Gimme 5: Awesome Sports Flicks!

Ah, yes! You can smell it in the air…that special time of year has come and the new NFL Football season is finally upon us, with last night’s Saints/Vikings game (God, I hate Brett Favre) kicking off the festivities! I know a few weeks ago I came up with my own Top 15 list of what I consider to be the greatest sports films ever made (click here to see the Almighty list) — but what I failed to do was get YOUR opinions on what your favorites are, as there are certainly many to pick from. Two things in life I have great passion for — movies and sports. It’s great when the two are put together to make an extraordinary, inspiring film — and this week, I’d like you to GIMME 5 of Your Favorite Sports Flicks! No surprises with my Top 5, as I will simply stick with the five I chose for my earlier list…this one is all about you and I wanted to time it right with the new football season! So huddle up, put your gear on, and…

GIMME 5 AWESOME SPORTS MOVIES!!!

Here are my Top 5:

#1. Rocky (1976)
(the quintessential underdog film. Totally inspiring!)
#2. Raging Bull (1980)
(DeNiro at his best; masterfully shot; a tremendous character exploration)
#3. Hoop Dreams (1994)
(powerful & genuine moments from 5+ yrs of footage – a cinematic triumph!)
#4. Field of Dreams (1989)
(A father & son reconcile, elements of fantasy, & the purity of the game of baseball…a magical film)
#5. The Natural (1984)
(I love Roy Hobbs & his story is one that makes you cheer throughout!)

Hoosiers could very easily be in my Top 5 as well. Love that movie!!!

Now It’s YOUR Turn!!!

31-Day Movie Meme: by Peter Eramo

I see that all of my fellow film bloggers have been participating in the 31-Day Movie Meme, and it looked too fun NOT to participate, so I came up with my own responses to the “lightning-round” type questions being posed. Readers of this site might see some repeat answers, but if it’s a film favorite, I have to be consistent. I have no idea who started this particular Meme, but it’s been very entertaining reading everyone’s answers to the prompted questions thus far. I still have no idea what a “meme” is, but the ones I have taken part in have been quite enjoyable. Anyway, here are my own responses, for better or for worse:  

1. A Sequel That Shouldn’t Have Been Made:

Caddyshack 2 (was this truly necessary? A disastrous follow-up to a comedic classic.)  

2. A Movie More People Should See:

I think everyone should see the documentary, Young @ Heart. Absolutely uplifting and inspiring. You laugh one minute and cry the next.  

3. Favorite Oscar-Nominated Film from the Most Recent Ballot:

District 9 (For my money, the best film of 2009.)  

4. A Movie That Makes Me Laugh Every Time:

Arthur (Russell Brand will never come close to measuring up to the brilliance of Dudley Moore…and frankly, it is sad that he is even trying.)    

         

 

 

5. A Movie I Loathe:

Donnie Darko (a film for teenagers and college students who think that, by saying they love this film, it makes them intellectual and profound human beings. It’s junk people.)    

6. A Movie That Makes Me Cry Every Time:

The hospital scene in She’s Having A Baby, played to the sensational Kate Bush track, “This Woman’s Work.” Kevin Bacon is spectacular here and the beautifully edited montage of moments between husband and wife is gut-wrenching. Perhaps every husband’s nightmare, leaving him crippled and feeling helpless.
     

7. Least Favorite Movie by a Favorite Actor:

My favorite actor without question is Marlon Brando. Except for the hefty paycheck, I’m still not sure why he ever stepped near The Island of Dr. Moreau.    

8. Movie That Should Be Required High School Viewing:

As long as a proper lesson unit is created, with in-depth follow-up discussion, I think Edward Zwick’s Glory is a fine choice.    

 
     

9. Best Scene Ever:

The juxtaposing scenes in The Godfather, where Michael Corleone’s (Al Pacino) men are assassinating the heads of the five families as he stands in church, godfather to his nephew, renouncing Satan.    

10. A Movie I Never Expected to Like, but Ended Up Loving:

Fantastic Mr. Fox, the first Wes Anderson film I actually enjoyed.    

     

 

11. A Movie That Disappointed You:

I love Oliver Stone’s work, but was severely let down by W.    

12. Best Music Used in a Scene:

The way that Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” is incorporated into the bus scene in Cameron Crowe’s amazing Almost Famous is sheer brilliance — very moving and cathartic.   

13. Favorite Animated Movie:

There are so many great films to pick from, but I think Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant (1999) has to be my favorite.     

