September 29, 2016

A biopic of R.A. Dickey could be an Oscar winner

R.A. Dickey 600x375

As a longtime New York Mets fan, one of my great recent delights in the sporting world was seeing R.A. Dickey come of age while in his thirties. A supposedly washed up pitcher, Dickey developed the knuckleball (a very unique pitch that is almost impossible to master and even harder to hit) and eventually caught on with the Mets, where he went on to dominate for a few years, culminating in winning a Cy Young Award, which is the baseball equivalent of an Oscar win. He wrote a memoir about his life around that time called “Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball” and a documentary called Knuckleball! was made, centering heavily on his story. Now, he’s actually sold the rights to his memoir to actors Logan Marshall-Green and Ben McKenzie, who’ve started a production company and want to take Dickey’s life to the big screen. Friday Night Lights scribe Buzz Bissinger is writing the screenplay, and I personally can’t wait to see this flick. Beyond that though, I think that this has a real chance to become an awards vehicle.

The reason that I think Dickey’s story is tailor made for Academy voters is the fact that it reads like a movie on its own. He was molested as a child, yet still rose to become a high draft pick, though he lost most of his bonus money and was told his career would never amount to much after doctors found out he was missing an important ligament in his arm. Unfazed, Dickey pressed on, bouncing around the minor leagues and making unremarkable appearances in the bigs, until of course he harnessed the knuckleball. The rest is literally history. That triumphant tale is exactly the sort of one that Oscar voters flock to.

So who could play Dickey? Apparently neither Marshall-Green nor McKenzie are looking to take on the role, so it’s going to go out there for some talented actors to circle. While he most closely resembles Timothy Busfield, I don’t see that bit of casting coming about. A decade ago, I wouldn’t have discounted Kevin Costner playing the role either, but that’s also not happening. In my eyes, I actually would like to see Matt Damon potentially play Dickey, but that’s just something off of the top of my head. Another top notch pick that actually looks a touch like Dickey in the right light is Tom Hardy. Dickey is a distinct character, very unlike most ballplayers, so you need a talented enough actor to make that shine through. Damon Hardy would certainly both be able to do that.

Obviously, we’re a little bit of a ways off from this film entering production, but the rights have been sold, so that’s step one. I’d expect to see this movie in the next two to three years, and if the right director comes on, this could definitely be more than just an inspiration sports flick. Time will tell, but keep this one in the back of your mind, just in case my hunch pays off!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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