Top 100 Movies Of The 1990's: #98 Any Given Sunday
Box Office: $75.5 million
Oscar Nominations: None
Oscar Wins: None
Stream For Free: Hulu
This movie is such a mess. It's wildly over directed and is so stuffed with far too many characters, it doesn't really even have a story. Any Given Sunday has a run time of over two and half hours and yet doesn't have time for all the people in the movie. Having said all of that, it has some brilliant scenes and the movie is incredibly entertaining.
After directing two box office duds in a row with Nixon and U-Turn, Oliver Stone wisely decided his next movie should be something that appeals to a wider audience. In the 80's and 90's, no director was more of a force than Oliver Stone. He won an Oscar for Best Screenplay (Midnight Express) and two more for directing (Platoon and Born On The Fourth of July). But you could argue the films he didn't win Oscars for may have had the biggest cultural impact. Whether it be Wall Street, JFK or Natural Born Killers, he was the most talked about director in the time period after Scorsese and Coppola ushered in New Hollywood and before Tarentino led the Independent Revolution. This will not be the last Oliver Stone movie on this list.
It was a combination of Stone's reputation as a great director mixed with his eye for young talent that led to this movie having one of the greatest casts ever assembled. There are established big names like Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid and James Woods as well as younger future stars like Jamie Foxx and Aaron Eckhart. Stone even got film legends Ann-Margret and Charlton Heston and NFL legends Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor to appear. Taylor is especially good as a defensive player at the end of his career. The role is obviously not a stretch for him but I was really taken aback by his intensity on screen. In a cast this deep and talented, it's wild he was one of the standouts.
The characters we care the most about are Head Coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino) and new QB Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx). This is part of an underrated career renaissance Pacino went through in the late 90's/early 00's with Donnie Brasco, The Insider, Insomnia and this movie. In such a cynical movie, Pacino really is the heart of the entire film and because we care about Pacino as well as the role he's playing, it works. Foxx is fantastic and exciting as Willie but it's not someone we are even supposed to like for long stretches of the movie.
Any Given Sunday's luckiest (smartest?) break was casting Jamie Foxx. The best parts of this movie are the scenes when you have one of the greatest actors of the previous generation squaring off against one the best actors of the future generation. Foxx has had a great career but he's so wildly talented, I can't help but think he should be even more successful. He's only 54 so there is still time but that he's only been nominated for two Academy Awards is borderline criminal.
This movie was made during the Dramatic Cameron Diaz Era where she focused less on the comedic roles that made her famous and ended up in some really good movies. Over a four year period, she was in Any Given Sunday, Being John Malkovitch, Vanilla Sky and Gangs of New York. I think she was a legitimately good dramatic actress during this stretch. She's terrifying in Vanilla Sky and I like her more than most in Gangs. In Any Given Sunday, she is believable and committed to an unlikable role as the team owner. It's probably the worst written character in the film but she brings a realism to the role. This is a very well acted movie.
This movie has so many storylines, the ending of the movie bleeds into the end credits. One interesting thread has James Woods (no one is better at playing a scumbag) as an older team doctor with almost no morals teaching his protégé played by Matthew Modine. Ethics in sports medicine is an interesting concept because it so often flies in the face of the team having success. I would enjoy seeing a movie with these two actors as leads confronting these issues but in this movie, it's the 4th or 5th storyline and feels rushed and shoehorned in.
This is a movie that if made today, would have been a 10-episode series on HBO or Netflix and be so much better off for it. I applaud Stone for having so many ideas he wanted to tell in this movie. It's easy to just say an editor would have been the best friend to this movie but I wouldn't be entirely honest saying that. I enjoyed some of the side stories and would have enjoyed spending more time with those characters. Sometimes it's just fun having a brilliant director showcase a bunch of talented actors in an entertaining concept. Even though this movie can be way too complex with so many characters, it's as simple as that.
98. Any Given Sunday
99. The Wedding Singer