Need a break? Osso’s top-10 sports movies of all-time
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — We are all looking for ways to pass the time while we are spending more time at home than we are used to. If you are looking for a something to fill the void of sports, perhaps watching, or more than likely re-watching, a great sports movie will hit the spot. To help, I give you this way-to-detailed guide to my personal top-10 list of sports movies.
First off, this is a deep look into my mind and that might not be the safest thing in the world, so read ahead at your own risk.
I admit I hate creating top-10 lists when it comes to movies because it’s like ranking your favorite kids, or pets. I love so many of them and always have to leave some out, and once you hit publish, it’s final. It makes it worse when it’s as broad a topic, I mean I could easily rank a top-10 baseball movies, or football, or boxing, well you get it. When ranking the top-10, you could easily grab my 11-20 and it will be almost an equal list.
So here’s how I came to this list. I’m not a panderer in any way. I hate lists that always have the same five movies on the top just to avoid negative feedback. Top-10 dramas…Casablanca. Top-10 comedies…Casablanca. Top-10 animated films….Casablanca. Yes, I love the older movies, but if I’m being honest, some just don’t stand the test of time. Don’t believe me? Throw Caddyshack on for a sixteen year old to watch for the first time, it’s highly unlikely that kid will laugh as much as you do. Caddyshack is an all-time classic, it doesn’t mean I’m watching it this weekend. Heck, the people that would argue that it’s not on my list are more likely to throw in a copy on their still functioning VCR than streaming it.
If I were to rank these movies again in a year, it may look completely different, but given where we are today, this list makes the most sense to me.
To be on this list there are some qualities I look for, first off it has to actually be a good movie. Not good as in, he I watched that when I was a kid and I like it. Good as in, the quality of film it actually is. Quotability is very high on my list as well, after all if a movie becomes part of our pop culture, it has gone beyond just another movie.
So, without more rambling and excuse making, here are the top-10 all-time sports movies as decided by the law firm of Quill & Gamora Osso.
10. TIN CUP
What??? over Caddyshack???
Yes over Caddyshack. Going back to my earlier statements, Caddyshack is an all-time classic, but if you didn’t grow up with it, it’s really not a great movie. The plot is terrible, the acting is way over the top, and every element of the film is low-budget. I mean there are golf covers that look more realistic than the gopher they are chasing around.
So why Tin Cup? It’s actually a pretty good movie. There’s a good backstory, there’s humor, a love interest, and a great bad guy. David Simms is the perfect fit as he’s a normal guy who’s just smarmy enough for you to really dislike him. He’s not over the top like Shooter McGavin or Judge Smails. Plus, he’s kind of based on a real golf superstar so I love the shade.
Roy McAvoy is a great character full of flaws, with an equally flawed group of friends. He of course chases the girl, but in a more charming way than most. I mean seriously, how many of us go to therapy just to impress a girl? Oh, maybe more of us than I thought.
Why it’s not ranked higher than 10
SPOILER: The only issue I have with this movie is the final shot in the US Open. The meltdown is fine, it’s frustrating, but it’s fine. I just don’t like the fact that when he finally gets the ball over the water, the ball goes in the hole. It’s a little too cheesy, even for a cheesy movie. Up til then there are some pretty realistic golf scenes in this movie, but come on, dude can’t even get it over the water for four days then he knocks it in from 250 against a head wind? I know they were looking for the perfect way to wrap it up and I will take this ending over the predictable “he wins the tournament out of nowhere” ending. That would have been a true “Cinderella story.”
I allowed for one slapstick movie to get into the top-10 because, let’s face it, sometimes you just want to sit and laugh. Dodgeball edged out movies like Caddyshack and Talladega Nights because, well, it’s just funnier.
You can argue that movies like Caddyshack and Slapshot are as quotable as Dodgeball, but you can’t take a look in the mirror and admit they are more quotable than Dodgeball. I mean, who doesn’t know the 5 D’s of Dodgeball (I know you just said them in your head). If you can dodge a wrench…. or cram it in your cramhole.
