This entry was posted on Jun 28 2010 by

5 Sports Movies I Like (in no particular order)

Watching the memorable match between the United States and Algeria in the World Cup this past Wednesday (which was, sadly, followed by an American loss to Ghana on Saturday) has put me in a sports frame of mind.  Movies about sports (either fictional or based on real events) are plentiful, but truly good ones are tough to find.  Here are 5 that make the cut:

1. Hoosiers (1986)

The greatest feel-good sports movie of all time (I much prefer it to Rudy, probably because I can’t stand Notre Dame), Hoosiers is about a small-town Indiana high school that perseveres to become state basketball champs.  Whoever the guy is that plays Jimmy Chitwood must be a terrible actor because they only let him speak about fifty words, but he sure does have a pretty jump shot.  This is the only basketball movie worth the time, the rest being either mediocre (He Got Game, White Men Can’t Jump) or downright awful (The Air Up There, Blue Chips, Dr. J’s tragic The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh).

2. Bull Durham (1988)

Kevin Costner is no stranger to baseball movies, having also played the lead in For the Love of the Game and Field of Dreams (also a wonderful movie, but when it comes to tug-at-the-heartstrings baseball fare, I’ll take Robert Redford in The Natural), but his comedic turn as aging minor-league catcher Crash Davis is his best effort.  I’ve never understood why Costner is so maligned.  Sure, he’s had some duds, but any actor with Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Untouchables, No Way Out, A Perfect World, and Dance With Wolves on his résumé is worthy of respect.    

3. Victory (1981)

The World Cup got the ball rolling (pun intended) on this post, so it’s only fitting that a soccer movie make the list.  Expertly acted by Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, and Max von Sydow, Victory tells the story of a group of Allied POWs who join together to play a match against the German national team during World War II.  This scene alone is worth the price of admission: After an Allied team member (played by international soccer star Pelé) scores on a bicycle kick, the German officer who organized the match—a soccer aficionado, he hoped to use honest sportsmanship to counterbalance the horrors of war—erupts in spontaneous applause.  His superiors, who’ve attempted to rig the match to ensure a Nazi victory, can only frown as their efforts are upended by the unpredictability of sport.    

4. Rocky (1976)

As a sport, boxing has all but disappeared from our national consciousness over the past couple of decades.  As entertainment, though, it’s the sport with the highest ratio of quality films.  Aside from Rocky and Rocky II (and Rocky III—yeah, I said it) there’s also Raging Bull, The Great White Hope, and the more recent outings Million Dollar Baby and Cinderella Man.  I’m not going to tell you what Rocky is about because if you don’t already know, you have only yourself to blame.  It’s without question one of the best films ever made, sports-related or otherwise.

5. Vision Quest (1985)

Probably my favorite ’80s movie, and by that I don’t mean a movie made in the ’80s—as most of those mentioned on this list were—but a movie about coming of age during the ’80s.  Actually, come to think of it, I like Sixteen Candles better.  And Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  And Some Kind of Wonderful.  And Lucas (which has its own sports-related subplot).  Okay, Vision Quest is my favorite ’80s movie about high school wrestling, that much I can say with certainty.  Matthew Modine plays Louden Swain, a newcomer to the sport and a bit of an outcast who drops weight classes to compete against Brian Shute, the most feared wrestler in the state.      

**Bonus!  5 more not mentioned above that could very easily be on the list: The Sandlot, Slap Shot, Kingpin, Caddyshack, and The Longest Yard (the original, of course).

2 Responses to “5 Sports Movies I Like (in no particular order)”

  1. duane ballenger
    6:58 pm on June 28th, 2010

    What no “rollerball”? HAW!

  2. Shawn Williams
    12:26 pm on January 10th, 2011

    Not a bad list, but no “Rudy”? I met and briefly talked to Sean Astin at a Chicago Comic convention around the LOTR movies so I’m a little biased, but I certainly love the movie.

    And considering I took my little girl to see our first Rolley Derby bout this last weekend and we loved it, “Whip It” might be in consideration… Maybe.

    I guess I like sports movies where the protagonists aren’t uber-successful, and are just doing it for the love.

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