A scrappy underdog everyone has written off works hard, gives the performance of his life and finds himself holding his own against the biggest and best star in his field oh, no, wait that’s Rocky Balboa we’re talking about. Okay: a scrappy underdog everyone has written off delivers the performance of a lifetime and finds itself triumphing over some of the biggest names of its time – nope, that’s Rocky the film.
Let’s try this again.
This particular story about an underdog who surprises everyone to find himself being hailed as one of the greatest in his profession is about Sylvester Stallone, who took home the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for reprising his most iconic role in the Rocky spin-off Creed, and received an Oscar nod for the same role.
“I am incredibly humbled by this honor. I was not expecting it … especially at this time in my life,” Stallone said in a statement following the Oscar nominations. “I am certainly grateful to the artists and collaborators who helped make it possible.”
His last Globe and Oscar nominations came in 1976, when the original Rocky hit theaters.
And as seen with the standing ovation the actor received as he took the stage to accept his Golden Globe, no love has been lost during his 39-year award season hiatus.
“The last time I was here, it was 1977,” said Stallone of the time gap between awards. “It was kind of a different situation and the view is beautiful from here today.”
So if you heard the soft, familiar strains of the ever-inspiring Rocky theme playing in your head when the Italian Stallion concluded his speech by paying tribute to his “imaginary friend Rocky Balboa for being the best friend I ever had,” it probably wasn’t just the music cue in the Beverly Hilton.
After all, the Stallone of 2015 is a far cry from the actor who blew audiences away with his gritty, layered performance as a boxer scraping his way to contention. Thanks to a long string of commercially and critically disappointing films (he’s been nominated for Razzie Awards 20 of the last 30 years), most audiences had written Stallone off almost completely, and were apprehensive about seeing him return to the metaphorical ring in Creed.
But Ryan Coogler’s film – along with both Stallone and Michael B. Jordan’s powerhouse performances – reminded movie fans everywhere why they loved rooting for Stallone in the first place: he’s an underdog.
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And there’s nothing in the world we love more than watching the underdog come out on top.
Besides, overcoming impossible odds is an intrinsic part of the Rocky legacy. The original film was a small indie that became a sleeper hit, grossing more than 200 times what it cost to make, and even beat out critical darlings like Network and Taxi Driver to win the 1977 Oscar for Best Picture – which forced critics and audiences to take Stallone seriously as an actor just like the bout against Creed forced the boxing world to treat Rocky as more than a scrappy underground fighter from Philly.
So, really, we shouldn’t have been surprised that both Stallone and Rocky had one more fight left in them. Sure, nobody expected that Stallone would receive Creed‘s only Golden Globe nomination – most people had money on Jordan or Coogler managing to sneak in there – but if the films have taught us anything, it’s that there’s always a way for the underdog to come out on top.
In the end, you can’t ever keep a good fighter down.