March Madness of Movies: Sports films

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Welcome arts fans and sports fans alike to the best and the brightest of sports cinema. Perhaps one of the most resilient of film genres, these matchups boasted sports as a way to overcome everything from racism to the Russians to a huge English Mastiff.

In a quickly cut-throat first round match, “Cool Runnings,” the story of a Jamaican bobsled team, came up against “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner. Although both are rich with sentimentality and 90s nostalgia, in the end “Cool Runnings” wasn’t able to “feel the rhythm,” taken out by Shoeless Joe and the gang.

The sports comedy, while a clear crowd favorite, is often thought to lack heart and historical backing, necessary for truly the best of the best when it comes to sports cinema. Throughout this bracket, however, despite the early loss of “Cool Runnings,” sports comedies scored major wins over more dramatic films like “Miracle on Ice” and “Field of Dreams.”

In a hotly debated decision, the bracket included the 1981 documentary “Miracle on Ice” over the 2004 fictionalized account of the same 1980 Olympic men’s hockey team, “Miracle.” It is hard, however, to tell if this choice truly made much of a difference, as it didn’t stand a chance against it’s round one matchup,1993 cult classic“The Sandlot.”

In fact, “The Sandlot” soared through the bracket continuing to rack up big wins, including one against Will Ferrell’s eternally quotable “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” Even lines like “8 pounds 6 ounces newborn infant Jesus” couldn’t help Ricky Bobby squeak out a win against the seminal classic.

Some early casualties that failed to get their feet off the ground after first round eliminations were “Creed,” “Rudy” and “Rocky.” Overall it wasn’t a great run for the lone athlete rags-to-riches narratives.

Some notable exclusions from contention include “Dodgeball,” “Mighty Ducks,” and “Hoosiers,” the latter of which was chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry for it’s cultural significance.

“She’s the Man” was accompanied by other female-driven sports flicks like “Bend It Like Beckham” and “A League of Their Own” — which tragically didn’t even make it past the first round.

“Bend It Like Beckham” is an uplifting story about an Indian girl in London who is forbidden from playing soccer, or football as the Brits say, by her family because of her gender. The flick, featuring a marvelously queer-coded young Keira Knightley, didn’t stand a chance against the literal and figurative heavy-hitter, Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull.” By the second round, however, the eight-time Academy Award Nominee KO’d at the hands of the more family friendly “Remember the Titans.”

Ultimately it was “Remember the Titans,” “The Sandlot,” “Moneyball” and “She’s the Man” battling it out in the top four. While both are based on true stories, the Brad Pitt vehicle, “Moneyball” fell to “Titans” — the timeless story of hope and triumph over oppression.

“Moneyball” the film coasted through the first two rounds by being one of the most recent flick in the bracket, behind “Creed.” Ultimately, the film crumbled when faced with the real star power of Denzel Washington and a delightful cameo from a young Ryan Gosling.

In a complete upset, “She’s the Man” starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum came out on top against the 2000 classic “Remember the Titans.” The bracket from the very beginning seemed to be a war between the nontraditional rookies and the far more decorated historical cinema. Ultimately, a win for “She’s the Man” proved once and for all no sports or cinema fan should ever underestimate the power of Amanda Bynes.

Contact Kate Tinney at [email protected]. Tweet her at @katetinney.