Lovable Losers on the Big Screen: Sports Movie Classics


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Nate Robinson is no Cal Naughton, Jr., but the other half of "Shake and Bake" is on our list.

With last night's Oscar buzz still in the air, we were happy to wake up this morning to see The A.V. Club's choice for its weekly list: "We aren't the champions: 11 sports movies where the losers are the winners." While some popular favorites ("Bull Durham") and personal favorites ("Bring It On") made the cut, a few others did not. So we've gone ahead and picked a few movies of our own to add to the list. Enjoy.

"Mystery, Alaska" (1999)

So if you put together the minds behind Austin Powers and Ally McBeal, it turns out that you get a pretty good hockey movie. In this classic, John Biebe (Russell Crowe) leads a crew of small town weekend warriors against the mighty New York Rangers (seems probable enough). Sure, the Mystery team loses the game as a last second shot caroms off the goal but is the movie worth checking out to hear Crowe's Alaskan accent? You betcha.

"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (2006)

Will Ferrell has made a lot of movies over the past ten years, but this one may be his best, or at the very least, his most racy. (Sorry, we couldn't resist.) Ferrell, as Ricky Bobby, teams up with John C. Reilly's Cal Naughton, Jr. to take "Shake and Bake" to the top of NASCAR. Once Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) enters the fray, the buildup for the final race sequence is well underway. Although Ricky Bobby ultimately beats Girard (on foot), both men are disqualified from the race, giving Cal the checkered flag. Ricky Bobby doesn't need us to remind him that "If you're not first, you're last."

"A League of Their Own" (1992)

With Major League Baseball shut down for World War II, Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and company take the field for the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. After Dottie's sister and teammate, Kit (Lori Petty), is traded to the Racine Belles, the two teams meet in the championship game. When Kit scores the winning run in the bottom of the ninth against her friends and former team, we are left to wonder whether or not Dottie dropped the ball on that final play on purpose and what in the world happened to Jon Lovitz's career.

"Gladiator" (2000)

A former Oscar winner for Best Picture, Gladiator tells the sprawling story of the general who became a slave, the slave who became a gladiator, and the gladiator who defied an emperor. Russell Crowe is back again in this one as Maximus, the titular character. Maximus thrives in the gladiatorial games, surviving a reenactment of the Battle of Zama, a bout with Rome's only undefeated gladiator, and a fight to the death against Emperor Commodus. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of gladiatorial combat and fights to the death in general, is that eventually your luck runs out, as it did for Maximus. The lesson here is that a gladiator who doesn't make it out of the ring can't really be considered a "winner" - except at Oscar time.