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‘Hoosiers’ reigns supreme in AP rankings of Top 25 sports films

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‘Hoosiers’ reigns supreme in AP rankings of Top 25 sports films

“Hoosiers” shot all the way to No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 of best sports movies, a one-of-a-kind poll from the news organization known for its rankings of college teams. Released in 1986 and starring Gene Hackman, “Hoosiers” led the tally in results released Friday, receiving 46 votes from a 70-person global panel…

‘Hoosiers’ reigns supreme in AP rankings of Top 25 sports films

“Hoosiers” shot all the way to No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 of best sports movies, a one-of-a-kind poll from the news organization known for its rankings of college teams.

Released in 1986 and starring Gene Hackman, “Hoosiers” led the tally in results released Friday, receiving 46 votes from a 70-person global panel of sportswriters and editors who work for the AP.

“If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game,” coach Norman Dale, Hackman’s character, says in the top-ranked movie. “In my book, we’re gonna be winners.”

And in this case, they were.

Loosely based on an Indiana high school basketball team in the 1950s, “Hoosiers” narrowly edged Academy Award Best Picture honoree “Rocky” — released in 1976, it was the first installment of Sylvester Stallone’s series about an unknown boxer from Philadelphia who gets a shot at the big time — and “Bull Durham” — starring Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in 1988, it offered a fictionalized look at characters who populate minor league baseball.

Those two movies tied for second place with 45 votes each.

There was a significant gap between the top three and the rest of the AP Top 25.

At No. 4 with 33 votes was “Caddyshack,” the sole golf tale to make the rankings. That was followed closely by “Slap Shot” with 32 votes and “Field of Dreams” with 31.

“Raging Bull,” “Major League,” “The Natural” and “A League of Their Own” rounded out the poll’s top 10.

Other tidbits from this special AP Top 25:


Two screenwriters, Angelo Pizzo and Ron Shelton, each earned two mentions on the list. Pizzo penned top-ranked “Hoosiers” and “Rudy,” which tied for No. 18; Shelton wrote and directed both “Bull Durham” and No. 17 “White Men Can’t Jump.”


Two documentaries made the rankings: “Hoop Dreams” at No. 14 and “When We Were Kings,” tied for No. 21.


In all, 117 films got at least one mention in the complete balloting; 69 received at least two votes apiece. Nine sports served as the subjects of the AP Top 25, a group that actually wound up including 26 total movies, because three tied for 24th place.


The sport represented the most in the list was baseball with 10 entries, followed by football with four. Basketball and boxing each put three selections in the rankings, while hockey earned two. Golf, running, horse racing and cycling each got one mention.


Six of the movies in the poll won at least one Academy Award, led by the four earned by “Chariots of Fire,” which was ranked No. 16. Nine other films were nominated for at least one Oscar. “Brian’s Song,” which tied for No. 24, was the only television movie to make the list and collected five Emmy Awards.


1. “Hoosiers”

Year: 1986

Screenwriter: Angelo Pizzo

Director: David Anspaugh

Starring: Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey

Plot: A coach with a shaky past (Hackman) and his assistant who’s a drunk (Hopper) take a small-town high school basketball team in 1950s Indiana to the state tournament.

Iconic Line: “I think you’ll find it’s the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory.” — Coach Norman Dale (Hackman)

Oscars: 2 nominations


2 (tie). “Bull Durham”

Year: 1988

Screenwriter: Ron Shelton

Director: Shelton

Starring: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins

Plot: The lives of a career minor leaguer (Costner), a young, wild pitcher (Robbins) and a local fan (Sarandon) intertwine.

Iconic Line: “The only church that truly feeds the soul, day in and day out, is the church of baseball.” — Annie Savoy (Sarandon)

Oscars: 1 nomination


2 (tie). “Rocky”

Year: 1976

Screenwriter: Sylvester Stallone

Director: John G. Avildsen

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith, Carl Weathers

Plot: A small-time boxer (Stallone) living in Philadelphia gets a shot at the heavyweight championship.

Iconic Line: “Yo, Adrian.” — Rocky Balboa (Stallone)

Oscars: 3 wins (Picture, Director, Editing), 10 total nominations


4. “Caddyshack”

Year: 1980

Screenwriters: Douglas Kenney, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray

Director: Ramis

Starring: Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Bill Murray

Plot: A brash new member (Dangerfield) shows up at an exclusive golf course, which employs a gopher-chasing groundskeeper (Murray).

Iconic Line: “You’ll get nothing and like it.” — Judge Elihu Smails (Knight)

Oscars: No nominations


5. “Slap Shot”

Year: 1977

Screenwriter: Nancy Dowd

Director: George Roy Hill

Starring: Paul Newman

Plot: The player/coach (Newman) of a struggling minor league hockey team turns to goonery to attract fans.