     

     

14. Favorite Black & White Film:

I’ll stick with earlier films here. A toss-up between The Bicycle Thief and Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight.    

15. Best Musical:

Alan Parker’s The Commitments is a sensational achievement with a phenomenal soundtrack.     

16. Favorite Guilty Pleasure Movie:

Serendipity (it’s friggin’ adorable…what can I tell ya?! Right Tara???)    

17. Favorite Series of Related Movies:

The Godfather Trilogy (what is the debate here?)    

18. Favorite Title Sequence:

I think the opening sequence of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers is brilliantly shot and cleverly edited. It surely sets you up for what you’re in for during the next two hours — a masterpiece of a film that is one of the decade’s very best films.    

19. Best Movie Cast:

Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan, Arkin, Jonathan Pryce, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, and Kevin Spacey all shine in Glengarry Glen Ross. Everyone on top of their game and they speak the words of David Mamet like pure poetry.    

20. Favorite Screen Kiss:

You know all the anxiety and over-thinking that we go through before our first kiss with someone? Alvy Singer has come up with a working  solution to this problem.  Alvy and Annie are on their very first date. He is going to watch her sing at a small NYC club and later they’ll grab a bite to eat. Here is the classic exchange in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall:    

      

Alvy: Hey listen, gimme a kiss.
Annie: Really?
Alvy: Yeah, why not, because we’re just gonna go home later, right, and then there’s gonna be all that tension, we’ve never kissed before and I’ll never know when to make the right move or anything. So we’ll kiss now and get it over with, and then we’ll go eat. We’ll digest our food better.    

And they kiss. It’s nothing glorious; just a quick kiss on the lips…and relieves all the tension.    

21. Favorite Romantic Couple:

I am always touched by the purest form of love that is felt between Adrian (Talia Shire) and Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) — throughout the entire Rocky series (Adrian’s presence is overwhelming even in her absence in the final film).    

22. Favorite Final Line:

Phil Alden Robinson’s Field of Dreams…    

Ray Kinsella: Hey Dad, you wanna have a catch?
Ray’s Father:  I’d like that. 

23. Best Action Sequence/Scene: 

“If I say it’s safe to surf this beach, Captain, it’s safe to surf this beach!”

The brilliant helicopter attack in Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece, Apocalypse Now.    

24. Film Quote I Use Most Often:  

In A Bronx Tale, Lorenzo Anello (Robert DeNiro) tells his young son: “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” It’s always stuck with me.   

25. A Movie I Plan on Watching:  

I have so many in my rental queue….I’ll just go with the newly released Red Riding Trilogy…looks awesome!    

26. Freakishly Weird Movie Ending: 

Since everyone is going with Mulholland Drive, I will choose The Rapture (one of the very best film endings I have ever seen…I distinctly remember not moving a muscle in the theatre as the end credits simply rolled with no musical accompaniment)    

27. Best Villain:

I will stick with who I believe to be the geatest screen villain, Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List.    

28. Most Over-Hyped Movie:

Did I hear something about an upcoming Avengers movie? Does anyone really think this will live up to the hype? (I could have easily went with Inception here too.)    

29. A Movie Seen More Than Ten Times: Annie Hall (DUH!!!)

30. Saddest Character Death: 

Selma (Bjork) in Lars von Trier’s depressing and magnificent Dancer in the Dark. At the end, she is strapped to a board and carried to the gallows after being convicted of murder she did not intentionally commit. She is hooded, and screams in panic, “I can’t breathe!” as the noose is being drawn around her neck. When she finally accepts her death, and, while waiting for the floor to fall out from under her, she begins to smile and sing. Haunting and terribly moving.   

31. Movie That Made Me Stand Up and Cheer: Remember the Titans

The Top 15 Sports Movies of All-Time!

We are officially in the midst of the Dog Days of Summer, with Major League Baseball just finishing up their annual All-Star festivities and their season hitting its midpoint. Football mini-camps are right around the corner (Go Jets!) and the frenetic chaos that was the NBA period to sign free agents has come to and end. The World Cup is over and The U.S. Open hits Flushing, NY at the very end of August. So I thought that now would be a fitting time to come up with my personal Top 15 List of the Greatest Sports Films of All-Time. Two things I love in this world are sports and film — and I love when those two elements are put together to make an inspiring, stimulating and emotional sports flick. I brainstormed about 120 sports films and whittled it down to just ten movies – but much like my “Greatest Comedies of the Decade” list, I was upset that a few of my favorites were left off, so I branched out to 15 great movies. Then there was the question as to whether or not I considered certain films to be classified as “sports films” (the debate on this continues for films like Jerry Maguire, Field of Dreams, The Hurricane, and Raging Bull). There are also a number of very good films that did not make the list, so I included some honorable mentions as well. Hope you read and enjoy — and, as always, I look forward to your own thoughts and comments on this topic.

