‘The Queen’s Gambit’ and more chess films worth checking out – Minneapolis Star Tribune


If theres a nail-biting thriller about Chinese checkers, I havent seen it. Chess, on the other hand, continues to provide high drama.

Look no further than Netflixs The Queens Gambit, a riveting new miniseries about an orphan (Anya Taylor-Joy) who conquers the gaming world with relentless ambition and a steady supply of little green pills. Director Scott Frank breaks up the board action with long tracking shots and a toe-tapping soundtrack that makes you feel like youre watching a new installment of Oceans 11.

Gambit joins a roster of other chess movies and specials that are worth streaming:

Critical Thinking (2020)

John Leguizamo makes an impressive feature directorial debut in this underdog film about a scrappy Florida high school team that took home a national championship in 1998. Leguizamo, who also stars as the teens determined coach, does a superb job of capturing urban life and the struggles his heroes face when theyre not capturing pawns. Amazon

Bobby Fischer Against the World (2011)

You dont need to know the difference between a bishop and a knight to be sucked into this fascinating documentary about one of Americas greatest mad geniuses. Director Liz Garbus deserves an honorary chess master title for making us feel like we know Fischer whether we want to or not. YouTube

Chess in Concert (2009)

Not everything that ABBA touched turned to gold. This musical collaboration between Tim Rice and ABBA members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus never really got off the board (exception: the hit single One Night in Bangkok). But its amusing to see Idina Menzel and Josh Groban interpret songs from this London stage production. YouTube

Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)

Quite simply, one of the most feel-good movies ever made. Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen, Ben Kingsley and Laurence Fishburne are among the grown-ups who support a prodigy as he tries to balance childhood with championships. Tubi

The Coldest Game (2019)

The Cold War gets played out in a sweaty-palm showdown between a Russian grandmaster and an American professor who cant move a pawn without being drunk. Bill Pullman pulls out all the stops as the troubled teacher who reluctantly steps into the role of hero. Its far from a classic, but its a kick to watch the Independence Day president pretend that hes starring in a remake of Barfly. Netflix

A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote (2020)

This stage version of a 2002 episode of the Emmy-winning series uses President Bartlets mastery of the game as an analogy to how he deals with a growing crisis with China. The special was previously exclusive to HBO Max, but is now free for nonsubscribers through the end of the year. hbomax.com/votebecause

Queen of Katwe (2016)

Chess gets the Disney treatment in this family treat about a 10-year-old Ugandan girl who pulls her family out of poverty through her chess skills. Lupita Nyongo and David Oyelowo are both terrific as the adults who cheer her on. Disney+

Njustin@startribune.com Twitter: @nealjustin

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'The Queen's Gambit' and more chess films worth checking out - Minneapolis Star Tribune

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