BEST OF THE BEST?

On the list of best sports movies, you won’t believe what made the cut

Rocky won best picture in 1973. Photo by Getty Images.

What is your favorite sports movie ever? Mine is Slap Shot, with Caddyshack a close second. I've watched them probably 20 times, and each time they get stupider and funnier.

Maybe you've got an idea for a sports movie that's even funnier, more dramatic, or pulls at your heartstrings.

Time is running out for writers to enter their original movie scripts for the Houston International Sports Film Festival's "Screenplay Competition."

The festival, scheduled for June 3-6, is looking for "stories that go beyond the field and show the relationship between sports and life." Judges include producer, director and writer Angelo Pizzo (Hoosiers and Rudy) and writer Brad Gunn (Disney's Invincible). Details of the film festival, including where to send your screenplay, are available at eventhorizonfilms.com. The deadline is April 25.

This will be the first year for the Houston International Sports Film Festival. Winners of the screenplay competition will receive autographed film scripts, professional consultations and tickets to sports events.

I'm a big fan of sports movies, they're practically the only films I watch besides comedies and gangster movies. The festival got me thinking, what are the Top 10 most successful sports movies ever made? The answer is tricky because when you ask the Internet, the list is not only debatable, frankly all 10 have little to do with sports.

To start the argument, the No. 1 biggest money-making sports movie is Furious 7. Released in 2015, the film took in $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office. No. 2 is The Fate of the Furious ($1.23 billion), No. 3 is Fast & Furious 6 ($788 million), No. 4 is Hobbs & Shaw ($759 million), and No. 5 is Forrest Gump ($677 million).

To say these are Top 5 is to consider illegal street racing, the background of Fast & Furious movies, a sport. OK, maybe that's true in Houston (hundreds of cars impounded this month), but generally speaking, an activity isn't a sport if it's 3 a.m. and you can go to jail for doing it. Forrest Gump does have a few sports scenes, like college football, ping-pong and running, but they're not really instrumental to the story.

The rest of the Top 10 is even sillier. No. 6 is Fast Five ($626 million), followed by Cars 2 ($562 million), Cars ($462 million), Cars 3 ($383 million), and Fast & Furious ($363 million).

The Cars movies are cartoons. To say they're about motor racing is to consider Alvin and the Chipmunks one of the greatest rock bands in history.

Also high on the list of most successful sports movies: Gladiator (gladiatorial combat), Casino Royale (gambling), Ready Player One (esports), Slumdog Millionaire (game show), and Saturday Night Fever (dancing). None of them is a sport, and unless you're dining at Medieval Times, gladiatorial combat may be illegal. However, the roast chicken at Medieval Times rivals Costco birds for juiciness.

Sticking with real sports, the Top 5 films are: Karate Kid ($359 million), Enter the Dragon ($350 million), The Blind Side ($309 million), Rocky IV ($300 million), and Rocky III ($270 million).

Sports movies, like Rodney Dangerfield, don't get no respect. They rarely get mentioned at the Academy Awards. In nearly 100 years of Oscars, only three sports movies have won for Best Picture: Rocky (1973), Chariots of Fire (1981) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).

Only three actors have won Best Actor for a sports movie: Robert DeNiro (Raging Bull), Paul Newman (The Color of Money), and Wallace Beery (The Champ).

Only two actresses have won a sporty Best Actress award: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby). More important, Swank was judged "Hot" in a "Hot or Not Hot" contest on The Office with Michael Scott casting the deciding vote.

Technically, the sports movie with the most Oscar nominations is Gladiator with 12 nods. The actual sports movie with the most nominations is Pride of the Yankees (1942) with Gary Cooper portraying the Iron Horse. The real-life Babe Ruth has a cameo in the movie. It's a sad biopic, keep a hankie handy. The top bawler sports film, though, has to be Brian's Song, about the inspiring friendship of Chicago Bears legend Gale Sayers and cancer-stricken running back Brian Piccolo.

If you consider hunting to be a sport (I don't), the saddest movie is Bambi, especially the scene where Bambi's mother is murdered by an unnamed "Man." I saw this movie as a kid and it still gets to me.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, the real people's choice awards, the most beloved sports movies ever is The Wrestler (2008), with Mickey Rourke playing a down and out, aging pro wrestler beset with drug, alcohol and health problems, sort of based on the life and near death of Jake "the Snake" Roberts.

True story: one time I took my son Andrew backstage to meet the wrestlers. Snake was holding court, entertaining young wrestlers with stories of the good old days. Before he got into one of his wilder, crazier tales, politically incorrect Roberts squinted with bleary eyes at Andrew, who was 8 at the time, and asked, "Wait, are you a (little person) or a kid?"

I'm not sure if he was serious. I'm 90 percent he was.

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