20. Slap Shot (1977)
> Starring: Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean, Strother Martin
> Sport: Ice hockey
> Runtime: 123 min
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Microsoft Store, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Vudu, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV, Starz, FandangoNOW, Amazon Video, Fandango, Redbox
Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes lauded Paul Newman’s performance as the player/coach of a failing minor league hockey team that starts winning after he adds to the roster several overly physical players of questionable ability. The raunchy depiction of minor league hockey in America, directed by George Roy Hill, earned a Freshness rating among Rotten Tomatoes critics of 85% and 89% of audiences were amused by the film. “Slap Shot” holds a 7.3 rating out of 10 among IMDb users.
19. Bull Durham (1988)
> Starring: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
> Sport: Baseball
> Runtime: 108 min
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Vudu, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Microsoft Store, Amazon Video, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV, VUDU Free, Redbox, FandangoNOW, Showtime, Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, Tubi TV, fuboTV, Amazon Prime Video, Showtime Amazon Channel
Minor league baseball provided the backdrop for a love triangle involving a player with fading skills (Kevin Costner), a rising star (Tim Robbins), and the team groupie (Susan Sarandon) who romances both of them. The script that blended comedy and romance earned a Best Writing Oscar nomination for writer-director Ron Shelton. Chicago Tribune critic Dave Kehr said the movie “is a warm, droll, deftly cracked romantic comedy” and critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 97% Freshness rating. Among IMDb users, “Bull Durham” has a rating of 7.1 out of 10.
18. Queen of Katwe (2016)
> Starring: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o
> Sport: Chess
> Runtime: 124 min
> Available on: Vudu, Amazon Video, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Microsoft Store, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV, Disney Plus, FandangoNOW
“Queen of Katwe” is a Disney movie telling the story of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess prodigy, who went from selling corn on the streets to winning international chess tournaments. Her mother was portrayed by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”). Nikita Pearl Waligwa, the child actress who played a friend of Mutesi, died in February 2020 at age 15 from brain cancer.
17. The Natural (1984)
> Starring: Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close
> Sport: Baseball
> Runtime: 138 min
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Vudu, Microsoft Store, Google Play Movies, YouTube, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV, Redbox, FandangoNOW, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Video
Barry Levinson directed this homage to the national pastime based on Bernard Malamud’s novel of the same name that is part sports drama and part fantasy. Robert Redford played a Depression-era baseball player whose hitting prowess seems almost divinely ordained. The staff at Variety said “The Natural” was “an impeccably made, but quite strange, fable about success and failure in America.” Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a Freshness rating of 82%, while audiences awarded the movie a score of 88%. The film has a rating of 7.5 out of 10 among IMDb users.
16. Miracle (2004)
> Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Nathan West
> Sport: Ice hockey
> Runtime: 135 min
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Vudu, Netflix, Google Play Movies, Microsoft Store, YouTube, Amazon Video, DIRECTV, Disney Plus, FandangoNOW
“Miracle” is about the man behind one of the most famous victories (and upsets) in the history of hockey. Kurt Russell played Herb Brooks, who coached the U.S. Olympic hockey team against the Soviet squad, which was believed to be unbeatable. The American team eventually won the gold medal. The movie has a 7.5 out of 10 rating on IMDb.