Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Movies [Print without images]

Wednesday, August 28, 2002
Updated: September 2, 9:44 AM ET
Best sports movie actresses

Page 2 staff

Today's look at sports cinema focuses on the the best actresses from sports films.

Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon charms with the poetry of Walt Whitman in "Bull Durham."
Below are Page 2's choices for the best actress from a sports movie.

We'd like to see which sports movie actress you believe gave the best performance, so vote for your choice in the poll at right.

1. Susan Sarandon in "Bull Durham"
Sarandon plays the Annie of all Baseball Annies -- Durham's baseball-savvy, sexy, seasonal serial monogamist. She's got us from the start, when she introduces herself via the "Church of Baseball." She's got us with the poetry of Whitman, the swing of her hips, and her messengered tips. And she's right at the edge of change, scared, lonely, but still young enough to hope. Crash couldn't have done better. Nuke couldn't have done better. And all along, you know Sarandon's a major leaguer stuck in a minor league town.

2. Geena Davis in "A League of Their Own" (1992)
Davis' Dotti Hinson is Rosie the Riveter in a baseball uniform. She's tough, independent, waiting patiently for her guy to return from The War, but not just waiting. She's working her butt off, too, on the field, off the field, and in her own head. When Dottie locks horns with her seen-it-all coach, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), you know she's a winner, the kind of winner only a big sister can be. She leaves ... and then she comes back to play: "Hey, Jimmy. What's wrong with you? Don't you ever shave? You look like s---!" And Jimmy knows what that means: "We're gonna win. We're gonna win!"

Tatum O'Neal, Walter Matthau
Tatum O'Neal acted beyond her years in "Bad News Bears."
3. Tatum O'Neal in "Bad News Bears" (1976)
If you're of a certain age when you watch "The Bad News Bears," you can't help but fall hard for O'Neal's Amanda Whurlitzer. She's very, very pretty. She can pitch. And you can tell she wants to be sexy, but like any soon-to-be-12-year-old, doesn't quite know how. O'Neal's performance in this film, like her sidekick Walter Matthau's, brings a subtlety and sophistication that raises this broad kid comedy to another level.

4. Rosie Perez in "White Men Can't Jump"
Perez is hilarious in the role of Gloria Clemente, girlfriend of pickup hoops hustler Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson). While he's out scamming, she's drinking, cursing and screaming. She's also studying the almanac, hoping for a chance to get on "Jeopardy." "This is Oscar-caliber supporting work," wrote Roger Ebert of Perez's performance, but Perez didn't even get a nomination. Shame on the Academy.

5. Renée Zellweger in "Jerry Maguire" (1996)
Zellweger is gorgeous, but she doesn't know it -- which is why she's the fantasy girl-next-door. Her portrayal of a single mom just slightly on the edge of romantic desperation is right on, and just enough over the edge to take guys to the fantasy place they've got, too. Jerry asks, "What do you want from me? My soul?" she responds, with complete conviction, "Why not? I deserve that much." And we all know it's true.

6.Talia Shire in "Rocky"
Rocky and Adrian
Talia Shire's Adrian went through a lot of changes in the five installments of the "Rocky" saga.
You know Rocky Balboa is smarter than he looks when you see he's locked on to both the inner and outer beauty of Adrian, a pet shop girl who's supposed to be homely both inside and out. When they finally pair off, and Rocky doubts his ability to go anywhere, much less the distance, against Creed, Adrian changes everything -- everything -- with five simple, soft-spoken, emotionally charged words: "What are we gonna do?" There's no movie without Sylvester Stallone's Rocky, but there's no great movie without Talia, who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance.

7. Lindsay Crouse in "Slap Shot"
While the Chiefs were out having fun, our hearts ached for Crouse's Lily, the neglected, lonely and scared hockey wife stuck in Charlestown with no idea where she was going. Soft, tough, vulnerable, cute and beautiful ... and on the screen, only Newman's Reggie Dunlop noticed.

8. Sanaa Lathan in "Love and Basketball" (2000)
Lathan shines in her role as Monica Wright, a tough, tomboyish, stubborn and beautiful player navigating the minefields of, well, love and basketball.

9. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in "The Color of Money" (1986)
Mastrantonio was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Carman, the sexy girlfriend of young pool hustler Vincent (Tom Cruise). She's sharp, sharp-edged and cynical, and works perfectly off of both Paul Newman's Fast Eddie and Cruise. As Fast Eddie tells her, "We've got a thoroughbred. You make him feel good and I teach him to run." She does that, and much, much more.

10. Julie Christie in "Heaven Can Wait" (1978)
There's a lot to like about this clever and classic resurrection tale. While angels float (metaphorically) throughout the plot, Christie, in her role as English teacher Betty Logan, seems to do so almost literally. As one ESPN.com wag put it, "she's luminescent."

Also receiving votes:
  • Goldie Hawn in "Wildcats"
  • Amy Madigan in "Field of Dreams"
  • Glenn Close in "The Natural"
  • Jill Clayburgh in "Semi-Tough"