**NOTE: Be sure to check out part one of this article on our site!
After going through the Role Players and Starters tiers in part one, it is now time to look at the top two tiers: the All Stars and the Hall of Famers.
It was extremely hard to rank the following movies since all nine are amazing and hold a special place in my heart. After much thought and deliberation, here is how the final two tiers turned out.
Similar to part one, I did my best to avoid spoilers, but will add a precautionary SPOILER WARNING just in case.
Tier 3: The All Stars
9. Draft Day (2014)
Rating: PG-13, Runtime: 1 hour 50 minutes
Starring: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Chadwick Boseman
Review: One of the most thrilling days of the year for any football fan is the day of the NFL Draft and that is why Draft Day is such a great movie to watch. The film gives a behind the scenes look at what NFL teams and prospects go through on this life-changing day. Costner stars as Sonny Weaver Jr., the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Throughout the day, Weaver Jr. must decide which players to draft, negotiate trades with other teams, and deal with his power struggle with Cleveland’s new coach (Leary). At the same time, Weaver Jr. is facing problems with his co-worker girlfriend (Garner), the lofty expectations of the Browns’ owner (Frank Langella), and the recent passing of his father, who was a legendary coach for Cleveland. Weaver Jr. must weave through all of these problems in just one day and that is what makes this film so entertaining. Although I doubt every NFL general manager’s draft day is this dramatic, Draft Day shows fans how trades are made, how much scouting goes into one draft pick, and how much pressure NFL front offices are under from a variety of sources. Boseman’s performance as Vontae Mack also gives insight on what it is like to be a NFL prospect on draft day. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout and has plenty of plot twists along the way. For this reason, it is my favorite football movie and a must watch for any NFL fan or anyone who has an interest in the inner workings of an NFL front office.
8. Miracle (2004)
Rating: PG, Runtime: 2 hours 15 minutes
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich
Review: It is no surprise that the story of the greatest moment in American sports history makes a great movie. Showing the journey of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, Miracle is one of the best sports dramas ever made. Russell stars as head coach Herb Brooks and portrays all of Brooks’ various personalities to near perfection. From showing Brooks’ tough hockey coach demeanor to his more sympathetic side with his players and family, Russell is terrific in every aspect of the film. He also delivers one of the greatest movie speeches ever before the game against the Soviet Union. The hockey action is fun to watch and I enjoyed seeing how much this team had to go through to accomplish their goal. Aside from Russell, the team itself has great chemistry and is believable as a hockey team both on and off the ice. Jim Craig (Eddie Cahill), Mike Eruzione (Patrick O’Brien Demsey), and Jack O’Callahan (Michael Mantenuto) shined the brightest out of the players. Although the film is a little long, the strong performances, dramatic moments, and historical significance make it more than worth it.
7. The Sandlot (1993)
Rating: PG, Runtime: 1 hour 41 minutes
Starring: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna, Chauncey Leopardi, James Earl Jones
Review: It hurts to not put The Sandlot into the Hall of Famers tier, but this just shows how tough it is to earn a spot on this list. Regardless, this film is still one of my favorites of all time and one I still quote frequently. It takes place during the summer of 1962 when young Scotty Smalls (Guiry) moves to a new town and befriends a group of baseball loving kids. The team plays at the Sandlot all day, every day for the entire summer and, after some guidance from Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez (Vitar), Smalls begins to find a love for the game as well. Smalls soon steals his step-father’s prized baseball and subsequently hits it over the Sandlot’s wall into the clutches of the Beast, a mammoth dog that is one of the scariest beings known to man. Mischief then ensues as the team tries to recover the ball. This film is one of the most iconic movies ever made and it is easy to see why. Each member on the team shines at least once in the movie, but Ham (Renna) and Squints (Leopardi) easily steal the show. Both have memorable quotes and sequences that are still legendary to this day. Benny is the perfect leader and star player while the Beast is great as the menacing villain. The ending sequence also is very entertaining and emotional to watch. The Sandlot provides the perfect mix of humor, drama, and action to make it the perfect family film.
Tier 4: The Hall of Famers
6. The Natural (1984)
Rating: PG, Runtime: 2 hours 18 minutes
Starring: Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Kim Basinger
Review: The oldest film on the list, I inherited my love for The Natural from my dad and the film was an integral part of my childhood. After a mysterious accident prevented him from reaching the majors and becoming a star when he was young, Roy Hobbs (Redford) finally reaches the show 16 years later with the lowly New York Knights. Hobbs soon takes the baseball world by storm, determined to become the best ever and lead the Knights to glory. However, his new girlfriend (Basinger) and the evil Knights front office begin to distract him from his goals. Hobbs must figure out what matters the most before it is too late for him and the Knights. Although it has a long duration, The Natural uses a strong plot and main character to keep you enthralled throughout and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. Hobbs is the perfect hero and Redford is great portraying him. He is broken down and has a dark past, but is still a good man and is able to rise above those obstacles. He is almost like Batman, but he plays baseball. The soundtrack is also tremendous and the final sequence is probably my favorite scene ever in a sports film. The lack of much character development outside of Hobbs makes it the worst in the Hall of Famers tier, but it is still an all-time classic.
