‘Rocky,’ ‘Chariots of Fire’ Among Sports Movies to Win Best Picture Oscars – NBC Connecticut

It might not have the same ring to it as Super Bowl Sunday, but Oscar Sunday is just as big for its respective industry.

Hollywood’s biggest night is here with the 95th Academy Awards. The ceremony celebrates the year in movies, and sometimes sports have entered the conversation and even won the grand prize.

A handful of sports films have won the Academy Award for Best Picture, while others have received awards in a variety of categories. From track to court and beyond, a variety of sports were represented at the awards ceremony.

To be clear, we’re talking about movies that show real sports action or otherwise showcase athletes during their active days. “The Champ” and “On The Waterfront”, for example, follow ex-boxing champions, but also do not appear in the ring and here remove themselves from the “sports film” category.

With that, let’s dive into the top grossing sports movies at the Academy Awards.

Which Sports Movies Won Best Picture at the Oscars?

Three conventional sports films, along with two other epics viewable through a sports prism, won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Ben-Hur (1959)

“Ben-Hur” famously had the biggest budget of any film at the time, but it also serves as an unconventional sports film. The title character becomes a masterful charioteer and the film features epic races that showcase one of the oldest sports on earth.

The Charlton Heston classic is one of three films of all time to have won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture.

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Rocky (1976)

Shortly after Sylvester Stallone sprinted up the famous steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he trotted up the steps at the 1977 Academy Awards to win Best Picture.

The original Rocky was the first traditional sports film to win Best Picture and sparked a streak of up to nine films, most recently Creed III. In addition to top honors, “Rocky” also won Oscars for Best Director and Best Film Editing.

Chariot of Fire (1981)

Chariots of Fire follows Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, two British runners who faced various obstacles on their way to the 1924 Paris Olympics.

The film beat out films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Red Ones and won Best Picture at the 1982 Oscars. In addition to Best Picture, it also won Best Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Score during the film’s iconic slow-motion run scene.

Gladiator (2000)

Let’s return to the Colosseum for another Best Picture winner.

Like Ben-Hur, Gladiator brings an ancient sport to the big screen – and gory – in a big way. The Best Picture winner performed as Russell Crowe’s Best Actor and won additional awards for Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby is certainly no feel-good watch, but it remains the latest sports movie to take home the best movie.

Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman each won individual Oscars en route to Best Picture in the Film. Hilary Swank won Best Actress, Morgan Freeman Best Supporting Actor, and Eastwood Best Director.

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What other sports films have won Oscars?

Here are some of the other sports films that have won Oscars in categories beyond best picture:

The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

The New York Yankees may have 27 World Series titles, but Pride of the Yankees only has one Academy Award for Best Film Editing. The film, starring Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig, received 11 nominations.

The Hustler (1961)

Paul Newman’s Pool film won two Oscars: Best Cinematography, Black and White and Best Art Direction Set Decoration, Black and White. He received his second acting nomination, but he had to wait a bit before finally lifting a statuette.

Heaven Can Wait (1978)

The 1978 comedy about a Los Angeles Rams quarterback who was taken to heaven before he died earned an Academy Award for Best Art Direction Set Decoration.

Break Away (1979)

“Breaking Away” won the Academy Awards for best screenplay and direct-to-screen screenplay for its story about a teenager, played by Dennis Christopher, who is obsessed with cycling.

Raging Bull (1980)

Widely regarded as one of the greatest sports films of all time, Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull won two Oscars. While Scorsese missed out on Best Picture and Best Director, Robert De Niro won Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta, and Thelma Schoonmaker won Best Film Editing.

The Color of Money (1986)

25 years after The Hustler debuted, Newman took home a Best Actor award for his performance in the Scorsese-directed sequel.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Tom Cruise received a Best Actor nomination, Cameron Crowe received an Original Screenplay nomination, and the film as a whole was nominated for Best Picture, but it was Cuba Gooding Jr. who won the film’s only Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as the fictional Arizona Cardinals WR Rod received Tidwell. Can you say, “Show me the money?”

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The Blind Side (2009)

Sandra Bullock received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in The Blind Side, which follows the story of former offensive lineman Michael Oher. The film also received a nod for Best Picture.

The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter received three Oscar nominations in acting categories, but none went to the title character, played by Mark Wahlberg. Christian Bale won for Best Supporting Actor and Melissa Leo beat her colleague Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress.

Dear Basketball (2017)

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant went from winning on court to winning the Oscars for “Dear Basketball.” Based on a poem he wrote after retiring from the NBA, the six-minute production won Best Animated Short Film.

King Richard (2021)

Blended into all the chaos Will Smith wreaked at the 2022 Oscars, he received his first Oscar for his performance as Richard Williams, father of Serena and Venus Williams, in King Richard.

The Queen of Basketball (2021)

The Queen of Basketball follows Lusia Harris, the first woman to ever score a goal in women’s basketball at the Olympics. The 22-minute film was honored as the best documentary short subject at last year’s awards ceremony.

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