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The 30 Best '30 for 30' Films

As ESPN's groundbreaking series celebrates its fifth anniversary, we pick our favorite films: tales of triumph, tragedy and (of course) 'The U'

'Muhammad and Larry' (Dir. Albert Maysles)
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7. 'Muhammad and Larry' (Dir. Albert Maysles)

Just as 30 for 30 is willing to paint scoundrels in a better light, it's also unafraid of showing heroes as more finely shaded than they may immediately appear. Muhammad Ali doesn't come off as "The Greatest" in cinema vérité pioneer Albert Maysles' Muhammad and Larry. Inadvisably dragging himself back into the ring for a 1980 heavyweight championship bout against his old sparring partner Larry Holmes, Ali embarrassed himself and made Holmes look like a villain, souring his friend's reputation. Maysles' film of the event (much of it shot back in 1980 and then shelved) is a melancholy, matter-of-fact portrait of what some athletes do to themselves and others in the name of money and fame.

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