Sports movies have become such a big part of modern culture, they tell stories of spirit triumphing over adversity, and teach us that, if you want something badly enough, there’s always a way to get it.
The morals that they teach touch people’s hearts, young and old alike. But the best ones make you want to go out there and reach for the stars. Read on to discover some of the most inspiring sports movies of all time.
The Karate Kid (1984)
Everyone knows The Karate Kid as a feel-good film that gave birth to a well-loved character, Mr. Miyagi. Today, Pat Morita is a household name because of it. His role provided valuable life lessons through the discipline of karate and manual labor to the main protagonist, Daniel LaRusso. The relationship between the two is arguably one of the most beautiful and magnetic features of the movie.
In the film, LaRusso fights off his demons while simultaneously battling with the evil Cobra Kai Dojo. Like any other story, he ultimately defeats all of them in one final face-off. It was a movie for all ages and continues to be an excellent choice for a classic movie night.
This movie is about the value of hard work and perseverance. It highlights the importance of effort, strategy, and labor in achieving success perhaps more than any other film of its genre. The film is about the life of Rudy Ruettiger, a football player from Notre Dame.
The real-life character went through a journey of excessive toiling and perseverance. Actor Sean Astin got the privilege of playing this "gutsy underdog" role. In the movie, Rudy firmly stood by what he wanted, which was to be part of the Notre Dame football team. He had the perseverance, focus, and talent; the only thing that held him back was his size. This movie has inspired thousands of people to dream. If you find it hard to get that extra push in your life, this is definitely a must-see.
Space Jam (1996)
Space Jam became a 90s cult movie shortly after its release. Almost everyone born in that era can attest that it was part of their list of best films as a kid. Apart from the fun storyline and Michael Jordan himself starring in the movie, it was one of those movies that offered something new to the viewers. It was a live-action movie complete with cartoon characters.
Statistically speaking, the story of the movie appeals mostly to kids. But sports is such an accessible topic to so many different audiences, that it became a 90s favorite. Basketball continues to be a significant phenomenon, which meant that it had a big platform to teach everyone that even if you're part of the odd bunch and you can't seem to fit in, you can still achieve anything.
Rocky is a movie about the underdog of all underdogs in the history of fictional boxing. It is the story of a man who wanted something so badly, he goes against the most unbelievable odds to get it. The goal? To compete in the heavyweight championship of the world.
The film's original soundtrack instantly brings the audiences back to the gritty and cold streets of Philadelphia, where it all takes place. Rocky Balboa, as portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, becomes a beacon of hope and inspiration to the world. The story-line is captivating, compelling, phenomenal and quite complex. Combine the realistic portrayal of Philadelphia, the energizing score, and the well-fitting cast, and you get one of the most potent and timeless masterpieces ever to exist in the sports film genre.
A League of Their Own (1992)
A League of Their Own is a dramatized tale of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The story is pure fiction, but it showed a short-lived, but iconic era that was very much real.
The movie had a group of attractive characters that were not only beautiful, but witty, talented, energetic and intelligent women who chose to rise above the prominence of gender inequality during those times. History shows that this league was created in 1943, and ended in 1954, and had a significant impact on the role of gender equality in sports.
The Fighter (2010)
The Fighter has a very heavy storyline, but is leveraged and made interesting by the characters’ performance. It revolves around two brothers, both hailing from a difficult neighborhood in Boston, who become professional boxers, and how their lives differ due to incredibly contrasting life decisions.
The movie shows how these men navigate through life, as they deal with personal issues. Viewers found themselves on a highly-emotional ride that left them wanting more, with the magnetic charms of Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, and Amy Adams.
The Longest Yard (1974)
The Longest Yard had a remake in 2005, but it didn't give the world much of a wow when compared to the first release of the story in 1974. Therefore, we call the adage that says "Nothing beats the classics!" to be very much real, and only include the 1974 version on this list.
