NME looks back at some gripping films driven by everything from roller derby to boxing
With surfing thriller Point Break powering into UK cinemas on February 5, here’s a look back at some awesome sports movies from the relatively recent past.
Point Break (2016)
This high-adrenaline thriller follows a young FBI agent (G.I. Joe: Retaliation's Luke Bracey) as he infiltrates a team of thrill-seeking elite athletes suspected of perpetrating a spate of highly unusual crimes. The film's real-life stunts, many performed by world-class surfing pros, punctuate the tense drama thrillingly.
This brilliant Rocky spin-off revitalises the boxing franchise by placing a new hero in the ring - Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky's old rival Apollo Creed- and repurposing Sly Stallone's iconic character as his trainer/mentor. Stallone could win an Oscar next month for his unexpectedly touching performance.
Jake Gyllenhaal admitted he "knew nothing about boxing" before signing on for this film, but trained six hours a day for eight months to ensure he was convincing in the ring. The fight scenes are sensational, but Southpaw packs a hefty emotional punch too as Gyllenhaal's character Billy Hope seeks to avenge his wife's untimely death.
The Program (2015)
The Messenger's Ben Foster is brilliantly intense as Lance Armstrong in this biopic of the disgraced cyclist who cheated his way to seven consecutive Tour de France titles. Chris O'Dowd co-stars as David Walsh, the Sunday Times journalist who played a key part in exposing Armstrong's highly sophisticated doping program.
This gripping film tells the true story of John du Pont, a multimillionaire sports enthusiast who set up a training centre for US Olympic wrestlers in the grounds of his 800-acre Philadelphia estate. Though the talented Schulz brothers (played by Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum) are initially grateful for duPont's funding, events soon turn pretty sinister.
This rollicking drama from A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard follows the legendary rivalry between racing car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One season. Chris Hemsworth's Hunt is flamboyant and reckless, while Daniel Brühl's Lauda is focused and introverted, which makes for a memorable battle of wills.
It's essentially a film about baseball stats, but with Capote director Bennett Miller behind the camera and The West Wing's Aaron Sorkin co-writing the script, Moneyball is anything but boring. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, who both earned Oscar nominations, lead a classy cast that also feature Chris Pratt and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The Fighter (2010)
Based on a true story, this affecting sports film follows the complicated relationship between under-achieving Boston boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older brother/trainer Dicky (Christian Bale), a popular former title contender who's now battling drug addiction. Bale shed 63lbs (29kg) for the role and won an Oscar for his performance.
Whip It (2009)
Directed by and co-starring Drew Barrymore, this comedy-drama about a fictional Texan roller derby team is an absolute blast. Barrymore, Ellen Page and Juliette Lewis play characters who become fierce competitors known as "Smashley Simpson", "Babe Ruthless" and "Iron Maven" when they lace up their roller skates.
The Wrestler (2009)
With his ravaged face and rollercoaster career path, Micky Rourke is perfectly cast as Ricky "The Ram" Robinson, a faded '80s celebrity wrestler on the comeback trail. Life would echo art as Rourke later earned BAFTA and Golden Globe awards, as well as an Oscar nomination, for his spirited performance.