#15. Miracle (2004)

Before all of the fun and purity was sucked out of the Olympic Ice-Hockey games by letting professional players compete, the amateurs ruled the ice. And in 1980, one of the biggest upsets in sports history took place when the United States Hockey team defeated the seemingly unconquerable team from the Soviet Union in Lake Placid and then winning the Gold Medal by defeating Finland. Miracle focuses on the player-turned-coach Herb Brooks and how he led the underdog Team USA to their extraordinary run. Kurt Russell does an admirable job as the ever-demanding, workaholic coach and the film does a terrific job at staying true to actual events and capturing the moment that shocked the world and made America proud.  

#14. Eight Men Out (1988)

A superb film, with a stellar cast and directed by one of our very best filmmakers in John Sayles. If you like sports movies and haven’t seen this one yet, put this one in your queue right away! Most recently, Major League Baseball’s black eye was the use of ballplayers taking performance enhancing drugs, but for decades it was the infamous “Black Sox” scandal – when the Chicago White Sox of 1919 deliberately lost the World Series. Sayles does a brilliant job of telling this unbelievable true story in which eight players (including Shoeless Joe Jackson) are suspended for life. A wonderful period piece, the film does a great job of putting you in a different time and place. The costume design and dialogue are completely authentic and the cast (including John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, John Mahoney, Michael Rooker, David Strathairn and D.B. Sweeney) does a marvelous job. You truly empathize with the characters and the dilemmas they are going through — and if you are an avid baseball fan like myself, you will really lose yourself in watching America’s greatest pastime during its real Golden Age.

#13. Caddyshack (1980)

This movie is the main reason I augmented this list from 10 to 15 films. I don’t know if it’s a “guy thing,” but there was no way I could create a “Best Sports Movies” list and not include this comedy classic from Harold Ramis. Rodney Dangerfield is at his crude and arrogant best, and every Bill Murray scene is hilarious, but it is Ted Knight who is my absolute favorite here as Judge Smails, the owner of the illustrious Bushwood Country Club. The funniest scene here (out of so very many) is when Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) has to play through Carl Spackler’s (Murray) hovel. I also love the ever-growing conflict between Judge Smails and Al Czervik (Dangerfield), the eccentric millionaire. This film always makes me laugh and for my money, is the better “golf film” than The Legend of Bagger Vance or Tin Cup. “In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, ‘Au revoir, gopher!'”

#12. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

This film won the “Best Picture” Oscar and deservedly so as it truly packs a devastating right hook. Warner Brothers did an incredible job of keeping the story under wraps when it was released so when I went in to see it, I just thought this was going to be a movie about a female boxer. Boy, was I wrong! Some people think this Clint Eastwood flick is overrated, but my guess is that they either heard about or were made aware of  the emotional roller coaster ride this movie takes you on beforehand. The father/daughter-like relationship between Eastwood’s Frankie Dunn and Hilary Swank’s Maggie Fitzgerald is a beautiful one to  behold and so elegantly crafted. Eastwood also does a very nice job of interspersing some well-needed humor at just the right moments. There are some great boxing sequences and Swank creates a character who comes from nowhere and has a dream; she is fiercely competitive, and has the heart of a lion. There are also some great, atmospheric scenes around Dunn’s gym where all the regulars go on a daily basis (including Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris played by Morgan Freeman). A magnificent piece of storytelling that breaks your heart every time. Mo Cuishle…

#11. Pride of the Yankees (1942)

The true story of the “Iron Man” himself, Lou Gehrig, one of the greatest baseball players ever to don the infamous Yankees pinstripes. Gary Cooper’s portrayal of Gehrig is a commendable one as the film follows him from his childhood in New York, through his years as a New York Yankee and ending, tragically, with his now famous “Luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech before succumbing to the fatal ALS disease at the very young age of 37. You learn a lot about the life of this talented ballplayer here, including the unhealthy relationship he had with his mother (Elsa Janssen does a terrific job in the complex role). Teresa Wright is very well cast as the woman who loves him and Babe Ruth is played by…well, the Babe himself! A classic sports film — and a must-see for any baseball fan…or any fan of inspirational and moving films.  

