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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

15 Greatest Sports Movies of All-Time: The Honorable Mentions

In order to keep the good discussion going in the off-season (while staying away from hot button topics for a bit), I started mulling over (what started as) my 10 favorite sports movies of all time. But there were so many films on the list, I expanded it to 15.

Today are the six films that didn't quite make the top 15 cut but are still good films. In no particular order, those "Honorable Mentions" are:

* KARATE KID - Anybody who saw this growing up, immediately and forever more, thought that that blonde haired Cobra Kai kid was the biggest dick on the planet...until you met his sensai Mr. John Kreese.

KREESE: Sweep the leg.
[Johnny doesn't answer]
KREESE: Do you have a problem with that?
JOHNNY: No, sensai.
KREESE: No mercy.

Just typing the dialogue above, I want to see that kid get his ass kicked all over again when Ralph Macchio does that one-legged grass hopper jump thing.

* MIRACLE - Truth be told, this probably only even makes the honorable mention list because the true life event - the Miracle on Ice at the '80 Olympics, when the heavily favored Russians lost to the U.S. hockey team in the midst of the Cold War - was so damn incredible itself. The film, while good not great, gets a pass simply by telling that story for the big screen.

"U...S...A! U...S...A!"

"Do you believe in Miracles?! Yes!"

* VISION QUEST - Vision Quest? Yes, Vision Quest. That wrestling movie with Matthew Modine? No, that hot chick movie with Linda Fiorentino. I could give a rat's cornhole about wresting. But I wanted to take it up after seeing this in the hopes that my parents would rent a room in our house to a sexy drifter like Fiorentino who would then teach me the ways of the world.

As my blogging life probably hints at, unfortunately that didn't happen.

* ROUNDERS - I saw this when it first came out before I started playing poker and I liked it but didn't love it. Then I saw it again after I had been playing for awhile.

Although, if I have to sit at one more table where some jackass does his Teddy KGB impression while "splashing zee vucking pot," I'm gonna smack somebody.

* INVINCIBLE - This is one I had no desire to see when it first came out. If, like me, you see a lot of sports movies, so many of them are all the same. You know where they're going before you even step foot in the theater. This fell into that category for me. Yet somehow I ended up watching it on DVD and, although many of the story scenes were things you could predict, something about this movie just clicked and I really liked it.

* SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER - Frankly, the only reason this isn't in my top 15 is because - like poker - I simply can't count chess as a sport. But the move is fantastic. If you haven't seen this because you don't want to see "some stupid chess movie," do yourself a favor and check it out. Me thinks you won't be disappointed.

Tomorrow - Movies 15-10 (or however many I have time to get to)


whetstonebuck said...

I assume you will rank highly Joshua's cinematic life story:

Secretariat: The Later Years

TitleIX said...

I apologize for this interruption, but...
www.freep.com has awesome pics of Jack Morris!

Back to the movies!

in NO particular order---
1) Bull Durham
2) Field of Dreams
3) Bad News Bears
4) BRIAN'S SONG (football chick flick if there ever was one!)
5) Jerry McGuire (same idea)
6) Remember the Titans
7) Rocky
8) Talladega Nights (thank you baby jesus)
9) Caddy Shack?
10) Murderball
11) A League of Their Own
12) Hoosiers

Daniel said...

. . . does "Greatest" mean "Classics"? "Slapshot" and "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh" may not be considered "great" cinematic efforts, they sure are "classics".

Feelin' Blue said...

Two movies you should definitely include:

A League of Their Own: Not only is it a damn good sports movie, but it rivals Mean Girls for the title of the all-time greatest chick flick.

Rookie of the Year: Alriiight, Mom!

Ditto on Jerry Mig and Rocky. I have to see a few of the classics in T9's list. Whoops.

Possible candidates:

Ali: I thought it was overrated, but it was still good.

The Hurricane: It is great until you find out that the whole movie is one big lie, and boxing might just be a footnote in this one.

