Hoosiers (1986): David Anspaugh’s Small-Town Sports Melodrama, Starring Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper in his Only Oscar-Nominated Role

David Anspaugh’s against-all-odds sports melodrama, Hoosiers, which is conventional but pleasing, centers on a small town Indiana high-school basketball team that has been consistently losing games.

Gene Hackman is splendid as the outsider coach, who holds seemingly radical ways, standing up to local opposition and bringing the team to lie, even lead it to a crack at the state championship.  In the process, he also rehabilitates the town’s drunk-nut (Dennis Hopper), a former high-school
basketball star whose son is on the team.

As the college basketball coach, whose career is on the skids, but then gets a chance to redeem himself by coaching an Indiana high school team to the state championship, Hackman should have received a Best Actor nomination.

As directed by David Anspaugh, the film does hit all the marks, but at a price—it is extremely sentimental and manipulative.

Along with David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet,” made in the same year, “Hoosiers” signaled Dennis Hopper’s big Hollywood comeback after a whole decade of drug abuse and self-destructiveness


Oscar Alert:

“Hoosiers” was nominated for two Oscars:

Supporting Actor: Dennis Hopper

Original Score: Jerry Goldsmith.

Oscar Context:

Michael Caine won the Supporting Actor Oscar for playing the adulterous husband (and narrator) in Woody Allen’s”Hannah and Her Sisters.”

Herbie Hancock for Scoring Oscar for”‘Round Midnight.”