#10. Remember the Titans (2000)

I just love this film. It’s a great sports film, but so much more than that, covering the real life events of the early 1970’s when two high schools integrated and formed T.C. Williams High School. Racial tensions were at their peak and it doesn’t get any easier for this small town when the popular Caucasian coach is replaced by Herman Boone, an African-American coach from North Carolina. Denzel Washington is dynamic as Coach Boone — demanding nothing but 100% from his young players on and off the football field. Will Patton gives a moving performance as well, playing Boone’s assistant coach. The film does a great job of putting us in this place and time — and the great soundtrack only intensifies the atmosphere. Little by little we watch as the locker room grows from one of contempt and segregation to one unified alliance. A tear-jerker of a movie with some terrific moments throughout — and some great football too. This movie leaves a lasting impact and you can’t help but cheer at times and even shed a few tears. The true essence of competition, teamwork and what it means to be a true teammate is fully illustrated here. A great movie! 

#9. Seabiscuit (2003)

A story of second chances for each of our main characters here and another film based on a true story. Set in the Depression-era, Gary Ross’ film examines one of the most famous racehorses in history — and how he helped to lift the spirits of a nation that was in desperate need of it. A true underdog story, the movie actually tells the story of a few long shots — the owner, the trainer, the hot-tempered jockey and Seabiscuit, the undersized racehorse. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, the movie features wonderful performances by Chris Cooper, Tobey Maguire, William H. Macy, and the mega-awesome Jeff Bridges. Real life jockey Gary Stevens is also excellent in a supporting role and the racing scenes are so skillfully shot — the costumes and sets capture the time period perfectly. On the surface, the movie appears to be about the inspiring story of this magnificent racehorse and those who loved him, but it tells us so much more about attaining the American Dream. You don’t have to be a fan of horseracing to truly appreciate this film — another work that is brimming with a blazing spirit and tugs at your  heart.

#8. The Hustler (1961)

Paul Newman shines as Fast Eddie Felson, an up-and-coming pool player with an ego as big as his game. He wants to be known as the best player in the world and to do it he seeks out the legendary champion Minnesota Fats so that he can take him on. You honestly couldn’t cast a more suitable actor to play Minnesota Fats than Jackie Gleason, and for his electrifying performance, he received a well-deserved Oscar nomination. The back-and-forth between the two is a treasure to watch, as is Eugen Schüfftan’s amazing cinematography. Piper Laurie gives a tender performance here and George C. Scott is captivating, as always…and a real shit to boot! The pool shots are real and exquisite, as Gleason was well-known as being a terrific pool player. The seediness of this culture and its inhabitants is shown quite well here. But the movie is all Eddie’s — as we watch him burn out, mature, and learn from his mistakes. An all-encompassing drama and though pool may not be on the tip of your tongue as being a riveting sport to watch, this film succeeds in doing just that. A film for the ages — far superior to the sequel that would be released 25 years later.

#7. Bull Durham (1988)

The love triangle is an entertaining subplot here, but the true greatness of this terrific sports film is seeing how a minor league baseball team goes through a season — on buses instead of private planes, in cheesy little ballparks rather than the gorgeous monuments of MLB, in seedy rooms at the Motel 8 instead of the Four Seasons. Kevin Costner plays the cerebral, aging catcher Crash Davis, who is just trying to hold on to one more year to play the game he has loved his entire life. He watches with envy as the new phenom pitcher ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh (Tim Robbins)comes to the Durham Bulls to be groomed for the Big Show. The chemistry between the two actors is solid and Susan Sarandon was the ideal actress to play Annie Savoy — here she is the perfect mix of sexy, smart and tomboy. Writer/Director Ron Shelton has written a hilarious and moving script; one that accurately depicts the life of minor-leaguers. There are some classic lines scattered throughout, and the baseball scenes are done quite well. One can’t help but root for and feel sympathy for Costner’s Crash – he has played a baseball player a few times, but this was his first time doing so, and he brings a tremendous authenticity to the role. No sports film list would be complete without this one…  

#6. Hoosiers (1986)

Where in the world do people live and breathe high school and collegiate basketball? Hoosiertown, that’s where. Set in rural Indiana, David Anspaugh’s film is basketball through and through. Gene Hackman is astounding as the highly volatile Coach Norman Dale, a man with a checkered past who has just been hired to coach this small-town high school basketball team. His style and methods are immediately met with raised eyebrows, but this guy knows how to coach in a very Bob Knight kind of way. If you had a son, this is the guy you want coaching him. We watch as he prepares his underdog team throughout the season and on their way to becoming a shocking contender for the state championship in 1954, which is just about everything in Indiana. Dennis Hopper plays the father of one of the young players and he gives a heartfelt and moving performance as the town drunk who everyone seems to have given up on. Hopper earned an Oscar nomination for his work here. Hoosiers is a classic tale of redemption for many of its characters and it is another sports film that you cannot resist rooting for. Based on a true story, this movie has everything for the sports/film lover — heart, resilience, courage, teamwork, loyalty and attitude. This is a movie I can never turn away from if it’s on — and I get caught up in it each and every time.

