We don’t see too many great sports movies these days. There are plenty of decent ones, but it’s been a while since one has really broken through as something that’s likely to endure as a classic of the genre. Any exceptions really throughout the current decade have been in the documentary category. In fact, the recent Diego Maradona soccer documentary was absolutely fantastic (and may just wind up winning an Oscar). Overall though, the sports movie genre seems to have dried up a bit.
This is likely just a lull, and perhaps there are some great sports films right around the corner. But it may also be because screenwriters are just in need of a fresh story to spin into a Hollywood experience. Considering that possibility, here are five current sports stories that could yield great movies.
The Giannis Antetokounmpo Story
This is actually a suggestion for a documentary, and really it would be better if it doesn’t come out for another 10 or 15 years. But the reigning MVP of the NBA doesn’t get enough credit for being a once-in-a-lifetime story. Giannis Antetokounmpo was born in Greece to Nigerian immigrants. Because of Greek law, he was not considered a citizen - nor did he have papers from Nigeria. And because his parents struggled to find work in a foreign country, Giannis and his brothers helped to support the family by pedaling goods on the streets of Athens. As he grew to an exceptional height, however, Giannis wound up playing professional basketball - first in Greece, then with a Spanish team that had taken notice, and eventually in the NBA. He became the MVP of the world’s greatest basketball league at the age of 24. If those aren’t the bones of a great documentary, I’m not sure there is such a thing.
The USA Gymnastics Scandal
This idea needs to be treated carefully because a massive scandal involves systemic abuse of young girls should never be viewed as entertainment. The past few years have brought just such a scandal to light though, and while it shouldn’t be exploited by Hollywood, it could be turned into an incredibly powerful drama. A film bringing awareness to the story and highlighting the heroic figures who sought to make things right might actually turn into one of the more powerful sports movies in recent history. We’d love to see a young actress like Kaitlyn Dever or Anya Taylor-Joy in the role of Aly Raisman, a gold medalist who turned into one of the key figures in bringing the scandal to light and seeking justice for her fellow athletes.
The Rise Of The Carolina Hurricanes
On a lighter note, the rise of the Carolina Hurricanes may not have gotten much attention beyond NHL fans’ radar, but it has all the makings of a feel-good sports story, provided the right ending. The Hurricanes play in Raleigh, North Carolina, and were basically awful for a full decade. The idea of hockey in the South was mocked, there were whispers that the team could be relocated, and the team could hardly sell tickets. In the 2018-19 season though, a new owner hired ex-star Rod Brind’Amoour to coach the team, and the Hurricanes made a surprise run deep into the playoffs. They’ve gotten off to a red-hot start in the 2019-20 campaign, and the odds in the NHL are increasingly making them look like a contender. If this fun-loving group of young players completes the rapid turnaround with a championship in the next year or two, with a former team hero at the helm, they’ll have basically acted out a sports movie in real life. Javier Bardem, incidentally, would make for an excellent Brind’Amour.