One of my favorite movies of all-time is a sports movie (read the list to find out), nothing in movies pulls me more into the film than a storyline wrapped around sports, perhaps because I love to play and watch sports.
Over the past few decades notable sports movies of choice have grown in number, making the creation of a Top 10 List that won’t disappoint a lot of people a very tough task.
Below are my Top 10 List of Sports Movie, each holds a uniquely special place in my heart and are definite much watch movies in one’s lifetime, especially if you are a sports fan.
Chariots of Fire – The four time Oscar winner, and classic from 1981, a drama based on the story of two track athletes from the United Kingdom, that not only rival one another on the track but also philosophically with their different religions and social back grounds in a riveting film about competition and society that is relevant even today. The film is masterfully directed by Hugh Hudson (Revolution, My Life So Far) and stars Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Ian Holm and Nicholas Farrell.
Happy Gilmore – Some will chastise me for this selection, but making a movie about Golf with a touch a hockey and a lot of hilarious jokes, spoofs, and scenes makes this my number nine favorite sports movie of all time. Directed by Dennis Dugan (Grown Ups) and staring Adam Sandler as Happy Gilmore with killer supporting roles by Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen and Carl Weathers is a sure fire hit with the entire family and makes golfing explosive and fun.
The Bad News Bears – The reason why baseball was so popular in the 1970s-1990s was because kids grew up with great baseball movies. The Bad News Bears became a series of films starting in 1976 with the original starring Walther Matthau as Coach Buttermaker along with favorites Tatum O’Neal, Vic Morrow and Jackie Earle Haley as Kelly Leak the iconic rebel kid who was a natural on the field. The sequel in 1977 was also another instant classic, while not as great as the original, The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, is a very fun film for the youngsters, and if you are a die hard you’ll want to watch the 1978, The Bad News Bears Go to Japan, all the sequels star Jackie Earle Haley as Kelly Leak.
Major League– This 1989 classic by director David Ward (Down Periscope) starring Charlie Sheen as the fire throwing but egoistical maniac relief pitcher for the down and out Cleveland Indians and Tom Berenger as Jake Taylor an aging catcher with bad knees who is seeing the light on his playing days fade with each lose is a fantastic story about modern day money hungry franchises that don’t care about the players or fans any longer. No baseball fan should ever go through life without watching Major League, or Major League II which came out in 1994 and features a lot of the same cast as in the first Major League, and was also directed by David Ward.
Rocky – The iconic 1976 Oscar winning film is both genius in its simplicity and underlying themes that made Sylvester Stallone a global icon and has made Rocky most people’s number one film of all time. The film was so successful it spawned five sequels some of which like Rocky II that came out in 1979, Rocky III in 1982 and Rocky IV in 1985 are all Top 10 films in their own right.
Field of Dreams – What would America be today without the movie Field of Dreams? This iconic classic from 1989 directed by Phil Alden Robinson (Sneakers) and starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta and James Earl Jones is the quintessential American experience. Such a feel good story rooted in honor, history, and a love and joy for humanity and the enormous pleasure a simple game like baseball can bring to everyone.
He Got Game – Spike Lee is a masterful director, Denzel Washington is a masterful actor, and Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics is actually an incredibly believable actor. The three combined to make one of the most real to life sports movies I have ever watched, He Got Game, which came out in 1998 is an amazing movie about a basketball phenom and his incarcerated father. Gripping performances from Denzel Washington and Ray Allen combined with a powerful directorial style only Spike Lee can bring, and I’m surprised the film did not win an Oscar or on more Top 10 lists of great sports films.
Hoosiers– This 1986 movie about a small town high school basketball team compelled a nation and won two Oscars. Hoosiers starring Gene Hackman as Coach Norman Dale delivers a riveting performance that will last the ages; no Top 10 list of sporting movies is complete without Hoosiers on it.
Raging Bull – Director Martin Scorsese 1980 classic and two times Oscar winner starring Robert De Niro as boxer Jake La Motta and Cathy Moriarty as Vickie La Motta is such a turbulent, gritty film, it will leave an impression on the viewer for years to come, an effect only great movies can have on the human condition. A very emotional story of the turbulent life of boxing great Jake La Motta and how his successes and failures tore tidal waves through his personal life, a must watch movie for any athlete and any lover of great movies about the fragility of the human psyche.
Slap Shot – That’s right, Slap Shot, the 1980, comedy about a failing minor league ice hockey team that comes together around beating the crap out of the other team while being complete characters on and off the ice. Directed by George Roy Hill (The World According to Garp) and starring legendary actor Paul Newman as Reggie Dunlop along with a cast of characters including the glasses wearing goon-squad Hanson brothers, Slap Shot, is everything a great sports movie should be, fun, funny, with plenty of lows and a few highs that make everything underneath if worth the wait.
Other notables are Jerry Maguire, Miracle, Ali, Eight Men Out, The Blind Side, A League of Their Own, Bull Durham, Rudy, Caddyshack, Mystery Alaska, and Remember the Titans.