This is the time of year when everyone becomes a movie expert, even sports fans whose idea of a great cinematic experience might be some sappy, overwrought Disney depiction of something that may have, kind of, sort of happened in sports.
So, in case you’ve missed these Oscar-nominated movies and view the world only through a sports lens, we’ve drawn some parallels between the eight films nominated for an Academy Award for best picture and the world of Los Angeles sports.
The ratings might be R, for ridiculous.
“Bridge of Spies.” Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are two givens in cinema, and their tale of Cold War intrigue is the kind of slow-developing plot that gives this genre a good name. Likewise, the constantly evolving nature of USC’s football program has taken equally tantalizing twists and turns. Spy Rudolf Abel guarded his secrets like Lane Kiffin did an injury report. The sometimes off-the-rails conduct of Francis Gary Powers reminds you of Steve Sarkisian at a Salute to Troy event. And protagonist James Donovan worked as tirelessly as Pat Haden, and he wasn’t even on all those boards. Now that you think about it, Hanks would be an outstanding new athletic director.
“Brooklyn.” It’s the best feel-good movie of all the nominees. A young woman whose heart is torn between two places must reconcile what really matters to her. Could this be the place Vin Scully finds himself this year as he’s about to give up calling Dodgers games that have brought so much enjoyment to both the people who listen to him and the game he loves. And where did Scully begin his career? Do you have to ask?
“Mad Max: Fury Road.” A post-apocalyptic tale of vengeance, this wild ride through an Australian wasteland is an edge-of-your-seat movie. It’s kind of like the Clippers’ season. You’ve got a star player beating up an assistant equipment manager. You’ve got DeAndre Jordan opening up his own waffle house. Bad reads on a few off-season acquisitions. And Chris Paul is excellent in whatever he does, just like the movie’s star, Tom Hardy.
“The Martian.” Winner of a Golden Globe for best comedy, it did have moments of levity. But it’s basically the tale of a pretty special individual who is stuck in an impossible situation and counting on others to rescue him. Sound like Mike Trout? He may not be stuck on another planet, but Trout seems stuck on a team with little chance of being rescued. Given the lack of off-season moves, it’s a good thing the Angels weren’t in charge of getting Matt Damon home safely.
“The Revenant.” This is a brilliant piece of filmmaking that you probably won’t want to watch a second time. The definition of revenant is “a visible ghost or animated corpse that is believed to have returned from the grave to terrorize the living.” Dare we say, it can only be compared to Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour? Competition-wise, yes. Saying goodbye to the fans, no. (No bears or horses were hurt in the writing of this summary.)
“Room.” This guaranteed best-actress movie is almost two separate stories, each painful in its own way. While you can’t compare the human suffering, you can metaphorically equate it to the struggle of bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles. A long period of hopelessness, followed by, in this case, two viable solutions and much hope that everything works out in the end. The location is finally solved: a meeting room in Houston.
“Spotlight.” This gripping tale highlighted all the good that journalism does and its ability to go up against an institution steeped in its own tradition and prejudices. Makes you wonder what the LA24 Olympic folks must feel like having to dance to nonstop European music. They even release news at midnight to maximize their exposure on that continent. Even more difficult: They have to educate a lot of senior IOC members on things like Snapchat.