There’s been several lists of best sports movies but they always miss some gems. Here’s a better list!
Over the years there’s been dozens of different types of baseball movies such as “Major League” and it’s 2 sequels (Major League 3 aka “Major League: Back To The Minors” is actually pretty funny), “42”, “The Babe”, “Moneyball”, “Bull Durham”, “Field of Dreams”, “Bad News Bears” (and the sequel, and the remake), “Field of Dreams”, “The Natural”, “A League of Their Own”, “Rooke of the Year”, “Little Big League”, “Angels in the Outfield”, etc, etc, etc. so it was sort of hard to determine my personal favorite. I went with a movie that is on quite a few other lists for the best baseball movie:
FAVORITE: “The Sandlot” – A professional sports announcer thinks back to his childhood when he played baseball with neighborhood friends all summer.
Runner Up: “Trouble with the Curve” – Clint Eastwood is an aging baseball scout who gets assistance from his estranged daughter (Amy Adams). The very first scene of this movie is one of the only times Clint Eastwood acts with his son Scott Eastwood. Also, this may be the last movie that Clint Eastwood stars in but doesn’t direct. This would be my favorite except for the romance between Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake which isn’t written very well.
Compared to the number of baseball movies released, there’s only a small amount of basketball movies. Most of them are either dramatic – “Hoosiers”, “He Got Game”, etc – or children’s movies – “Space Jam” (and its sequel), “Like Mike”, etc. So, it wasn’t a really hard choice for this one and here are a few that always get overlooked.
FAVORITE: “White Men Can’t Jump” – A black basketball hustler (Wesley Snipes) teams up with a white basketball hustler (Woody Harrelson). From what I hear, there is a remake of this movie currently in production.
Runner Up: “The Fish that Save Pittsburgh” – The basketball team in Pittsburgh gets some help from an astrologer who recommends an all Pisces basketball team. This was the movie with all the famous basketball stars in the 70s including Julius “Dr J” Erving, Meadowlark Lemon, and Kareen Abdul Jabbar. The only problem with this movie is it’s HEAVILY dated in the 70s.
When boxing comes to mind the first thing people think of is either “Raging Bull” or “Rocky” (and the various Rocky sequels and “Creed” spin off movies). For boxing fans there’s also “Million Dollar Baby”, “The Fighter”, “Cinderella Man”, “The Boxer”, “Ali”, and “The Hurricane”. Most critics miss these amazing films.
FAVORITE: “Diggstown” – A con man fresh out of prison (James Woods) gets involved in a bet that 1 boxer (Louis Gossett Jr) can beat 10 local boxers in one day. If you haven’t seen this movie, I RECOMMEND YOU SEE IT. I give it 8 out of 10 stars.
Runner Up: “The Champ” (1979 version) – A former championship boxer (Jon Voight) gets caught up by booze and gambling, but then the wealthy mother (Faye Dunaway) of his son (Rick Schroder – back when he was young and called “Ricky”) returns and tries to take the boy away from him. He must get back in the ring to prove he can still provide for his child. Warning, it’s a very emotional movie.
There aren’t a lot of hockey movies out there and most of them are inspirational stories of a rookie team winning big – “Might Ducks”, “Slap Shot”, “Mystery Alaska”, “Miracle”. Since I haven’t seen a hockey movie in years (I think the last one I saw was “Slap Shot” a LONG time ago) the movie I picked is SORT OF a hockey movie, but it’s great!
FAVORITE: “The Cutting Edge” – A former hockey player (D. B. Sweeny) and a temperamental figure skater (Moira Kelly) form an unlikely team trying to win the gold at Olympics figure skating pairs.
Runner Up: “Happy Gilmore” – Also, not a hockey movie about a wannabe hockey player (Adam Sandler) who discovers some of his hockey skills work very well for golf.
Football (meaning American football) probably has the second most movies made (after baseball). There are a bunch of professional football movies – “Any Given Sunday”, “The Blind Side”, “Brian’s Song” – and college/high school football movies – “Friday Night Lights”, “Remember the Titans”, “All the Right Moves”, “Rudy”. Turns out my favorite is on a few of the other lists I’ve seen.
FAVORITE: “Draft Day” – NFL general manager (Kevin Costner) has a lot of things to deal with on draft day including a girlfriend, a father who recently passed away, an overbearing owner, a temperamental coach, and especially a few young men hoping to be drafted by a NFL team. This is the final movie from the great director Ivan Reitman (“Ghostbusters”, “Stripes”) before he passed away and he keeps the main story going strong with all the side stories that happen during the long day. Keep an eye out for Chadwick Boseman who shines in one of his first movie roles.
Runner Up: “The Waterboy” – A water boy for a college football team (Adam Sandler) discovers he has a special knack for the game. Almost anyone asked about the best football comedy will say this movie and I agree with them.
If you include all types of racing, there have been several movies made. A lot of car racing (“Days of Thunder”, “Winning”, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”, “Pixars “Cars” movies, “Cannonball Run”, “Need for Speed”, “Death Race 2000”, “Fast and the Furious” – at least the original movie) but also bicycle racing (Breaking Away), horse racing (“Seabiscuit”), running track (“Chariots of Fire”), and even bobsled racing (“Cool Runnings”) so this is a wide subject. My favorite has a connection to racing.
FAVORITE: “Logan Lucky” – Two brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) attempt to rob a racetrack the day of one of the biggest NASCAR races of the year.
Runner Up: “The Black Stallion” – This is one of my childhood favorites. I think it may be the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater (came out in 1979 and its rated G). It’s based on a book about a boy who gets shipwrecked on an island with a magnificent wild stallion. The boy bonds with the horse and when they get rescued, he ends up riding the horse in a horse race.
There’s a smaller number of other sports movies so there’s no runner up movies for the following…
Golf: – There’s a handful of golf movies including “Tip Cup”, “The Legend of Bagger Vance”, and the previously mentioned “Happy Gilmore” but for me the one that stands out is the one at the top (or near the top) of other lists.
FAVORITE: “Caddyshack” – The lives of a bunch of young caddies who work at an exclusive private golf course. The first movie Harold Ramis directed, and the best movie Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, and Chevy Chase have ever been in. Also, one of Bill Murrays best movies.
Wrestling: – There have been wrestling movies including television wrestling (“The Wrestler”), Olympic wrestling (“Foxcatcher“), Mexican wrestling (“Nacho Libre”), women’s wrestling (“All the Marbles”) and even arm wrestling (“Over the Top”).
FAVORITE: “Fighting with my Family” – Florence Pugh (in her first leading role I believe) stars as Saraya Knight in a movie based on a true story of a young woman who grew up in a family of wrestlers and was the first in her family to make it to the big time when she’s selected to join the WWE. It’s one of the first movies produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – who also costars – and one of the first movies written and directed by Stephen Merchant. Based on the real former WWE wrestler “Paige”
ETC: – There’s a very few movies about other sports like soccer – or football in other countries (“Bend it Like Beckham”), swimming (“Pride”), surfing (“The Endless Summer”), bowling (“Kingpin”), sports agents (“Jerry Maguire”), fake sports (“Baseketball”), and even dodgeball (“Dodgeball”). My favorite of those…..
FAVORITE: “The Hustler” – There have been a couple other movies about playing pool but when you mention a movie about pool to almost anyone, the movie they’ll probably think of is this movie or its sequel “The Color of Money”. Paul Newman – in one of his best roles – stars as an up-and-coming pool player who gets in a game with a long-time champion (Jackie Gleason).