Every few weeks, the contributors to The Writers, as well as some special guests, will submit a Top 5
list on a given topic.
Top 5 Sports Movies
Special Guests: Clay Luraschi (Topps), Dave Starman (CSTV), Don Williams
1. When We Were Kings - Ali is riveting but cruelly complex here, and the build-up and cast of
characters are unbeatable.
2. Raging Bull - Boxing always makes for the best dramas -- the burning-hot sun of a fighter
surrounded by an orbiting cast of givers and takers. DeNiro's at the top of his game as Jake LaMotta,
and how could Scorsese not win the Oscar?
3. Hoop Dreams - An unblinking & heartbreaking look at two young men's coming of
age in a hotbed of high school hoops.
4. Cinderella Man - Excellent casting, great story -- the bad timing at the box office
doesn't overshadow the film's quality.
5. Bull Durham - Sexy, funny, heartfelt without being too mushy. Excellent cast,
especially Costner, who (finally) doesn't overact.
1. Brian's Song - The original, not that dumb remake. If you don't like this one, you're missing a heart.
2. Angels In The Outfield - The original (not the remake). Paul Douglas is great as manager of the
3. The Harder They Fall - Sentimental pick because it's Bogart's last film and he's great in this Budd
Schulberg expose on boxing.
4. Horse Feathers - Groucho runs a college and their football team.
5. Raging Bull - Scorsese and DeNiro. An unbeatable combination.
Honorable Mention :
1. Knute Rockne, All American
3. The Set Up
4. It Happens Every Spring
1. Pride of the Yankees - It's a little schmaltzy, and not entirely accurate, but it's still a wonderful,
bittersweet, tragic tale of a dashing athlete cut down in the prime of his life. Add a star if you're a
Yankee fan, a Gary Cooper fan, a fan of baseball history, or a fan of old movies best shared with a tub
of popcorn and a sweetheart.
2. Field of Dreams - I'm not ashamed to admit, I weep every time I see that scene at the end of the
movie, when Kevin Costner turns to the ghost of his father and says, "Hey, Dad. You wanna have a
catch?" Nothing quite captures the special bond that baseball creates between father and son than
that perfect piece of dialogue.
3. Slap Shot - The salty language, the fat egos, the bloodiness of the
sport (especially at the minor league level), the goofy characters -
remember the Hansons? -the hidden ownership of the team, the
over-the-top fans, the grimy setting, the desperate girlfriends, the
ridiculous broadcaster, and the thick French accents are only slightly
4. The Rookie - Based on the true story of an aging high school coach
who takes a stab at fulfilling his fantasy and making the major leagues. Isn't that what we all dream
about? When pitcher Jimmy Morris hands over the ball from his first major league to the Dad from
whom he's been estranged, well, pass me the Kleenex.
5. They Made Me a Criminal - Not technically a sports movie, but John Garfield played a prizefighter
who after winning a championship accidentally kills someone and , taking on a new identity, flees to
the Southwest where he meets Ann Sheridan and a gang of boys who aren't exactly toeing the path.
Claude Rains is the relentless detective. If you never heard of Ann Sheridan, think of Sharon Stone in
1. Rocky - Best sports movie I've seen; Sly Stallone did an amazing acting job. Too bad all the other
2. Radio - While the movie did not have the best overall feel, you have to respect the moral of the story.
3.Cinderella Man - Yes, the new flick with that psycho Russell Crowe, Just the fact that it's based on a
true story makes it all the more interesting.
4. Friday Night Lights - Another movie that's pretty new, it went beyond sports and into the player's
lives- that's what made it good.
5. 61* - I found this picture to be very enjoyable, it really gave you a sense of how amazing that home
run chase really was.
2. Raging Bull
3. Slap Shot
5. Major League
2. Water Boy
3. The Natural
5. Field of Dreams
I have always felt that the best sports movies are ones for which you could say, “That's really not a
sports movie” and not just be trying to get a non-sports fan to watch with you. (“Really, honey, you'll
love Major League, it's not really about baseball...”) Ones in which the structure of a sports season or
career serves as the hook for development of strong characters and crisp stories that transcend the
sports realm and make a truly great film.
1. Hoosiers - Gene Hackman is stellar as Coach Norman Dale, who refuses to compromise his
principles and finds redemption in himself and his team. Barbara Hershey is perfect as Jimmy
Chitwood's protector and Dale's eventual love interest, but the real stars are the players, who are
realistic in basketball action and in their portrayal of the era. My favorite line: “My team is on the floor.”