5. Major League (1989)
Rating: R, Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Wesley Snipes
Review: Major League is a traditional underdog story. The treacherous owner (Margaret Whitton) of the Cleveland Indians intentionally fills the team’s roster with unknown and washed up players so the Indians finish with a terrible record and she can move the team to Florida. Determined to defy the odds, Cleveland rallys together to go on an unlikely run. Major League has some of the best characters in any sports film, most notably Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn (Sheen). Vaughn’s unique personality, haircut, glasses, and killer fastball make him an instant cult hero. Sheen was perfectly cast as Vaughn as he was a pitcher in high school and easily portrayed the various sides of Wild Thing’s personality. Aside from Vaughn, Jake Taylor (Berenger), Willy Mays Hays (Snipes), and Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) are also memorable and carry the movie at certain points. The film is hilarious as well and shows all the wackiness that happens in a MLB dugout. Despite being mostly a comedy, the last 30 minutes are extremely intense and the last few sequences feel like an actual high-pressure MLB game. With iconic characters, memorable sequences, and believable MLB action, Major League is the perfect baseball underdog story.
4. The Mighty Ducks (1992)
Rating: PG, Runtime: 1 hour 44 minutes
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Joshua Jackson, Joss Ackland, Lane Smith
Review: After being given a DUI, hotshot lawyer Gordon Bombay (Estevez) must fulfill his community service requirement by coaching the untalented District 5 youth hockey team. Bombay loved hockey when he was child and had the talent to go all the way, but the sudden passing of his father and his mistreatment by Coach Reilly (Smith) led him to lose his passion for the game. After some initial strife, Bombay begins to learn from his team and rediscover his love for the game. District 5 rebrands as the Ducks and tries to pull off a miraculous turnaround. The Mighty Ducks is the perfect sports film to watch with the entire family. Bombay’s character development is amazing to watch and the Ducks are the perfect ragtag hockey team to rally around. The team is hilarious, likeable, relatable, and Jackson as Charlie Conway is one of the most iconic sports characters ever. The Hawks, coached by Reilly and the main antagonist of the film, are also my favorite villainous team because of how ruthless and intimidating Reilly and the rest of the team is. The memorable final game, the Flying V, and the best pre-game ritual of all time easily put The Mighty Ducks in my top five.
3. 61* (2001)
Rating: TV-MA, Runtime: 2 hours 9 minutes
Starring: Barry Pepper, Thomas Jane, Anthony Michael Hall
Review: 61* tells the true story of the 1961 New York Yankees. During this season, Roger Maris (Pepper) and Mickey Mantle (Jane) each attempted to break Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a single season. The two faced constant pressure from the ruthless New York media and the commissioner of baseball, Ford Frick (Donald Moffat). Fans also worshipped Mantle and did everything in their power to make sure Maris did not break the record. To complicate matters even further, Maris and Mantle were close friends and tried to maintain that friendship despite people constantly pitting them against each other. 61* is the only television movie on the list and is likely the least known, but it is amazing. In addition to giving an all access look into one of the greatest teams of all time, it is an incredible story of two men chasing a god. Pepper and Jane have terrific chemistry and display how much of an emotional and physical strain baseball can have on a person. The two actors talk and act just like their real life counterparts, which adds to the legitimacy of the movie. The film also shows the impact (positive and negative) fans and the media have on an athlete. Maris and Mantle are two of my favorite athletes ever and 61* portrays their most memorable season to perfection.
2. Happy Gilmore (1996)
Rating: PG-13, Runtime: 1 hour 32 minutes
Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen, Frances Bay
Review: Sandler stars as Happy Gilmore, a life-long hockey fan with a short temper. Although he believes he will one day make a professional team, Gilmore is not good at hockey and fails every time he tries out. To his surprise, however, he discovers he is skilled at another sport: golf. Gilmore can drive the ball better than anyone and, after learning his grandma (Bay) hasn’t paid her taxes in years, sets out to earn enough money to save her house. He earns a spot on the Pro Golf Tour and is determined to win the coveted gold jacket. Along the way, he is helped by Chubbs (Carl Weathers) and forms a rivalry with star golfer Shooter McGavin (McDonald). There is so much to love about Happy Gilmore that it is impossible to fit it all into a paragraph. The quotes, plot, and sequences alone put this movie into my top five, but the characters make it my second favorite of all time. Gilmore is funny, lovable, and relatable, while McDonald is perfect as his self-absorbed adversary. All of the side characters, especially Chubbs, carry this movie in their limited screen time. The soundtrack is also terrific and the romance between Gilmore and Virginia Venit (Bowen) is actually somewhat believable. I put Happy Gilmore in my top spot, but moved it down at the last second. Regardless, it is still one of the greatest sports films of all time.
1. Moneyball (2011)
Rating: PG-13, Runtime: 2 hours 13 minutes
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt
Review: Based on the true story and the book of the same name, Moneyball tells the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics. Led by their revolutionary general manager Billy Beane (Pitt), the A’s use advanced metrics to find value in players that other teams overlook. Beane resorts to this because Oakland has one of the smallest payrolls in the MLB and can’t sign the expensive free agents like other teams. Due to baseball being a traditionalist-driven sport, Beane faces much opposition to his new approach to building a professional baseball team. Similar to Draft Day, Moneyball is great because it takes the audience behind the scenes. I love seeing trades being made, contracts being negotiated, and everything else that happens with a MLB team. Analytics have also taken the sports world by storm and the 2002 A’s were the beginning of this revolution. It does a great job of explaining what the new data means and how important they are to teams. I love movies that make you think and this film does just that. What makes Moneyball my favorite movie, however, is how entertaining and dramatic it is. Although the film is over two hours long and contains little action, it keeps your attention and leaves you on the edge of your seat with the strong dialogue between characters. It also has the perfect blend of humor and drama that it will leave you laughing or crying. The cast carries the film, especially Pitt’s performance as Beane. Hill is also great as Beane’s sidekick, Peter Brand, and Pratt is perfect as lovable Oakland first baseman Scott Hatteberg. The combination of tense moments, entertaining baseball, and great performances make Moneyball my favorite sports film.