Yes, the bad guy is overacted, but in a brilliant way. White Goodman is an all-time great bad guy. Heck you could do a top-10 list on best White Goodman quotes. The funny part of his character is we all know that gym guy who takes the gym a little too seriously, he’s that, on steroids. What makes the dynamic of White and Kate so great is that she can’t stand him, is repulsed by him, and is married to him in the real world.
While Peter La Fleur is the main character, they don’t just throw Vince Vaughn out there and say, hey carry the movie. The complimentary characters are amazing. Steve the Pirate is over the top, but lovable. Justin Long knocked it out of the park with his physical comedy, and Rip Torn and Stephen Root deliver their usual brilliant characters.
What pushes this movie above other slapstick sports comedies are the announcers at the tournament. Cotton McKnight and Pepper Brooks are the best fake broadcast team in a fake movie ever. Yes there are other great moments, but they really don’t have a bad line. You can watch this movie five times and catch a different joke than the last four times. That is some good, clean, family fun Cot.
even for a slapstick comedy the ending still kinda sucks
SPOILER: Of course Average Joes win a made up tournament against “world-class” competition. Of course it comes down to White vs. Peter. Of course a technique learned from a teacher earlier in the movie comes back. Of course Peter destroys White and gets the girl. Rumor has it the original cut of the movie ended when White hit Peter to eliminate him and the Purple Cobras win the tournament. The story goes, the testing of the movie was so bad, they were forced to re-cut it with the foot foul that causes sudden death. I actually would have really preferred them losing. I love movies where the bad guy wins. But in this case, I suppose I understand the mega-happy ending.
8. A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
I know Bull Durham usually makes these lists and I love the movie that gave us a free steak dinner, but A League Of Their Own is a massively underrated movie. Quotable? yes. Funny? yes. Emotional? yes. Tom Hanks? yes.
This might be my favorite Tom Hanks role he’s ever had and as we all know, that’s saying something. He’s hilarious, but also shows a lot of heart as only Tom Hanks can, you know, cause anything worth doing, is worth doing well.
The movie itself of course is based on the real story of the AAGPBL that you can see in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The movie does a great job in giving characters to like, but also understand what they are going through off the field. Many of them wondering if their husbands fighting in the war are safe.
My favorite part of the movie is the dynamic between the two sisters. Being a younger brother it hit home a lot, always trying to be as good as your older sibling is a real thing. The frustration of not being good enough is a real thing. And the belief you have to prove yourself to your older sibling even though they don’t need you to, is a real thing.
Why does this movie make me cry?
SPOILER: First off, anyone that knows me knows I’m a crier. It doesn’t take much to get the water-works going. But the moment the little sister wins, oh boy. My brother and I were very competitive growing up. I always played up in leagues and got to play with my brother for years. I was able to play sports across the country and help pay for my college, but my favorite sports memories are starting side-by-side in football and baseball with my brother in high school. It doesn’t mean it’s his favorite memory. Who wants to see their little brother playing as their equal? I’ve always wondered one thing about the end of the movie: did Dottie drop the ball on purpose because she knows what that would mean for her sister? My brother is one of the most competitive people I’ve ever known, and I think there’s a small chance he would have done that for me. But, like the movie, if he did do it on purpose, he would never let me know. That…makes me cry.
7. MYSTERY, ALASKA
“Over Slap Shot??? I’m not reading the rest of the list, this is crazy” says all my dad’s friends.
To be honest it was harder to put this movie in over Miracle than Slap Shot. Miracle was a tough one to leave off the list. Of course it tells the best sports story of our country’s history, and they did a great job. There’s just something about Mystery that stands out.
First off Mystery, Alaska is a great movie. The plot is good, though admittedly unbelievable, the photography is great, and the spirit of the movie is solid.
There is certainly humor in this movie, though not as much as Slap Shot, but enough to keep you interested to tell the story.
Everyone loves an underdog of course, and what bigger challenge than some local rec-league players taking down an NHL team?
The part of the plot that makes this great is the “what if we lose” angle. You have an entire town with a pride in one thing. What happens if they find out they’re not as good as they think they are? Then they have nothing. Of course that can be taken far beyond a made up hockey town into our real lives.
Why are you overrating this movie so much?