#5. The Natural (1984)

Barry Levinson directs this fairy-tale baseball movie about Roy Hobbs, a middle-aged man who comes out of nowhere to become one of the greatest baseball players to ever live. Robert Redford is perfect as the midwestern Hobbs who is now enjoying the renowned career he should have had in younger days when he was a pitcher. However, that life was tragically sidetracked and is just now becoming a household name. Here is another period piece that does a marvelous job of taking us back to a time when every gentleman in the stands wore a fedora. We root for Hobbs throughout this film and though it may not be as authentic as some other sports films, that is not what this film is about. We go along for the ride and we enjoy every bit of it — right up to the point where Hobbs hits a ball that soars high in the sky, shattering the ballpark’s lights. Richard Farnsworth, Wilford Brimley, Robert Prosky, Glenn Close and Kim Basinger are all great in their supporting roles and all having a tremendous impact on the life of Hobbs in some way. With a rich and intricate screenplay, along with the great costumes, sets and period props, this is a baseball movie for the kid in all of us!

#4. Field of Dreams (1989)

This is very easily one of my all-time favorite movies and it makes me cry every time I see it. Yes, the background is the legendary baseball field built by Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), but the film is not really about baseball at all. At its heart, we have a family man who is destined to go on a journey for reasons he cannot fathom, while his farm hemorrhaging money and is about to be lost; a man who was never able to apologize to his father with whom he had a more than strained relationship. And that is the crux of this movie — a father, a son and the game of baseball. It all comes together so gorgeously in the end that it never ceases to move me in so many ways. Phil Alden Robinson does a wonderful job at adapting W.P. Kinsella’s book and directs the movie so skillfully, while getting the most out of his stellar cast. James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, Amy Madigan, and the legendary Burt Lancaster are a joy to watch. The banter between Ray and Jones’ Salinger-like author is great fun and Lancaster is nothing short of extraordinary as “Moonlight” Graham. The ballpark itself is its own character in the film and is ever-present throughout. A great, feel-good movie that has everything we look for in a great sports movie without much of the sport actually in it.

#3. Hoop Dreams (1994)

There are some wonderful documentary films that focus on athletics, but this, for me, is the quintessential achievement. Some of the films on this list are based on true stories, which adds a special element to the viewing experience. This does one better as director Steve James and his crew followed two Illinois high school students for over five years and collected over 250 hours of footage. William Gates and Arthur Agee want to be professional basketball players like their idol, Isiah Thomas. they are recruited by St. Joseph High School, which is renowned for its basketball program. The film does a phenomenal job of showing you what each of these boys is going through as they try to get recruited by the top-notch collegiate programs. In addition to seeing the highs and many devastating lows that the boys must face, Hoop Dreams raises a number of important societal issues such as race, education, economic status, and what our values in America are. You feel as if you are a fly on the wall throughout and you really get to know James’ subjects. It’s better than almost any sports movie because it isn’t just based on real life — this is real life.

#2. Raging Bull (1980)

This may be the greatest movie on this list for the sheer brilliance of its filmmaking, so if you have this as #1 on your own list, you will get no arguments from me. I wasn’t sure if this could be categorized as a “sports film,” but it does examine the real life of middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta — his bouts in the ring and his self-destructive nature outside the arena. Robert DeNiro gives perhaps his greatest performance as LaMotta — completely uninhibited, crude, raw, authentic. He’s like Stanley Kowalski, but on mega steroids. The way this man treats those he presumably loves is at times, so uncomfortable to watch. On top of this mesmerizing performance, we have perhaps Martin Scorsese’s greatest achievement as a filmmaker. I’m not sure there has ever been more realistic footage taken in the ring and Michael Chapman’s black-and-white cinematography is nothing short of resplendent.  Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing is crisp and economical, as always. Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarty are fantastic in their respective roles and play off DeNiro quite well. The film plays like a Greek tragedy as we watch this man slowly bring about his own tragic demise — and it makes for a riveting, masterpiece of a film.

