Idol Chatter

ragingbullpicfocic.jpgThe American Film Institute’s “Top Ten Sports Movies” of all time features many that you’d expect but excludes two obvious choices that stand out by their absence and undermine the credibility of the list.
“Raging Bull” was the top choice, with “Rocky” second, “The Pride of the Yankees” third and “Hoosiers” fourth. These were all great sports movies which were as realistic as they were inspiring. “The Hustler” and “National Velvet” are classics which also belong on the list.
I do applaud the AFI for including “Caddyshack.” It may be more of a “recreation” movie than a sports movie, but it’s such a classic that it belonged on the list somewhere and this was probably the best spot. (“Field of Dreams” was also a great sports movie but it shows up in the Fantasy category.)
“Breaking Away” was also a decent movie which I would squabble with if the other selections weren’t so much more, well, squabbleable!
First, there are two romantic comedies on the list that had sports as their background: “Jerry McGuire” and “Bull Durham.” These movies weren’t great sports movies as much as they were nice date movies. Of course, the combination makes for a great date–if the chicks can love the love story and the guys can love the sports–but they still weren’t great sports movies in my book.

Missing from the list were two of the most inspiring sports movies of all time.
The first great omission is “Chariots of Fire,” from 1981, which won the Best Picture Oscar. Rarely has a movie synthesized sports and inspiration so thoroughly and credibly. The true story of Eric Liddell–and its depiction of the power of faith as more central than the thrill of victory–should be required in the growing number of public schools that show movies in literature (and other) classes.
The other great omission is “The Natural.” Though it strayed a bit from Bernard Malamud’s novel, the all-star cast of Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Barbara Hershey, Joe Don Baker, Darrin McGavin, Richard Farnsworth and Wilfred Brimley turned in a marvelous ensemble cast performance, bringing to light the inspiring center of each of us that believes there’s something greater we were meant to achieve even though the world may tell us it’s far past too late to try. Too many critics panned it at a time when Redford was too popular to go un-criticized and not old enough yet to be a legend, but the over-the-top Hollywood baseball story was as beautiful as it was appropriate for its genre.
I’d trade “The Natural” and “Chariots of Fire” for “Jerry McGuire” and “Bull Durham” any day, but, of course, that’s what’s so beautiful about movies–we each get to choose.

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