Sports movies are really hard to do well. But because of their innate personal connection, they’re even harder to rank. If you don’t believe me, then read this USA Today article that ranks “Bring It On” ahead of “Remember the Titans.”
In case you are impressively reclusive and didn’t know, the Oscars were this weekend. So, in honor of the amalgamation of sports and culture, here are the Really Biased, Definitely-Not-Slanted-Toward-Baseball Sports Kid Oscars. #OscarsSoPastime. Here comes the best of the best. The center of the cinnamon roll. Roll the tape.
“Remember The Titans” — Hospital Scene
“Field of Dreams” — A Catch With Dad
“Rocky” — The Training Montage
“The Sandlot” — The Scrimmage
“Miracle” — The Speech
This was by far the hardest category to narrow down. Every great sports movie has a defining scene, but by Oscar rules, all categories have to stay at five besides Best Picture. I know this category isn’t real, but I don’t have to get off your lawn — it’s my column. Right from the jump, we have the most the most tear-jerking category. I sobbed at these first two scenes. Not just any sob. Pre-teen, third-straight Nicholas Sparks movie with a tub of Rocky Road sob. For “Miracle” and “Rocky,” I was ready to head into battle (and so, too, was the United States. These two movies defeated communism. Shhh, don’t argue.) There are many words that I’m not allowed to say in this column, and those two scenes made me want to say most of them. “The Sandlot,” meanwhile, adds a different type of scene to the mix. The movie doesn’t crux on this scene, but for some reason, I just feel warm when I watch it.
There’s no going wrong here, but my winner is “Field of Dreams” for a few reasons:
- I cried.
- “Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.”
- “Hey Dad, wanna have a catch?”
- I freaking cried!!
That’s cinematic and sentimental gold.
“The Fab Five”
“The Two Escobars”
“When We Were Kings”
There is only one obvious winner here, and it’s “Hoop Dreams.” Widely regarded as one of the greatest documentary films ever made, “Hoop Dreams” follows around two high school kids looking to make it big in basketball to get out of their situation in a poor part of Chicago. It could have easily fallen flat, but this documentary still holds up today. You won’t find very many documentaries that so masterfully explain an issue while keeping viewers engaged. It’s seminal to understanding basketball and sports in black America.
Susan Sarandon, “Bull Durham”
Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Rosie Perez, “White Men Can’t Jump”
Glenn Close, “The Natural”
Hilary Swank, “Million Dollar Baby”
This was a two-actress race. Everyone on this list is deserving, but Sarandon and Swank are the obvious front runners. Sarandon plays a confident baseball groupie who chooses one player from the local Durham Bulls that will be her lover and the all-star of the team. Swank plays a resilient boxer in one of the most rawly emotional movies to appear in this column. They are both sublime in their performances, but I have to give the slight edge to Sarandon. This was pre-crazy eyes “Lorenzo’s Oil” Sarandon. Personally, I prefer the funny baseball junkie. But you be the judge. The writing in “Bull Durham” is so witty, and her on-screen chemistry with co-star Kevin Costner is impossible to reenact (#OscarsSoPastime).
Kevin Costner, “Field of Dreams”
Kurt Russell, “Miracle”
Denzel Washington, “Remember the Titans”
Gene Hackman, “Hoosiers”
Al Pacino, “Any Given Sunday”
I won’t say this category was a runaway, but only because I have so much respect for Costner, Pacino, Hackman and Russell. Denzel Washington wins this one by virtue of the old swap ‘em out rule: what would each actor look like in the best scenes from the other movies? He could act any one of the other roles just as well, if not better, than the other actors. Washington in “Field of Dreams” is haunting. He already plays a football coach in “Remember the Titans,” so he could do it in “Any Given Sunday.” As for “Hoosiers,” the only thing that would hold him back is that he’s not white and “Hoosiers” is a little racist. That’s not a good enough reason to disqualify him there. And I don’t even want to think about him delivering that speech at the end of “Miracle.”
Now flip the switch. What do the others look like in the Gettysburg battlefield scene from “Titans?” Well, white. So, they’re out of luck. But if we ignore the race factor to the “Remember the Titans” leading role, then the others still fall short. Costner and Russell would be sweaty and shaky after the running, and Pacino would have joined the dead five minutes before the speech even happened. Hackman would have pulled a hammy at the beginning of the run and winced through the entire delivery. Washington is the only guy for the job. Give the “Miracle” speech at the ceremony, Denzel! Do it! Come on!
“Tonight, I’m the greatest actor in the world. I was born to be an actor. This is my time. Thanks mom. Goodnight.”
“Field of Dreams” (1989)
“Remember the Titans” (2000)
“White Men Can’t Jump” (1992)
“Bull Durham” (1988)
First, I want to give a couple quickfire shouts to the two movies I haven’t already talked about. “White Men Can’t Jump” is one of the funniest, most easy-to-watch sports movies you’ll find. Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson play a surprisingly likeable pair of pickup basketball showboaters. I say “surprisingly likable” because of the one time Woody Harrelson played basketball in another movie. That ain’t pretty. You have to appreciate their hustle, but more importantly, you have to appreciate their hustle. I envy the ‘90s more than I should admit. “Caddyshack” is the quintessential Bill Murray fan choice. I felt a not-so-subtle obligation to include something that was less of an epic sports masterpiece and more of a comedy. Keep doing your thing “Caddyshack.”
Here’s the thing. For me, the winner was always clear. If you’ve stuck with me this long, you’re a statistical outlier, and that’s something to be proud of in a sports column. You might’ve had an inkling of where this was going, but the winner of The Sports Kid Oscar for Best Picture goes to “Field of Dreams.” It is the most compelling, most well-composed sports movie on this list. This movie is the lifeblood of everything that is good in sports and cinema. You time travel in it. Ghosts come out of a corn field to play baseball. A man’s father comes back to life to have one last game of catch with his son. It is the most unbelievable of circumstances rooted in the most believable of games — baseball (#OscarsSoPastime). When all else fails, there will always be baseball.
Don’t spend too much time marathoning these movies this weekend. Or do, it’ll be worth it. Thanks for reading.
The ideas expressed on this page are the opinions of the author and are not meant to be taken as an endorsement from WSN.
Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]