Glory Road: A recent one, but I liked it a lot. It would be perfect right now because of March Madness, but this is a list of the greatest movies of all time, not the greatest movies for March.

The Air Up There.
Above the Rim: It was either this one or He Got Game that was like 4 hours long and neverending. Maybe it was good, but I found it boring. But then again, I was 9 years old when I saw it.

Coming up next: If you add these movies, I'm going to scream

Ron said...

It's only been in theaters a little while now, hopefully Semi-pro makes the list. Love me sexy baby.

White Men Can't Jump. great trash talking flick.

Out of Conference said...

Caddy Shack
Any Given Sunday
Cannon Ball Run (if you count that a sport- which I'm ok if you dont)

too busy at work to think of others now, but hopefully I'll get a chance later

Nate said...

I will have a hard time accepting any list that does not have Karate Kid in the top 15. Its the best AROOOOUUUNNDD!!! I actually found Miracle to be pretty good too, but I think that was mainly due to it being true. Of course so was Karate Kid, right, right?????

Feelin' Blue said...

I still have to see Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and Remember the Titans. I am a little behind on those.

Oh way to go, T9! I just noticed that you mentioned a League of Their Own. One of the great all-time lines "There's no crying in baseball."

Movies that should never make the list:

The Program. Not even James Caan or the Heisman candidate Michigan QB Tim "All the" Wayman could save this hunk of turd. There was a scene filmed in which all of the players lie in the middle of the street to show that they are good under pressure. That scene was left on the cutting room floor after some kids tried to do that after seeing a preview. They should have included the scene but have the whole team get run over and just end the movie there.

Showgirls. I am sorry, Josh, but exotic dancing does not count as a sport. As anyone who has been to a strip club will tell you, it is hard to score anyway. And even if you do manage to score, you still end up losing, unless you count chlamydia as a prize.

The Cutting Edge.

Rudy. Two words: Notre Dame. Not enough of a good reason? Fine, add it to the list.

Anything about the Yankees. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em in the ear.

You should add Raging Bull unless you don't consider it a sports movie. Another one might be Chariots of Fire, but I haven't seen it since I was a child.

Oh, and I hear Hoop Dreams is good too. I don't know if I saw it though. I might be confusing it with Above the Rim or He Got Game. Wait, He Got Game is the Spike Lee one, right? Ok, I didn't see that one. So it was Hoop Dreams or Above the Rim, or both.

Longest Yard could be up there, but it loses some of its shine since the remake featured a line about A--------n State.

Beauford Bixel said...

Please say that you'll have "breaking away" in your top 10 - if only for comedic value. Think about Dennis Quad in short-shorts. Oh, and they're denim.

Ron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron said...

I forgot one -

Varsity Blues - High-Sterical

"I don't want your life"

"Kyle, did you start a cult, that's so sweet"

Joshua said...

Varsity Blues gave us Ali larter in a whipped cream bikini. And you know who likes Ali Larter in a whipped cream bikini?

THIS GUY! (points at self with both thumbs.)

I assume you will rank highly Joshua's cinematic life story:

Secretariat: The Later Years

The sad part is it took me 5 minutes to get this joke. True story.

Hemlock Philosopher said...

Playing cards is not and should never be considered a Sport. Although "Rounders" was a good flick, it should never be considered a Sport. Yes, ESPN shows Texas Hold Em tournaments, but this doesn't make it a sport.

Sgt. Wolverine said...

Good call, T9; Murderball was good. Also, some of the guys in the movie would make you scared NOT to increase wheelchair seating in the stadium...

How about The Natural?

whetstonebuck said...

Josh, you stud, have another cup of coffee or at least wake up and smell it.

Way too slow for your neurons.

whetstonebuck said...

You can't count any sports flick in the top five if the last sequence isn't in slow motion. That's just a law of the universe.

CaliGirl said...

What?!?! The recent release of the Cutting Edge 3,206,005 didn't make it?? How about Stick It?

Bull Durham HAS to be up there.

