The Sports Fan’s Guide To Streaming

If you had told the average NBA or NHL fan six months ago that they’d have to stay in their house 24/7 just as the playoff runs were heating up, they’d probably have jumped at the chance to go deep on their fave teams. But what we’re faced with now is all the isolation and none of the sports. Don’t despair (well, despair a bit, tbh): there are options out there can can offer a makeshift substitute for the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix

I’m pretty sure I’ve never watched an entire Formula 1 race. My knowledge base consisted of knowing that Lewis Hamilton is really good, and before him both Jacques and Gilles Villeneuve were both good and Canadian. So you’d think I’d be the worst viewer for Netflix’s in-depth look at the 2018 Formula 1 season. But it turns out I’m the perfect viewer because I’m so clueless that I’m being introduced to the players like drivers Max Verstappen, Daniel Riccardo and team owners and principals for the first time. Each of the episodes focuses both on a race and also on a certain aspect of the season: financial troubles, the declining prestige of some teams etc. such that it plays out like a well documented real life soap opera at times. They’re just starting season two now (which covers the 2019 season), but you’re best starting with Season one as the players carry over and trust me—give it one episode.—Neal Mclennan, food editor

Warrior on iTunes

Much like Formula 1, my MMA knowledge is pretty spare. I know Kimbo Slice was a bust, that the Gracie Family was dominant a while back, and I once saw Jon Jones (I think that’s his name) have an awesome fight with some Scandinavian dude. So I didn’t come to this 2011 movie from a love of MMA, but because the star was an up-and-coming young actor named Tom Hardy who just had a small role in Christopher’s Nolan’s Inception and was still a year away from The Dark Knight Rises. In retrospect, what should have been a throwaway of a low-budget film became something quite extraordinary: in addition to an insanely cut Hardy, you have a then-unknown Joel Edgerton as the co-lead and a late career Nick Nolte as their broken father (Nolte ultimately got an Oscar nod for his role, which doesn’t happen in movies like this). The story concerns two estranged brothers who enter into a winner-take-all tournament. Edgerton is a high school teacher who needs the money to save his family, while Hardy is the damaged Gulf War vet with a chip on his shoulder. So it’s not exactly Citizen Kane, but it does always surpass expectations not just in the action sequences, but in story and character development. If you’re missing that edge of your seat—this is gold. I won’t ruin the finale, but for a taste of how masterfully director Gavin O’Connor handles action, check out this early scene with Hardy making his presence known to a gym full of smart asses.—NM

Red Army on Amazon Prime

Normally, I’m not huge on documentaries (and especially not in times like these), but I’ll watch practically anything to do with hockey, and when it comes to Red Army, I’m so glad I did. Gabe Polsky’s incredible film details the story of the Soviet Union’s storied Red Army hockey club through the eyes of many of the players involved. I know what you’re thinking: OK, yeah, the players got mistreated and stuff, blah blah. And yeah, that’s the gist, sure (though I’m sure it’s worse than you’re thinking). But there’s also a larger point at play here. North America’s two greatest hockey moments come at the expense of the Soviet Union, and they’re celebrated without a single thought toward what was going on at the other end of the ice. Or the globe.—Nathan Caddell, associate editor

Borg vs McEnroe on Amazon Prime

I was thinking about recommending Rush with my second pick, but that film has enough (earned) notoriety in the world. So I’m going with a different movie about two rivals in a sport for individuals in which one is angsty and volatile and the other is measured and calm. But Borg vs McEnroe never really got the audience it deserved when it came out back in 2017. The film chronicles the 1980s rivalry between tennis stars Swede Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and American John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf) and does the improbable: it makes tennis look and feel cinematic. As a very occasional follower of tennis who wasn’t alive when the evens in the movie took place, I was on the edge of my seat with every return and I suspect that’d be the case even if you know the story well. Oh, and just a note for those who may have scoffed at the mention of LaBeouf: he’s absolutely electric as McEnroe and is very quietly putting together a string of incredibly solid performances over the past couple of years.—NC