The notion of making biopics about famous sports personalities has never gotten old. Right since the ’50s, from the time of films like ‘Fear Strikes Out’ and ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’, to ‘Foxcatcher’ and I, Tonya in present times, features about sports personalities have drawn large crowds in. There have been many memorable attempts to bring celebrated careers back to life on-screen. Some have been historic moments that have changed perceptions, while some just give you the hair-raising thrill of sports. Some of these films feature such fierce performances, that you almost feel the rushed breath and the perspiring forehead. Below are some of such sports biopics that set the conversation going. You can watch several of these sports biopics on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
12. Borge v. McEnroe
‘Borge McEnroe’ is a movie that slipped almost everyone’s radars last year. Featuring arguably the two greatest players tennis has ever seen, the film recounts the historic Wimbledon match between the two and their life before and after that. ‘Borg McEnroe’ isn’t much a rivalry movie as it is an offering of the two men’s drive and eagerness to win. They achieve the same thing, or intend to at least, with different methods and temperament. While McEnroe is impulsive, rash, and often difficult, Borg is a complete opposite. The two hardly share a conversation throughout the movie, also exhausting the sparse meetings they have. Januz Pederson ensures that the film doesn’t dramatize the emotion of the two men, but instead embodies what drove them toward success. The two leads show exemplary craft in translating their characters’ inner turmoil. The struggle, in fact, between the two men is mostly internal and the fight becomes who’ll handle it better. Sverrir Gudnason is a revelation as Borge. His closely guarded personality and restlessness about his marriage and career are integrated with the character with perfection. Shia Lebouf, almost like McEnroe in real life, gets into the rebellious skin of the celebrated player and gives a solid performance. ‘Borg McEnroe’ is a unique effort that sets the meaning and essence of a sports rivalry as a fight within oneself, with oneself.
11. Paan Singh Tomar
‘Paan Singh Tomar’ embodies a common emotion many superlative athletes in contemporary share. Institutional incompetence, lack of urgency, and administrative corruption have long held India back to emerge as a sporting powerhouse. Although ‘Paan Singh’ presents only a part of the problem, it does so rather well. Irrfan Khan plays the titular character, a national champion turned dacoit who is unassuming in his demeanor and carries deep indignation for people who didn’t help him. The rebellious Paan Singh gives an interview about his life. After suffering enough, Paan Singh finally decides to show the world how wrong it was about him. The underlying feeling that Irrfan beautifully integrates into his character study is one of resentment and desire. The revolting nature, that now defines Paan Singh, becomes his the inevitable downfall of his life. The people who recognize him now are the same ones who were ignorant when he broke records. This frustration reflects in Singh’s personality and becomes the emotive figure of the film. Despite its directional and conceptual flaws, ‘Paan Singh’ is a hearty movie about one man’s resolve to prove the world wrong and comes alive with a wonderfully nuanced and refined performance from its star lead.
10. I, Tonya