When Winfield http://www.youtube.com/user/fromtherumbleseat?feature=mhee channeled Gene Hackman in an effort to stir up a little upset magic for the Jackets in ACC basketball tournament play, I thought again about that wonderful movie, "Hoosiers." I then wondered what it is about some sports movies that they seem to rise above the genre. Why is it that some movies are just plain good movies even if you do not like sports? And why is it that some movies are watchable only if you are absolutely in love with the sport they are about? After the jump I will give you my top ten picks of the all time best sports movies and we can begin the arguments. But I must warn you, I am first and foremost a film snob. I watch foreign and independent films, I studied a little bit in college, I read reviews voraciously, and I have very strong opinions about what makes a good movie.
One criterion for any good movie is simply to ask the question, "How many times can I watch it before I get tired of it?" A good movie will work even after you know the plot and the denouement. It works because the journey of getting to the end has gems of acting along the way, nuances in the plot development, and, when it comes to sports movies, is about more than one thing.
Here is where I get the boo-hiss response from some of you. As much as I enjoyed "Rocky" the first time I saw it, subsequent viewings reveal it to be heavily dependent on formula. By contrast, "The Fighter" has more grit and urban underbelly per frame than Rocky has in the entire movie, and I am not even a Mark Wahlberg fan. Christian Bale absolutely deserved an Oscar for his portrayal of a strung out former boxer living off of his one moment of glory.
Well, here are my top ten sports movies. I should make my confession, however. My list changes periodically because my love for sports rivals my love for movies and the result is that I have a harder time viewing sports movies "objectively" than I do any other genre.
1. Chariots of Fire
2. Raging Bull
3. The Hustler
4. Requiem for a Heavy Weight
5. Cinderella Man
6. Hoop Dreams
7. Friday Night Lights
8. Eight Men Out
10. Bang the Drum Slowly
My honorable mention list is ridiculously long so I have purposely shortened it. One of the things I am struck by is the large number of movies made about boxing. If I were to list all of these it would have to be a category unto itself. Hence I have left off many fine boxing films. Other films you may miss (besides boxing) were left out because the film did not bear up well with time or there were other movies about the same sport that were so much better.
Honorable mention: Bull Durham; Field of Dreams; Brian’s Song; Fear Strikes Out; Jim Thorpe, All American; The Pride of St. Louis; The Endless Summer; Seabiscuit; National Velvet; The Stratton Story; The Fighter; Rocky; Glory Road; The Games; The Legend of Bagger Vance; Remember the Titans; The Sandlot; Riding Giants
Let the discussion begin and be sure to give us your favorite sports movie.