The Academy loves boxing movies. I recently saw THE FIGHTER, which was one of last year’s Best Picture nominees. The rest of the world has moved on to fast-paced contests like the NFL, competitive skateboard suicide, and LeBron-hating, but the Oscars are stuck on the most popular sport of 1929. You know, for all the World War I vets who always pack the theaters on weekends.
Do the other sports not matter? Boxing has more Best Picture nominations than football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, and golf combined. Even Ricky Bobby can’t get an Oscar nod. I think the nearest competitor might be horse racing (another sport that peaked about 90 years ago). Is the Academy even aware that other sports have sprung up since the invention of the automobile?
There is no logical explanation for any of this, other than that I guess the boxing movies are good. I have a sneaking suspicion that it might have something to do with the movie stars appearing shirtless for most of the movie. Think about it. Mark Wahlberg spent two entire movies playing nice guys from the streets who grit their way to ultimate triumph on the big stage. The first time, he did it covered in ugly green football gear. The second time, he went back to his underwear model roots. Which movie got the nomination?
Maybe it’s the supporting cast. Boxing movies like to show how real they are by featuring washed-up, home-wrecked, white-trash low-lifes that surround the hero and make him look good by contrast. THE FIGHTER got Christian Bale an Oscar for his performance as a crack-head former boxer, and Melissa Leo took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing the craziest movie mother since Psycho. Amy Adams as Marky Mark’s girlfriend, in the same over-sexed, ill-tempered, foul-mouthed performance that won her acclaim in Enchanted.
I am pretty sure there is just one boxing script in Hollywood, and screenwriters just pass it around playing Madlibs with it:
______ is a down-on-his-luck fighter from the mean streets of _______. Despite the pressures of his crazy _______, who suffers from _______, the boxer manages to score a title fight against ______, whose record is ___ – 0. Inspired by the love of his girlfriend _______, the boxer is hammered for ___ rounds before a miraculous comeback gives him the win.
Anyway, after all this serious boxing drama, I think I am desperately in need of a good, original movie. Something where I can’t see the plot coming from a mile away. Maybe a comic book movie…