are featured.

Rich Cline, Film Critic and Creator of Shadows on the Wall, voted Chariots of Fire as his number four sports movie.

Finally, Kevyn Knox, Film Critic, Essayist + Historian and founder of the website I'm covering here, gave The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner his nod as the number two sports movie. For this reason, and this reason alone, I give the "Top 5 Films" project on the website Cinematheque a thumbs up.

Here's the link to the top 5 sports films site.

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