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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

'Blind Side,' Sandra Bullock look to make sports flick history

 

Had a long, entertaining chat with long-time Philly sports journalist Ray Didinger on the subject of sports movies, what with him being the co-author of “The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies,’’ and with “The Blind Side’’ and Sandra Bullock up for big awards at the Oscars tonight.

Bullock has a good chance to win Best Actress. What about Best Picture? “I think it has an outside chance,’’ Didinger said.

If it happens, every movie critic in America will faint, and rightly so. But the movie clearly moved many people, becoming one of the biggest box office hits in sports movie history.

Didinger said two of the previous three sports flicks to win the big one, “Rocky’’ in 1976 and “Chariots of Fire’’ in 1981 were surprises, and like “The Blind Side,’’ “Rocky’’ was “a lovable longshot, sort of a people’s choice film,’’ up against more highbrow fare, including "Network" and "All the President's Men."

The only Best Actress winner to date from a sports movie was Hilary Swank in 2004 for “Million Dollar Baby,’’ the other sports film to win Best Picture.

What were the best sports movies not to win Best Picture? “Rocky,” which was No. 1 in Didinger’s book (written with Glen Macnow), is the only one in the top 10 that did win it.

Numbers 2 through 5: “Hoosiers,’’ “Raging Bull,’’ “The Natural’’ and “Bull Durham.’’ “Million Dollar Baby’’ came in at No. 12 and “Chariots of Fire’’ at No. 17.

Sports movies nominated for Best Picture that did not win:

"The Champ" (1931); "The Pride of the Yankees" (1942); "The Hustler" (1961); "Breaking Away" (1979); "Raging Bull" (1980); "Field of Dreams" (1989); "Jerry Maguire" (1996) and "Seabiscuit" (2003).

Why have so few sports movies been honored?

"Maybe it’s a snob factor in Hollywood that they kind of look down on sports movies as being trivial,’’ Didinger said. “Kind of like the way ‘quote-unquote’ serious journalists look down on sportswriters.’’

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