The Academy Awards are this Sunday and, perhaps not surprisingly, the most recent move I saw, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” was not nominated for any awards this year.
Here’s the deal: I don’t go to movies very much because I have children. I don’t like leaving my children alone with other people and when we take them with us to the movies, they get to pick. Kids these days have all the power.
My kids are only partially to blame for my lack of movie viewing, however, because in general, I don’t like watching movies. I have a pretty short attention span — Oh look! Shiny thing! — and rarely can I sit still long enough to watch a movie.
Unless, of course, the movie happens to be about sports. Perhaps not entirely surprising, but I love a good sports movie. The fine folks at the Academy Awards don’t necessarily hate sports movies, either. Three sports movies — “Rocky,” “Chariots of Fire,” and “Million Dollar Baby” — all have won the Academy’s Best Picture award, while “The Champ,” “The Pride of the Yankees,” “Breaking Away,” “Raging Bull,” “Field of Dreams,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Seabiscuit” and “The Fighter” all have been nominated for best picture.
I don’t always agree with the folks at The Academy, however, (“Pulp Fiction” not winning best picture in 1994 is a travesty) so I’ve come up with my own personal list of the best sports movies ever made for a wide variety of sports.
I’m sure you’ll disagree with me on some (or many) of these, which is part of the fun. Feel free to make your own list and send it to me. You won’t change my mind, but I’d be curious to hear from my loyal readers and true believers.
But for now … the envelope, please:
Best Football Movie: “Go Tigers!” I actually selected a documentary for my best football movie, which may be cheating. But this is my list and my rules. It’s actually a great documentary about high school football in Massillon. I’m a sucker for high school football. Runner-up: “We Are Marshall.” (No movie has ever made me cry more).
Best Baseball Movie: “Field of Dreams.” I’m probably going to get slaughtered by the “Bull Durham” fans. That’s OK. There are about a trillion great baseball movies out there. I’m sure my own tumultuous relationship with my father put this one at the top of my list. Runner-up: “Bad News Bears.” (The original, of course).
Best Basketball Movie: “Hoosiers.” This one is kind of a no-brainer. Whatever else is in second place is way behind “Hoosiers.” Not just a great sports movie, but a great movie in general. Runner-up: “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh” (A lost gem of a movie).
Best Hockey Movie: “Slapshot.” If “Hoosiers” is a no-brainer in the basketball category, then “Slapshot” is a double-no-brainer in the hockey category. I bet I watched that movie at least 50 times in college. Runner-up: “Miracle.” (Great movie … I like the real-life version better).
Best Golf Movie: “Caddyshack.” We’ve now reached triple-no-brainer territory. This is the best golf movie ever. It’s also one of the funniest movies ever, regardless of category. Runner-up: “Happy Gilmore.” (“The price is wrong …”)
Best Bowling Movie: “The Big Lebowski.” OK, bowling is only a small part of this movie, but you find me a better movie that focuses exclusively on bowling. Good luck. Runner-up: “Kingpin.” (This really is the result of a lack of options).
Best Boxing Movie: “Rocky.” You know, boxing movies are like baseball movies — too many good ones from which to choose. I’m sure I’m going to get murdered by the “Raging Bull” fans on this one. That’s OK. I’m sticking with Stallone. Runner-up: “Million Dollar Baby.” (That’s right, I didn’t pick “Raging Bull” for second, either).
Best Auto Racing Movie: “Talladega Nights.” Hilarious! The dinner scene gets me every time. Runner-up: “Cars.” (Oh, it’s cute and you know it).
Best Volleyball Movie: “Castaway.” OK, it’s not really about volleyball in a traditional sense, but a volleyball named Wilson plays a pretty key role. Runner-up: “Top Gun.” Well, there’s a volleyball scene in it. Don’t get mad at me because Hollywood doesn’t make many volleyball movies.
Best Wrestling Movie: “Vision Quest.” Hollywood needs to make more movies about wrestling. This one is a classic. It also features the film debut of a very young Madonna. Runner-up: “Takedown.” (Good luck finding this incredible movie featuring a young Lorenzo Lamas in the starring role).
Best Soccer Movie: “Escape to Victory.” Sylvester Stallone leading a team of World War II prisoners of war against a team of Nazis. Oh, and Pele busts out the bicycle kick near the end. Great movie. Runner-up: “Shaolin Soccer.” (Not really a traditional soccer movie, but you should see it anyway).
Best Cycling Movie: “Breaking Away.” This is truly a heart-warming tale. Inspirational in every way. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. Runner-up: “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” (Hey, don’t get mad at me. They don’t make many cycling movies. Besides, Pee Wee Herman is hilarious).
Best Track and Field Movie: “Chariots of Fire.” A true classic. Runner-up: “McFarland, USA” (It’s kind of like whenever casting directors in Hollywood are making a sports movie, they are like, “Let’s just get Costner!”).
Best Tennis Movie: I’ve never actually seen a movie about tennis. I haven’t had time to see “Battle of the Sexes” yet. When I did a Google search for movies about tennis, you’d be amazed how many pornographic films have been made about the sport. I’m not going there. Runner-up: I said I’m not going there!
Best Chess Movie: “Searching For Bobby Fischer.” Yes, I ranked a chess movie. And yes, I really do like this one quite a bit. Runner-up: Be glad I gave you one.
David Fong writes for the Troy Daily News, a division of Aim Media Midwest.
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