#1. Rocky (1976)

The quintessential underdog film — and an American classic, winning the “Best Picture” Oscar in an ultra-competitive year. For those of you who think Sylvester Stallone isn’t all that talented, I would ask you to remind yourself that he is the man responsible for creating this truly inspiring film, writing its screenplay and playing the legendary Rocky Balboa character — on his way to receiving two Oscar nominations that year. Balboa is an uneducated, small-time boxer who works as a “collector” for a local mafia man. His time is up and he has nothing in his life but a tiny apartment and his dog, Butkus. When he is unexpectedly given the opportunity of a lifetime — to fight the heavyweight champion of the world (as kind of a publicity stunt) — he takes full advantage of it and shows how far a resilient heart (and solid jaw) can go. John G. Avildsen directed this inspiring and wholly entertaining work, featuring an iconic score by Bill Conti, precise editing, and some great boxing sequences. Talia Shire gives a subtle, lovely performance as Adrian and Carl Weathers does a great job as Apollo Creed, the champion who takes his opponent way too lightly. Of course, Burgess Meredith is the ideal choice to play Mickey, Balboa’s stubborn, feisty veteran trainer. The city of Philadelphia is prominently displayed here — its actually another character in the film and you can almost smell the cheesesteaks through the screen. The fight  keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout — and the ending is just perfect. This may not be the greatest film achievement on the list (or maybe so, I’m not sure), but I think it is the epitome of what a classic sports film should be – the benchmark that other sports films should strive to emulate. I can’t think of a sports film with more heart, one that shows the courage and will of the human spirit so effortlessly or one that can so easily bring me to my feet in applause. Rocky – you will always be the champ!

Some Honorable Mentions for Good Measure:

1. I do love Rocky II and Rocky III (could have easily been in the Top 15)
2. Everybody’s All-American (1988)
3. Blue Chips (1994)
4. Major League (1989)
5. Bigger, Stronger, Faster (2008)

10 Movie Scenes That ALWAYS Bring on the Waterworks

I have an imaginary outtake scene in The 40-year Old Virgin, only here, I am cast in Seth Rogan’s character opposite Paul Rudd. The scene goes something like this:

Paul Rudd (to me):     You know how I know you’re gay? 
Me:                              How?
Paul Rudd:                 You create lists of movie scenes that make you cry.

OK, so today I feel like getting more in touch with my sentimental side. What can you do? It happens. Anyway, I managed to catch a scene from a movie a couple of days ago that ALWAYS makes me cry and thought that I’d come up with a list of 10 movie scenes that always make me cry like a little baby. And you know what?! I’m secure in my own masculinity to create such a list, dammit! This is NOT a Top 10 List, as there are surely other scenes out there that bring on the same proverbial waterworks for me. Nor are these scenes you see here in any particular order. They are simply what I think are 10 great, emotional scenes that, for whatever reason, move me to such a point where I have to reach for a tissue. And stop snickering at me…there’s no shame in it!

And hey! Since I’m putting myself out there, I expect you to do as well. Post your comments and share a scene or two that makes you teary-eyed and weepy…unless you have no heart at all!

1. The Final Scene of ‘Running on Empty’

SPOILER ALERT!!! Earlier in Sidney’s Lumet’s wonderful movie, the family clears the dinner table and joyfully starts to sing along to James Taylor’s classic “Fire and Rain.” Arthur and Annie Pope have been running from the FBI since blowing up a bomb to protest the war. Their son Danny (River Phoenix) has had to live with the repercussions of their acts. The final scene always gets me. On the run again, the family is in their truck and Arthur (Judd Hirsch) tells his son to take the bike out of the back — and to get on it. We see the truck drive off, leaving Danny alone to start his own life anew — all played against the backdrop of the very moving “Fire and Rain” song yet again. The combination of the song and this pivotal moment always wrecks me.

