Opinion: My top 10 sports films of all time

Kevin+Costner+and+Tim+Robbins+star+in+the+1988+baseball+film+Bull+Durham.

Courtesy of Orion Pictures

Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins star in the 1988 baseball film Bull Durham.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

No. 10 He Got Game (1998)  

Directed bSpike Lee 

This basketball drama starRay Allen as Jesus Shuttleworth and Denzel Washington as his incarcerated dad, Jake Shuttleworth. Jesus ithe top basketball prospect in the nation and every college wants to recruit him, as well as the NBA. Jake is furloughed from prison to try to convince his son to play for Big StateThe father and son pair have a troubled history, which further complicates matters as Jesus tries to make the most crucial decision of his life. An intensely wellacted drama with a compelling first-time performance by Allen that explores the system that seeks to exploit young black athletes. 

No. 9 Hoop Dreams (1994)  

Directed by Steve James 

documentary about two African American basketball players who travel way across town to play for a predominantlwhite high school with a prestigious basketball program. William Gates and Tommy Agee are from two of thmost impoverished areas of Chicago. Both young men see basketball as an escape from their dire situations. This compelling film follows the aspirations of these two young men as they look to change their station in life with their athletic gifts and achieve the NBA dream. Thoroughly exploring the dynamics of race and class in AmericaHoop Dreams is a mustsee film. 

No. 8 The Wrestler (2008)  

Directeby Darren Aronofsky 

No dramatic movie has captured the essence of the past of a prime professional wrestler as well as this Mickey Rourke vehicle. Rourke stars as Randy the Ram Robinson, an aging wrestler well past his prime. After suffering a health setback, Robinson decides to give up wrestling and is convinced to try to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Rourke’performance is the best of his career and his portrayal of an athlete that just cannot give up his career no matter what the cost makes this an exceptional film. 

No. Field of Dreams (1989)  

Directed by Phil Alden Robinson 

A unique film about baseball overall, this fantasy film about an Iowa farmer played by Kevin Costner that hears a voice is telling him to build a baseball field in the middle of his farmgreat cast abounds with Burt Lancaster, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta and Amy Madigan as his faithful wife. The film explores how sports can be a threathat ties two family members together with the memories and experiences of it. A profoundly moving film that has been known to make many a strong man tearyeyed. 

No. 6 Slap Shot (1977 

Directed by George Roy Hill 

Paul Newman stars as Reggie Dunlap. player coach of Charleston Chiefs, a minor league hockey team. Upon hearing that the team will be folding, Dunlop decides to go to all-out goon hockeyThe fans of the town love the new style of the team, especially the enforcer trio of the Hanson Brothers. SlaShot is a down and dirty comedy that is a crowdpleaser and one of the finesof the genre. 

NoLeague of Their Own (1992)  

Directed by Penny Marshall 

Documenting a little-known part of baseball history, this film reenacts the founding of the All-American GirlProfessional Baseball League in 1943. The league was established due to the stoppage of Major League baseball for World War II. Tom Hanks stars as the manager of the team with a bevy of recognizable actors such as Geena Davis, Rosie O Donnel and Madonna. A fastpaced, touching film that was one of the first to tell a sports story about women that does not focus more on romance than their love for the sportThe entire cast shines ione of the best films about baseball period. 

No. 4 Rocky (1976)  

Directed by John G. Avildsen 

One of the most iconic sports films in history and the only Oscar winner on my list othe best. Sylvester Stallone stars as the title character, a journeyman boxer that gets the chance of a lifetime. Apollo Creed, played with flair by Carl Weathers, decides to giva random fighter a shot at the world title that turns out to be Rocky. A powerful story of an underdog going against all the odds to prove himself. Inspiring multiple sequels and a spinoff, Rocky” is a hardhitting sports drama about club fighter who finds more within himself. 

No. 3 Eight Men Out (1988) 

Directed by John Sayles 

The infamous black sox scandal in Major League Baseball is explored in this drama about the 1919 Chicago White SoxAllegedly, eight players on the team were paid to throw the World Series and this film explores the motivations of all involved. A star-studded cast of young actors from the ’80s appears in this film and all actors give toplevel performances. It paints a different era of baseball when athletes were paid much less and had little to no power to negotiateEight Men Out is an impeccably acted and shot period piece about baseballs darkest scandal and the fallout from it. 

NoBull Durham (1988)  

Directed by Ron Shelton 

A tale of a past, his prime minor league catcher has spent a total of 21 days in the major leagues and is on the last legs of his playing career. Kevin Costner plays the catcher named Crash Davis that is told he must mentor an up and coming baseball prospect played by Tim Robbins named Ebby Calvin Nuke LaLooshNuke is a talented, yet immature player and Crash mushelp him figure out his pitching woes. Susan Sarandon is terrific as Annie, an eccentric baseball groupie who is the love interest of both characters. Bull Durham is a quirky comedy that is equal parts baseball and relationship wisdom. 

No. 1 Shaolin Soccer (2001 

Directed by Steven Chow 

While it is doubtful that many people have this movie at the top of their sports list, I find the sheer energy and love of film on display in this feature to be my favorite. Shaolin Soccer is a silly yet fun sports comedy about a monk that wants to find a way to help people find the spiritual and practical benefits of kung fu in their life. A disgraced former soccer pro discovers his talent and wants to coach him, together they round up his brothers who all have unique abilities to form a team taking on Team Evil in the soccer championship. Over the top and absurd in so many ways, the films pure comedy and top-level special effects make for one of the most enjoyable viewing experiences of any genre. 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]