1. Michael Cera stars as Benny, an undersized but scrappy college football walk-on in a prestigious program at a big university with a religious heritage. He is told he will never make the team, but he keeps showing up and practicing. In the end, he never does make the team. In the final shot we see Benny staring out the window of his dorm room, crying quietly, his mud-stained practice squad jersey laying across his lap.
2. Ben Affleck plays Tom Brady and Robert Duvall plays Bill Belichick in a biopic “inspired by… the real events of the Patriots historic undefeated season.” Affleck and Duvall are alternately best buddies and at each other’s throats while navigating the dizzying highs and terrifying lows of their year to remember. In the third act, Belichick learns that Brady is on crank, smack, and wham-dam-doodle, and brings him back from the precipice… with love. They sacrifice a sure Super Bowl victory by forgoing a last night of film study in favor of the warmth of each other’s tender embrace. In the final shot we learn that the two have become lovers, but audience homosexual panic is narrowly avoided when we also learn that Brady is actually a woman from the waist down.
3. Ted Danson stars as Sam “Mayday” Malone who, long past his athletic prime and with his bartending days also behind him, decides that he is finally ready to return to the Red Sox fold to pitch his way back to glory. Modern editing techniques, heavy makeup, and CGI are used to trick the audience into thinking Danson can really pitch and isn’t a hundred years old. Cameos from all of the “Cheers” cast (with the notable exception of Kelsey Grammar) are scattered throughout the movie, but the jokes are kept to a minimum and a more somber tone pervades. Malone pitches a near no-hitter in game 7 of the World Series, but breaks down in the bottom of the ninth and lets the Yankees load the bases with the Sox up 3-0. In the final shot, he catches the winning out with his bare hand and is carried off the field by a joyous throng of fans and teammates.
4. No name actors appear in this bleak arthouse picture about the struggles of a minor league hockey team from Minnesota. The team battles with drug addiction, long hours at manufacturing jobs, infighting, and clinical depression; at one point a controversial “actual sex” scene occurs between the team’s goalie and a retarded girl, earning the film an NC-17 rating. After losing all of their games, the team finally logs a near-victory at the end of the movie but can’t prevent the superior Canadian team from making a go-ahead shot in the waning seconds. In the final shot, the resilient team boards their bus and sings a bittersweet ode to keeping on, but are all killed in a collision with a semi.
5. David Lynch directs a puzzling film with Kyle MacLachlan as a star basketball player and Laura Dern as his mysterious girlfriend. After half an hour, the sport unexpectedly changes from basketball to baseball, and Dern is replaced by Sam Neill, with whom MacLachlan maintains a very sexually charged relationship. In the surprising final act, MacLachlan comes to the baseball park for something insistently referred to by all as “The Big Game” – but he finds it empty of fans, and Neil Patrick Harris is singing “Strange Fruit” in a spotlight at midfield. MacLachlan realizes that the Dern/Neill character has now become Morgan Freeman, and he cries for his lost innocence (or something). In the final shot, Morgan Freeman speaks backward and ascends slowly to heaven, holding out a basketball, which MacLachlan refuses to accept (seemingly).
6. Brad Pitt stars in this movie about soccer.
7. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas reunite for their first collaboration since “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Shia LeBeouf plays Jane Kroger, a budding college football star with great speed and lots of heart, plus an enormous reserve of insouciant wit. The movie tracks his progression from college to the NFL, then five years in disgrace playing arena football, then several years out of football entirely, and then at last his triumphant return to the NFL at age 34 (with aging effects by ILM). In the final shot, Kroger wins the last game of a losing season over the protests of team management, who were angling for a higher draft pick; his father the recovering alcoholic (Keanu Reeves) beams at him from the stands.