Others I'd rank, not listed already by others:

(in no particular order)

Major League (c'mon...Wild Thing??)
Pride of the Yankees (Gary Cooper playing Lou Gerhig is great)
Kingpin (is Bowling a real sport?!?!)
Gladiator (if you consider Roman gladiator fighting a sport...they did)
Tin Cup
Eight Men Out

This is a great topic, next we should do the WORST sports movies of all time!

Joshua said...


Just read Carty's Part 2 from today and at this point there are only two scenarios:

A) Carty has been co-opted by the Knights of the Unholy Jellybean, a secret society based in caverns deep under the diag. He is being used as a pansy to write this story in an attempt at distraction. The real story is that we genetically engineer terminator style athletes powered by the energy expended in "down in front" shouts of angry blue hairs who think they're at a tea party and not a f-ing football game. (Only apparently we're not that good at making said athletic monstrosities- see recent record vs. OSU for proof.)


B) He really just spent months of his life researching that "investigative report" and believes it to be newsworthy.

My money is definitely on A.

surrounded in columbus said...

no one has suggested "Cinderella Man"? Lloyd and BFF Russell would both be very disappointed.

also, "Raging Bull"?

"Seabiscuit"?? basically Cinderella Man rides a horse?

as for football, "Something for Joey" is the ONLY thing to ever come out of PSU worth watching twice (including 1988 Fiesta Bowl clips).

everything ever made by Warren Miller?

and what about "Dodgeball"??? come on, the movie gave us the line: "Guys, you had me at 'blood and semen'"???

Feelin' Blue said...

Oh yeah...

I forgot about Cinderella Man. I think that was the one I was trying to think of but I got too caught up with trying to remember He Got Above the Rim in His Hoop Dreams. Awesome, awesome movie. And I already mentioned Raging Bull.

Joshua, apparently Jim Carty got all of his info from a source named "Fathomless Larynx."

Dodgeball is one of the best sports comedies. Don't worry, I still remember Caddy Shack. Talladega Nights? Nope. It was not that funny, although it had funny parts, and NASCAR should not be considered a sport, or should at least be banned because it is a waste of gas. Sorry, Days of Thunder fans.

Mathew said...

I have to agree with Hemlock Philosopher. I love your blog and you've had a lot of great reads over the year or so I've been reading it, but you just lost a lot of credibility in my eyes by calling poker a sport (particularly when you also called out chess as not being a sport... there is nothing about poker to make it more of a sport than chess). Likewise I sincerely hope that you have the good sense to not include any of the following non-sports in your top 25:
-Auto-racing of any kind
-Competitive eating

One movie that definitely should make the list that hasn't been mentioned yet is Without Limits. Amazing, amazing movie. Even having seen it a bunch of times, I find myself holding my breath during the race in Munich every time.

Joshua said...



Feelin' Blue,
quit everything you are doing and go rent Field of Dreams and Bull Durham. RIGHT NOW. This is imperative to your ability to exist as a human being. Unless you're celebrating St. Patty's in which case you rent The Boondock Saints (GREATEST. MOVIE. EVER.), then watch the others while recovering from your hangover tomorrow.

Always stop what I'm doing and watch the Natural to the end whenever it's on. It's a rule.

It's March 17th, and I'm not out drinking. I'm at work. I'm not even drinking at work. It's 12:59 pm, which puts me about 6 hours behind my traditional morning Car Bomb, I don't know which is more confused- my brain or my liver, and I think my inner leprechaun is weeping.

Dezzi said...


surrounded in columbus said...

another possible movie- "Forrest Gump". not typically thought of as a "sports" movie, Forrest becomes an all american @ Bama, plays China in Ping Pong, and invents jogging.

as for Carty & the AA News series, i have to wonder how they sold taking up 4 days of space to the editor. the Detroit News angle on this: http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080317/SCHOOLS/803170361/1131/SPORTS0201
is basically that the investigation showed up no wrong doing. that leaves Carty w/ a 4 day story line about "things that don't look good" but are hardly violations or even uncommon.

the only other venues to pick up this non story are the NY Times, which dutifully reports that players were steered to easy classes: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/sports/ncaafootball/17michigan.html?ex=1206417600&en=4c17a3d7770b8317&ei=5070&emc=eta1

and EDSBS, which laughs at Jim Delaney's "holier than thou" comparison of the Big Ten to the SEC.

even the Dispatch, which likes to report when anyone north of Toledo sneezes and forgets to say "excuse me" hasn't picked this up. THAT's how dull this is.

Nate said...


Sports Illustrated also picked up the story (from the NYT):

Look we all know this stuff happens at every school with a respectable athletic program, but a headline like "Report: Michigan Classes Too Easy" doesn't look great.

surrounded in columbus said...

no, it looks "bad". despite two separate investigations having cleared this prof, the U will have to look more closely at referrals to him and consider steering players away. i think most of our alums & fans won't tolerate even the appearance of improper behavior. some changes will be made.

that said, the headline "athletes take easy classes" only looks bad. it will be intersting to see how many people bother to read the 3rd and 4th installments of the series. the AANews has better saved up something really earth shattering if anyone is going to follow this tomorrow.

jcloverboi said...

i can't believe no one's mentioned Air Bud or Air Bud 2: Golden Receiver. Do you people have hearts of stone?! Both are brimming with sports, and there is no purer love in the world that than between a boy and his dog.

Out of Conference said...


Nate said...


As a non-Michigan fan, I see this as a complete non-story. Some athletes take easier courses, surprise, surprise. If Michigan didn't have such a strong academic rep, it wouldn't be a story at all. I mean I can't imagine a headline of "WVU players steered toward easier classes," and I went to school there.

kristy said...

I have to agree with League of Their Own. Very good and I love tom Hanks in pretty much anything he does.
Tin Cup-fun except the PAINFUL hole in the open that he just can't clear the water hazard on. Also, the kids would probably lke to vote for Space Jam. Y'know, the one with M. Jordan and the Luney Tunes?:) How about Bring It On? Cheering with attitude!! LOL! I really liked Coach Carter. Sam Jackson is a great Actor.

whetstonebuck said...

If cheering is a sport so is country line dancing.

kristy said...

"Jeapardy is gonna call Billy!!!"
"You lost all the money Billy?!?!?! I Can't believe you BIILLLy!!"
White Men Can't Jump
Rosie Perez and her high pitched voice made that movie!!

Joshua said...

Knocking off work early- my inner leprechaun is doing a jig.

Dez- great call on Bloodsport.

And I still contend that stripping is a sport. One of my ex's could do things on a pole that'd make men AND women cry. (Get your mind out of the gutter- I mean from an athletic workout standpoint. Well, the other way too.) And before anyone gets all "judgemental" she scored a 34 on her ACT, looked like the girl next door, and is still one of the most incredibly intelligent women I've ever had the chance of knowing. AND she made me wait 6 weeks before taking off her bra. Seriously- you're a stripper! What's up with that? Leave it to me to date the one prudish stripper in North America.

Feelin' Blue said...

I am sorry to say Josh that I am just a lame human being and have not gotten around to seeing those movies. It's okay, though. I have a friend who still hasn't seen Back to the Future. That might, however, be like John Wayne Gacy saying, "At least I didn't eat people like Jeffrey Dahmer did!"

I have to disagree with you on Boondock Saints. That distinction of greatest movie ever should go to The Departed, which I think really is one of the greatest movies ever. I thought Boondock Saints was just okay.

I was about to watch Field of Dreams On Demand, but I just never got around to it. As my beloved Indian guy in 40-Year-Old Virgin might say, holy shit man, I gotta get on that.

Feelin' Blue said...

Anyone doing a bracket? I don't know what to do with Tenn. UNC is just the best on paper, and I don't know who I should have win that region. I think Tenn has a great shot at winning it all, especially after they came so close to beating OSU last year and Bruce Pearl knows how to motivate his team.

Another problem is that there has never been a tournament in which all four #1 seeds made it to the Final Four, but these #1 seeds might just be the best four teams, bar Tenn. Memphis is also really great on paper, but I just don't know how vulnerable they are in a tourney situation where not everyone is in C-USA. I also feel like this will be the year that a 1 seed finally loses in the first round. It has to be. It would be in line with all of the other upsets that took place this year.

FreeTheFan said...

Intriguing that you would consider "Karate Kid" a sports movie, not that I disagree.

I would disagree with the notion that filling out an NCAA Tourney Bracket for free with a chance to win $2,000 in prizes is not worth the time. Check it here:

Why not? I feel like simply filling out the brackets is fun; hopefully I'll get one right.

Sgt. Wolverine said...

"but these #1 seeds might just be the best four teams"

Ah, but you know that in a playoff situation, "best team" and "winning team" aren't necessarily the same things.

JCF said...

The Natural.

I was pretty young when it came out and not a huge baseball fan, but old enough to know a thing or two about that intrinsic quality to sports that makes what happens on the court, the field, and so on, so very, very special.

When Hobbs hits that final HR and rounds the bases there are sparks drifting to the ground. The scene is in slow-motion. And then there is this cut to a shot of Pops (the old-timer and down on his luck manager who just wanted to get to the World Series--win or lose). He is sitting in the dugout, by himself and perfectly still in the dark. All you really see well is his eyes (the sparks reflecting on his glasses), his mouth slightly agape. Dumbfounded and marveling at what he just witnessed. A realization of the ultimate trajectory of all of the love and work he had put into the sport his entire life. Magic. The kind that is real and can happen in real life thanks to that thing we call sports.

Man, I'm getting chills just thinking and writing about it. Every time I see that scene, no matter how old I am, I cry. It sums it all up for this sports fan.

surrounded in columbus said...

kicking myself for having not listed this one earlier, but for anyone over the age of 40-

"North Dallas Forty" was a "must see" into the seemier side of "america's team".

Feelin' Blue said...


I thought that distinction rested with Debbie Does Dallas.

surrounded in columbus said...

given the nature of "the crowd" around here, i assumed eveyone had already seen that, regardless of age.

however, it does bring up the question of whether "porno" qualifies as a sport. certainly more so than poker or chess.

Sgt. Wolverine said...

Has Friday Night Lights been mentioned yet?

zen wizard said...

How about "Most Miscast Sports Movies Ever"?

E.g., Richard Lewis in Game Day; Tim Robbins in Bull Durham; etc.

I don't know about "Best Sports Movie Ever," or even, "Best Movie that Came Out the Week It Was Released," but if you could only see one sports movie, you should see The Comebacks because it contains elements of every sports movie ever made.

beast in 'bama said...

In my mind it's difficult to come up with 15 decent sports movies, period, much less the 15 "best" sports movies.

One that is excellent and hasn't been mentioned is "This Sporting Life" with Richard Harris - the actor who played the original Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, for all you youngsters.

It does a good job of examining the enormous lure of professional sports (rugby, in this case) as a means of escaping poverty. Harris' character is an excellent study in blind obsession. The rugby scenes reflect the brutality of the sport.

Others mentioned that I like - Raging Bull, North Dallas Forty (good one, SiC), and (God help me, I do love it so) Breaking Away. Ciao!

zen wizard said...

I have mixed feelings about Debbie Does Dallas.

On one hand, she was supposedly a real Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.

On the other hand--and I will have to review the screenplay, but--I don't think she ever makes it to Dallas.

I mean, I realize that the plot of the movie is all about her quest to make it to Dallas, but still...

zen wizard said...

On a serious note, I hate soccer, but Escape to Victory where the Nazi prison camp prisoners have a chance to escape during halftime but play the rest of the game for propaganda and other reasons is a kick-ass idea.

And as I recall it was executed pretty well:


Ron said...

