Best Boxing Movies of All Time

J. Matthew nespoliCorrespondent IIJuly 9, 2011

Best Boxing Movies of All Time

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    The NBA and the NFL are locked out, and we sports junkies need something to fill the void.

    As a huge fan of the arts, I've decided to fill my sport's void with some great sports movies.

    Unfortunately, most sports movies stink. The drama is almost always contrived, the endings are predictable, the sports action is weak and the casting is rarely believable (Michael J. Fox as a high school basketball player? Anthony Michael Hall as the top high school QB in the country? Come on).

    In fact, the only two sports that have had much success in film are baseball (Field of Dreams, Major League, Bull Durham) and boxing.

    Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather may never happen (if it does, my money is on the Fighting Filipino), and since there's no way for me to enjoy that fantasy matchup and there's no NBA or NFL action, I'm spending my nights reliving some of film's greatest boxing movies.

    Without further ado, here they are:

5- Cinderella Man

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    Cinderella Man is the ultimate Cinderella story (bad pun intended).

    Oscar-winning director Ron Howard teamed up with Russell Crowe for this biopic, true story, about James Braddock, who rose from obscurity during the depression, to win a heavyweight championship.

    It failed at the box office, but all this tells me is that most people are mindless drones who lack taste.

    Superbly acted and loaded with Oscar-worthy talent, Cinderella Man is a modern day classic and an homage to old school fight movies.

    If you love cheering for an underdog, Cinderella Man is as good as it gets.

4- The Fighter

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    Of all fight movies, this one may be the most well-acted.

    Mark Wahlberg (aka: Marky Mark), is one of America's great actors. Unfortunately, he started off his career as a rapper/underwear model, so he's never gotten his due from film critics.

    With his portrayal of Boston tough guy boxer, Mickey Ward, he has now earned everyone's respect.

    If Wahlberg's performance wasn't enough to carry this film, Christian Bale, who plays his crack-addicted brother/trainer, Dickie, puts in a performance for the ages, and possibly, the single greatest supporting role in sports movie history.

    Not only is the boxing action superb and the acting great, but its many storylines suck you in, making it the kind of movie you can view again and again, learning something new each time.

3- Million Dollar Baby

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    Million Dollar Baby is one of the most decorated sports movies ever—deservedly so.

    Hillary Swank stars in the film and dazzles us with surprising athleticism, making the story believable, which is extremely rare for a female boxing movie.

    Let me not forget to mention that is was directed by Clint Eastwood, who is a great actor and has proven to be an even better director. The man hasn't missed on a film yet.

    Million Dollar Baby won the 2004 Oscar for best picture, Eastwood won Best Director and Hillary Swank was nominated for Best Actress, which solidified her place in Hollywood as one of Tinseltown's best female stars.

    If you somehow missed this flick back in '04, rent it now; otherwise, your life is incomplete.

2- Raging Bull

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    It's almost unfair to compare Raging Bull to other sports movies, as it has two things that no other sports movie does: No. 1-Martin Scorsese and No. 2-Robert Deniro.

    Do I really need to say more to convince you of this movie's greatness?

    Probably not, but I'll go ahead and do it anyway.

    Deniro won the 1980 Oscar for his role as Jake LaMotta, portraying the real-life boxer's struggles with anger and violence in and out of the ring. Not only is this one of boxing's greatest films, but it's one of Hollywood's greatest films, finding itself near the top of the AFI's top 100 films list, at No. 4, behind Citizen Kane, The Godfather and Casablanca

    Though I wouldn't rank Raging Bull as the fourth greatest film of all time, I would rank it higher than the three AFI films above it.

    Raging Bull is a masterpiece, and though it wasn't Deniro's first hit, his performance as Jake LaMotta put his name on the lips of every movie and fight fan in the country.

1- Rocky

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    Rocky is not only the greatest boxing film ever, it's likely the greatest sports film ever.

    This movie, written by Sylvester Stallone, was almost never made. Stallone refused to sell the film unless he, a virtual unknown, was cast as Rocky. The studio resisted at first, but eventually, they caved, and thank goodness for that.

    Sly may not be the greatest actor ever, but the man was born for this role. Stallone's slow-talking, small-witted, big-hearted Rocky, is the All-American tale about an underdog nobody who achieves greatness and success, against all odds, because of hard work and determination.

    If ever you're feeling down, unmotivated and uninspired, pop Rocky in the DVR and prepare to be energized.

    If you don't find yourself shadow boxing in your home and fist pumping to the theme music, then you have a dry and calloused soul, and I feel bad for you.

    Rocky is simply an American institution.