The whole gist of an amateur team versus a highly skilled and polished one isn't a breakthrough concept in Hollywood, but it's the twist in the plot that made this movie capture viewers from start to finish. Prisoners represent an amateur, raggedy team, while inmate guards represent the polished and professional one, and watching these two groups of people compete in a football game is absolutely mesmerizing.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Any Given Sunday is an excellent portrayal of the professional football world. The cinematography is great, it has a brilliant cast, and an incredible score that complements every scene to the very last detail.
Director Oliver Stone showed off his genius with every field shot in the movie. It’s a long one, so if you're planning on watching it, make sure you have some time on your hands. It's a mixture of moments, on and off the field, that leave a mark in the audiences’ hearts and minds.
The Natural (1984)
The Natural spearheaded what seemed to be a long wave of movies that centered around baseball. The sports film genre frequented the silver screen between the 1980s and 1990s. The movie is based on a novel released 30 years before its release. The protagonist, Roy Hobbs, is portrayed by the legendary Robert Redford. He plays a baseball prodigy who becomes incredibly successful. But what seems to turn into a perfect life is only a charade hiding a deeply tortured soul.
Hobbs experiences a series of events that many would deem unfortunate. The events in his life appear to grow worse as his baseball career takes off. If you’re ever in the mood for a great baseball classic, The Natural should be on the top of your list.
'Miracle' is a film adaptation of what seems to be one of the most monumental Olympic sports moments in the US. It happened in 1980, when an inexperienced American team causes the crowd-favorite Soviet Union squad to get insanely upset.
The movie had veteran actors Patricia Clarkson and Kurt Russel as part of its cast. The film appealed to viewers so much, that we’re sure even some of the most unpatriotic people had the American flag burnt in their memories well after the credits started rolling.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Big Lebowski, a movie packed with eccentric characters, wittiness, humor, and intrigue, has cemented its name as one of the top favorite 'cult classics' in the history of film. That alone is a title to beat. Though people might have their own opinions about the movie being a part of the sports genre, it still involves bowling in one way or another.
With the amazing Coen brothers writing the movie, and a cast packed with A-List actors, it was an instant hit upon the first week of its release. To this day, people still talk about "The Dude", the protagonist who is played by Jeff Bridges. If you haven’t seen it, we’d strongly advise this be your next pick on Netflix.
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Of course, Happy Gilmore is on this list! Adam Sandler had produced, wrote and starred in many successful films, but this is one of his best.
The story revolves around the charming and brash Gilmore, included in the mix of country club players. The villain in this movie, McGavin, who was played by Christopher McDonald, is arguably the most recognizable amongst the antagonists of all films of the same genre.
Major League (1989)
Major League was a movie with quite a unique concept. The cast made the colorful story become more than what it is, as they played the roles of minor leaguers, faded athletes and fraudulent players. These characters are grouped to fulfill the roster needs of the infant Cleveland Indians franchise.
The recently widowed and seemingly unwilling new owner of the team wants to move them to Florida, and for that to happen, she has to make sure that the team will be atrocious in the field. With silly antics, and active practice of voodoo ( yes, you read that right), the film delivers comedy at its finest. Lighthearted and funny, a perfect addition to your movie nights!
The Waterboy (1998)
Adam Sandler always finds a way to come up with brilliant ideas for the silver screen. In The Waterboy, he played a typical redneck character named Bobby Boucher. Its utterly ridiculous scenes, matched with hilarious one-liners, is what makes this movie so fun to watch.
The movie was about Bobby Boucher having an exceptional football talent that he wasn’t aware of. It was so exceptional, that it changed a whole college football program! Also, what can go wrong in a film with Kathy Bates playing Boucher’s concerned mother and the stunning Fairuza Balk playing his 'too hot too handle' girlfriend, Vicki Vallencourt?
Above The Rim (1994)
The story of Above The Rim addresses the socio-economic troubles of its time. The relentless desire to be successful amidst rising poverty, and how a game of basketball shed a bright light on it all.
The film shows how people can either rise or get swallowed by a toxic environment. It tells the story of a budding basketball player doing his best to earn a college scholarship and get a shot at life. The protagonist, Kyle Watson's focus on his goal gets rattled as negative neighborhood influences urge him to take a different path.
When We Were Kings (1996)
When We Were Kings is a documentary portraying one of the most beguiling moments in the history of sports: the legendary and iconic "Rumble in the Jungle." For those who don't know, this was the fight between the legendary Muhammad Ali, and the knocking puncher, George Foreman. That moment went down in history as the king of all battles.
The film shows the moments leading up to the grand fight. Scene after scene of real and raw moments give viewers an authentic experience. It allowed the film, as directed and produced by Leon Gast, to win an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 1996 Oscars.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
No one was surprised when the film Jerry Maguire earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. It is a brilliant portrayal of what happens in the business side of the sports world. Critically acclaimed director, Cameron Crowe, showcases his cinematography skills in a film that had everybody in the 90s screaming the movie’s most famous line, "Show me the money!", at least once in their lives.
Agent Jerry Maguire, played by the legendary Tom Cruise, refuses to take part in the harmful nature of the industry's business side and goes for a more human and honest approach. His noble cause hurts his clientele significantly, but he gains a loyal ally in the form of the story's big-time receiver, Rod Tidwell, as played by Cuba Gooding Jr. The latter won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. All thanks to the fantastic script, cast, and gist of this critically-acclaimed silver screen masterpiece.
The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Baseball enthusiasts made the Pride of the Yankees for baseball history fans, especially life-long fans of the famous New York Yankees. The storyline served as an homage to the late field legend and MLB star, Lou Gehrig.
The biopic shed quite a bright and very centered light on who Gehrig was as a human being. Everyone knew who he was as an athlete, and what he had accomplished as a baseball player, but not everyone knew him as a person. The insight made the movie even more exciting for the viewers, and with actor Babe Ruth playing himself, it became sensational. Make sure you have tissues by the end of this film, because the closing scene will make you cry like a baby.
He Got Game (1998)
He Got Game is a full-on basketball-centric film, with infrequent scenes of a fragile and heartwarming father-son duo. Directed by Spike Lee, who made it his mission to create a movie that's as authentic as possible, the chemistry between Jake and Jesus Shuttlesworth gave viewers an emotional and relatable experience.
As if the story-line wasn't enough, Lee included a well-fitting score that mixed perfectly with each shot. They filmed the movie in Coney Island and the outskirts of Brooklyn. A veteran actor, Denzel Washington starred as the son, Jake, and the positively unassuming performance of an ex-NBA player, Ray Allen, as the father, Jesus Shuttlesworth, was the icing on top of this masterpiece.
Caddyshack, a movie most people don't consider to be in the sports genre, is still regarded by many great film critics as one of the best and most entertaining golf movies of all time. It was a hit, mainly because of Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray's exceptional performance.
The story begins in the confines of an upscale country club, and it has the audience laughing non-stop from the very first scene. Despite Murray's rather short exposure on camera, his performance doesn’t disappoint. Indeed, a classic movie that deserves to be in the sports films’ hall of fame.
Field of Dreams (1989)
Field of Dreams is a gripping film filled with magical realism and beautiful childlike wonderment. It portrays the particular magic that comes with watching or participating in a game. Kevin Costner, an actor who has starred in a plethora of baseball-centric movies, claims his breakthrough fame with this one.
Prominent scenes of baseball history frequent the screen, along with an honest showcase of what Middle America was like during those times. What gives the movie that extra spice for the viewers to enjoy, is the drama that comes along with an unenthusiastic son, and a father wanting to show him what passion is all about.
Hoosiers is a story about personal experiences and the game of basketball. Intense layers of scenes woven from moments that happened on and off the basketball court made this film different from its sports genre counterparts.
As many fans consider the Midwest to nurse the infancy of the said sport within the US, the film begins at a small Indiana High School, in a period where a group of raggedy basketball players attempt to beat their competitors. By using their grit, heart, determination, and resiliency, the group is able to compete in the 1954 Indiana State Championship.
Slap Shot (1977)
Slap Shot is a must-see comedy film. Its far-flung story-line continues to be a breath of fresh air even up to this day. Cult classics can have their shared spot in the limelight, but Slap Shot enjoys it on its own. With its funny jokes, viewers find themselves breaking out in uncontrollable laughter.
The movie revolves around unskilled hockey players that are tough and dumb enough to fight each other, both on and off the ice. If you're someone who enjoys tomfoolery to the highest degree, then this one is the perfect choice!
The Sandlot (1993)
It wouldn't be a decent "all-time favorite" list if The Sandlot weren't a part of it. Critics consider this a timeless classic, and for good reason. When it was first released, the movie appealed to children and adults alike. The film had a guileless nature to it, as the story was about a group of friends that loved baseball. Whether people were into the sport, or just played it as a pastime, they could all relate to the zesty concept of the movie.
The story, described by critics as "crass and crude," showed heartfelt scenes of friendship amongst a group of nine youngsters experiencing life as they explored their way around the neighborhood.
Bull Durham (1988)
Bull Durham's story revolves around the well-known storyline of pupil versus teacher. In this case, both are equally strong. Crash David, as portrayed by Kevin Costner, is an ex-minor league athlete that fights with the immature and brash hot-shot, Ebby LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins.
Ron Shelton wrote the film, and he effectively captures a small town's minor league baseball scene. He also did a fantastic job of creating outlandish character developments and quirky language, topped by an unbeatable performance by Susan Sarandon. What more can audiences ask for? Maybe an encore.
Bad News Bears (1976)
The Bad News Bears film was set in the 1970s, and told a tale about a group of misfits collectively working together to beat their adversities. It shows people that everyone has a place in this world, and that anything is possible if you put your heart and mind to it.
The movie revolves around an alcoholic pool cleaner that acts as a baseball manager to a group of diverse children who want to fit in society. As expected, the group's first youth baseball season receives atrocious results, but that doesn’t stop them from pushing forward and working hard for their goal, which ultimately leads them to the Championships. The chemistry between the snarky manager and the crude youngsters left viewers laughing for hours.
Cinderella Man (2005)
Boxing has become one of the greatest sports in history. The sport has become a showcase of intelligence, wit, perseverance, strength, and high art. Yes, you will understand what we mean by ‘high art’ once you’ve watched Cinderella Man.
The movie is a real-life adaptation of the life of Heavyweight Champion, James J. Braddock. Directed by the brilliant Ron Howard, the film is masterfully pieced together to create something that sparks inspiration in the most beautiful of ways. Howard does a tremendous job at making every scene as authentic as possible, forming a gritty movie that showcases real, raw emotions.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Hoop Dreams is a documentary that tackles the unpleasantries of 1990s society. It also does an essential analysis on family discord, racial undercurrents, socioeconomic issues and the betrothed passion some people have towards basketball.
The documentary follows two first-year high school students throughout their entire career. As William Gates and Arthur Agee live in the dangerous outskirts of West Chicago, they continue to survive, and have their eyes on making it to the NBA. Though the production showed unfiltered scenes that might have been too hard for the audience to watch at times, it was a truth the world needed to see.
Chariots of Fire (1981)
Chariots of Fire is a true-to-life adaptation of two Olympians competing against each other in 1924. It's no surprise this movie won four Academy Awards in the same year it was released, which included Best Picture and Best Screenplay.
It sheds light on how the two fought for their plight. The contrast of two people living very different lives is quite evident. It was a godly Scottish athlete versus a deprived English Jewish runner. It happened at a time when no substances could help them improve their game. Prominent scenes of two athletes fighting for eternal glory with nothing but their guts, hard work, determination, blood, and tears made this film into the timeless classic it is.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Among a list of fun, lighthearted and sometimes patriotic sports films, Million Dollar Baby belongs to the dark, almost grotesque, and the sad part of the lineup. Hillary Swank’s portrayal of a boxing newbie who wants nothing but to build a better life for herself and the people around her, was nothing short of spectacular, if not breathtaking.
Not only did the movie give viewers a common ground to resonate with, but it also left them wanting more, as silver screen giants Client Eastwood and Morgan Freeman graced the majority of the scenes. A warning for those who plan on watching the movie, it's not for the faint of heart. Prepare to have your emotions rattled, because this movie will take you for one hell of a ride.
The Endless Summer (1966)
The Endless Summer was a documentary that changed the way all documentaries of its kind were made back in the 60s. It was strikingly aesthetic, and it gave filmmakers a new way to tackle documentaries. All of it happened with the help of the iconic Bruce Brown, as he followed two surfers traveling around the globe in search of the biggest waves.
Critics say that Brown's revolutionary work was unintentional, but the way he matches scenes of relaxed shots and amazing ska music simply can’t be coincidental. It was ahead of its time, something that could be clearly seen when comparing the film to its rather dull and stoic counterparts. The release sparked a new wave of films that looked hauntingly similar to Brown's The Endless Summer — mostly focusing on extreme sports like skateboarding and surfing, which strived between the 80s and 90s.
Love & Basketball (2000)
This beautiful film revolves around two kindred spirits going through life while growing up together. As the story unfolds, the relationship between the two grows from a childhood crush, to annoying neighbors, college lovers and, finally, distant acquaintances.
In this film, love itself supersedes the love of basketball. The sport became somewhat of an element of their love for each other. The film gathered critical acclaim because of the undeniable chemistry between the two protagonists, together with a powerful script that speaks volumes about love and passion.
White Men Can't Jump (1992)
White Men Can't Jump is a cult classic set in Los Angeles, at a time when playground games for both money and competition were a big phenomenon. With both poverty and racial themes surrounding the storyline, it's a fun, yet deeply interesting and socially relevant movie.
Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, and Rosie Perez are just some of the few brilliant actors that make this movie into the masterpiece it is. Get ready to see some witty, trash-talking hoopers take over your screen!
Coach Carter (2005)
Samuel L. Jackson has played quite an impressive plethora of characters throughout his equally remarkable career. But his role in Coach Carter might be at the top of the list when it comes to heartfelt characters. He plays Ken Carter, who was a head basketball coach in real life.
Coach Carter had a mission, and that was to transform a basketball program riddled in poverty into something worthy, dignified and meaningful. He was able to turn a rather desperate team into a group of disciplined, hard-working, and ethical people. A domino effect takes place, as the team wins tournaments that would, later on, lead their once poor and forsaken hometown to greatness.
Blue Chips (1994)
Blue Chips was one of those movies that exposed a topic no one wanted to talk about publicly. In this case, it was the evil surrounding collegiate sports. The film was about head coach, Pete Bell, who was more concerned with winning than having morals.
On top of the fantastic story-line and cinematography, what makes this film more exciting is the fact that it has a lot of starring and cameo roles. It features Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O'Neal, Rick Pitino, Bob Cousy, Jim Boeheim, Larry Bird and many more. All in all, it's a fun film about basketball, and certainly one that will send some audiences down memory lane.
Remember The Titans (2000)
The Disney film Remember The Titans is a true-to-life adaptation that tackled profound themes of social inequality and racism. The movie, though artfully made, became a mainstream hit among teenagers growing up between the 90s and early 2000s.
Denzel Washington's portrayal of the indomitable Herman Boone was nothing short of amazing. Along with the protagonist's high school football team in Virginia, they fight off racially-charged advances from society to achieve their dreams. The movie served as an excellent representation of the existing social environment within the U.S., and somehow, educated teenagers to act better. Overall, it was an inspiring story of sadness, heartache, and triumph.
Friday Night Lights (2004)
Friday Night Lights is arguably, and, amongst some critics, officially, the best sports film in the last 15 years. That's quite a title to uphold, but director Peter Berg did a magnificent job. The storyline and the scenes show how much the filmmaker understands the mind of a star player.
The state of Texas is known to have a thriving high school football scene. Countless football aspirants spend their days shedding blood and tears on the field to win a state championship. That includes the athletes of Permian High School, located in the tiny western town of Odessa, Texas. In this place, student players are role models, which eventually becomes a weight too heavy to carry by people their age.
Raging Bull (1980)
Raging Bull was about the heartbreaking life story of Jake LaMotta, as played by a young Robert De Niro. In short, this isn't a happy film, but it is an authentic and brilliant one. The audience goes through a whirlwind of emotions as the movie progresses.
LaMotta isn’t glamorous at all; he is a man riddled with inner demons, allured by the love of boxing and the fame and glory that comes along with it. He was a conflicted spirit on an endless journey towards finding his place in the world. Director Martin Scorsese does a magnificent job in capturing slow-motion scenes in the boxing ring, and effectively including them in the mix of equally amazing regular motion shots. Critics had nothing but high praise for this film.
Featuring the beloved Brad Pitt, the plot of this story is centered around Oakland Athletics, manager Billy Beane. He successfully assembles a baseball team on a modest budget by employing computer-generated analysis to get new players.
It may not sound that intriguing, but you know what else sounded boring but ended up being good? The Social Network, which received universal acclaim. So if you haven't seen this one yet, you've definitely got to check it out! Still not convinced? Well, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin paired up with Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List, Gangs of New York) to write this script, and that's a historically good combo.
The Rocky series had had its (honorable) run by the time the young director, producer, and screenwriter, Ryan Coogler came into the picture. Together with his Fruitvale Station and Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan, he managed to inject the whole franchise with adrenaline and soul. To be honest, the best scenes of Creed aren’t even in the boxing ring but more so when we see young Adonis Creed struggle with his identity, his purpose in life, and the power of his feelings for a young, hearing-impaired musician (Tessa Thompson).
Creed miraculously livened up old Rock himself! Rocky Balboa's feature in the film was a brilliant idea, and the relationship between the young boxer and his trainer, managing to transcend the previous 4-decades of this beloved franchise,
Without Limits (1998)
When it comes to sports films, some are less about winning and losing and more about the unique drive that powers professional athletes. In this film, Robert Towne explores the life of runner, Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup) and coach Bill Bowerman (Donald Sutherland): their philosophy and temperament, their eternal question of whether being the best automatically means that you also have to be a crappy human being.
Their chess match provides the film its spark, and even if Without Limits is more thoughtful than it is exciting, the intelligence of this movie is appropriate for a sport that’s as much about mental toughness as it is physical skill.
Personal Best (1982)
This movie would top any list of great Olympic movies. Another Robert Towne drama, Personal Best revolves around a group of American women training for the 1980 Olympics before realizing that the United States would be boycotting the games.
Mariel Hemingway does a terrific star turn as the top runner, and still regarded as a classic, this movie has aged well. And if you're feeling a bit nostalgic, you'll be happy to hear that its one of those ’80s films featuring people running long distances in slow motion.
I, Tonya (2017)
I, Tonya, is a nervy biopic about the notorious figure skater, brought to life by Margot Robbie. The Tonya we meet in this comedy-drama is an ambitious athlete from a working-class family who’s been nettled by her disapproving mother (played by Allison Janney) her whole life.
Robbie manages to nail Harding’s insecurity and wounded pride, sensing that she’s been dealt a bad hand but is gonna play and give it all she's got. Other aspects of I, Tonya are glib and self-satisfied, but the thrill of watching Harding briefly realize her dreams gives the movie its vibrancy and poignancy.
Many people pondered what was the point of Michael Mann making a biopic of Muhammad Ali? The former heavyweight boxer, who died in 2016, was one of the most famous people in the world, and the Oscar-winning documentary When We Were Kings had seemed to have already encapsulated his legacy sufficiently. Not to mention the people who doubted if Will Smith could possibly capture the great boxer’s spirit and swagger? However, Ali proved its doubters wrong.
