Why the Oscars love boxing movies

More often than not the movies that win big at the Oscars tick off a lot of the same boxes: “Titanic!” big name Hollywood stars, well known director, and it will almost never be a comedy. But what about sports movies? The history of sports movies at the Oscars shows there’s a similar formula for what the Academy wants to honor… …and it’s usually always a boxing film. Of the 15 sports movies that have received a Best Picture nomination, 5 have been boxing films, with another 5 picking up nominations in the Best or Supporting Actor categories. “This must be a bit of a shock I guess.” So why boxing? From a cinematic perspective, it’s by far the most visually compelling sport to shoot. It also helps that, unlike team sports, the focal point is on one character’s journey for an entire film, creating a stronger bond between the main character and the audience. Think about all those boxing scenes from Rocky, Million Dollar Baby or Creed. With every punch delivered, or fall to the mat the audience is right there, inside the ring, over the shoulder of the boxers watching blood fly out of their mouths in slow motion. The sound of the glove landing on the face of the opponent is bone chilling. It’s the type of visual storytelling that can’t be achieved with any other sport. The training montages alone are far more entertaining to watch on the big screen than a game-winning touchdown or walkoff home run, mainly because boxing is one of the few sports that might actually be more captivating to watch in a movie than in real life. Nevermind the fact that for movies like Rocky and Creed, Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan actually took punches from professional boxers, making it the perfect Oscars bait. No offense to all the actors and actresses who learned how to properly tackle or shoot a jumper, but taking a punch to the face over and over, there’s just no comparison. The film industry has perfected the boxing movie so well, that when they try to sell us on Jake Gyllenhaal as a bad boy boxer overcoming his demons, we eat it up. Whether its based on a true story or not, it doesn’t matter, people will watch it. Of the Top 10 sports movies that have fared well at the box office, 6 of them are boxing films. The Blind Side might be the highest grossing sports film of all time, raking in over 255 million dollars, but Rocky 4 and 3 are right behind it with 127 and 125 million apiece. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder why the film industry keeps force feeding us boxing movies left and right. Until there’s a movie that can capture the pure excitement and artistry in motion of watching Stephen Curry launch back-to-back 30-footers or LeBron James single-handedly dismantling a defense, boxing films will always be the king at the box office, and award shows.

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