Sports fans, pay attention, we’re ranking the 18 best sports movies of all time. We could have made the list even longer to accommodate everyone’s tastes but then that would just be tasteless on our end. So sit back, relax and see if your favorite ended up on the list.
Jerry Maguire was the kind of film that had everyone rooting for the average guy who was struggling to do the right thing when it would have been so easy not to. The film had incredible performances from Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renée Zellweger, to make the ultimate romantic sports film that everyone loves. Don’t forget it also gave us iconic lines like, “Show me the money!”, “You had me at hello”, “You complete me”, and “Help me help you.” Like we said, an iconic, incredible feel-good film.
‘When We Were Kings’
The 1996 Academy Award winning documentary film, directed by Leon Gast, took 22 years to edit and finance before it was finally released to the public. It shows the ever-famous “Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The film also features a rather large number of celebrities, including James Brown, Jim Brown, B.B. King, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, Spike Lee and Thomas Hauser.
This movie is pure genius. Even if you hate golf, you’ll love the wit and banter in this film. Just to mention Rodney Dangerfield’s crushing one-liners and Bill Murray’s hilarious performance as a standout slack-jawed groundskeeper is enough to make anyone’s ears perk up. Caddyshack has a massive following and has been named as one of the funniest sports movies of all time by Time and ESPN. Not bad at all.
‘The Bad News Bears’
The Bad News Bears is legendary, despite featuring a lot of potty-mouth language by its youngest cast members, writer Bill Lancaster and director Michael Ritchie captured just how adults can pressure pre-teens to win in sporting events when they’re thinking about much more than just sports. Which is what makes watching Walter Matthau all the better as he “rallies” through and we watch a bond among kids develop because they never expected to care so much if they won or lost.
‘Chariots of Fire’
Let’s just start off and say that this film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay. The film is also notorious for its memorable instrumental theme tune by Vangelis, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Score. Chariots of Fire tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics, Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. The film focuses on both men and also the temper of the times in addition to the competitive triumphs and tragedies.
Ahh, Rudy, you were named one of the best 25 sports movies of the previous 25 years in two polls by ESPN and are ranked the 54th-most inspiring film of all time in the “AFI 100 Years.” This iconic film shows a hard-working, big hearted hero who overcomes obstacles like dyslexia, diminutive size, and coach Dan Devine to get his richly deserved shot in the final home game of the 1975 season. This film gave Notre Dame football a hero it deserved, there is nothing like watching Rudy’s dreams come to life.
‘White Men Can’t Jump’
Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes are the ultimate dynamic duo in this sports comedy film. The film follows Harrelson and Snipes as dead-end Venice Beach streetballers who reluctantly team up to and win local competitions. It shows how childish men can be and how often then not, they cling to childish responsibilities but ultimately have to face the music of adult life. Plus, it’s hilarious so there yah go.
‘Any Given Sunday’
When Oliver Stone set out to make a football, everyone doubted his success and boy were they wrong. His flair and attention to detail shows the crossroads his star-studded cast goes through, we have the lonely, broken head coach Al Pacino; the injured, getting older by the minute quarterback Dennis Quaid; a young, hotshot quarterback Jamie Foxx; and a ruthless team-owner Cameron Diaz. All of this made cemented Pacino’s “Life’s just a game of inches” speech as one of the all-time greatest sports movie speeches.
‘Bend It Like Beckham’
This film surprised a lot of critics as it followed a woman torn between traditions of her Indian family and just wanting to play soccer for the national team like her idol, David Beckham. We see Jesminder “Jess” Bjamra overcome many obstacles, make friends with a player from a local team (played by Kiera Knightly), and of course, we have Jess’s adorable coach help her achieve her dreams. Parminder Nagra’s winning performance, showed that sports help with self-esteem and help women with self-identity, was all it took for the makings of a great film.
‘Friday Night Lights’
Friday Night Lights is a classic, the film is based on the book by H. G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream (1990). It shows the story of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team as they made a run towards the state championship, it also shows the coach and players in the Texas city of Odessa that supports and is obsessed with them. The film alone won the Best Sports Movie ESPY Award and is also ranked number 37 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the Best High School Movies. So there you have it.
‘A League Of Their Own’
In 2012, A League of Their Own was preserved in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Yeah, that’s how incredible this movie is. The film shows the evolution and triumph of the the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). It was a heart warming tale of teamwork and triumph at the heart of America’s favorite pastime, and moreover it showed the struggle women went to to prove they were worthy athletes in the 40s.
Pro wrestlers are athletes folks, ones who go through hell and back. The Wrestler shows Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” Robinson play an aging pro wrestler who has failing health and waning fame, but continues to wrestle in a desperate attempt to cling his former success. It also follows his personal relationships with friends and family. The film shows how haunting and destructive a person can be when obsessed with their own lives and their careers can often be self-destructive.
‘Remember the Titans’
Where to start? This film is extraordinary on all counts. Written by Gregory Allen Howard, the film follows the true story of an African American coach Herman Boone, portrayed by Denzel Washington, and follows his story as he tries to introduce a racially diverse team at the T. C. Williams High School in the city of Alexandria, Virginia in 1971. Not an easy task in that time. It also shows the talented actor Will Patton, portraying Bill Yoast, an assistant coach making a transition to help out Boone. It shows the whole football team and their obstacles to come together but it also focuses on athletes Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell, played by Ryan Hurst and Wood Harris, and their feat to unite whites and blacks not just on the field but off it as well.
Hoosiers is the film that makes you root for the underdog, it’s a feel-good film that shows how sticking to fundamentals can band together a measly group of 1950s Indiana high schoolers to play the best basketball of their lives. In 2001, Hoosiers was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” because that’s how good of a film it is.
Field of Dreams
Ah, Field of Dreams is the ultimate feel-good film directed by Phil Alden Robinson, who also wrote the screenplay, adapting W. P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe. The incredible Kevin Costner dubbed the film, “”this generation’s It’s a Wonderful Life”. And he couldn’t be more right.
While there is a long list of Rocky movies to choose from, the first is always the best, it did win a Best Picture Oscar after all. Watching Sylvester Stallone portray the poor underdog, the working class, yet soulful “Italian Stallion” get an unusual chance to bout against the the World Heavyweight Champion is one to lift your spirits any day. There’s something heartwarming about watching a scrappy nobody, who against all odds, goes round for round against the red-white-and-blue clad Apollo Creed.
The 1994 documentary film which follows the story of two African-American high school students in Chicago with dreams of becoming pro basketball players is one that rooted itself into the hearts of all Americans. Originally, director Steve James and writers James and Frederick Marx, set out to shoot a 30-minute short film following playground hoopsters and turned it into a three hour journey about two kids making it to the NBA. Hoop Dreams made everyone fall in love with its on-court action and suspense but it also opened everyone’s eyes to the lingering issues of racial inequality and poverty.
Director Gavin O’Connor and writers Eric Guggenheim and Mike Rich are incredible, absolutely incredible. The film received the Best Sports Movie ESPY Award in 2004 and richly so. If you don’t already know the story, man, are you missing out on the greatest tales ever told. Miracle follows the real life United States men’s hockey team, who were led by Herb Brooks, portrayed by Kurt Russell, that went on to win the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The final scene sends goosebumps all over as you watch the clock tick down to the final few seconds, commentator Al Michaels shouts his now famous words, “Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!” The Americans actually hold off the Soviets, and complete one of the biggest upsets in sports history. The night that was dubbed, Miracle on Ice, is breathtaking.