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Modern Sports Movies Directors: 3 Filmmakers Who Stand Out

By    |   Sunday, 26 Apr 2015 06:32 AM

Nothing tugs at a viewer’s heartstrings quite as much as a story of teamwork, overcoming adversity, and pride whether you win or lose – the defining features of a sports movie. In the list below, the directors of these modern sports movies tap into pathos in the best possible way, proving that there is no "I" in team ... but there is an "I" in director.

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1. John D. Avildsen, "Rocky" (1976), "The Karate Kid" (1984)

Both written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, "Rocky" tells the story of a small-time boxer who works his way up to the heavyweight championships. The film was a huge box office hit, and earned Oscars for Best Picture, and Best Director for John D. Avildsen at the 1977 Academy Awards.

Avildsen continued his success as a modern sports movie director with hits like "The Karate Kid" and sequels to both "The Karate Kid" and "Rocky," before delving into other genres, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica.

2. Gavin O’Connor, "Miracle" (2004), "Warrior" (2011)

In the sports movie "Miracle," Gavin O’Connor directs the heartwarming tale of the 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team. While the movie was not nominated for any Academy Awards, it did earn an 80 percent rating by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 90 percent rating from viewers.

Seven years later, O’Connor again tackled the sports movie genre by both writing and directing the film "Warrior" – about two estranged brothers who reunited in an MMA fighting ring – earning an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Nick Nolte). The New York Times defined O’Connor’s style as brimming with “arresting honesty and enormous compassion,” adeptly harnessing the depth that makes sports movies so powerful.

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3. Boaz Yakin, "Remember the Titans" (2000), "The Rookie" (2002)

Born and raised in New York City, Yakin made his first deal directing a movie at age 19, while he was a film major student at New York University, according to his biography in the New York Times.

Yakin’s adeptness for humanizing major issues in sports – like racism and family ties – is what makes him so successful as a modern sports movies director. While "Remember the Titans" didn't receive any Oscar nominations, it has become a feel-good family movie about the beloved sport of American football.

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Nothing tugs at a viewer's heartstrings quite as much as a story of teamwork, overcoming adversity, and pride whether you win or lose - the defining features of a sports movie. In the list below, the directors of these modern sports movies tap into pathos.
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