Iconic Line: “They don’t want you to score goals! They want blood!” — Reggie Dunlop (Newman)

Oscars: No nominations


6. “Field of Dreams”

Year: 1989

Screenwriter: Phil Alden Robinson

Starring: Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta

Plot: An Iowa corn farmer (Costner) hears voices, clears his crop to build a baseball diamond and gets a visit from the 1919 Chicago White Sox and a few others.

Iconic Line: “If you build it, he will come.” — Voice from the corn fields

Oscars: 3 nominations


7. “Raging Bull”

Year: 1980

Screenwriters: Paul Schrader, Mardik Martin

Director: Martin Scorcese

Starring: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci

Plot: Based on the life, in and out of the ring, of boxing champion Jake LaMotta (De Niro).

Iconic Line: “Hey, Ray, I never went down, man! You never got me down, Ray! You hear me? You never got me down.” — LaMotta (De Niro)

Oscars: 2 wins (Actor, Editing), 8 total nominations


8 (tie). “Major League”

Year: 1989

Screenwriter: David S. Ward

Director: Ward

Starring: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Rene Russo, Bob Uecker

Plot: The Cleveland Indians win despite a new owner (Margaret Whitton) who wants to sabotage and relocate the team.

Iconic Line: “Juuuuuuuuuust a bit outside.” — Commentator Harry Doyle (Uecker)

Oscars: No nominations


8 (tie). “The Natural”

Year: 1984

Screenwriters: Roger Towne, Phil Dusenberry; based on a novel by Bernard Malamud

Director: Barry Levinson

Starring: Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger

Plot: Years after getting shot while he was a young prospect, Roy Hobbs (Redford) makes it to pro baseball with hard-to-believe talent.

Iconic Line: “I coulda broke every record in the book. … And then when I walked down the street, people would’ve looked and they would’ve said, ‘There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game.’” — Hobbs (Redford)

Oscars: 4 nominations


10. “A League of Their Own”

Year: 1992

Screenwriters: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel

Director: Penny Marshall

Starring: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell

Plot: Rival sisters (Davis, Petty) join the first female professional baseball league amid World World II and help it grow.

Iconic Line: “There’s no crying in baseball.” — Manager Jimmy Dugan (Hanks)

Oscars: No nominations


11. “Moneyball”

Year: 2011

Screenwriters: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin

Director: Bennett Miller

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill

Plot: The true story, based on the book by Michael Lewis, of how Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane used analytics to take advantage of market inefficiencies and built a successful baseball team despite a low payroll.

Iconic Line: “If we pull this off, we change the game. We change the game for good.” — Beane (Pitt)

Oscars: 6 nominations


12 (tie). “The Bad News Bears”

Year: 1976

Screenwriter: Bill Lancaster

Director: Michael Ritchie

Starring: Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal

Plot: An alcoholic former minor league baseball player (Matthau) coaches a ragtag team made up of misfit kids.

Iconic Line: “This quitting thing — it’s a hard habit to break once you start.” — Morris Buttermaker (Matthau)

Oscars: No nominations


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12 (tie). “Miracle”

Year: 2004

Screenwriters: Eric Guggenheim, Mike Rich

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich

Plot: The true story of coach Herb Brooks (Russell), who led the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to victory over the seemingly invincible Soviet Union.

Iconic Line: “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” — Brooks (Russell)

Oscars: No nominations


14. “Hoop Dreams”

Year: 1994

Screenwriters: Steve James, Frederick Marx

Director: James

Starring: William Gates, Arthur Agee

Plot: Documentary following the lives of two high school students in Chicago who hope to play professional basketball.

Iconic Line: “People always say to me, ‘When you get to the NBA, don’t forget about me.’ Well, I should’ve said back, ‘If I don’t make it to the NBA, don’t you forget about me.’” — Gates

Oscars: 1 nomination


15. “Eight Men Out”

Year: 1988

Screenwriter: John Sayles

Director: Sayles

Starring: John Cusack, Jace Alexander

Plot: Based on the book by Eliot Asinof about the Black Sox scandal, when “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series.

