With 'Moneyball' and 'Warrior' in theaters, we survey the genre
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1. “Raging Bull” (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
For some time, I wrestled with myself over whether I should even include Martin Scorsese’s finest film in a sports-movie countdown. Does this keen-eyed, pitch-black biopic of dysfunctional one-time middleweight champion Jake LaMotta – with its layer upon layer of far-outside-the-ring suffering and disappointment – qualify for the genre only in the most literal sense? Well, yes: the film’s unimprovable fight sequences alone, edited with blinding, Oscar-winning precision by Thelma Schoonmaker, would ensure that. But then, just as David O. Russell’s recent “The Fighter” used boxing as an essential springboard for a meditation on family, Scorsese’s film treats the sport in a similarly offhand yet dependent way: boxing may not have made LaMotta a fuck-up, bit it shaped and maintained the kind of fuck-up he’d become.