By: James Graves
With all this Oscar talk in the media what better time to come up with a list of the best sports movies to ever grace our land. Now before we get started I wanted this to be an accurate list, so I’ve taken the liberty of removing movies that have sports themes but does not necessarily focuses on the sport. For example, while many consider Jerry Maguire one of the best sports films of all time I have excluded from this list because it is a movie that stars a sports agent and high profile football player versus the actual sport of football. I even had to remove one of my favorites (Ali) in order to stay “objective”. With that said let’s kick things off shall we.
5. Space Jam (1996)
Okay, let’s be honest who didn’t see this one making the cut. Warner Brothers hit a Goldmine with this Classic. Bringing the Star Power of his “Airness” together with his “Hareness”. Space Jam deserves a spot on the list for not only being a good movie, but it was also unique the closest thing anyone of us can compare it to without committing blasphemy is “Who framed Roger Rabbit”. The story itself was very simple and there is minimal character development but the movie is at its charming best when Michael finally agrees to help the toons out. While Space Jam isn’t my top rated sports movie of all time it’s absolutely the most fun to watch.
4. Little Giants (1994)
Let’s face it at the heart of almost every great sports story there is an underdog. Little Giants focuses on a team full of them. Little Giants is a football film thru and thru but touches on so many familiar feelings and experiences we’ve all had growing up. Sibling Rivalry is one of the subjects explored in the film, and tied directly to the plot as the O’shea Brothers try to rally their respective teams into victory. Little Giants also had a terrific message for young ladies who weren’t into doll babies and playing house when they were growing up. The “Icebox” was arguably the best athlete on either of the two teams and by the time her character arc is over she’s learned that she doesn’t have to give up what she loves just to be loved. The football game for the most part was filled with comedy hijinks complete with the clichéd comeback from the underdog. Little Giants is a movie that is focused on an insignificant coach, with an insignificant team, setting out to do something significant both the team and movie succeed.
3. Friday Night Lights (2004)
Friday Night Lights was my first time seeing exactly what it is like to play football in a “football town”. In fact part of what makes the movie so captivating is how dedicated Odessa was to Permian High and its football team. There is a scene which shows most retail stores would close early on game days to go and enjoy the game. Friday Night Lights also showed us a tragic side of football. Tim McGraw performance as former Permian champion and alcoholic abusive father who didn’t make it out of Odessa is phenomenal. We were also shown how a freak accident can derail someone’s future in Derek Luke’s character Booby Miles who had a career ending injuring in a scrimmage. The movie does an exceptional job showing how football has impacted the family dynamic Booby Miles was concerned with being able to take care of his elderly father, and Tim McGraw pushed his son to succeed so much to the point where he is actually pushing him away. Friday Night Lights is a fantastic Drama and for that matter a fantastic sports movie.
2. Remember the Titans (2000)
Remember the Titans is the second movie on this list based on true events Friday Night Lights is the other. Remember the Titans is the story of Herman Boone and the 1971 T.C. Williams High School football Titans. The plot is fairly simple a new black coach is brought in to coach and maintain a successful football program in the face of the newly desegregated T.C. Williams. The movie does a great job illustrating all of the difficulties that Coach Boone would inevitably go thru to bring his team together. However this is only the first half of the movie as the rest of the movie focuses on Coach Boone’s job security, Racial insensitivity in that time period, and Coach Bill Yate struggle with handing his team to Boone and the fallout of eventually supporting and befriending Boone. Everything about this movie works from the soundtrack to casting is top notch. In all honesty there is only one sports movie I consider better.
1. The Sandlot (1993)
The Sandlot is a sports movie that in my personal opinion belongs on any list detailing “best sports movies”. From the legend of the “Beast”, to the actual realization of who “Babe Ruth” is to the main character. Insanely Quotable the Sandlot is a movie that will make anyone fall in love with baseball. It’s also the most relatble film on this list as everyone can identify with being the “new kid” we all were “new kids” at some point in our life. The movie focuses on Smalls a.k.a the new kid as he struggles to make some friends in his new neighborhood. Eventually he meets a group of kids who have all come together for their love of baseball. From then on the movie explores all the hijinks the group gets into throughout summer vacation and beyond. The climax of the film begins when the group loses the prized autographed baseball. Desperate to get it back the group goes through several different means to somehow recover the ball without becoming food for the “Beast”. I don’t want to go into any more as it would be difficult to continue without spoiling some of the movie.
I highly recommend the Sandlot and for that matter every single movie on this list. If you agree with me or think that I have the worst taste in movies feel free to leave your comments below.