Over the break stay out of the elements and enjoy these sports gems
Creed, a recent spinoff movie of the classic Rocky film franchise, could very well be the best boxing movie since the original Rocky. Creed tells the story of Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, all-time great boxer and Rocky’s fiercest adversary turned friend in the original films. Adonis never gets to meet his legendary father, who died in the ring before he was born, but Apollo’s greatness is undoubtedly within him. Leading man Michael B. Jordan gives a commanding performance as Adonis and, like the young Creed, he proves to be a budding star. Like the original Rocky, Creed tells the similar crowd-pleasing story of an underdog, and tastefully pays tribute to the old films without being overshadowed by them. From start to finish Creed will have you cheering, laughing, and even tearing up. It is a must-see for all sports movie lovers and fans of the Rocky films; it’s a knockout and instant classic, you can still catch it in theatres now.
He Got Game
One of the very best Spike Lee “joints” of all time. He Got Game tells the story of young high school basketball superstar Jesus Shuttlesworth and his relationship with his estranged father Jake on leave from prison. Jesus is grappling with the pressure of colleges breathing down his neck recruiting and trying to lift himself and his sister out of poverty in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Denzel Washington turns in an amazing performance as Jake and Ray Allen, a young NBA star at the time gives the best acting from a real athlete ever as Jesus Shuttlesworth. Spike Lee’s direction style is unique and warm enough to draw you in as you accompany Jake and Jesus on their turbulent journey.
Bend It Like Beckham
This 2002 British soccer flick has all that you need for a good sports movie—romance, comedy and, of course, adversity. Bend It Like Beckham tells the story of an Indian teen, Jess, who’s caught between family tradition and the sport she loves. While it follows a similar trajectory of most romantic-comedies, this indie film touches on the more serious ethnic divide that affects even second and third generation immigrants. Don’t miss appearances from Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean, every decent period drama in the past decade) as Jess’ best friend, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Match Point) as her coach and love interest, and Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) as Jess’ crazy sister.
—Nadia Drissi El-Bouzaidi
Four Days in October
As far as sports documentaries go, films in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series are some of the best pieces of storytelling you can find. Four Days in October highlights the 2004 American League Championship Series (ALCS) between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox— also known as “the greatest comeback in sports history”. The Red Sox were down three games to none on the brink of elimination at the hands of their bitter rivals, but what happened next seemed like it was destiny. The Red Sox ripped off four wins in dramatic fashion to win the pennant, going on to next win their first World Series in 86 years. The doc is a must watch that goes behind the scenes, and pulls together all the different perspectives of a stunning four days of sports history.
Friday Night Lights (TV)
The holiday break is the perfect time to finally watch—or rewatch—this classic football series. The show revolves around Eric Taylor, Head Coach of the Dillon Panthers, a small town Texas high school football team. The series follows the Panthers’ quest for the State Championships, as it weaves in and out of the players’ respective storylines. In the later seasons, Friday Night Lights remains one of the few shows that manages to reinvent itself with a new core cast. Some of the notable names on the show include Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Coach and his wife, Tami, Taylor Kitsch, Michael B. Jordan, and Jurnee Smollett.
—Nadia Drissi El-Bouzaidi