One of the highlights of 2013 had been the baseball flick 42, a biopic on the baseball player Jackie Robinson who became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. And before the year ended, we were introduced to Ron Howard’s Rush which was another biopic showcasing the battle between Niki Lauda and James Hunt in the backdrop of the 1976 Formula One Championship. These two gems masterfully combined the beauty of sports and movies into one. Now the hopes are high from the sports genre in Hollywood for 2014. This year could indeed offer a lot, in terms of numbers at least, with the quality yet to be judged. For sports & movie enthusiasts, these are the flicks that you may want to keep your eyes open for.
Draft Day (April 11)
Back in 2011, Brad Pitt made it cool to be a sports manager, not a player or a coach but a manager, as he played the protagonist in the widely acclaimed Moneyball. So no wonder we are going to see this theme unfold on the big screen a few more times. In Draft Day, it is Kevin Costner who puts on those savvy suits as the general manager of the American football team Cleveland Browns, while he fights hard to land the number one draft pick for his club. It is an Ivan Reitman film, who can make the classy (Ghostbusters) to the crass (My Super Ex-Girlfriend), so be surprised for anything here. The movie recently had its ‘R’ rating overturned, to the studio-friendly ‘PG-13’.
Million Dollar Arm (May 16)
From football to baseball. Million Dollar Arm is a depiction of events that happened not so long ago, when a sports agent arrived in India in search of baseball pitchers. John Hamm, who is playing the lead character of sports agent J.B. Bernstein, is a well-admired celebrity on the telly, but has had limited exposure on the big screen so far, and this movie gives him a good opportunity to reach out to a wider audience. The initial promos are interesting, and Disney’s Million Dollar Arm could be the much wanted feel-good movie early on in the summer period.
When The Game Stands Tall (August 22)
We have stories on a general manager and a sports agent lined up in 2014. Now we get our coach. Shifting to high school football, When The Game Stands Tall is also a biopic on the 12 season undefeated streak set in the 1992-2003 period by De La Salle High School of Concord, California. Jim Caviezel stars as Coach Bob Ladouceur who is given the responsibility of turning a losing high school football team into a champion. This movie comes from Thomas Carter who has already worked on a sports biopic before with 2005’s Coach Carter. So the experience may count for something!
McFarland (November 21)
Another biopic. And again Kevin Costner. McFarland is based on the true story of a Latino high school track team from McFarland, California, whose coach works hard to overcome the social hurdles of the 1980s and get the team to win a championship. It is another Disney production, with the talented Niki Caro (director of North County) at the helm of things.
Hands of Stone (Not Announced)
There is no official date announced for this flick, but with filming having begun a month back, a late 2014 release could be likely. Hands of Stone is a biopic on the legendary boxer Roberto Durán and his equally legendary trainer Ray Arcel. Durán is being played by Édgar Ramírez while Arcel will be played by none other than Robert De Niro himself. The movie will also feature the famous fights between Durán and Sugar Ray Leonard who is being played by the singer Usher. Could turn out to be the finest of the sports movies of the year, but even if not so, at least we hope it would be no Grudge Match.