The film was about race and politics as much as it is about Ali, and Mann’s film is uniquely inquisitive about the making of a champion, and Ali has no illusions about the external and internal obstacles holding its protagonist back. And even if you know how the famous “Rumble in the Jungle,” plays out, you’re not prepared for how dynamically Mann stages it. It's truly a classic.
Seann William Scott has never been as expressive as he is in Goon, a passionate comedy about an enforcer for a local, mediocre hockey team. His Doug likes knocking the other guy out and gets paid to deliver paid but this is also someone with surprising depth, as he struggles to deal with an inferiority complex that stems from his judgmental family, who are all seemingly more educated than he is.
The movie may appear to be about violent dimwits, but there’s a blue-collar purity to its vision of working-class guys who have nothing else in their lives, and director Michael Dowse shows such affection for these "goons" that the feeling is contagious.
The Wrestler (2008)
The Wrestler is a story about a has-been wrestler that doubles as a meta-commentary on its star, which after years of bad projects, brought Mickey Rourke back to respectability. He plays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, who still loves to wrestle, despite his glory days being long gone.
Things get interesting when he meets a stripper (played by Marisa Tomei), who has also experienced her fair share of hardships, and Ram reunites with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), all symbolizing a world outside the ring that he could pursue if he could just figure out what he really wants in life.
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
This inspirational soccer tells the story of two young women who just want to play soccer but keep being sided by their families and a culture that tries to stand in their way. This was probably the first time you noticed Keira Knightley, in possibly her most purely likable role.
Fans will be happy to hear that a few years ago Bend It Like Beckham was made into a musical in England!
Eight Men Out (1988)
In the midst of the independent film director, John Sayles’s, remarkable run of low-budget features, he dove deep when he went back in time to 1919, when the Black Sox scandal occurred, giving us a picture that presented a rather conflicted version of why these players threw the World Series. Not a surprising project coming from the man who crafted Lone Star, Matewan, and City of Hope, Eight Men Out is an examination of politics and economics, of how social forces and cultural norms influence our decisions.
This isn't a baseball movie per se, Field of Dreams fans, that film is a lot rosier in its depiction of Shoeless Joe Jackson. while Eight Men Out is an honest look at the era before $200 million contracts.
Most sports films are sad or heartwarming, but few are as profoundly pitiful as Foxcatcher, in which director Bennett Miller further exploring the role that sports have in people’s lives. Unlike Moneyball’s generally optimistic disposition, this dramatized true story of the Schultz brothers and their wrestling coach is far from, that. Steve Carell plays John E. du Pont, who recruits Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave (Mark Ruffalo) Schultz for his team and manages to convince them that they can win gold for the U.S. in the 1988 Summer Olympics.
There’s no big match at the end of this film, and no final showdown, because winning and losing end up meaning very little to these unfulfilled men who pursue something that they can’t ever hope to achieve- equilibrium.
The Hurricane (1999)
In this biopic, the Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington plays Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder and his fight to prove his innocence in a time where all odds were against him because of the color of his skin.
Washington's performance is phenomenal, the boxing scenes are great, and the story is moving. 'The Hurricane' is truly an inspirational sports drama, despite the few risks it took in telling its story.
Although Murderball tells the story about paraplegic athletes —it focuses more so on the grit and heart of the subject matter. This documentary was directed by Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro who follow the rival American and Canadian wheelchair rugby teams as they prepared for a collision course at the 2004 Paralympic Games, but while Murderball is touching and exhilarating, it’s also surprisingly honest about what life is really like for these athletes.
To them, rugby proves to be therapeutic and life-affirming. The matches have a visceral, violent quality that suggests that the stakes are far greater than simply winning some trophy. Even for those of you who don’t care about sports, you’ll care about these passionately vigilant warriors.
Unlike any other baseball film you've seen or heard of, Sugar tells the troy of how some of its most talented players come from conditions overseas that are often intolerable, only to arrive on our land and suffer culture shock. This sports drama stars Algenis Perez Soto as Miguel, an aspiring pitcher from the Dominican Republic who gets a shot at the big leagues, only to discover that it nothing like what he imagined it would be as he enters an industry that treats him more like a product, rather than a person.
