As another year is coming to an end, there are a few things that we can always count on: we will make New Year’s resolutions, boss out and drink top shelf liquor, and have to listen to about 50 million end-of-the-year/decade countdowns of some sort.
Well, here is 50,000,001…because I fricken love countdowns.
I have compiled my top 10 list of the top sports movies of the past decade, which, by the way, don’t hold a candle to the sports movies of the 90′s (Mighty Ducks trilogy…enough said). But nontheless, there have been some noteworthy films throughout the 2000′s.
Now, whilst reading this list, there are a couple things you need to keep in mind:
I am a 21 year old college senior. I am not Ebert and Roeper, Jeffery Lyons, nor am I Gene Shalit. I enjoy crude and sophomoric humor, as well as awesomely-bad films. Not all of the movies on my list are going to be highly regarded by the Academy.
I will not be putting formulaic, feel good sports-story movies on my list. The Hollywood sports movie factory has mass-produced some predictable, corny films all throughout the 2000′s. These films include, but are not limited to: We Are Marshall, The Rookie, Gridiron Gang, Miracle, Glory Road, Radio, and Coach Carter.
Without further ado, here is the top 10 best films from 2000-2009.
10. The Replacements (2000)-Loosely based off the 1987 NFL strike, it was the story of quarterback Shane Falco (played by the brilliant Keanu Reeves) getting a second chance in the NFL after choking in the Sugar Bowl in 1996 as a “scab” during a League strike. He led a group of has-beens and never-was-beens to a playoff birth in the final four games of the Washington Sentinals’ season.This movie had it all: the “wiry” foul-mouthed, cigarette smoking English place-kicker, the retard-strong middle linebacker, and the “I’m so fast but have no hands” wide receiver. And it even brought back disco with a jail cell Gloria Gaynor song and dance.
9. The U (2009)- I may be a victim of the moment on this one, but this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about the University of Miami football program was very entertaining. This stylish film documented the program and chronicled how they went from giving away free tickets to their games at Burger King to winning four National Championships with three different coaches in a decade. All while stealing car stereos and selling cocaine. Impressive.
8. Remember the Titans (2000)- Now, I know I said I wouldn’t put feel-good formula movies on this list, but I will give this movie some credit. They were the pioneers of this and were what all of the other factory movies modeled themselves after. Denzel Washington was great, and everyone secretly knew Hayden Panettiere was going to be a stone-cold fox. And if you were to tell me you have never yelled “strong side, left side” to your buddy on the football field, then I will call you a liar.
7. Ali (2009) - The self-titled biopic was, in my estimation, Will Smith’s best performance (no disrespect to the Fresh Prince). It covered Muhammad Ali’s boxing career from 1964-1974 (the only part people really care about), from his battles with Liston and Frasier, his conversion to Islam, and The Rumble in the Jungle with the grill man himself. Plus, the movie gave us every high school’s senior graduation song for that year from R. Kelly (pre-pissing on kids).
6. Bring It On (2000)- Hey Mickey! This movie finally shed some light on the cut-throat world of competitive cheer and really made us all aware of the years of pain and suffering the inner-city squads have had to go through from getting their cheers stolen by the Kirsten Dunst. But I feel like we all learned something pretty valuable from Bring It On: never hire Sparky Polastri to teach you spirit fingers.
5. 61* (2001)- Directed by Yankees die-hard Billy Crystal, the movie chronicled the 1961 season where Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were trying to break the Babe’s single-season home run record. They both felt the immense pressure from the race, with Maris losing his hair and Mantle shutting it down at the end of the season with a gaping infection on his leg. As we all know, Maris got to 61, but I would still rather party with Mantle.
4. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)- Dodgeball took the popular gym class sport that is all about violence, exclusion and degradation and brought it to the silver screen for the first time. Patches O’Houlihan taught us the five D’s of dodgeball, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn gave us quintessential performances, all while trying to figure out who Steve the Pirate was. This movie will go down as one of the best sports comedies of all time. Thank you Chuck Norris!
3. Million Dollar Baby (2004)- Clint Eastwood directed and starred in this Academy Award winner as a down-and-out trainer trying to bring an amateur female boxer (Hilary Swank) to the top. It was tough to tell who was more badass: Eastwood as his usual grizzled, take no shit self, or Swank straight knocking bitches out. And the narration was done by, you guessed it, Morgan Freeman. That’s who I would want to narrate my life story. I would give this movie a higher rating, but at the end of the day, it’s still women’s boxing, which until that movie came out I was unaware was a real sport.
2. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)- The best movie about NASCAR (sorry Tom Cruise) and possibly Will Ferrell’s funniest. The movie was pitched to the studio with six simple words: Will-Ferrell-as-a-NASCAR-driver. You’ve got to love a movie that makes fun of its core demographic, and they STILL love it. I could easily have a conversation using solely Ricky Bobby movie quotes. So thank you six pound, eight ounce, sweet baby Jesus for letting this movie be made.
1. Friday Night Lights (2004)- This is in my top five sports movies of all-time, the story of the 1988 season of the Permian Panthers in the West Texas town of Odessa. Friday Night Lights is the antithesis of all the sports movies I hate (see above). It’s a drama about how F-ing nuts people are about their football in West Texas, and the pressures the players and coaches have to go through. Though it was based off a true story, I liked how the team lost the championship game, it was completely un-cliche. But does this movie make me want to move to West Texas and become an obsessive high school football dad? Kind of.
*Best of the rest
-Out Cold (don’t know if it’s a sports movie)
-Air Buddies (one of the billion sequels in the Air Bud saga)
-Lords of Dogtown