Play Ball!

As I mentioned in my Monday post, I’ve decided to break down my favorite baseball movies, combining two of my great loves. I wasn’t sure how big or small the list would be, but after doing a careful search (read: googling “baseball movies”), I figured out that I have 18 baseball movies in my arsenal, so this list will be a Letterman-esque Top 10. I have to say, I’m constantly amazed (and a little depressed) at the number of films/television shows I’ve managed to see on any given subject. Look for my Top 10 Scenes of Characters Using a Waffle Iron, coming soon to a computer near you.

Anywho, in the style of my Top 20 Films of 2009 list, here’s a total catalogue of all of the baseball movies that I’ve seen, as far as I can tell (including made-for-TV movies and docs). I’ll bring you #6-10 tomorrow and #1-5 on Friday. Cool? Feel free to rank the movies (and tell me what I’ve missed) in the comments below.

Angels in the Outfield (1994)
The Bad News Bears (1976)
Bull Durham
The Curse of the Bambino/Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino
Eight Men Out
Fever Pitch
Field of Dreams
A League of Their Own
Major League
Major League II
The Natural
The Rookie
Rookie of the Year
The Sandlot
Soul of the Game
Ted Williams

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Happy Monday, dear readers! I didn’t get to write anything yesterday because I was a touch busy with the grand Easter traditions – church, brunch, family phone conversations, Cadbury Mini Eggs, nap – and also because last evening saw the opening game of the 2010 baseball season between my beloved Boston Red Sox and the New York Dementors. Okay, Yankees. Seriously though, wouldn’t dementors be an excellent mascot for the Yankees? They suck the happiness out of you and make you feel miserable and soulless. I rest my case. (If you’re wondering what the hell dementors are, please pick up the Harry Potter series immediately. See my earlier post for the reasons why you should absolutely do this.)

So as I was contemplating what to write about this week, while simultaneously reveling in the glory of the Red Sox coming from behind to beat the Yanks (and in Neil Diamond leading the Fenway Faithful in a live rendition of “Sweet Caroline” – So Good! So Good! So Good!), it occurred to me that maybe, since I like baseball and write about movies, I should perhaps write about the baseball movies I like. Smart, yes?

So in honor of baseball’s opening week, I’ll be unveiling my top baseball films as the week progresses. I’m unclear if it’ll be a Top 10 list, a Top 5 or what (I don’t want to include baseball films that I only marginally tolerate just to fill out an arbitrary ranking sheet), but I’ll start breaking it down on Wednesday and give you my top film on Friday.

Holler back with your nominations (and your trash talk – bring it, Yankee fans). And since Verdun2 is the master of baseball knowledge, I’m especially anxious to hear his thoughts.

See you back here tomorrow evening for the Idol live blog. Until then, wishing you pleasant dreams and more Red Sox victories!

Best of 2009: #1

Well, here we are. We’ve finally arrived at my choice for the top film of last year. If you haven’t already, take a look at #2-10 and #11-20.

This was not a slam dunk choice; in fact, it completely surprised me when this movie ended up as my favorite. But now that it has, well…I totally get it.

So, after the jump is my #1 Film of 2009. Enjoy.


Best of 2009: #11-20

Before I get into the rankings, allow me to elaborate on how I got here. I arrived at this list based on the extent to which each of these films affected me. That’s really the only way I can distinguish between the nonfiction and fiction, the comedies and the dramas. I thought about how each film hit me in the moment, how much I laughed or cried while first taking it in; how I felt in the days after seeing it, if I couldn’t stop thinking about it or if it slipped away; and if I wanted to experience it again, to soak in the nuances, find pieces I missed and delight in what I liked best.

There are several documentaries on my list. I’m not trying to be artsy; I just saw a bunch of really fantastic films. Maybe it was an exceptionally good year for docs, or perhaps, through some of my work-related festival experiences, my eyes were opened to the extraordinary nonfiction films that are (quietly) out there. More likely, it’s both. But you’ll also find blockbusters, indies, Oscar winners and assorted favorites. I tried to be as fair and honest as possible, but in the end, it’s all my opinion.

So, without further ado, here, in descending order, are numbers 11 through 20, with a few honorable mentions. Enjoy.


Best of 2009: The Nominees Are…

On Sunday, while live-blogging the Oscars, I wrote the following sentence (at 9:16, in case you’re interested): “Confession: I liked The Hurt Locker, but I didn’t think, ‘Wow, that was the best movie of the past year!'”

Logically, that made me wonder – what was the best movie of last year (in my humble opinion, of course)? I figured that once I saw The Hurt Locker, that would be it. It wasn’t. I probably didn’t help matters by watching the film at 1pm on Oscar day; it felt somewhat like a homework assignment.

So I decided to sit down, give it some thought, and figure out, once and for all, what my favorite film of 2009 really was. I had a few gut reactions, but no clear-cut favorite, unlike 2008, when WALL-E ruled all. (Don’t even think about arguing.)

Thanks to the wizardry of, I was able to figure out that I saw 41 films that were released in 2009, either in theaters, on DVD or on television (“WOW, that’s a lot of…” – I know, I know.) I decided to rank the best, descending, from #20 to #1 – just like my favorite TV show list, but exactly the opposite. I like to be unpredictable.

I arrived at the rankings by answering the following questions: How much did this film make me laugh/cry/react? How much did I think about this movie after I watched it? Do I want to watch it repeatedly?

I will make this an O’Reilly-esque “No Spin Zone” – Good God, did I just type those words? – and be entirely honest. I’ll rank the movies based on how much I liked them, not on how many critics’ choice lists they made.

Also: There are many, many films from 2009 that I didn’t get to see, shocking though it may seem, and some of them (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Blind Side, The Messenger, The Last Station, Bright Star) would probably be on this list if I’d gotten to them in time. So keep that in mind.

I’ll take the weekend to ponder my opinions/your suggestions, and will post #20-#11 on Monday, #10-#2 on Wednesday, and my #1 choice on Friday. How’s that for spreading the joy?

So, in no particular order – okay, alphabetical order – here are all of the films that I saw from 2009, with a note saying whether I watched the film in a theater, at a film festival, on DVD, or on TV; those are all vastly different ways to experience a film, and could conceivably affect my rankings. Let me know which ones have your vote, which should or shouldn’t be on my list, which films I should be ashamed of seeing, and which films you can’t believe I missed in 2009.