2. A League of their Own - I have always thought this is the most underrated sports movie; I like it
more every time I watch it. It is a terrific comedy, but the wartime backdrop adds a dramatic element
that also works. My favorite line: “Marla Hooch... What a hitter!”
3. Bang the Drum Slowly - A real tearjerker, but Michael Moriarty and Robert DeNiro
are tremendous as the erudite pitcher and half-wit catcher who form an unlikely
bond of friendship. The supporting characters add depth and meaning. Favorite
line: “Everyone knows everyone is dying, that's why people are so good to each
4. Pride of the Yankees - I don't care if Gary Cooper didn't know third base from the
clubhouse; I tear up every time I watch the scene cut to Teresa Wright during Lou's
final game in Detroit. For years the association was so strong for me I thought his
name was Gehrig Cooper. Favorite line: “Uncle Otto, Schmotto! Engineer? He dug
5. 61* - Attention to detail puts this chronology of the Maris-Mantle run for Ruth's home run record into
the top five. The warts-and-all look at the Yankee heroes and authentic depictions of the ballpark and
the time will afford this film classic status in the coming years. Favorite line: “Well anyway, he's all
yours if you want him. You go get that fat f***”.
Honorable mention: Breaking Away, Eight Men Out, Field of Dreams, The Natural, Long Gone,
Basketball Diaries, Hoop Dreams, Raging Bull. Getting nods for their sport and humor quality but fall
short in my criteria above are Major League, It Happens Every Spring and Caddyshack.
1. Rocky – Million Dollar Baby and Raging Bull might have joined Sylvester Stallone’s masterpiece as
boxing classics, but this one is still the best one of them all. Just a flawless film, full of emotion and,
best of all, realistic boxing scenes.
2. Caddyshack – The funniest sports movie ever, with about a dozen or so great (and often repeated
3. The Natural – One of the holy trinity of 80s baseball movies (with Field of Dreams and Bull
Durham…sorry, Major League fans).
4. Slap Shot – Every hockey fan worships this movie, and rightfully so. Great action, memorable lines
and a realistic look at the minor league hockey circuit in the 70s.
5. Hoosiers – I can’t believe this one is only number 5 on my list. Yet another flawless film (except for
the worthless Barbara Hershey character, of course).
1. Hoosiers - Can’t help it, I’m a hoops guy.
2. Rocky - Must’ve been good…they made how many more?
3. Pride of the Yankee - Even though the hitting scenes were backwards.
4. Seabiscuit - Even my wife watched this one.
5. Paper Lion - Rarely seen any more but always enjoyed.
4. Major League
The Naked Gun because of the great baseball scene at the end. (“Look, it’s Enrico Palazzo.” And
Reggie Jackson “I must kill the Queen.”)
Blue Chips because of Shaq!
1. Slap Shot - After a life spent in the minor leagues, including one season where I actually had to bail
my coach out of jail in Huntsville, Alabama this movie can be classified more as a docudrama
instead of a movie. It is very real in many ways...TRUST ME!
2. Bull Durham - The Slap Shot of baseball, and Kevin Costner is one of the few actors, if not the only
actor, whoever portrayed a professional athlete and actually looked the part.
3. Field of Dreams - If you have ever played catch with your dad, and mine happened to have played
college baseball, you can relate.
4. Major League - Just really funny. I never knew that Tom Berenger had a sense of humor.
5. Bad News Bears - Anything that Walter Matthau is in is funny. As a
drunk little league coach driving a convertible with no trunk and a
cooler in the back is just classic. The scene where he ices his
pitchers elbow down in the beer cooler after removing 10 cans of beer
to make room for the elbow was pretty funny.
Note: WOW, for someone not a real big baseball fan, that is a lot of
baseball movies. Caddyshack would be #6 on this list. I'd love to put
Miracle in here, but it was a decent movie about a great story. There were just too many errors that
and misrepresentations (starting with a non bearded Ken Morrow) that now when I watch it I just get
pissed off. However, Kurt Russell nailed Herb about as well as anyone could of!!!
1. Bull Durham
2. The Natural
3. Slap Shot
5. The Bad News Bears
2. Major League
3. Field of Dreams
4. Jerry Maguire
5. Any Given Sunday
Honorable Mention (in no particular order): Friday Night Lights, Brian's Song, Rudy, White Men Can't
Jump, Eight Men Out, Cool Runnings, Rocky IV, 61*, A League of their Own