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Ranking the 10 best New York sports movies of all time


Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Some of the best movies ever — including some of the best sports movies ever — have been filmed in and/or take place in New York. Here is our ranking of the 10 best…

10. Above The Rim (1994)

Primarily takes place in: New York City

Primary filming locations: New York City, including Brooklyn and Harlem 

This movie features an incredible performance from Tupac Shakur, just two years before his death, and arguably the greatest rap soundtrack ever. It begins with a song from Tupac, has “Big Pimpin” in the middle, and ends with “Regulate.” While all that is going on, you get a really good basketball movie that revolves around high school basketball in New York, with many of the scenes shot at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn. 

One key scene:

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9. Miracle (2004)

Primarily takes place in: Lake Placid, NY

Primary filming locations: Vancouver, Canada

This is one of the most popular sports movies ever, which is why (despite it being filmed in Canada), it appears on this list — mainly on the strength of the fact that the “Miracle on Ice” happened in Lake Placid, New York. And that miracle, which got the United States Olympic hockey team to the gold medal game in the 1980 Winter Olympics (where they defeated Finland), is beautifully recreated here. Along with all of the great character actors portraying the players is Kurt Russell, who channels their coach, Herb Brooks. 

One key scene:

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8. 61* (2001)

Primarily takes place in: New York City

Primary filming locations: Detroit, Los Angeles

Roger Maris never really got his due — not while he was breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record in 1961 and not between when he did it and when he died in 1985. This film succeeds in giving Maris his due, and includes an Incredible fill-in Yankee Stadium (an effects-drenched Tiger Stadium), and tremendous performances from Barry Pepper as Maris and Thomas Jane as the troubled Mickey Mantle. Like the asterisk in the title, a small asterisk needs to go next to our inclusion of the film on this list since none of it was shot in New York. 

One key scene:

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7. 42 (2013)

Primarily takes place in: Brooklyn, NY

Primary filming locations: Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee

This movie gets knocked down a bit because a large chunk of it doesn’t take place in New York, and the filming locations are nowhere near New York. But a film that tells the courageous, trailblazing story of Jackie Robinson (played by a terrific Chadwick Boseman), often against the backdrop of a made-for-cinema Ebbets Field, with a crusty old Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey belongs on this list. As Robinson’s widow, Rachel, explained: “I love the movie. I’m pleased with it. It’s authentic and it’s also very powerful.”

One key scene:

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6. He Got Game (1998)

Primarily takes place in: New York City

Primary filming locations: New York City (including Coney Island), Chicago, IL, and Charlotte, NC 

When you put Spike Lee, an in-his-prime Denzel Washington (three years before he basically exploded through the screen in Training Day, and Ray Allen as Jesus Shuttlesworth (one of the greatest fictional names in the history of cinema) together, you get a damn good movie that also happens to revolve around basketball. And if you view Denzel’s character as a kind of righteous, felonious LaVar Ball, he somehow seems even cooler. 

One key scene:

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5. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

Primarily takes place in: New York City

Primary filming locations: New York City (including Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium), Florida

This is apparently Al Pacino’s favorite movie, so that’s a nice way for it to come out of the gate. It also features period shots of Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium (before the renovation made the stadium a bit unrecognizable from what it was in its glory days from 1923-1973). Oh, and in the middle of it is Robert De Niro, who gives an incredible performance as Bruce Pearson — the stricken catcher of the fictional New York Mammoths, whose illness leads to an unbreakable bond with one of his teammates. 

Trailer:

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4. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

Primarily takes place in: New York City

Primary filming locationsThe Bronx (including Yankee Stadium), Los Angeles

This movie came out in 1942, which was just a year after Lou Gehrig died, making it even more powerful. In it, Gehrig is played by Gary Cooper, who just happens to be one of the greatest actors of all-time. Since Cooper was right-handed and Gehrig was left-handed, the close-up baseball scenes were shot with uniforms in reverse type, and Cooper would hit the ball and run to third base. The prints were then reversed. The end result was one of the best baseball movies ever.

One key scene:

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3. The Hustler (1961)

Primarily takes place in: New York City

Primary filming locations: Manhattan and Yonkers

According to Wikipedia, pool is indeed a competitive sport. And as a sport, it is governed internationally by the World Pool-Billiard Association. As such, The Hustler — an absolute classic starring height-of-their-powers versions of Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason –makes this list and gets the proper ranking it deserves. Nominated for best picture, this film also features a cameo from Jake LaMotta (more on him later) as a bartender.  

One key scene:

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2. The Natural (1984)

Primarily takes place in: New York City

Primary filming location: Buffalo, including 40,000 seat War Memorial Stadium

There are a few nits to pick about the movie, including the fact that Wilford Brimley — who played manager Pop Fisher — was 86 years old during production and has aged in reverse since then, checking in at a spry 84 years old as we sit here in 2019. Getting serious, the movie features a terrific Robert Redford as once-doomed and now-on-his-last-legs hero Roy Hobbs, is brilliantly shot, and — along with the complex and riveting story — contains several scenes that induce chills no matter how many times you’ve seen them. We also get Kim Basinger and Glenn Close at the height of their powers and a very good Robert Duvall as a mostly-sleazy scribe. 

One key scene:

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1. Raging Bull (1980)

Primarily takes place in: New York City

Primary filming location: New York City, including parts of the Bronx, Hell’s Kitchen, and nightclub Webster Hall

This is not just the best New York sports movie ever. It’s one of the best movies ever, of any genre. In arguably his best performance (he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Robert De Niro becomes real-life sociopath Jake LaMotta — which included De Niro gaining over 50 pouinds to portray the older LaMotta. The boxing scenes (using chocolate for blood, with the whole film shot in black and white) are incredibly shot, and we also get a young Joe Pesci at his best. That Martin Scorsese didn’t win best director for Raging Bull is a travesty — as is the fact that he didn’t win best director for Goodfellas (he got a makeup call of sorts when he won for The Departed). Raging Bull topped many lists as the best movie of the 1980s, is on many Top 100 of all-time lists, and was listed in 2012 as the best-edited film of all time.

One key scene:

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Original article: https://www.sny.tv/giants/news/ranking-the-10-best-new-york-sports-movies-of-all-time/304221398

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