With the film festival in town, I was thinking about the best sports movies of the last 30 years. Movies such as “Raging Bull,” “Caddyshack,” “Brian’s Song,” “The Bad News Bears,” “Slapshot,” and “The Natural” are all terrific movies, but came out before I was born. This week I thought I’d go over the best sports movies of my lifetime, exactly 29 years today, since it’s my birthday!
Working up from the bottom of my Top 5 sports movies we start with “Field of Dreams.” “If you build it, they will come,” resonates with everybody who played more than two seconds of little league baseball. That was the movie moment where I realized movies can be magical. Kevin Costner’s character finally gets to play catch with his father, James Earl Jones’ character, Moonlight Graham, finally gets his big league at-bat, and the baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield saves an entire family from going broke. Magical!
At No. 4 is the “Rocky” series. Nos. 3-6 came out during my lifetime, but they all have to go together as a group. Watching Sly take down Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in No. 3 and avenge Apollo’s death by beating Drago in No. 4 solidified Rocky Balboa as a hero. But let’s not mention “Rocky V.”
Third on my list goes to “Jerry Maguire.” This was the first movie I’d ever seen that pulled back the curtain on the sports industry. It made me realize that athletes are people, too, who have lives other than sports. Also, “Show me the money,” has to be one of the best catch phrases and moments in movie history.
In second place is a classic – “Hoosiers.” Granted, I was only 4 years old when it came out, but it’s still one of the best. Gene Hackman’s character, Norman Dale, was the coach I always wanted. He was tough but fair, and had Dennis Hopper’s character as his drunken sidekick.
And my favorite sports movie of all-time has to be … drum roll please … “Rudy.”
I related to that movie more than any other before or since. I was always the little guy who nobody gave a chance to succeed. I was made to believe that I wasn’t big enough or strong enough to compete, and playing volleyball all four years of high school didn’t help, since I was always the smallest on the team. “Rudy” gave me the inspiration and belief that I could do great things. When he runs on that field in the final scene and makes a play to get into the stat book, I cheered with all of my heart. Sean Astin nailed that role and was a perfect Daniel E. Ruettiger.
Just for kicks, honorable mentions go to “A League of Their Own,” “Major League,” “Bull Durham,” “Remember the Titans,” “Miracle,” “The Color of Money,” “He Got Game” and, one of the funniest sports movies ever, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”
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