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Sunday, August 25, 2002
Updated: August 26, 12:08 PM ET
Page 2's Top 20 Sports Movies of All-Time


OUR COUNTDOWN: 20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 | 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

No. 1: Bull Durham (206 points)

Year released: 1988.

Cast: Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Robert Wuhl. Directed by Ron Shelton.

What we like: The dialogue is sharp and funny, the baseball sequences are accurate and the prevailing sexual tension triumphs throughout; if you're making a list of the top 10 moments from sports movies, several here merit consideration: Crash Davis' "I believe speech," the mound conference featuring Wuhl's classic "Candlesticks always make a nice gift" line and Nuke Laloosh beaning the mascot and then learning never to shake off his catcher; from Walt Whitman to William Blake to all the baseball-as-religion analogies, Sarandon's mystical view of the game makes for a moving backdrop; any movie that pokes fun at athletes' penchant for clichés and groupies is a definite hit with us.

What we're willing to overlook: Robbins' attempt to impersonate a pitcher -- he was trying to copy Fernando Valenzuela's "eyes-to-the-sky" motion, but he looked more like Billy Crystal's "Fernando" from "SNL" fame; Nuke getting called up from Class A ball to the majors is just a bit farfetched -- as is the aging Crash being sent all the way down to rookie ball; it did launch the career of Wuhl, which led to the nearly unwatchable "ARLI$$."


The set detail was not peerless, but the three lead characters and their arcs were -- each a full universe unto itself. Having Sarandon narrate was inspired. None better, really. -- Page 2 columnist Ralph Wiley

Not because it's an accurate look at minor-league baseball. That it is not. What it is, however, is a sports movie with extremely witty dialogue and excellent character interaction. The wisdom of Crash Davis, the naivete of Nuke Laloosh and the "been-around-the-block" charm of Annie Savoy make for a wonderful mix. -- Page 2 editor Kevin Jackson

Funny and sexy in a grown-up way, some of the greatest lines ever (especially when Crash rebukes the batboy and, of course, the great "I believe in" speech) ... probably Costner's best role and certainly one of Sarandon's finest. -- Page 2 editor Jay Lovinger

It gets baseball right, and it gets life right. Oozes authenticity, and it's funny, too. -- Page 2 columnist Jeff Merron