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John Blanchette: Righting the Academy’s wrongs as sports films again overlooked at The Oscars

UPDATED: Thu., March 1, 2018, 9:15 p.m.

Washington State coach Mike Leach watches from the sideline during the second half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Colorado in Pullman. Leach is a double-nominee in John Blanchette’s annual lampoon of the Oscars. (Young Kwak / Associated Press)
Washington State coach Mike Leach watches from the sideline during the second half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Colorado in Pullman. Leach is a double-nominee in John Blanchette’s annual lampoon of the Oscars. (Young Kwak / Associated Press)

Now that we have that whole “White Oscars” thing out of the way …

We know it’s behind us, because this year “Get Out” is in the hunt for Best Picture and because Denzel is once again hitting cleanup in the Best Actor lineup and because Mary J. Blige and Octavia Spencer are going to lose to Allison Janney and her parrot.

What, there’s no award for Best Supporting Bird to a Supporting Actress?

But with these Oscars being the Inclusivity Oscars, surely this was the year we’d finally get a few sports movies up for some statuettes. Because sports is the grand melting pot, with a game and a drama for everyone.

Like the movie “Chuck,” the story of Chuck Wepner, boxing’s ultimate palooka of the ’70s, who got a crack at Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight crown. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Sylvester Stallone turned it into not one, not two, but SEVEN movies, with another coming. He’s even a character in “Chuck,” but they had another guy play the part because they wanted an actor. So with a plot that tired, no Oscar for “Chuck.”

They also made “Battle of the Sexes” about the watershed Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs trash-sport circus in 1973. But it didn’t get much notice – possibly because they forgot to make the prequel about Bobby wiping out Margaret Court, which would have been just as central to the social revolution if only, you know, the right person had won.

So then the only sports movie to get a major nomination was “I, Tonya,” which really isn’t about sports at all, because it’s about serial abuse and Darwin Award criminals and everyone’s favorite, the princess-vs.-skank dynamic. Also because it’s about figure skating.

Kidding! Don’t @ me, skate mavens!

Anyway, as usual, tons of sports movies were overlooked by the academy, a wrong we’ll do our best to right, starting with:

The Shape of Water: What’s easier to define than the NFL catch rule?

The Disaster Artist: Coach Mike Leach leads Washington State’s football team into another Apple Cup.

A Dog’s Purpose: Gonzaga plays footsie with the Mountain West Conference about taking its decorated basketball program there, not because the Bulldogs want to make trips to Laramie in February, but because they want more of the money they’ve earned for the lodge brothers in the West Coast Conference.

Lady Bird: Fergie cribs her rendition of the national anthem at the NBA All-Star Game from Roseanne, and the result sounds like a Willow Ptarmigan being disemboweled with a spork.

Logan Lucky: WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement honors Cougars linebacker Logan Tago with its Community Involvement Award for the 240 service hours he performed in the Palouse – which also happened to be his sentence for pleading guilty to third-degree felony assault for stealing a six-pack of beer and hitting his victim in the head, causing a concussion.

The Big Sick: Not content just with having never been to the World Series or a playoff absence that stretches back to 2001, the Seattle Mariners burn through 40 pitchers in a season, at one point having four of five starters on the disabled list.

Saban’s Power Rangers: Alabama wins another national championship when coach Nick Saban hits on 20 – benching his starting quarterback at halftime in favor of a freshman who’d hardly played all season.

A Cure for Wellness: Mike Leach proclaims that quarterback Luke Falk is “doing great” on the eve of the Holiday Bowl, never mind the cast on his hand that keeps him from playing even a single snap.

Molly’s Game: Bill Walton’s psychoactive drug regimen is doing the talking when he claims that nine Pac-12 basketball teams should make the NCAA Tournament field.

The Boss Baby: Donald Trump dispatches Vice President Mike Pence to the Winter Olympics to refuse to stand as the joint Korean delegation enters the Opening Ceremonies – after sending him to walk out of the Colts-Niners when some players kneel for the anthem.

The Florida Project: Derek Jeter buys into the Miami Marlins, takes charge the same way previous owners did – slashing payroll and shipping off stars for dubious prospects – then claims attendance will improve.

The Darkest Hour: ESPN devotes yet another entire SportsCenter to LaVar Ball.

The Post: Three UCLA players – including LaVar Ball’s middle son – sit in a Chinese jail for shoplifting sunglasses, waiting for Dad or coach Steve Alford to come through with bail.

Get Out: Five WSU assistant football coaches and the conditioning guru bolt to jobs at other schools, and it absolutely has nothing to do with anything except getting raises and titles. Honest. Really.

Rings: Another Russian gets busted for doping in the Winter Olympics – in curling. Followed by a bobsledder who earlier had been seen in an Instagram video wearing an “I Don’t Do Doping” T-shirt.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: With Eastern Washington’s athletic department buried under a cumulative $5.8 million deficit, the marketing staff weighs what their budget dollars for promoting football games might buy.


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