Seeing as how there are hundreds and hundreds of sports movies, I’ve had to extremely limit this list to a top 10 of my absolute favorite films in the category.
10. “Angels in the Outfield” - (1994 version) This remake of the 1950s version just barely made it on my list due to the fact that I haven’t seen it in probably well over 15 years. I was 6 when this movie came out, but I still remember it to this day, which is why it earned the 10th spot. The cast of Danny Glover, Christopher Lloyd and Tony Danza also helped. Instead of angels assisting the Pittsburgh Pirates, the film made use of Disney’s ownership of the California Angels, who let’s face it, legitimately needed some angels of their own in the mid 90s.
9. “The Waterboy” - Oh how I love this absolutely ridiculous Adam Sandler flick. It was a genuine toss-up between this and “Happy Gilmore,” but in the end the stuttering Bobby Boucher wins out in my book. Who can forget Coach Klein (Henry Winkler) and his Roy Orbison tattoo or Bobby’s mother (Kathy Bates) and her rants against Bobby playing “fooseball.” This film may be the reason why water is actually my favorite beverage, because after all, H2O really is better than Gatorade.
8. “Cool Runnings” - “Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s bobsled time!” In 1988 the Jamaican National Bobsled team made its debut in the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. The underdog team was the inspiration for the 1993 Disney movie. The movie loosely follows the true story, and even used real-life footage of the Jamaican’s 1988 bobsled crash. By the way, the Jamaicans still have a national bobsleigh team, even though they haven’t qualified for the past two Winter Olympics.
7. “The Mighty Ducks” series - Yes, I know that this is made up of three movies, but I’m still going to lump them all together. Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed the sequels more than the original, which is usually unheard of. The first Mighty Ducks film paved the way for Disney’s very own NHL team in a 1993 expansion, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The movies are slightly cliché, but still enjoyable. I’m still waiting for the day that I get to see a “knuckle puck” in real life.
6. “Miracle” - In 1980 the U.S. men’s hockey team won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. To get to the gold medal game, the U.S. had to beat the highly favored Soviet Union team. What is so miraculous about this, you ask? Up until 1980 the Soviets had won practically every world championship and Olympic tournament stemming all the way back to 1954. The Soviets were the team to beat, and it was expected that no one would beat them. U.S. coach Herb Brooks and his Olympic team had other ideas though. The acting in the 2004 film was superb (here’s looking at you, Kurt Russell), the action was enticing and all in all, this was a very well-done movie.
5. “The Blindside” - I have to admit, it took me longer than expected to get around to watching this movie. Boy am I glad I did, though! The 2009 semi-biographical flick is based on the life of Michael Oher, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. Prior to this film, I had never really heard of Oher. After this film, I can’t help but root for the guy. Sandra Bullock gave an incredible performance, which also won her an Oscar for Best Actress.
4. “Goon” - This was a Netflix special, a movie that I had vaguely heard of but had never actively sought out to watch. When I began watching this flick, I didn’t hold the highest of hopes for it. Thirty minutes into the film I realized that my worries were totally unjustified. I enjoyed this movie so much that I actually struggled with whether it should actually be No. 1 on my list. Oh the goons, a dying breed in my favorite sport, hockey. This movie is actually based off of the book “Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey Into Minor League Hockey.” Soon I will get around to reading the book, to really see how good a job the filmmakers did.
3. “Remember the Titans” - The fact that “Remember the Titans” is able to convey the trials Herman Boone faced in Alexandria, Va., as he coached a newly integrated football team is impressive by itself. Then you factor in the phenomenal cast and writers — Denzel Washington surely did Boone proud. I’m a sucker for history-based films, and even more so when there’s sports involved. Let’s not forget that there was some awesome music included on the film’s soundtrack.
2. “A League of Their Own” - Clearly this movie is one of my favorites, the proof is evident in the boldface print right at the top of this column! While this film is fiction, the background is very much steeped in true-life events. Perhaps you’ve heard mention of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League before? Hats off to the ladies of the AAGPBL — I could never slide in a skirt. Yes folks, the uniforms worn in this movie were not just a Hollywood made up thing. There’s an all-star cast in this film, from Tom Hanks to Madonna, who all do their part to make the characters seem real-life and believable. It worked and I bought it. A League of Their Own rightfully comes in right near the very top of this list.
1. “Slap Shot” - You had to know that a hockey movie would come in at the No. 1 spot on my list. You cannot rightfully call yourself a hockey fan unless you’ve seen this movie at least twice! Paul Newman plays the roll of coach and player for the fictional Charlestown Chiefs, a struggling minor league team, in a struggling small town. Newman’s character figures out that the way to bring in the crowds is through pure, unadulterated hockey violence. Names such as Ogie Oglethorpe and the Hanson Brothers have earned their place in the hockey culture, with minor league teams still cashing in on their popularity to this day. I’ve actually met the Hanson Brothers (two of the three really are brothers) as they came to play for a minor league team I worked for in the past as part of a game promotion. It was excellent!
So there you have it, a brief synopsis of my top 10 favorite sports movies. I feel like I need to acknowledge some honorable mentions, so here’s looking at you “Space Jam,” “Field of Dreams,” “Rocky” and “The Sandlot.”
Saralyn Norkus is a sports writer for the Cleveland Daily Banner. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.