Sports movies with lasting power

“The Artist” was the big winner last night at the Academy Awards, taking home the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.

As for my predictions in the major categories, I was correct on 2 of the 6 picks (supporting actor and actress). A .333 lifetime average would get me into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but it’s not so hot when you’re trying to read the minds of Academy winners.

That’s what you get for picking with your heart instead of your head.

“Moneyball” got shut out last night, but I’ll leave you today with my favorite 10 sports films of all time. And when I say “favorite,” I mean they are all films that I can watch over and over. High praise in my book.

1. Rocky (Best Picture award, 1976)

The ultimate underdog and lovable loser, “Rocky” was a game-changer. The training scenes, set to a rousing musical score, launched more crack-of-dawn running sessions that any movie before or since.

2. Raging Bull (Best Picture nomination, 1980).

Martin Scorsese’s black and white masterpiece about the violent world of Jake LaMotta lost out to “Ordinary People.” Really? Can we get a get a do-over?

3. Hoosiers

The movie about the tiny high school that slayed the giant in basketball-crazed Indiana is the American Film Critic’s 13th most inspiring film ever. USA Today readers voted it the greatest sports film of all time. But it did not receive a nomination for best picture in 1986, when “Platoon” took top honors.

4. Field Of Dreams (Best Picture nomination, 1990)

If you’re turned off by Ray Liotta playing “Shoeless” Joe Jackson as a right-handed hitter, then you just don’t get it and never will.

5. Slap Shot

Paul Newman. The Hansons. A crude but hilarious portrait of minor league hockey in the 1970s. Always worth another look.

6. Bull Durham

The movie that put romance in baseball. Like “Slap Shot,” it’s a great inside look at the minor leagues and its quirky characters.

7. The Natural

Fable is memorable for several of its baseball scenes, including one blast by Roy Hobbs that hit the light tower and another that literally tore the cover off the ball.

8. Major League

Sometimes it takes a great sports movie to make a great comedy. Bob Uecker as the Indians broadcaster is worth the price of admission by himself, although he’s got plenty of help.

9. The Sandlot

This little movie set in California during the summer of 1962 made a baseball fan of my actress daughter. How cool is that?

10. Do You Believe in Miracles?

If you liked “Miracle,” the studio-made film starring Kurt Russell, you owe it to yourself to see this HBO documentary on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team. HBO at its best.

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