This was one of the hardest lists I’ve ever had to make

The Ten Best Sports Movies of All Time

During last night’s Sugar Bowl one of the announcers referenced Rudy, one of my all-time favorite movies. Notre Dame got trampled by LSU and they didn’t really deserve to be in the game, but everyone loves them anyway. I admit that as much as I wanted the Tigers to win — to cement how strong the SEC is — I was pulling for Charlie‘s boys. There’s just something about the Irish. This morning at the gym I couldn’t stop thinking about what a great film Rudy is. And that made my computer-programming brain start trying to organize my favorite sports movies. So I did.

I’ll start with the Honorable Mentions and then count down to Number One.

Honorable Mentions

Fletch (1985)

FletchI know. This one isn’t even a sports movie. I obviously couldn’t put it in the top ten because of that. But I have to give it an honorable mention purely for the Lakers scene. Plus Chevy Chase plays tennis at one point.

Varsity Blues (1999)

This one’s a decent football flick. Gets an honorable mention for a killer soundtrack.

Seabiscuit (2003)

I’m one of those people that doesn’t really consider horse-racing a sport. But I never considered golf a sport, either, until I started playing. This movie was terrific and at least deserves an honorable mention for making everyone in America fall in love with a horse.

Now for the real list:

The Ten Best Sports Movies

10Tin Cup (1996)

Kevin Costner somehow manages to make it into the list multiple times. This movie about a down-and-out golfer follows the typical Costner-sports-movie script. Before I started golfing I never would have included it, but it’s actually a darn good movie.

9Invincible (2006)

Excellent football scenes. Greg Kinnear does an amazing job of portraying Dick Vermeil. Mark Wahlberg manages to make you forget what a horrible movie Planet of the Apes was.

8Raging Bull (1980)

A true classic. De Niro as LaMotta. Scorsese at his finest. “You never got me down, Ray!”

7Tie: For Love of the Game (1999) / Field of Dreams (1989)

I’m probably alone on this one, but I actually like For Love of the Game more than Field of Dreams. How Costner manages to repeatedly find good baseball scripts is one of life’s true mysteries.

6Jerry Maguire (1996)

“Show me the money!” It’s hard to believe that this film is a decade old. Back when Tom wasn’t completely insane he managed to make some good movies. This one walks a fine line between sports flick and chick flick, but I loved it. Cuba Gooding, Jr. took some wicked hits playing for the Cardinals and there are plenty of cool cameos.

5Tie: Caddyshack (1980) / Happy Gilmore (1996)

Two hilarious comedies about golf. I loved both of these years before I hit the links. How can you not love the scene where Sandler gets worked by Bob Barker? And of course, “You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?” I think the parts with Carl Weathers are the best, though. Losing your arm to an alligator would suck.

You’re rather attractive for a beautiful girl with a great body.

Believe it or not, I didn’t see Caddyshack until after I graduated college in ’96. I gained a ton of respect for Tiger when I recently learned that Caddyshack is his favorite movie. Bill Murray‘s best film, of course, is Groundhog Day. But he is the heart and soul of Caddyshack.

4Rudy (1993)

RudyIt’s based on a true story. That’s really all you need to know. If you haven’t seen this, go rent it tonight. It was almost impossible for me to not include this in the top three.

3Tie: Rocky (1976) / Rocky II (1979)

When I was a kid I would have told you that I liked Rocky II better because of the soundtrack. The music that’s played at the beginning — for the ambulance ride to the hospital — made the movie for me. By the time I got to college, though, I realized that the original was a far better film. Balboa is Everyman and Stallone was right to insist on playing the part himself.

2The Natural (1984)

Robert Redford. Glenn Close. Kim Basinger. Wilford Brimley. The music. The Redemption. The Lights. The Ending. Enough said.

1Bull Durham (1988)

Bull DurhamI mean, seriously, could it really be anything else? Bull Durham isn’t just my all-time favorite sports movie. It’s in my top five movie list period. Costner — again!? — is brilliant as the almost-has-been catcher teaching the ropes to Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh. Susan Sarandon was still hot and sane. It’s chock full of truly great quotes and some wild baseball scenes. It’s drop-jaw funny and still holds up after almost 20 years.

So what do you think? Am I in left field? Incomplete pass? What’s your vote?

There are 8 comments on this post

  1. Agree with most things – except Tin Cup. Not only am I a huge golf fan, but I actually saw that at a premiere in Westwood. It SUCKED. I’m not just saying that because I think Costner is a HORRIBLE actor, but because the rest was just horrible.

    I’ll take change back from my $.02 on this, just because it was SO bad.

  2. No mention of Friday Night Lights or Brian’s Song? Both based on true stories. And Field of Dreams is in the list? And Happy Gilmore? I’d rather watch The Sandlot than either of those two. 😉

  3. What about Remember the Titans and Friday Night Lights? These would have to rank in the top 10 and now that We Are Marshall is out, I would have to say that it belongs in the top 10 as well.

  4. I haven’t seen “We Are Marshall”, “Brain’s Song”, or “The Sandlot” yet, but plan to do so soon.

    I really liked both “Friday Night Lights” and “Remember the Titans”.

  5. I’ll throw Coach Carter into the list too. The Sandlot is about kids, but for anyone that grew up playing baseball it will resonate. And The Greatest Game Ever Played for golf fans but the book is much, much better.

  6. Great list. Costner deserves to make the list four times. All of the ones you mentioned are fab films.

    I would still put Rocky II over Rocky I, but I love them both. I even like III, IV, and V, and Rocky Balboa.

  7. Yeah……”We Are Marshall” gets my vote for top 5. As does “Miracle”. Screw the art-sy smartzy crowd, I just want the good guys to win. Both of these movies win on final coach’s speech alone. When I finally get into UFC shape, those Mp3 gems will be blasting my Ipod as I step into the Octagon. We are…

  8. Every movie was good in your top ten, but you didnt have the sandlot or any new sports movies but overall good choices

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