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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Best and worst sports movies

Given the fact that I once considered being a film major, I think I should take the time to combine two of my greatest loves, movies and sports. Who doesn't love a good sports flick? Based on my own personal evaluation system, I will now rank what I believe to be the best sports movies available for viewing today. That system is based on a combined analysis of acting, set design, cinemotagraphy, soundtrack, originality of screenplay and overall entertainment factor. Here we go...

Best sports flicks ever!

15. "Miracle"

This movie gets points for creativity in the opening montage. I'm also a large fan of the cinematography, and I enjoy that most of the actors are hockey players rather than the other way around. Plus, that long practice scene with the spliced frames of blue line sprints is great. Also, who would have thought Kurt Russell would look exactly like Herb Brooks. However, this movie gets points taken away for pumping me up less than the documentary on HBO.

14. "The Hustler"

I love me some Paul Newman. What a babe. This film is one my professors made me study in film class, due in part to costume and lighting, which aren't really a large part of my eval system. However, it is rock solid in creating a mood and sending a message about being in too deep. And yes, pool is a sport. The black widow is still owning the table on ESPN. So long as that sports network considers the game athletic in nature, I get to keep this on my list.

13. "Slap shot"

Paul Newman does it again. This movie gets points for comedic timing and really good dialogue, albeit a tad dirty. The Hansen brothers made gold here, and I always enjoy a flick that takes to the darker side of hockey. Also, Canadian accents are great.

12. "Jerry Maquire"

"Show me the money" will be a line that is reused in the popular media for decades. That means this film gets credit for a solid screenplay, not to mention a solid analysis of the professional sports world. And the acting isn't too bad either! I'm always willing to go back and watch pre-crazy Tom Cruise. These were his best years. Plus Cuba never made a movie as good as this again, and Renee looks like a normal human being. Points were taken away here because some of the movie's best moments are not sport moments.

11. "Remember the Titans"

Extra points were given here for over-the-top cheesiness. From Ryan Gosling's cliche cowboy role to the conflicted interests of a racially divided small town, this movie delivers a lot in the way of cultural observations. Plus, whenever the starting quarterback gets hurt, that's a recipe for tears.

10. "Tin Cup"

A golf movie should be on here, especially when the main actor is Kevin Costner. From his fiesty little caddy to the hot shrink that everyone wants to sleep with, there is a lot of good character development going on here. Plus, once you get past the dimwitted jokes and whatnot, the scene on No. 18 when he goes for it is surprisingly exciting and meaningful.

9. "A League of Their Own"

I still watch this everytime it shows up on TBS. Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna are all involved, not to mention Rosie O'Donnell before everyone hated her. The cast is really great, and not only does it portray a meaningful event in America's history, it does so with a lot of humor and simplicity that makes it fun to watch over and over. Extra points for the soundtrack. The final bravado when the Peaches lose makes me sob.

8. "Field of Dreams"

Costner is on here twice, I know. But James Earl Jones plays God, and I think that's just about right. This movie combined the best elements of sports, including motivational moments, an average guy, talented play and meaningful history.

7. "Sandlot"

I think I probably have too many baseball movies on here, but "Forrreeevvveerrrr" is probably used to make jokes by my circle of friends multiple times a month. This movie touches on something that brings the audience together. That is the memory of a time when afternoons were free and playing games with friends was the drama of the day. Again, James Earl Jones (a Michigan man) makes an appearance at the side of a daunting pooch that reminds me of Beethoven.

6. "Hoop Dreams"

Anytime a documentary sticks around on the movie stands for longer than a year, it belongs in some sort of hall of fame. Sometimes, nothing is more motivational than the truth, especially when it comes to these basketball athletes and their hopes and hoop dreams. It is actually shot quite well for the budget it was on and the year it was made.

5. "Raging Bull"

I refuse to put this in the top three because I think the Scorcese-DeNiro combo is a bit overused and takes itself too seriously. However, this is a well directed movie with a lot of great moments and some great fight scenes. I don't mean to give anything away, but this movie is a poor man's Rocky.

4. "Friday Night Lights"

I enjoy the honesty of this movie. The story is dark, and completely true, and it makes a great observation about the influence of sport in our society. These athletes play their hearts out like our community's athletes do every week. This is also a good, and enlightening, read if you can get a hold of the book.

3. "Rudy"

I went to Michigan and I still have a place in my heart for this. This hits America at a time when factory workers really had it tough. I enjoy multiple things here. For one, the father-son storyline is really great and adds an element that interlaces with sports all the time. Second, Notre Dame has one of the greatest home stadiums in the country, as well as some of the best traditions. Sean does a great job as Rudy, the tiny little tike that he is. This movie sort of offers what Invincible didn't.

2. "Hoosiers"

The game scenes are great, the young boys are inspirational and the small-town element is classic. Plus, the quintessential element of sports movies is the pep talk. Gene Hackman is spot on here, filling his role as coach like a pro. The fact that my parents grew up in Indiana earns the movie extra points.

1. "Rocky"

This speaks for itself. Adrian, I did it.

That about sums it up. Obviously, this is just my opinion of the best sports movies. It varies individually, especially if certain thematic elements don't matter to the viewer. The entertainment factor, however, is present in all of the above. If you haven't seen one of them, rent it!


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