SPOILER: simple, they don’t win. If that last shot goes in to force overtime and they win, I throw this movie into the Mighty Ducks discount bin. The first time you watch this movie, there’s no doubt they are going to win, so it’s a bit of a stunner really. I mean the music is playing, they got the puck to the right guy, the clock is ticking down, of course the puck will go in. The lesson of the movie, there can be a good lesson learned in a loss. As we know, there are a lot of losses in the real world, some aren’t as devastating.
6. REMEMBER THE TITANS
This has to be the best football movie right? I love the original Longest Yard, I like Wildcats, Varsity Blues, and Friday Night Lights. Any Given Sunday gave us Willie Beamen. But how can you beat a true story of a high school team, and a town, learning to see each other as equals through sport?
Soundtrack is great, story is great, Denzel is great.
The best part of the movie is after spending time away and isolated, the team bonds and returns to their normal lives, but instead of an instant impact in their community, there is some fall back. That is so accurate to how we all seem to act after returning to the real world. The team is forced to re-connect before having the season they were hoping for. I love this part, it shows the reality of how hard it was, and still is, to make social change.
This movie has it covered from the left side to the strong side. The racial differences in the players, the coaches, and the community are all addressed.
What could have made the movie better?
A PG-13 rating. This doesn’t need to be a Die Hard level of swearing, but it’s really hard to take a movie about football seriously without a few strong words mixed in. Let’s be honest, the trash talk is embarrassing; “I’m going to hit you so hard, but the time you come to, you’re gonna need a new haircut!” The single worst line in a sports movie, ever. I understand it’s Disney, and I understand it’s a family movie, but that part was just awful.
Ewww, gross! a documentary!
I know, I know, but Murderball is probably the best movie most have never heard of.
The movie follows the United States wheelchair rugby team as they get ready for the 2004 Paralympic Games.
This is a raw, real look into the lives of people with spinal injuries. This movie proves they aren’t done living by any stretch of the imagination. They play rough, they play hard, and without fear. They are honest and open about their lives in every way.
There might not be a better rivalry in all of sports than the rivalry between the US and Canada wheelchair rugby teams. There’s dislike, then there’s this. The best part about it being a documentary, they don’t sugar coat anything. There’s no made up script for trash talk, you get the ultimate mic’d up segment.
Should I let my kids watch?
That depends, only you know what’s good for your kids. The story itself is great, the content might be a bit much, and the language is the opposite of Remember the Titans. This might go into the category of watch it first before showing the kids.
4. MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Narrated by Morgan Freeman. That’s it. That’s the reason.
This one has it all. We are getting into All-time great film category. Also, if you don’t cry, you are a robot.
The story lines are many, a young female boxer determined to be the best but slowed by people’s stereotypes of female athletes. The relationship between Frankie and Maggie is the lifeblood of the movie, and it doesn’t get much better than the performances of Eastwood and Swank in this one. It won several Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actress.
Any movie with a moral dilemma moves up in my book. You sometimes can feel worse after a movie because you might not have made the same decision. This movie makes you think, and that’s a good thing.
I know, it’s forbidden to rank any boxing movie ahead of Rocky. But they could have changed the name of this movie from Million Dollar Baby, to Million Times Better Than Rocky. They are completely different, and they both won huge awards. But I can’t honestly imagine a world where someone would watch these two movies and think Rocky is better. Sure you might feel better after watching Rocky, but if that’s the case, just watch a cartoon. Heck, Rocky IV is better than Rocky, in that movie one man solved the Cold War.
3. FIELD OF DREAMS
Ok, we’re getting into cliche’ territory.
Let’s face it, it’s the best baseball movie and baseball is America’s past time. Yes the game is slow and football is way more popular these days, but no sport in America connects generations more than baseball. That’s literally the story of this movie.
I mean, in this movie a man tries to connect with his dead father and finds what he’s looking for with the reluctant help of Darth Vader. It’s basically Star Wars in a corn field.
Ray Liotta is perfect in this movie, yes the guy from the terrible Chantix commercials. Playing the role of Kevin Costner’s dead father’s former hero. He’s the good guy in the movie, even if he doesn’t care to be.
Yesterday was supposed to be opening day for Major League Baseball, and we didn’t get it. American needs the James Earl Jones baseball speech as a symbol of hope.
