This year has been a tough one for cinema. We’ve had countless delays and cancellations and left in the wake is an industry left unsure what to do next. Theaters may close forever. Streaming may be the future. Movies are in turmoil and we can only sit back and watch. But on Monday night, we watched possibly the best cinema I’ve seen all year.

Going for 2 had everything you could want in a sports flick. Tons of action. The choreography doesn’t hold back. If you want athletic stunts with impeccable cinematography, you’re in the right seat. But it does not sacrifice story and character for action. There are no shortage of characters in Going for 2: what will amaze you is the sheer depth even the small players get over the course of the runtime. Marquise Brown especially has a compelling arc of constant failure leading to a moment of sheer redemption. That moment might be the climax in a regular sports film, but in Going For 2, it is just the beginning. Lamar Jackson is as compelling as ever, and his acting during the titular scene of running to the stalls to deuce almost convinces you that he actually was just cramping. Thanks to his expertly handled backstory of recently getting over Covid, you can buy his excuse that his body is more prone to dehydration and cramping. But that’s what great acting, writing, and editing can do. Almost convince you that he wasn’t taking a shit. Butt he totally was.

The signature moment of the movie is his return, after a difficult first half of slipping and sliding, to throw a miracle on 4th down to take the lead once more. It was impossible not to cheer. And as stated before, the movie hadn’t even used it’s entire bag of tricks. The Cleveland Browns have been a character often and frequently mishandled over years, a strong blemish in a universe usually well managed. But in GF2, they shine. This is what Cleveland can look like in the hands of competent writers. Baker Mayfield has starred in some duds as of late, but he’s back on track to be a star this year, and he’s never been better than he was in this film. Even Odell Beckham, who has had to take a major break from acting due to personal reasons, makes excellent use of his small bit part. You can feel his conflicting emotions when watching Lamar vanish in the stall. You can feel how badly he wants to be there. It’s masterful.

I was not sure a movie would top Arizona toppling Seattle this year, but I think we may have found it. An easy frontrunner for best game, and sure to be in everyone’s top 5 of the season. This is no stinker. This is a true Cleveland Steamer. I feel honored to have shared this experience with all of you.

Four stars, put it in the criterion collection.