The Fan (1996)
I love the hell out of The Fan. De Niro trying to tap into whatever Travis Bickle he has left in him, a barely articulate Benicio Del Toro, a wiseass Ellen Barkin, bitchin’ Nine Inch Nails tracks – pure action trash bliss. It’ll never be one of Tony Scott’s most revered films, but it’ll always be one of my favorites. “Atta way BOBBYYYYY!”
10. 61* (2001)
Billy Crystal’s HBO film about Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle’s battle to break Babe Ruth’s single season home run record is, simply put, an eloquent love letter to baseball. You can tell everyone involved in this film really loves the game.
9. Field of Dreams (1989)
Here’s the tricky part about lists: you have to separate the better films from the films that aptly fit the criterion of the list. For example, one could make a strong argument that Field of Dreams is the best film on this list. But is it the best baseball movie? Nah. But no matter, it’s still a great film any way you look at it.
8. The Natural (1984)
Although stuck between two better-known Barry Levinson classics (‘82s Diner and ‘87s Good Morning, Vietnam), The Natural remains one of baseball’s finest cinematic stories. Watching the film now, it’s so amusing to see Robert Redford embracing his old age, when, all things considered, he really wasn’t that old at all. Just proves that real, authentic talent knows no age.
7. A League of Their Own (1992)
I hadn’t see A League of Their Own since I was a kid, but rewatching it for this list further confirmed what I’ve always known: this is one goddamn delightful little baseball movie.
6. Sugar (2008)
It’s such a shame that Sugar never received the attention it deserved. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck made the film two years after their breakout hit, Half Nelson, but it was released to little fanfare. The film tells the story of a young pro baseball player in the Dominican Republic whose life is flipped after he’s chosen to play in the U.S. Minor League. Miguel “Sugar” Santos’ new deal in the States sounds like a dream come true, but it doesn’t take long for him to realize that the American Dream isn’t always what it seems. An honest and moving film of lifted spirits and shattered expectations.
5. The Sandlot (1993)
I don’t really need to justify this one, right?
4. Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Thirteen short months after the untimely passing of Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, Sam Wood released Pride of the Yankees, which remains as fine a biopic tribute as has ever been captured on film. The fact that Gary Cooper was able to make Gehrig’s heartbreaking field speech as memorable on film as it was in real life is a grand achievement.
3. Moneyball (2011)
The amazing thing about Moneyball is that it manages to make something so incredibly dull, so wildly compelling. I have no interest in studying absurdly in-depth baseball statistics, but I’ll listen to Brad Pitt and Johan Hill talk about them time and time again.
2. Bull Durham (1988)
Ron Shelton’s first (and still best) film is an appropriately hilarious, and surprisingly moving, love letter to baseball. I know I used that exact term to describe 61*, but it’s really the best way I can describe both films. They’re so appreciative that the game itself even exists.
1. Major League (1989)
I will always welcome an entertaining and/or heartwarming new baseball film. But I can all but guarantee that I’ll never have more fun with a baseball flick than Major League. I’ve adored this romp since long before I probably should’ve been allowed to (I might have been six the first time I saw it). It’s goofy but never ventures into parody, endearing but never too serious. In short, Major League is exactly the kind of movie it wants to be, and I absolutely love it.