Lists are great. They inspire discussion, create arguments, and tend to spiral off into fun new lists. When you do a list about the “BEST” of anything it goes from being fun to becoming a hotbed for arguments. There’s no such thing as a definitive list but I’ve decided to pull from my rather extensive life of film watching and put it to good use.
This is not the “film critic’s top 100” list. There’s no guarantee Citizen Kane or The Bicycle Thief will be in the top echelon or even on the list. This is the 100 movies I would put my name on as my top 100. If I died tomorrow this would represent the 100 films I find most vital, special, or ones that bonded to whatever it is that makes me me. I’m not including documentaries, though that might make for a nice supplemental list.
The first 80 will be in no particular order. The last 20 will be in very particular order. One a day, you have my word.
#55 – Bull Durham
Why is it here:
This is what a romantic comedy should be. Funny, smart, and not pandering as if the relationship at the film’s core is the only thing the movie’s about. In fact the relationship is just a part of why Bull Durham is so effective. It’s a baseball movie, a tradition loaded with great films like Major League, Field of Dreams, Eight Men Out, and Bang the Drum Slowly and nightmares aplenty. The sport and cinema have a great history but the proof in the pudding in baseball movies is how it spends its time away from the game. Bull Durham is filmmaker Ron Shelton’s crowning achievement, a story about real men and women and their weaknesses but with a sexy fearlessness and confidence not to color inside the lines. Watching the movie it comes off as light entertainment but this is a really hard thing to do and the end result doesn’t do justice to how difficult it is to make this material work so well. Every actor is on point and there are so many read moments, and after a few decades there’s no denying this film’s place in the pantheon.
Moments to savor:
The cock and pussy speech. The many moments of Nuke being an idiot. Sarandon oozing sex appeal in a way that is both disarming and special. Costner in peak form. The many crazy rituals of a minor league ballplayer.
High. It’s a rite of passage for me roughly March 1st in preparation for baseball season.
Ron Shelton is a boon to sports movies but it’s really a shame that he doesn’t have much directorial flourish or his career could have been even bigger. As writers go, he’s one of the best.