Nearly every single sports movie I can think of makes me feel good on the inside. No wonder, considering their predictable narrative arcs almost always involve an underdog–think Rocky–or a team of underdogs–think Hoosiers–who against all odds, win something, or lose at something but their personal victory is so great that no one cares they lost.
Last year there were a couple of great sports movies at TIFF: Moneyball and Goon. This year, there’s a documentary called Venus and Serena based on one year in the super star tennis sisters’ lives that details how they made it and their struggles to stay on top that premieres on September 11. And then on September 10, there’s Arthur Newman, a film about a one-time hot shot in the world of competitive amateur golf, which sounds like it might slightly deviate from the classic sports movie formula: the hot shot tanks when he hits the pro circuit, then stages his own death, reinvents himself as a “Arthur Newman” and “sets out toward his own private Oz of golf.” It starts Colin Firth, Emily Blunt and Anne Heche.
Even though you won’t find me sporting a team jersey and watching the Big Game on the TV, you could very well find me several times a year on my couch, eating Lay’s (plain) potato chips, laughing, crying and fist-pumping while I watch the above-mentioned films, not to mention, The Natural, Rocky II and III, The Bad News Bears and my favourite, Breaking Away. My enthusiasm for this 1979 film, about a group of small-town teenagers in Bloomington, Indiana, one of whom is obsessed with Italian cycling, can not be over-stated. But it can be overly articulated, as you can see in this video from last year’s festival on the red carpet of Moneyball. Wait for the 00:38 mark.