Starring Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, Elisabeth Shue
A New Jersey boy named Daniel (Macchio) moves to California with his single mother, and immediately runs into a gang of bullies. They torment him ceaselessly until the Okinawan maintenance man, Mr. Miyagi (Morita), stands up for him, and offers to teach him karate, in preparation for a massive tournament at the end of the year. Your standard sports film in many ways, The Karate Kid gets over the top by being better than the rest. The relationship and friendship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi is the heart of the film, and I enjoy the corny ’80s trappings. Crowd-pleasing. Rousing. Classic.
Starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Madina Nalwanga
Continuing Disney’s trend of cultural sports films following McFarland, USA (2015) and Million Dollar Arm (2014), Queen of Katwe tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi, an international chess prodigy raised in Ugandan slums. This is a wonderful movie that benefits from a strong sense of authenticity and effortless performances from everyone.
Starring Blake Jenner, Will Brittain, Glen Powell, Zoey Deutch, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin
Billed as a kind of sequel to Linklater’s own Dazed and Confused (1993), this 80s college campus comedy about a freshman’s first weekend at school bonding with his baseball teammates demonstrates that same wistfulness and freedom of spirit. The characters are all people you’d either enjoy hanging with or enjoy laughing at, and the film’s two hour running time breezes by .
Starring Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin
Kevin Costner reteams with the director of his early career classic, Bull Durham, to once again merge the sports film with the romantic comedy. Costner plays a chronic hot head and underachiever hoping to impress the woman he loves, a therapist played by Rene Russo, by competing in the U.S Open. Tin Cup hits many of the same notes as Bull Durham, and the result is a movie that at times feels familiar, or reliant on charm borrowed from another film. However, this golf flick has qualities of its own that make unfavorable comparisons to its predecessor unfair.
Starring Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley, Paul Blackthorne
Terrific epic about a small beleaguered village staking their livelihood on a game of cricket (a sport none of them have played) against their British oppressors. Merging the sports film with the historical drama, as well as the movie musical, this is a great Bollywood film.
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Robert Loggia, Susan Blakely, Rick Sumwalt, David Mendenhall
Corny, overly ’80s sports drama about a truck driver named Lincoln Hawk (Stallone) who wants to connect with his young son after being absent all of his life. Somehow, this ultimately leads to a high stakes arm-wrestling tournament, which plays out in traditional sports movie fashion. Stallone is often criticized for his limited range as an actor. He can only play two characters, but, to his credit, he’s great when he is playing one of those two characters, as he is in this film. His performance is enough to elevate this cheesy arm-wrestling movie to a level that’s watchable.
Starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon
As equally fantastic a romantic comedy as it is a baseball movie, Bull Durham stars Sarandon, Costner, and Robbins caught up in a heavily imbalanced love triangle. Sarandon plays kind of a baseball groupie who takes in a different player every season. This season though she finds herself falling for a dogged veteran (Costner) as she takes in the talented meathead (Robbins).