Sunday, May 25, 2008
Countdown to AFI's 10 Top 10: Sports
Ladies and gentlemen, don your sports bras and jock straps, for we have now reached the point in our countdown to the American Film Institute's 10 Top 10s where the focus is on sports movies. These are the movies that depict the thrill of victory and/or the agony of defeat, where losers never quit and winners almost always win ... usually in slow motion while the orchestra swells.
Standing head and sweaty shoulders above all other contenders in this competition is Rocky, which lands a knock out with seven previous mentions on AFI lists past (which, by the way, places it in a tie for second overall with The Wizard of Oz; Casablanca is AFI's most honored film, appearing on eight of the ten lists so far). Needless to say, prospects are good that the ol' Italian Stallion will easily find himself the #1 choice this round as well. The only other movies to come close, with three previous mentions each, are two very different black and white biopics: the old-fashioned The Pride of the Yankees and the down and dirty Raging Bull.
The three films with two previous listings each -- Caddyshack, Field of Dreams and Jerry Maguire -- may find their (respective) comedy, fantasy and romance aspects playing against them in this particular match. Previous single list AFI honorees with stronger chances are Breaking Away, Bull Durham, Chariots of Fire, Harold Lloyd's The Freshman (the oldest film among the 50 nominees), Hoosiers, the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers, The Karate Kid, Knute Rockney - All American, A League of Their Own, National Velvet, Rudy and Seabiscuit. AFI list watchers will notice the abundance of movies (ten total) that placed on the 100 Cheers list, the group's 2006 countdown of the most inspirational movies of all time.
Before we get to the rookies, two movies -- Friday Night Lights and Million Dollar Baby -- were previously honored by the AFI with AFI Awards, which therefore may give them an edge in this round (both films, along with Miracle, were released in 2004, thereby making them the newest movies among the 50 nominees; see the comments section below for the full list). Which may not leave much of a chance for the remaining roster of hopefuls for this squad, but I will note such personal favorites as Angels in the Outfield, The Bad News Bears, Eight Men Out, The Great White Hope, Heart Like a Wheel, The Hustler (and its sequel, The Color of Money), The Natural, Somebody Up There Likes Me and the lesbian-themed Personal Best.
The ten films making up the winners circle in this particular match will be revealed on June 17, when CBS will air the three-hour special, AFI's 10 Top 10.