What's your favorite movie about Texas sports?
Most movie watchers and sports fans already have a ready-made (often immovable) answer to the question: What is your favorite sports movie ever?
But the first question, even for Texas natives and longtime residents of the state, still might not roll off the tongue quite as easily.
One reason for that is because not many movies adapted or created about athletics in the Lone Star state have landed on critics' all-time top 10 lists.
For the sake of this exercise, films that were shot in Texas such as "Bad News Bears" or have strong DFW ties such as "Semi-Tough" (based on the first novel written by Fort Worth native and TCU graduate Dan Jenkins) won't be included on the list. The same goes for the many outstanding documentaries such as "Murderball" or "The Roughnecks."
7. "Necessary Roughness" (1991)
From IMDB: "Paul Blake is a 34-year-old farmer who was once a star high-school football player, one of the best quarterbacks in Texas. Paul was forced to drop out of sight when his father died, leaving Paul with the family farm to run. Now, after a 16-year absence, he's lured back to football by his former coach, Wally 'Rig' Riggendorf."
If that isn't ridiculous enough for you, due to previous NCAA sanctions, the fictional Texas State Armadillos don't have any scholarship players on the roster.
Scott Bakula stars as Blake and is joined by an absurd supporting cast including Hector Elizondo, Robert Loggia, future U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, Rob Schneider, swimsuit model Kathy Ireland, a 22-year-old Jason Bateman and, wait for it, Sinbad.
The film was lambasted by critics, but over time has become a bit of a cult classic.
Best scene: Unlike the movie itself, the trailer is a glorious masterpiece.
6. "The Rookie" (2002)
The true story of high school baseball coach turned major league pitcher at age 35 actually took place at Big Lake High School in Big Lake, Texas, although most of the movie was shot in and around Austin at locations like Thorndale High School and Thrall High School.
Jimmy Morris also made his big league debut for the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays against the Texas Rangers. And those scenes were shot on-site at what is now Globe Life Park in Arlington in-between innings of a real game.
The overall Disneyfication lowers the stakes. Yet, Dennis Quaid still manages to convey the difficult realities of balancing a teaching career, coaching a high school team, raising a family and chasing his dream later in life.
Best scene: Baseball movies, including this one, have a tendency to tug on people's heartstrings.
5. "Varsity Blues" (1999)
In some ways, its a more sugar-coated version of "Friday Night Lights." In other ways, it's more R-rated.
James Van Der Beek plays the nerdy backup turned star, complete with arguably the worst West Texas accent ever put on film, while Jon Voight is consistently over the top as the fascist coach. But the rest of the cast, which is a who's who of late '90s stars in their early to mid-20s, apply a wink-and-a-nod approach that shows they are pretty aware of the sometimes laughable dialogue.
And aside from some of the over-the-top celebrations, some of the football shots do a pretty decent job of capturing a high school game.
Best scene: Another one where the funniest moments happen to be R-rated. This might not be the best scene, but it is probably the most quoted line from the movie.
4. "Glory Road" (2006)
The most historically significant movie on this list. Under head coach Don Haskins, the Texas Western Miners won the national title and were the first team to ever start five African-American players in the NCAA Championship.
Josh Lucas also delivers an underrated portrayal of Haskins in the company of a young cast. The film occasionally dips into cliche and admittedly takes some major liberties with the timeline and facts.
Best scene: There are plenty of inspiring moments, but Lucas' sardonic delivery in this scene one stands out.
3. "Tin Cup" (1996)
Director Ron Shelton had already directed two of the greatest sports movies of all time ("Bull Durham" and "White Men Can't Jump"). On the surface, the idea of having a mid-30s drunk, who runs a dilapidated driving range somewhere in the wasteland of West Texas, qualify for the U.S. Open doesn't sound all that appealing.
But Shelton really let "Bull Durham" star Kevin Costner off the proverbial leash, which allowed the Academy Award winner to emote the spunk necessary to make you root for free-swinging, liquor-swigging Roy McAvoy. The result is a movie that is more entertaining that it should be.
Best scene: There are plenty to choose from, including a twist on the dramatic last shot and a 7-iron bet with a car on the line. But the blow-up during a qualifying round between Costner and his caddy, played Cheech Marin, leaves just one club remaining in the bag holes out.
2. "Friday Night Lights" (2004)
There's a real sense of timelessness from start to finish. If it weren't for some of the overt 1980s political references, the movie could just as easily be set in modern times.
The film is a mostly faithful adaptation of Buzz Bissinger's literary documentary, which still receives critical acclaim to this day. While it doesn't capture the author's sharp attention to detail, Berg, the script and the actors, including Tim McGraw as a surprising scene stealer, consistently show a measured sense of restraint.
Above all, it reminds the audience, just as the book did, how much this stuff matters to so many people. And that sports can be even more painful than they are fun.
Best scene: It's a perfect juxtaposition of the facade versus the realities of high school football.
1. "North Dallas Forty" (1979)
It's quite possible that this classic had a little too much fun playing with the fictional doppelgangers of the Cowboys "heroes" from the 1960s that you know and love. G.D. Spradlin plays coach B.A. Strother (showing the darker side of Tom Landry), Mac Davis takes on the role of quarterback Seth Maxwell (Don Meredith) and Nick Nolte managing the lead as veteran receiver Phil Elliot (Peter Gent).
The reason Elliott is presented in a slightly more favorable light is because Gent actually wrote the book on which the movie is based. Once the action gets going, the movie does a deft job of intermingling humor with a bitter look at the tolls of being a professional athlete.
Best scene: The moments that brazenly mock the dangers of pro football, both on and off the field, are a bit too raunchy for this space. But Nolte's raw cynicism with the organization at the end of the movie eerily mirrors the future of the Cowboys and pro sports in general.