2. The Baseball Catch from ‘Field of Dreams’

Maybe it’s because I’m a huge baseball fan. Or maybe it’s because some of the greatest memories I have are when my father managed me in Little League. Perhaps it’s because this marvelous story of Ray Kinsella’s (Kevin Costner) strained relationship with his father, forever seeking his approval just got to me. I think it’s a blend of all three. Near the end of the film, on his utopian baseball field, Ray recognizes his father in the prime of his life. The two shake hands and say goodnight. As his father turns to walk away, Ray asks, with a crack in his voice, “Hey, Dad? You wanna have a catch?” His father simply says, “I’d like that.” What follows is a very simple, moving father-and-son catch. Gets me every friggin’ time…

3. A Connection is Made in ‘Rain Man’

Charlie (Tom Cruise) tries to make a connection, any connection with his autistic brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) throughout the film. Of course, Raymond is mentally unable to do so, much to Charlie’s tremendous frustration. Charlie ‘kidnaps’ his own brother from an institution solely for selfish and greedy purposes. As the two brothers spend time together, Charlie undergoes a miraculous transformation of character and begins to feel absolute love for his brother. When he returns his brother, the two are given a moment alone to say good-bye and  Charlie says to him, “What I said about being on the road with you I meant. Connecting. I like having you for my brother.” The two slowly, softly touch heads — and finally, a connection is made…if only for a moment and Charlie repeats with great warmth, “I like having you for my big brother.” It’s a cathartic moment to be sure as the entire film is building to this one emotional moment. Tender, warm, poignant…excuse me, I need a moment….

4. Adrian’s Change of Heart in ‘Rocky II’

I realize this is hokey and very melodramatic, but I don’t care. I love this movie, I love this scene and I love the dynamic that is Rocky and Adrian. Adrian (Talia Shire) has been pleading with her husband not to fight Apollo Creed again because she is worried about his eye. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is struggling with himself as to what he should do. He decides to fight, but without Adrian’s stamp of approval, his heart is just not into it. Adrian gives birth to a baby boy and falls into a coma. Now Rocky won’t train at all and spends all of his waking hours at church or at his true love’s bedside, reading to her. After a long while, she finally wakes up. With her new baby in hand, Adrian has a complete change of heart. She looks up at her husband and says, “There’s one thing I want you to do for me.” He leans in. She smiles, and simply says, “Win.” It is at this moment where I lose it. The iconic music starts to play, Rocky finally smiles and we know he’ll go back to training and kick the crap out of the champ.  Throughout the Rocky series, his love for his wife never wavers and I think it is one of the stronger aspects of the franchise. I also think that Adrian is what makes Rocky tick. Without this scene, Rocky gets slaughtered and loses in the rematch.

5. Singing for Prison Inmates in ‘Young @ Heart’

One of the Top 10 films of 2007, this inspiring documentary focuses on a chorus of senior citizens in Massachusetts who perform cover songs by The Clash, Sonic Youth, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and many others. Many of these real-life people stay with you long after the film is over, reminding us of what is truly important in this life.  Fred’s solo to a packed theatre near the end of the film will no doubt move you, as will many other emotional scenes. There is a lot to laugh at throughout this life-affirming movie, and yes, a lot of times where you can’t help but cry. The emotional climax for me occurs when the Young @ Heart chorus perform a concert — at a prison! After losing one of their own, they go out and sing Bob Dylan’s classic “Forever Young” to the inmates of the prison and…talk about perspective! The looks on the faces of the prisoners are completely genuine as they listen to the elderly singers and yes, the chorus no doubt has their utmost respect. It remains one of the most moving scenes of any film I have seen in recent memory. If you missed this film, I highly recommend that you go out and rent it as I am sure you will be pleased that you did.

6. Helpless Feeling in ‘She’s Having A Baby’

Go ahead, laugh. Then watch this scene once more and I will await and accept your apology for doing so. After much prodding by their parents, newlywed couple Jake & Kristy Briggs start to try and have a baby. They continue trying. Finally, Kristy (an adorable Elizabeth McGovern) is pregnant.  However, there are severe complications with the delivery, leaving Jake (Kevin Bacon) powerless and waiting for a good word. This is such an emotionally draining sequence and John Hughes picks the perfect song (Kate Bush’s moving “This Woman’s Work”) to accompany the montage of watching Jake crippled with fear and anxiety for the well-being of his wife. The song certainly helps, but Bacon is brilliant here. Watch his initial reaction when he is told what is going wrong with the delivery. It is so natural and so genuine, we instantly feel for him. The camera pans out and the beginning of the song begins to play at just the right moment. The beautifully edited montage is so effective as Bacon plays with his wife’s ring, his father’s ‘thumbs up’ to him from afar — giving him his needed space. The symbolic drop of blood to the floor is a nice touch. I get teary-eyed with goose bumps just thinking about it.