This is a classic sports movie in it shows the connection we can have with family and friends over a game. Few memories in my life are better than growing up in a family that played and watched baseball together.
Wanna have a catch?
SPOILER: No. Nobody wants to have a catch. Nobody says that. Such a letdown that the climax of the movie is almost destroyed by him saying that. However, I’m lucky enough to still have my father. I know a lot of men that would give anything to play catch with their dad one more time, even if he said it wrong.
The Casablanca of sports movies.
I know, it’s on everybody’s list and I promised my list would be different.
There’s a reason it’s on everybody’s list. It’s awesome. A stubborn over-qualified high school basketball coach with a checkered past brings a small town together through basketball. It’s a bumpy ride, but along the way he brings a father and son together, he brings a legend back from retirement, and he makes believers of all of us.
The music alone is enough to give us goosebumps.
Pass the ball four times, practice without basketballs, play with four players on the floor when five were available. All iconic things.
A bonus goes to this movie because it gives us one of the best all-time sports movie athletes in Jimmy Chitwood. The dude never misses. He’s soft spoken and he’s lethal from the outside.
This is a feel-good movie. If you want to feel good about life right now, it’s tough to go wrong with Hoosiers.
The Picket Fence
SPOILER: One of the iconic scenes in this movie is when the town drunk takes over coaching because Norman Dale got ejected intentionally. After freezing to the moment, he opens up and runs the Picket Fence at them and nobody will ever get caught watching the paint dry. This is probably more iconic than the final play when Jimmy tells coach “I’ll make it.”
1-A. THE BIG LEBOWSKI
A tie? This isn’t Nam, there are rules!
There are exactly zero people in my life that didn’t know The Big Lebowski would be the number one movie on this list. It’s my favorite movie of all-time. However I will admit, there’s a bit of a stretch here to call it a sports movie. Yes the movie involves bowling, but it really isn’t about bowling. This is the Die Hard is the best Christmas movie loophole. Yes Die Hard is a Christmas movie, but is it about Christmas?
The Dude, Walter, and Donnie make up a bowling team. We don’t know if it’s a good team, we do know they made it into the Semi’s, but we don’t get a final answer.
So if it’s not about bowling, what is it about? I mean, nothing? It’s one of those movies that you tell your friends, “it’s so great,” they ask what it’s about, and you don’t really have an answer. I guess if I had to try, it’s a movie about a lazy dude that loves his rug, gets mistaken for someone else, and ends up in the middle of a ransom money transfer that may or may not be real. That clear enough?
How many other sports movies have festivals to celebrate their greatness? Is there a Slap Shot Fest? Well, there’s a Lebowski fest, and it is all over the country.
Over the line!!!
I fully admit many might not consider this a sports movie, and Kingpin is more of a bowling movie than Lebowski, but it’s my list so I don’t care. Also, I love Kingpin. Neither of these should be watched until the kids are in bed. The Dude abides.
1-B. CINDERELLA MAN
What is it about boxing movies? I mean the sport is barely relevant anymore, but man they make good sports movies. This is the best of them.
The story, of course, is about James J. Braddock the former heavyweight champion of the world. It’s not a spoiler if it’s real history right?
But the real story is the country in struggle during the Great Depression. Showing the struggle of keeping a roof over your head, of feeding your kids, of keeping the heat turned on.
It’s a story of humanity, a story of hope and the celebration of an unexpected victory.
This movie more than any other, shows how sports can unite people even during the toughest of times. It is the ultimate distraction and gives a sense of community more than anything else we have.
This movie may be tough to watch these days as we are in uncertain times filled with fears. But it might be what we need. A story to show we can overcome.
Who’s the real star?
The entire movie is near flawless, but the real star is Paul Giamatti. Outside of Sideways, this is his best role. His character shows the importance keeping your gloves up even outside the ring. And yes this movie makes me cry…several times…every time I watch it. Pop, Pop, Bang!
So that’s it, that’s my list. There is less than a 5% chance you agree with my list, there’s even less of a chance you read this entire thing. I hope it made you think, I hope it made you laugh, and I hope we can still be friends.
If you have any complaints please send them to: Idontcare@aol.com or text me at 555-NOPE
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