It is supposed to be the dog days of summer, but in Michigan, where we're visiting for the summer, it feels more like autumn. And for sports fans, this is a fairly hum-drum time of year. It's almost two months until the football season. The NBA season is complete. Hockey's done. The baseball season isn't even to the All-Star game yet. We do have the Olympics to look forward to, but that's not until a number of weeks.
It's during these times that I enjoy kicking back and enjoying a good movie when there are not too many games to choose from. If you're like me and you're a fan of both movies and sports, then you might like this list I've created of my favorite sports movies of all-time. To offer a disclaimer, these are movies that are not only good, but that I've seen a number of times. So there are some great sports-themed movies (Breaking Away, Raging Bull and Seabiscuit come to mind) that didn't make the list simply because I've only seen them once.
So without any further adieu, here's the list...
10. Miracle (2004) - A great film that chronicles the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that upset the vaunted Russians and went onto win the gold medal. An inspiring story with a real-life Hollywood movie ending, the cast is led by a stellar acting performance by Kurt Russell, who plays coach Herb Brooks. Those that remember the real hockey game can't help but relish this movie.
Favorite Scene - When Coach Brooks quietly celebrates by himself in a back hallway after his team has done the unthinkable and actually beat the Soviet Union.
9. The Karate Kid (1984) - What kid from the 80's has not stood on a post and done the iconic "crane kick" from this movie? The Karate Kid tells the story of young Daniel who is bullied by new classmates and gets mentored by the wise Mr. Miyagi, marvelously played by Pat Morita. The film culminates with a classic fight scene where Daniel must overcome an injury to defeat the despised Johnny from the Cobras.
Favorite Scene - When Mr. Miyagi finally demonstrates to Daniel-san that all that "wax on, wax off" stuff has a purpose behind it and Daniel "gets it."
8. The Rookie (2002) - Dennis Quaid does a marvelous job portraying small town Texas high school teacher and coach Jimmy Morris. Morris's dream of becoming a pitcher in the major leagues never panned out and years later accepts a challenge from the varsity team he coaches to try out for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Remarkably, he makes it to "The Show" is this movie from Disney based on a true story. A great family film.
Favorite Scene - When Morris calls his young son from a pay phone to let him know that he has finally made it to the majors.
7. Caddyshack (1980) - This is one of the funniest movies ever made. Caddyshack follows the antics of the members, groundskeepers and caddies of an-upscale country club. It showcases Bill Murray and Chevy Chase at their finest and Ted Knight is hilarious as well. There are just too many classic lines in this movie to list here.
Favorite Scene - When Ty (Chase) visits Carl (Murray) in his "dwelling" while taking in a late nine at Bushwood. Every line of this scene is memorable.
6. Field of Dreams (1989) - Though some accuse this film of being a bit schmaltzy, the story of a man longing for the carefree love of baseball from his youth and the regrets of his relationship with his father hit home for many people. Though one of the many baseball-themed movies starring Kevin Costner, I think this is one of his best performances. Plus, any movie with Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) is good in my book.
Favorite Scene - When Ray (Costner) gets to play catch one more time with his deceased father.
5. Hoop Dreams (1994) - The only documentary on this list, Hoop Dreams tells the story of two kids, William Gates and Arthur Agee, with dreams of playing in the NBA. The film follows them throughout high school and the challenges they and their families face growing up in the inner-city of Chicago. You can't help but pull for both William and Arthur as the movie moves along and see the many obstacles they face along the way.
Favorite Scene - When Arthur and his father engage in a battle of one-on-one on the court that brings out a little more than his dad expected.
4. Rocky (1976) - This is the movie that put Sylvester Stallone on the map. Though I doubt that there are many that haven't seen this film, it follows Rocky Balboa, a small-time Philadelphia fighter who gets a shot at the heavyweight title. Rocky's budding relationship with Adrian is what makes this movie so endearing and his accomplishment of going the distance with the champ is what makes this film a winner. I doubt there is a more beloved figure in American cinematic history than Rocky Balboa.
Favorite Scene - The ending, of course. After the conclusion of Rocky's fight with Apollo, his embrace with Adrian at center ring can't help but make you feel good.
3. Rudy (1993) - Sean Astin delivers an inspiring performance as Rudy Ruettiger, an undersized and underskilled man who wants to live out his childhood dream of playing for the Notre Dame football team. A true story, Rudy could have been so much better if only the producers do as they do with so many true stories and changed its setting from South Bend to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. Could you imagine Rudy in the winged helmet at the Big House with "The Victors" playing? Couldn't get any better than that!
Favorite Scene - When Fortune (Charles S. Dutton), Rudy's friend and mentor, sees Rudy get the chance to play for the Fighting Irish. His clap and fist pump and quiet celebration after Rudy's play as he leaves the stadium always gives me goose bumps.
2. Hoosiers (1986) - I have possibly seen this movie more than any other in my lifetime. The trials and rise of the Hickory Huskers, led by coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), is as good of a feel-good story as there is. During basketball season when I was in high school, I must have watched this film at least a dozen times each season. And for those that knew me back then, you'll know that my nickname was Jimmy Chitwood, after the sharpshooting guard for the Huskers. This movie was based on the story of the 1954 Milan team that won the Indiana high school championship.
Favorite Scene - When Jimmy gets up to speak at the townhall meeting being held to decide whether Coach Dale will continue on as the Hickory coach.
1. Jerry Maguire (1996) - Even beyond sports flicks, I think this might be my favorite movie ever. Jerry Maguire stars Tom Cruise as a sports agent that suddenly gets a conscience and learns about what is truly important in life. In addition to Cruise's Oscar nominated performance, Cuba Gooding, Jr. won an Oscar for his turn as NFL receiver Rod Tidwell and this is Renee' Zellweger's breakout role. There are so many things to love about this film. It's a drama and comedy. It deals with romance and sports. It focuses on friendship, marriage and parenthood. And it addresses race and greed. One of the aspects that I enjoy most is that it features an African American male as a devoted and loving husband and father.
Favorite Scene - When Rod and Jerry share an emotional hug after Rod's huge Monday night game.
So those are my favorite sports flicks. Any that you think should have made the list?