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The Five Best Gavin O’Connor Movies

A look at the highlights of director Gavin O'Connor's career.


1. Warrior (2011)
O'Connor helped set Tom Hardy on the path to stardom with this drama set in the world of MMA. Hardy and Joel Edgerton play two estranged brothers who find themselves potentially facing one another in the octagon when they enter the same tournament. Much of the film is centred on Hardy's relationship with his recovering alcoholic father (Nick Nolte), whom he reluctantly takes on as his trainer. In the movie's most emotional scene, Hardy finds Nolte playing real money slots in a casino and following a difficult to watch argument between father and son, the former regresses to alcoholism. It all wraps up in a similarly emotional brawl in the ring that's the match of anything from the Rocky series.


2. Finding The Way Back
O'Connor coaxes arguably a career best performance from Ben Affleck in another drama dealing with sports and alcoholism. Affleck plays Jack Cunningham, an alcoholic steelworker who is given a shot at turning his life around when his old high school asks him to coach their basketball team. As the team finds success on the court, Jack seems to get his life together, but his drinking threatens to derail everything he's built.


3. Tumbleweeds
O'Connor is generally associated with movies that explore masculinity, but one of his best films is a female-centred drama. Co-written with his then wife Angela Shelton, Tumbleweeds stars the late Janet McTeer as a single mother who sets off on a road trip with her daughter (Kimberly J. Brown) to the US West Coast. Once there however, she finds that reality doesn't match her dreams. O'Connor casts himself as one of McTeer's love interests.


4. Miracle
2004's Miracle is another cracking sports movie from O'Connor. It tells the true story of the American Men's Hockey team's gold-winning performance at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Kurt Russell plays team coach Herb Brooks, who finds himself with the seemingly impossible task of coaching his team to beating the heavily fancied USSR team at the height of the Cold War. O'Connor's film was awarded the Best Sports Movie ESPY Award for 2004.


5. Pride and Glory
Another O'Connor film that tackles father-son relationships is his 2008 police drama Pride and Glory. Set in the Irish-American milieu of the NYPD, Jon Voight plays a police chief who recruits his son Ray (Edward Norton) to head a task force to find the killer of four cops. This brings Ray into conflict with his brother in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell), a crooked cop with a connection to the killer.