I think I may be ripping off one of the other blogs on this one, but here’s my take on great sports movies:
61* - An HBO original movie that chronicles the home run race of 1961 between Mickey Mantle (played by Thomas Jane of The Punisher) and Roger Marris (played by Barry Pepper). Many issues are addressed, such as how athletes deal with negative media attention, the strain being on the road has on an athlete and their family, and the demons that can negatively affect an athlete’s performance. There’s also an interesting juxtaposition to Mark McGwire’s home run race of 1998. The acting may not be perfect, but it’s damn interesting and has great story telling. About the most unlikely character is Bob Cerv (played by Chris Bauer who I remember as the S&M killer in 8MM), and Mel Allen the announcer (played by Christopher McDonald who everyone knows as Shooter from Happy Gilmore, and will be starring in the American Pie 5: The Naked Mile and Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning as Boss Hogg).
Hoop Dreams – This is the documentary that mainstreamed the genre. Inner city youths that aspire to one day become pro ballers are followed throughout their four year high school basketball careers. It’s mostly tragic, watching these guys playing ball with drug deals going on ten feet from where they’re standing. It’s a really well done movie, and it’s the Godfather of all documentaries.
Pumping Iron – A documentary about Arnold in the pinicle of his bodybuilding career and Lou Ferrigno in his ascent in bodybuilding. I’ve got to admit, if you’re a straight man you WILL feel very gay watching this movie of greased up muscle-men posing and flexing and wearing nothing more than a banana hammock. But if you’re comfortable with being hetero and can appreciate the insane physical attributes of the bodybuilders in this very interesting and sometimes disturbing documentary, or you just want to see some vintage Anrold hamming it up for the cameras, then this is a must see.
Kingpin – Roy Munson (played by Woody Harrelson) and Ernie McCracken (played by Bill Murray and arguably one of his best performances) star in this classic bowling comedy. The movie is absolutely hilarious, Vanessa Angel is incredibly hot, and the end has a performance by an Amish version of Blues Traveler.
Other movies that are good that I don’t want to get into: Happy Gilmore, Dodgeball, Legend of Bagger Vance.
I’m leaving off a movie many people consider great, A Field Of Dreams. I do feel it’s a very good movie, but it’s not really a sports movie to me. It’s a tale of a son getting one last chance to show his father how much he loves him, using baseball as a vehicle. It’s a great love story, but once again I’m not so sure it’s a sports movie.
Other good/great movies with sport subplots: The Big Lebowski, Finding Forrester, Rounders (if you consider poker a sport in the sense that it’s on ESPN all the time), Varsity Blues.