Iconic Line: “Say it ain’t so, Joe. Say it ain’t so.” — Peewee (Brad Garrett)

Oscars: No nominations


16. “Chariots of Fire”

Year: 1981

Screenwriter: Colin Welland

Director: Hugh Hudson

Starring: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson

Plot: The fact-based story of two runners — one Christian, one Jewish — who compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Iconic Line: “I’ve known the fear of losing, but now I am almost too frightened to win.” — Olympian Harold Abrahams (Cross)

Oscars: 4 wins (Picture, Screenplay, Score, Costume Design), 7 total nominations


17. “White Men Can’t Jump”

Year: 1992

Screenwriter: Ron Shelton

Director: Shelton

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez

Plot: A couple of basketball hustlers (Snipes, Harrelson) team up.

Iconic Line: “There’s rules to hustling. There’s an ethics involved.” — Billy Hoyle (Harrelson)

Oscars: No nominations


18 (tie). “Remember the Titans”

Year: 2000

Screenwriter: Gregory Allen Howard

Director: Boaz Yakin

Starring: Denzel Washington, Will Patton

Plot: Based on the true story of Herman Boone (Washington) and his attempt to integrate a Virginia high school football team in the early 1970s.

Iconic Line: “I don’t care if you like each other or not. But you will respect each other.” — Boone (Washington)

Oscars: No nominations


18 (tie). “Rudy”

Year: 1993

Screenwriter: Angelo Pizzo

Director: David Anspaugh

Starring: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty

Plot: A kid from a steel mill town overcomes several obstacles to play college football at powerhouse Notre Dame.

Iconic Line: “I’ve been ready for this my whole life.” — Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger (Astin)

Oscars: No nominations


18 (tie). “Seabiscuit”

Year: 2003

Screenwriter: Gary Ross

Director: Ross

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Elizabeth Banks

Plot: Based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book, the true story of undersized and crooked-legged Seabiscuit, who captivated the sports world in 1938 and became a symbol of hope during the Great Depression.

Iconic Line: “You know, everybody thinks we found this broken-down horse and fixed him, but we didn’t. He fixed us. Every one of us. And I guess in a way we kinda fixed each other, too.” — Jockey Johnny “Red” Pollard (Maguire)

Oscars: 7 nominations


21 (tie). “Breaking Away”

Year: 1979

Screenwriter: Steve Tesich

Director: Peter Yates

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Dennis Christopher, Jackie Earle Haley

Plot: The story of four working-class friends who are recent high school graduates in Indiana, including one obsessed with Italian cycling.

Iconic Line: “I thought that was the whole plan — that we were going to waste the rest of our lives together.” — Cyril (Stern)

Oscars: 1 win (Screenplay), 5 total nominations


21 (tie). “The Pride of the Yankees”

Year: 1942

Screenwriters: Jo Swerling, Herman J. Mankiewicz

Director: Sam Wood

Starring: Gary Cooper, Babe Ruth

Plot: Based on the life of baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig (Cooper), the New York Yankees star who died at age 37 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Iconic Line: “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.” — Gehrig (Cooper)

Oscars: 1 win (Editing), 11 total nominations


21 (tie). “When We Were Kings”

Year: 1996

Screenwriter: None

Director: Leon Gast

Starring: Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Don King

Plot: Documentary about “The Rumble in the Jungle,” the 1974 heavyweight championship fight in Zaire between champion George Foreman and challenger Muhammad Ali.

Iconic Line: “Last night, I cut the light off in my bedroom, hit the switch and was in the bed before the room was dark.” — Muhammad Ali

Oscars: 1 win (Documentary), 1 total nomination


24 (tie). “Brian’s Song”

Year: 1971

Screenwriter: William Blinn

Director: Buzz Kulik

Starring: James Caan, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Warden

Plot: The evolution of the real-life friendship between Chicago Bears teammates Brian Piccolo (Caan) and Gale Sayers (Williams) and the bond they form after Piccolo learns he has terminal cancer.

Iconic Line: “I love Brian Piccolo. And tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him.” — Sayers (Williams)

Emmys: 5 wins (Program, Writing, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Editing), 11 total nominations

24 (tie). “Friday Night Lights”

Year: 2004

Screenwriters: David Aaron Cohen, Peter Berg

Director: Berg

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Derek Luke

Plot: Based on the book by Buzz Bissinger about a high school football team and the Texas town obsessed with it.

Iconic Line: “Gentlemen, the hopes and dreams of an entire town are riding on your shoulders. You may never matter again in your life as much as you do right now.” — Coach Gary Gaines (Thornton)

Oscars: No nominations



24 (tie). “The Sandlot”

Year: 1993

Screenwriters: David Mickey Evans, Robert Gunter

Director: Evans

Starring: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Art LeFleur, Patrick Renna

Plot: Coming-of-age story about a group of baseball players in the summer of 1962.

Iconic Line: “You’re killin’ me, Smalls.” — Hamilton “Ham” Porter (Renna)

Oscars: No nominations


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