And so it begins. Nate McKenzie and Steve Taylor-Bryant are looking at the 'Greatest of all Time' movies based on U.S. sports. First up is Nate's draft picks...
Any "Best of" list is subjective. A "Best Sports Movies of All-Time" list is as ridiculous to debate as who the greatest football team of all time is, or the greatest player in a particular sport.
(The GOAT basketball player isn't a debate - it's Michael Jordan. Don't @ me.)
But 'ridiculous' is what we do here at The DreamCage. So, Steve and I are taking on this ridiculous exercise to determine once and for all the Greatest of All Time sports film, The G.O.A.T.
For me, a sports movie has to be sport-centric. Does The Basketball Diaries qualify as a basketball movie? No, because too much other stuff dominates the story in the film. Is it a great movie that has a basketball element? Yes. But no one says Finding Forrester is a sports movie, and neither is The Basketball Diaries.
Conversely, Moneyball is definitely a baseball movie precisely because of all the extra elements involved in the storyline. Those elements are bits and pieces about baseball and they combine to make a pretty terrific film about revolutionizing the sport. Steve includes Code Breakers as a Football movie, but, he's wrong. It is not a football movie, it's definitely not a TOP football movie, and absolutely not a top 25 sports movie. Some people would include Jerry McGuire as a sports film, but that is dumb. Jerry McGuire is as much a sports movie as Rain Man is a movie about blackjack.
Basically, the point is that we don't have much of a formula for deciding this list. We're pretty much just winging it. It was mostly a gut feeling for me, and probably some ingrained affinities leftover from childhood. But that doesn't mean we are wrong. It just means that Steve is wrong.
Steve is a Brit so I will forgive him most of his erroneous opinions regarding sports films. Here in America, football dominates, basketball electrifies, and baseball is our national pasttime; England's national pastime is losing wars. Outside of soccer, which is unquestionably "the beautiful game", there isn't a lot to brag about when it comes to sports in Jolly Ol' Londontown. So, we'll forgive Steve, as he doesn't realize quite what he has gotten himself into with this debate.
THE SELECTION SHOW
Four categories, each named for the greatest player(s) in that sport/sports; four selections for each category. These are the Greatest of All-Time sports movies.
THE GREAT BAMBINO REGION
Field of Dreams
A League of Their Own
Field of Dreams is the greatest sports film of all-time, so of course it's tops in the baseball category. The Sandlot is the Stand By Me of sports movies. "If you build it, he will come." "You're killing me, Smalls!" "There's no crying in baseball!" The only movie that isn't easily quotable in this group is The Natural, but the image of the lights exploding when Hobbs hits that monster homerun is as emblematic as Yankee pinstripes. The baseball region is as loaded as the NBA's Western Conference will be next season.
The Bad News Bears
THE SWEETNESS REGION
Remember the Titans
Friday Night Lights
The biggest faux pas Steve commits in this whole thing? He fails to recognize Rudy as the greatest football movie ever made. Code Breakers over Rudy, Steve? In this debate, I am the Golden State Warriors and Steve is the Cleveland Cavs. Just give me the trophy already.
There are few movies, in any genre, that have a hero as inspiring as Daniel Eugene Ruettiger. Was he offsides? Probably. But if you're an offensive lineman and you can't stop a 5'6" guy who weighs as much as a Chihuahua, you need a better excuse than "he was offsides". Remember the Titans, Friday Night Lights, and Varsity Blues betray my preference for High School football films, but the amateur ranks are where sports are most meaningful, and therefore make for the best stories.
All The Right Movies
Any Given Sunday
THE AIR JORDAN REGION
White Men Can't Jump
Above the Rim
He Got Game
My first love was writing. My second love was basketball. Even though I consider Hoosiers the best basketball film ever, Above the Rim, White Men Can't Jump, and He Got Game showcased the evolving culture of the game as it transformed from the watered-down display of fundamentals (a.k.a. "white") to the playground (a.k.a. "black") style that began to dominate the basketball landscape in the early-80s. For better or worse, these movies cultivated the mindset of basketball fans and helped mould the narrative surrounding the sport that we still hear about today.
THE PELE/ALI REGION (AKA The Other Sports Region)
The Mighty Ducks
There are too many possible choices in this region. Rocky clearly has to be at the top of this region, but Caddyshack makes golf seem interesting (no easy feat) while The Mighty Ducks is so beloved that a real life professional sports team was created just to capitalize on the public love for the movie. My honorable mentions include an Academy Award winner in Raging Bull and a cult classic in Rounders. I haven't even mentioned Race, Cool Runnings, Million Dollar Baby, Talladega Nights, Days of Thunder, or Steve's overall favorite, Tin Cup. That's how stacked this region is. It's like the U.S.A. in the Olympics.
So Rocky, Hoosiers, Rudy, and Field of Dreams are my nominations for Final Four, the Mount Rushmore of GOAT sports movies. When they say "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game" they don't mention what happens when the game plays you. Remember Steve: second place is the first loser.
Come back on Wednesday to find out what Steve's picks are and you can have your own say on Friday as we put the final Final Four to the public vote in a Twitter poll!
Follow Nate on Twitter @WriteMyWrong
Images - IMDb