Around the turn of the millennium, Tobey Maguire was widely lauded as one of the best young actors in the business, having gained strong notices for a wide array of performances in projects as different as coming-of-age drama This Boy’s Life, Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm, Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, nostalgic fantasy Pleasantville, Academy Award winning drama The Cider House Rules, revisionist Western Ride with the Devil, and dramatic comedy Wonder Boys.
He then became a household name when he was cast as Peter Parker in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, which ended up as one of the most successful blockbusters in history when it hauled in $825 million at the box office during the summer of 2002, drawing massively enthusiastic reviews from both fans and critics. His next move saw him deliver yet another stirring turn in horse racing film Seabiscuit, which was a million miles away from suiting up in spandex and swinging around a green screen.
Re-teaming with his Pleasantville director Gary Ross, the story follows Jeff Bridges’ businessman in the midst of the Great Depression, while he struggles to cope with a family tragedy. Teaming up with Maguire’s injury-prone jockey and Chris Cooper’s washed-up trainer, they look to tame a steed with plenty of potential but no interest in playing nice.
The finished product may be exactly as saccharine as you’d imagine given the logline, but Seabiscuit is a stirring and uplifting tale nonetheless, one that was deemed worthy of a Best Picture nomination. If you can’t wait until December to see if Tobey Maguire shows up in Spider-Man: No Way Home or not, then one of his best movies is now available on Netflix to tide you over until the day comes.