It’s Derby Saturday, when America’s mind turns for about two minutes toward the world of horse racing. But if the race has you really excited to stretch the horse theme into your evening, Hollywood has you covered. There’s a new horse movie seemingly every few years., so you have plenty of options to stream, download, or rent.
Here’s a rundown of 10 horse-themed movies as ranked by film criticism site Rottentomatoes.com. The Rotten Tomato score is the percentage of good reviews received by a film. And no, “The Godfather” doesn’t count as a horse-themed movie.
“A Day At The Races” (1937) 100 percent
With the Marx Brothers performing at their zany best, “A Day at the Races” follows the bumbling brothers as they try to secure the future of a sanitarium by winning big at the horse track.
“National Velvet” (1944), 100 percent: Mickey Rooney plays a bitter, injured jockey who meets a girl (11-year-old Elizabeth Taylor) and the two connect over their love of horses. She softens his heart, he trains her to ride in races, and they sneak her into the Grand National Sweepstakes.
“The Black Stallion” (1979), 86 percent: A cargo ship sinks at sea, leaving only a boy and beautiful horse as the only survivors. Rescued together, the boy is trained as a jockey and the pair take to the races.
“Black Beauty” (1994), 78 percent: Based on the classic Anna Sewell book, the story follow Beauty and her various owners throughout her life. Sean Bean, best known for portraying characters who die early in most of his high-profile roles, and British character actor David Thewlis star in the film.
“Seabuscuit” (2003) 77 percent: The true story of legendary race horse Seabuscuit, who cheered Depression-era sports fans in the 1930s. Tobey MaGuire starred as jockey Red Pollard.
“War Horse” (2011) 77 percent: “War Horse” was Stephen Spielberg’s epic about an extra special horse that fights in World War I and inspires all the soldiers he meets. It’s not a cartoon, promise.
“The Horse Whisperer” (1998), 73 percent: A then-61-year-old Robert Redford plays a heartthrob horse whisperer, helping a horse and injured girl recover from a fall, and winning the heart of Kirsten Scott-Thomas along the way.
“Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” (1991) 70 percent: A young girl runs away and joins a carnival, where she stars in a horse-diving act. She and a horse actually dive 40 feet into a pool of water. Carnivals were way, way crazier back in the day.
“Secretariat” (2010), 64 percent: Everyone said “Another Kentucky Derby movie?” when Secretariat came out just seven years after Seabiscuit, but Diane Lane charmed audiences with her portrayal of horse owner Penny Chenery.
“Hidalgo” (2004), 47 percent: How did Viggo Mortensen follow up his star-making run in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy? With Hidalgo, about a US Cavalry soldier who enters a cross-Saharan horse race.
And the worst horse-themed movie of all time?
“Hot to Trot” (1988), 0 percent: Bobcat Goldthwait inherits a talking race horse and hilarity doesn’t ensue. Said one critic, “I’m still marvelling that I’ve actually seen this.”Scalese can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @BertoScalese.