The film does a great job depicting Baseball’s internal cultural tension, as described by the phrase “playing the game the right way” which is code for a racist intolerance for outsiders.
This basic, sloppy, childish film turns out to be surprisingly wonderful. Vince Vaughn plays the leader of a ragtag group of misfits who must win the big game. It's a secret weapon? Well, Dodgeball has that one go-to joke that’s guaranteed to work every time- it is pretty funny to watch someone get bashed in the face with a big rubber ball.
Ben Stiller has a grand time as White Goodman, and Jason Bateman is simply hilarious throughout making this movie a guilty pleasure even to those self-proclaimed movie snobs.
Directed by the iconic Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman (As Nelson Mandela) and Matt Damon (As Francois Pienaar), Invictus is one of the most inspiring sports movies ever made. Freeman plays the role of Mandela very convincingly, as the film is set in Mandela’s first term as President, in post-apartheid South Africa. This movie evokes great emotion as we witness a nation struggling to forget its past.
While attending a game of the country’s rugby union team, the Springboks, Mandela recognizes that the blacks in the stadium cheer against their ‘home’ squad, the mostly-white Springboks. He then tries to convince the team Captain, Pienaar, to include black players in the team. In the beginning, the team is unconvinced but as they tour around poverty-stricken parts of South Africa and interact with black players and fans, they eventually change their mind-set and accept the entry of blacks in the team.
The Blind Side (2009)
Based on a true story, “The Blind Side” is the story of Michael Oher. A homeless and traumatized boy, who catches the attention of Leigh Anne Tuohy when she notices on one rainy night that he doesn’t have a place to stay. The film then follows the drastic transformation Oher’s life takes on by having the help and support of the Tuohy family. From his schooling — he ends up attending the same Christian academy Tuohy’s young son and teenage daughter attend to following his passion which turned out to be football.
With much hard word, he eventually achieves his goal of earning a college football scholarship. The tear-jerking film is an incredibly inspirational story but raises the awareness of the advantages that comes with socioeconomic privilege. All in all, it's a really solid sports movie, one of the best mainstream ones in a long time.
Cool Runnings (1993)
In this 1993 classic, which is based on a true story, a sprinter, striving to make a name for himself, fails to qualify for the Olympics as a track runner, decides to start the first-ever Jamaican bobsled team. As Derice, Sanka, Yul, and Junior walk beautifully down that bobsled track, Tallulah (their bobsled), this movie teaches people an important lesson, that there's dignity in losing if you do it well! It’s glorious. The slow clap at the end might be one of the most cliche moments of the movie, but honestly, this scene earns it.
Its director, Jon Turteltaub once described the message of the movie as, “Not only can David beat Goliath, he can have a great time doing it”, and that pretty much sums up this witty, feel-good but inspirational film. "Feel the rhythm. Feel the rhyme. Get on up. It’s bobsled time."
Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
Before the famous Tony Hawk, there was the 1970s Zephyr skateboarding squad from Southern California. Sub-titled "The Birth of Extreme", Stacy Peralta’s documentary explores the impact of the innovative team on the skateboarding and skateboard culture that would soon follow. First thought of as a land-bound pastime for surfers, skateboarding today is an extreme and acrobatic sport in its own right.
Even if you've never stepped foot on a board, you'll surely take something away from this film.
Big Fan (2009)
Comedian Patton Oswalt stars in this dark comedy, portraying a lonely and obsessive New York Giants fan (yeah, everyone knows at least one guy like that), who is pushed to the brink by a violent encounter with his favorite player and a long-distance rivalry with a random Philadelphia Eagles fan. Honestly, after his performance, this movie should have made Patton Oswald a bigger star than he currently is.
If you've never been able to relate to super fans, this movie does a good job of letting you get a sneak peek inside the mind of one. Just a brilliant film.