Director David Anspaugh and screenwriter Angelo Pizzo, who first collaborated on Hoosiers (1986), reunited seven years later for this similarly well-crafted piece of middle-American uplift. Sean Astin stars as Rudy Ruettiger, a lower-middle-class kid from Joliet who overcame a lackluster high school career and unimposing physical stature to play football for Notre Dame in the mid-70s. In contrast to the earlier film (and its numerous clones) there’s no last-minute victory against impossible odds, and the iron-willed hero eventually has to accept himself as God made him, which makes this a pretty unusual sports movie—for once it really does matter most how you play the game. With Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty, and Charles Dutton.