Following is the list of my favorite sports movies. I know it’s probably shy a few really good ones but these are films that have stuck in my head and I’ve watched a time or twenty. For some reason I keep wanting to add The Natural to the list but in all honesty I only saw it once and though I remember liking it the only things I remember are that it starred Robert Redford and it was about baseball. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t qualify it as a favorite. Feel free to chime in with some of your own favorites or even question some of mine. We’re all entitled to our own opinions. I’d like to hear some of yours. I assure you that not all of the movies will have a long-winded reason for my favor. I’ll try to keep it to a minimum. Now, in no particular order…
1) The Stratton Story (1949) - I just watched this again about an hour ago. If ever there was a come-back story this one is it. And if you’re a baseball fan and have never seen this movie you should. Forget that. Everyone should see this movie. So there. Jimmy Stewart plays the role of Monty Stratton, a farm boy who plays 5 years for the Chicago White Sox. His career is prematurely interrupted when a hunting accident necessitates the amputation of his right leg. But Monty doesn’t stay down. He never got back to his pre-injury talent but he still played. Despite cheap bunts by opposing teams. And this is back before sports prosthetics. We’re talking the 1940s here people. I promise this movie makes for good watching.
2) Miracle (2004) - I grew up watching the Oklahoma City Stars play hockey. My dad was still in school and this was a relatively cheap entertainment that my whole family could enjoy. Despite a love of the sport I was completely oblivious, at the mature age of 8, to the fact that the US defeated Russia in hockey. Why was this match such a big deal? The Russians had been training for years. The US team? Months. The Russian team was a hockey power house. They had taken Olympic gold 6 years running. They had veteran players. The average age of players on the US team? 21 years. Several of the men on the Russian team had played together for 15 years. And finally, President Jimmy Carter announced that the US would be boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. I find it amazing that Brezhnev didn’t reply in kind regarding the Winter Olympics in New York. Had he done so this game would never have taken place and there is a pretty good chance Russia would have continued on as the ultimate team to beat. As it was, the US got to change the history of hockey…in a big way. I get that I didn’t say a lot about the movie itself but I’m hoping just the basic facts will pique your interest. I love sports films based on true stories. This is definitely one to watch.
3) Mystery, Alaska (1999) - Yes, another hockey movie. A small town team in Alaska is chosen to play against the New York Rangers in a televised event. I first watched this because it’s about hockey but also because it stars Russell Crowe. Two very good reasons if I do say so myself. This is a fun movie to watch. I especially like the scene in which the player gets knocked out with a snow shovel. He so had it coming.
4) The Replacements (2000) – “Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory…lasts forever.” The best line in the whole stinkin’ movie. Yes. This is a comedy/come-back type of sports movie but it’s good just the same. And it stars Keanu Reeves who, I am not ashamed to admit, is just all kinds of cute. Please don’t let they sway your opinion of my little movie/dinner site. Oh! And if you have a weak stomach I highly recommend fast-fowarding through the scene just after the player eats the eggs. I know I do.
5) Blue Skies Again (1983) – “What did you say?” You heard me. I know a lot of you have probably never heard of this movie. My sister and I discovered it on HBO (I think that was the channel) and watched it nearly every time it came on. It’s a baseball movie. “So what?” you ask? It’s a baseball movie starring Robyn Barto as the female…yes, you read that correctly…who tries out for a minor-league baseball team. This movie never won any awards and was virtually unheard of but we didn’t care. We got to see the obstacles she had to overcome just to get the try-out and when she did make the team (sorry to ruin it for you) the other team refused to even pitch to her. But everything came out in the wash. This is a good girl-power movie. I just wish I could find it on DVD.
6) Without Limits (1998) – This is another based-on-a-true-story movie. Steve Prefontaine was a track star in the early ‘70s who still holds unbeaten world records to this day. As I have never in my entire life enjoyed running and I was just a month or two old when Pre raced in the Munich Olympics, I hadn’t heard of this film before I ran across it in a friend’s movie collection. Did it motivate me to get out there and run? No. But I still liked the movie.
7) Moneyball (2011) – See? I told you it made my list. See my post to get the 411.
8) Ice Castles (1978/2010) – Seriously? You’re darn tootin’! Ice skating is a sport. If you’ve never heard of this movie or its remake you’re either a guy (wow, that was sexist!) or you just didn’t feel like watching a film about ice skating. The main song, “Through The Eyes of Love”, is uber-famous. This is the story of Lexie Winston, a small-town ice skater with no formal training who catches the eye of a competitive skating coach. She is destined for greatness when an accident causes her to lose her sight. Despite this fact she works her way back to the competitive skating world. My favorite line? “We forgot about the roses.” Just a warning. The original movie drops the F-bomb…a lot!
9) A League of Their Own (1992) – I love this movie. It’s got girls playing baseball when the boys go off to fight a war. What’s not to love?
10) Goal! The Dream Begins (2005) – This is the story of Santiago, a kid who dreams of becoming a professional soccer player…pardon me…footballer. I believe this was set up to be a trilogy and I own the first two films but haven’t heard anything yet about the third. I hope it gets made because they kinda left us hanging.
11) -16) The Rocky Movies – Yup. All of ‘em. I can’t help it. I’m addicted.
17) Stick It (2006) – Well. That was rude. Ha! This is a gymnastics movie. But! Not your typical gymnastics movie. Haley Graham is forced to enroll in an elite gymnastics program. Unfortunately, it happens to be a program upon which the snooty competition judges look down their noses. Because of this the gymnasts are given lower scores than they should have been. In one instance a point is deducted because the girl’s bra strap was showing. But it’s not just their team that is suffering. The girls’ scores are based more on popularity than skill. Yes. They do have to be somewhat good but little things are overlooked if they’re beloved. “That would only happen in the movies,” you say? Really? Have you paid attention to an Olympic sport in which judges are necessary? It’s not always fair and you know it. Haley sets out to change the rules. There is some cussing but it’s a cute movie nonetheless. I especially like the mall scene. And anyone who thinks gymnastics is not a sport needs to pay close attention to Haley’s solo training scene. Yikes! No thank you very much.
18) Wimbledon (2004) – Ask me what I know about tennis and I will tell you…Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Björn Borg. What? I know the very basics of the game but couldn’t even begin to explain it to anyone. Why did I watch this movie? Paul Bettany. Enough said.
I could probably go on and on but I think 18 is a pretty good list, don’t you? What are some of your favorites?
P.S. Judging by my responses on FB I missed quite a few. Looks like I'm going to have to break down and separate out the different sports. Consider this my first draft.