7. Final Sequence of ‘Umberto D.’

Vittorio de Sica’s 1952 masterpiece which Time magazine wisely included in their “All-Time 100 Movie” list. I don’t know how any human being alive can watch this film and not shed a tear. Umberto Domenico Ferrari (Carlo Battisti) is an old man in Rome who is poor and trying desperately to keep his modest, shoddy apartment which is becoming quite difficult to do since his landlady wants to throw him out if he doesn’t come up with 15,000 lire. His best friend in the world seems to be his little dog, Flick (called ‘Flag’ in some subtitled versions). Umberto is admitted to a hospital and when he returns home, finds that he is no longer welcome. He also discovers that his dog is gone. After finding him, he looks for a place where Flick can live a carefree life, away from all of his hardships. I will not include the video of this movie, because that would completely spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that the last scenes of this film always manage to break my heart in more pieces than any psychotic ex ever has. If you are interested in seeing this glorious piece of filmmaking, do yourself a favor — read nothing about it beforehand — and get a box of Kleenex…you’ll need it.

8. A Fitting Farewell to Professor Keating in ‘Dead Poets Society’

I am not sure why, but most film bloggers seem to have a great aversion towards this film. I absolutely love it – always have. Is it melodramatic at times? Perhaps. Is this particular scene a bit over-the-top and cheesy? I say, “Not at all” if you understand where it is coming from and it all starts with the character of Todd Anderson (a very young Ethan Hawke). Todd has been the quiet, insecure one throughout the film…always wanting to do, but never actually doing. Professor Keating (Robin Williams) has been unfairly dismissed of his duties at the prep school and the impact he has made on his students will be remembered throughout their lifetimes. In this deeply affecting scene, he enters the classroom to pick up a few of his belongings. There are actually a handful of scenes where I can’t help but start crying, but this one has become a classic scene (hey – it beats the hell out of hearing “I’ll have what she’s having” for the umpteenth time). The tension in the room is palpable as they leaf through the poetry book. The desk of Neil Perry’s, noticeably vacant; the exchange between Keating and Todd made just with their eyes….very moving. The core of this film is the relationship between these two characters and here, it reaches its climax. Ethan Hawke says so much here without saying anything at all…we see him struggling with himself, wanting to speak out. He knows this will be his last opportunity to do something, anything…and he takes his first step, literally and figuratively. Robin Williams doesn’t overdo it at all, but merely reacts to what is happening before him – and his subtlety is very touching. The students who stand…This is their “Thank You” to their wonderful teacher — and by the look on Keating’s face, it is perhaps the greatest goodbye gift he could have asked for as he says, “Thank you, boys. Thank you.” I have seen this film many times and it never ceases to move me. I can watch this film twenty more times and I know for certain that I will surely cry another twenty times.

9. Reading Shakespeare in ‘The Elephant Man’

John Merrick (John Hurt) is first abused and used for profit being showcased as a freak. He is then taken into the safe confines of a hospital by Dr. Treves (Anthony Hopkins) only to be showcased as a freak of nature once more — and again, for the personal gain of the man he is entrusted to. No one bothers to try and make a human connection with him, even though in many ways, Merrick possesses more humane qualities than those around him. Here, the famous stage actress Mrs. Kendal (Anne Bancroft) makes that connection by presenting her new friend with a gift. Merrick begins reading the lines from Shakespeare’s classic love story, Romeo and Juliet and soon, the two are reading the lines of the star-crossed lovers to each other. It is a hypnotic exchange. Watch the way Bancroft looks at him throughout – not like every other person does, but with gentle eyes. She sees not a deformed elephant man, but a real-life Romeo. This entire film makes me teary-eyed, but the human connection made right here is the highpoint for me. Mel Brooks was right in hiring the masterful David Lynch to direct this film. Released now 30 years ago, it never ceases to have a profound emotional impact on me.

To watch this great scene, just click here.

10. Making Breakfast in ‘Big Night’

One long shot, one short word…sheer brilliance. Watching this final scene on its own of course does no justice to the emotional weight it surely carries. However, when you watch the entire film that leads up to this, the love between the two immigrant brothers hits you hard, and needs no words. We know that everything that has happened before is water under the bridge…nothing at all compared with the great bond that exists between Primo and Secondo (Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci). One of my all-time favorite last scenes of any film I have ever seen. The relationship between the brothers throughout the movie is complex and extraordinary, as it builds to what we see here. Directors Campbell Scott and Tucci have a delicate touch throughout and make the perfect choice here by having everything done in silence. I always need a moment when the credits start to roll. A moving film, a stirring scene.

%d bloggers like this: