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March is typically an exciting time for professional sports, with major events kicking off on both the collegiate and professional levels. Folks fill out their March Madness brackets, keep an eye on NBA conference standings as the playoffs near and round out the month with the start of Major League Baseball. That's all changed in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and now sports fans may have a lot of free time on their hands this month and beyond.
If there's any silver lining to this situation, it's that now many sports fans are quarantined with streaming services full of high-quality sports films to revisit or experience for the first time. Here are some of the standouts worth checking out, where to find them and some background information on the plots for those who may not be familiar.
The Natural (Netflix)
This Robert Redford-led baseball film has been called one of the greatest sports movies of all time by some, and by most, a must-watch baseball film. The story (set in the early decades of the 20th century) follows Roy Hobbs throughout his life from his earliest memories of playing catch with his father to his eventual run in the big leagues. There's a lot in there I'm leaving out, but that's only to keep those who haven't watched in suspense of all the crazy directions this highly entertaining film goes down.
Miracle (Netflix, Disney+)
The average American may not know as much about hockey compared to other nations, but most American sports fans are at least familiar with the "Miracle On Ice." Miracle is an adaptation of that tale, with Kurt Russell as the real-life coach who led the American's to upset the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics, Herb Brooks. The film's decision to cast actual hockey players helps keep the action in the movie convincing and entertaining considering many who watch going in will know the Americans end up overcoming the odds.
Borg Vs. McEnroe (Hulu)
Tennis rivalries are among some of the best in sports, and the one between Swede Björn Borg and American John McEnroe is legendary. The two men's match in the 1980 Wimbledon Men's Final felt straight out of a movie when it happened, so it's only natural a movie about it would come along eventually. The fact that Shia LaBeouf plays the hot-headed McEnroe is just icing on the cake for a film that some may have missed during its theatrical run.
Glory Road (Disney +)
Glory Road is based on the true story of the 1966 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament, in which Texas Western made history at a time where integrated athletics were still a controversial subject. For those missing all the fun of March Madness, this is a movie to binge to understand one of the most historically significant moments of college basketball, and an event that marked a substantial change in college athletics from that point onward. Fun fact, Ben Affleck was originally considered for the role of Don Haskins, but dropped out, resulting in the role going to Josh Lucas.
A horse winning the Triple Crown is not an event that happens all that often in the world of sports, so when it does, it's understandably a big deal. Such is the reason for the making of Secretatriat, which tells an entertaining version of the events that led to the racehorse's (nicknamed "Big Red") iconic wins. Granted, there are some critics who say there's some glaring omissions in the story that are worth reading up on, but for anyone not too worried about the comprehensive tale behind this sports moment, this is good enough.
Rudy (Amazon Prime, Crackle)
This is the film for any kid who isn't that particularly skilled at a sport they love. Not just because Rudy shows that never giving up will yield results, it also gives a realistic picture of what the end-result of that looks like. Of course, a large part of that is because Daniel Ruettiger was an actual person, as was his quest to play Notre Dame football. As far as sports movies go, this film is more about the sacrifice and journey than Notre Dame football, but still a wonderful movie from start to finish.
Foxcatcher is certainly thrilling, though not in the way many of the above sports movies are. This movie tells the unbelievable and tragic story of the Schulz brothers and John du Pont, and the intense culture of competitive Olympic wrestling. To be fair, this story is certainly a little more extreme than most, and it's a good pick for those looking for a dramatic thriller. Be warned, this is one of the only entries on the list in which there is no happy ending, though Foxcatcher's story does remain one of the most infamous sports tales out there.
Fighting With My Family (Amazon Prime)
The WWE is not a professional sport, but few would dispute the organization's physical demands and audience draw compete with most professional sports. In a reality where audiences may not see Wrestlemania 36 the way it was originally intended, now is as good a time as any to check out Fighting With My Family. The tale chronicles the rise of WWE superstar Paige, her time as an amateur wrestler all the way up to her win as the youngest Divas champion. Even audiences who haven't followed wrestling since their youth can appreciate this movie, which is far from the typical sappy sports story.
Hands Of Stone (Vudu Free With Ads)
Probably a movie that's gotten far more flak from critics than it may have deserved, Hands of Stone chronicles the story between Roberto Durán and Sugar Ray Leonard. It's a movie that, while good, faces some stiff competition given the high bar for boxing films in cinema. It's no Rocky, Creed II or Raging Bull, but it's a solid movie, especially for anyone with a love of boxing and old school rivalries.
Sports are on hold for the minute, but Hollywood still has content to chug out for the forseeable future. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest happening in movies and television.