SOrry, not watching Field of Dreams or Bull Durham until Kevin Costner goes on tour and apologizes for Robin Hood, prince of bad acting.
Caddyshack -

Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!

zen wizard said...

White Men Can't Jump should have been titled, White Men Can't Jump--And Make Sure You At Least Audition The Black Guy On A Basketball Court.

TitleIX said...

re: Carty
An open letter....

Jimbo, you win the prize in journalism titled, "NO SHIT SHERLOCK!" (apropos for today)
Yep, Men's Bball and Fball players have talent that is not necessarily cerebral in nature.

However, to paint ALL Michigan athletes with that "General Studies" cake-walk brush is a travesty. Sunday's article mentions T'Shia Walker from Women's BB. Mr. Cary, you neglected to mention that T'Shia is graduating from Michigan ON TIME and is GOING TO LAW SCHOOL. Perhaps she actually benefited from the extra attention re: study skills, organizational skills, and academic counseling that she received?????

JIMBO--check out the MED SCHOOL, since it has a pre-matriculation program for students that are identified ahead of time as "at risk". They are 'brought up to speed' if you will before their other classmates matriculate. Ohhh? Another cover-up??? Please.

Independent studies are de rigeur Mr. Carty. Practically every student on campus takes one or two during Spring and/or Summer over the course of their years at Michigan. WHY? Because it helps fill out the distribution requirements for degrees, it keeps you on campus during a 'chill' time of year, and you get to meet one on one or in small groups with a prof for more individualized support. Hell I took Physics during Spring. Why? Cuz I suck at math so I wanted to take it by itself to maximize my opportunity for success. That, and I didn't have to go back to the 'burbs and live with my folks all summer long.....

My bet is that if you'd have checked the physics department you would have found a large number of physics majors doing indep. studies with a small number of profs. Conspiracy on the part of physics?????? me thinks not.

So, Congratulations Jim Carty super journalist sleuth guy.
For telling us all what we already know and for completely ignoring the zillion other successful athletes in Soccer, Softball, Baseball, Gymnastics, Swimming & Diving, Volleyball, Hockey, Women's BBall, Tennis, XCountry, Track & Field, Golf, Wrestling, Women's Water Polo, Field Hockey and any other varsity sport I've left out....

Can't WAIT to see what super-expose secrets await us tomorrow....

Back to the movies.
Did anyone say North Dallas 40 yet?

Tom C said...

Joshua said One of my ex's could do things on a pole that'd make men AND women cry.

Ex? What the hell man! We live vicariously through you, and you let her get away? Look, that whole Alien thing can be ignored.....

Tom C said...

Jeezus someone pull T9 offa that guy while there is still breath in him. Girl, you can't beat stupid outa someone. It decays with the corpse.

TitleIX said...

Point well taken tom c.

maybe that's why Yost didn't post a thread about it...he knew that yonder f-dragon would get lose and blow the place up.

I'll simmer.

Mikoyan said...

Hmmm...In no particular order though

1. Gladiator
2. Major League
3. Slapshot
4. Varsity Blues
5. The Replacements (The English dude taking a cig before going out is classic)
6. The Pride of the Yankees
7. The Program

And not Rudy. I'm sick of all the domer propaganda out there.

Out of Conference said...

Good pull on Major League, Mikoyan. That deserves to be up there.

kowisja said...

Tell them I'm through. For the love of the game. -- Billy Chapel

For the Love of the Game ranks right behind Bull Durham for a movie you can watch with your girlfriend. Love story, a Tiger throwing a perfect game over the Yankees, what's not to love?

What about the Little Giants?? No love for the Annexation of Puerto Rico?

No one mentioned Rookie of the Year or Little Big League thank god.

zen wizard said...

Listening to the writer talk about the concept on sports talk radio, and seeing the trailer, I am going to go out on a limb and say that Leatherheads will probably be up there somewhere.

I don't know about "best movie ever."

It just seems that the concept is really clever.