Monday, October 8, 2012

Giving Football Movies More Respect

Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side. Photo: Georgia Dept. of Economic Development
As much as I love watching professional and college football, it occurs to me that I don't give football movies as much respect and attention as I willingly give baseball movies. (I've already written about my favorite baseball movies below on this blog.) So with football season well underway, I decided to make a list of my favorite films set on the gridiron. However, it quickly occurred to me that I hadn't yet seen many of the movies considered among the best football films. How could this be? I wasn't intentionally avoiding these movies. I don't let many baseball movies slide past without at least a glance – save for those movies where some kid ends up playing professionally, or angels help a team win games.

Instead of making a short list of my favorite football movies among the ones I've actually seen, I decided to make a list of the ones I want to see. There are many films that depict the dramatic and comedic lives of football players (and their families). Films that have won Academy Awards. Films based on best-selling books. Films that are considered classics. But before I get to the classics (Brian's Song, North Dallas Forty), I'm going to watch a collection of modern football movies, perhaps in a marathon fashion. Below is a list (in no particular order) of some of the modern football movies I most want to see. Upon reading, please let me know what your favorite football films are and what other football films I should see.

Leatherheads – This is a comedy about the early days of football, when actual protection from bodily harm was relegated mostly to a leather helmet. The movie stars George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, and John Krasinski. The plot is loosely based on Chicago Bears owner George Halas' pursuit of Red Grange. I like all three stars in the movie, especially Clooney, so why have I not seen this?

The Blind Side – Based on Michael Oher's life story (Oher plays for the Baltimore Ravens), this film stars Sandra Bullock (who won an Oscar for her role) and Tim McGraw (personally, I like my country singers-turned-actors in the form of Dwight Yoakam, but still...). It's a drama about how a poor kid – with the help of a wealthy family – makes it to the NFL. This movie grossed more than $200 million domestically, so even casual sports fans found this one entertaining. But again, I somehow missed it.

We Are Marshall – Stars the two Matthews (McConaughey and Fox) and David Strathairn. This film is about the tragic plane crash that takes the lives of virtually the entire Marshall football team in 1970, as well has how the team, the school, and the community copes and rebuilds. I know all about the tragedy – it still is talked about during Marshall football broadcasts today – but I haven't seen this dramatization. Long overdue.

Friday Night Lights – Texas football. Does it get any better? No, it does not, which is why so many football movies are set there. This one is based on H.G. Bissinger's book of the same name about a high school football team in Odessa, Texas. This story would eventually be made into a popular TV series, which I also haven't seen. I gotta get with the program, right?!

Invincible – This one stars Mark Walberg as Vince Papale, a guy who really did make it as a Philadelphia Eagle during an open tryout. I was aware of the film during its release, but never got around to seeing it. Again, this is another almost-too-good-to-be-true football story – much like The Blind Side – but with an action hero in the starring role. What's not to love? Adding to Netflix queue...