Commentaries for sports movies are great for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons why, of course, is hearing stories about whatever legendary actor is playing the coach. More often than not, directors are excited to talk about those iconic actors. Want to know how so-and-so gave a famous locker room speech such bravura? Then check out the audio commentary.
Another reason to listen given them a listen is to learn how much of a pain it can be making actors, locations, and everything else look like the real deal. The attention to detail in some of the films featured below is remarkable and more often than not subtle. If you want to see what filmmakers put them through to make a sports picture, then maybe give a listen to one of our audio commentary recommendations.
Any Given Sunday (Featuring co-writer/director Oliver Stone)
Why Listen: Plenty of great directors struggle to maintain one’s attention during an audio commentary for a movie close to three hours long. Not Oliver Stone. The filmmaker is never at a loss for words discussing his epic drama. He says Any Given Sunday was harder to make than Born of the Fouth of July and other brutally difficult films. There was the limited shooting schedule, all the scenes and shots they had to get, and having to deal with the uncooperative NFL. Stone candidly discusses the intense “marathon”; he even talks about the day LL Cool J and Jamie Foxx fought. If you want to learn how Stone captured the world of football so viscerally, or learn about Stone’s process as a storyteller, then listen to this funny and wise commentary.
A Day on the Job: When Christina (Cameron Diaz) argues with Tony (Al Pacino) about starting Cap (Dennis Quaid), it was Diaz’s first scene with Pacino — whom some actors felt, if not intimidated, perhaps a little inadequate around. Stone is one of the many directors to mention how Pacino absorbs all of his lines:
This was their first scene together, and Cameron had a hard time. She was nervous. She was working with Al. He’s a very experienced pro. She felt like many would feel, you know, a little inadequate. I tried to give her as much confidence as possible. But when you have your lines under your belt totally — totally, totally — like Al does or Anthony Hopkins, then you can feel free to play around. You’re not struggling to remember. They’re a part of your subconscious. I think Pacino is magnificent in this movie. For me, he achieves a new level of wisdom, pathos, and tiredness.
What’s Said: Stone often praises Diaz as an actor, especially for trying to push herself and trying new things. She does what Stone thinks all artists must do and are often criticized for:
I think the only way to grow as a person and as an actress is to stretch yourself. Unfortunately, when you stretch yourself sometimes people don’t understand, and tear you apart, and they attack you for that. I don’t think those people understand it’s necessary for all creative people to make attempts at something that’s larger than themselves. Sometimes they succeed, and when they do, they’re fearless. When they don’t [succeed], they’re vilified. I don’t think that’s fair. I think somehow there’s a saner balance.
Trivia: There was only one image shaker in the United States, which Steven Spielberg used on Saving Private Ryan. “I wanted to get that feeling of the earth rumbling,” Stone said of the image shaker’s effect during the games.
Goon (Featuring Director Michael Dowse and co-writer/co-star Jay Baruchel)
Why Listen: Because Baruchel and Dowse are hilarious. If there’s one commentary on this list I’d recommend to anybody, it’s this one. The second time I listened to this commentary it was every bit as funny, dirty, and informative. While Baruchel and Dowse have a great time joking around, they don’t forget to actually discuss the movie, which happens often in more comedic commentaries.
A Day on the Job: After Pat (Baruchel) and Xavier (Marc-André Grondin) have their spitting match, Dowse shares a “great story” about the fake spit, which was made out of water and banana:
Dowse: I remember they were testing it for days before, and it was on the rink. I was so tired, it was five in the morning, and somebody comes up to me and all I hear is, ‘Spit, test, banana.’ I just take the cup, and I’m just suppose to take a look and approve it, and I spit in it.
Baruchel: That’s what you thought? ‘Spit test? Ah, okay!’
Dowse: It’s a great story.
Baruchel: There ya go. If you’re ever next to Dowse at a party, get him to tell you about the time he spit into the fake spit.
What’s Said: The two get giddy during the big match between Doug and Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber). The two aimed high with the sequence, which involved 65 camera setups and +120 shots.
Dowse: They’re just fucking going toe-to-toe, man. There’s nothing remotely funny or light about it. It is the fucking climax, right?
Dowse: We sort of held out for this fight. We had a lot longer versions of some of the other fights. We felt everything had to build up to this. If we wanted this fight to be effective, I guess you could call it ‘punch fatigue.’ It could kind of lose its impact. We showed restraint, if you can believe it, in the first four reels of the film and then really let it go in this.
Baruchel: It had to be the greatest hockey fight ever seen and one of the greatest film fights ever seen. I go as far to say–ahh! [reacting to Doug’s ankle snapping.]
Dowse: There was much worse versions of that [shot].
Dowse adds it was Schreiber’s idea for Rhea to smile after the fight.
Trivia: Most of the last names on the jerseys are less than four letters. It saved money.