Patriotism, unpredictability, and drama — these are the things that make us love watching and playing sports. Movies are an amazing way to celebrate and memorialize these themes, especially their dramatic aspects. In the matter of sports movies, people just want to see incredible stories, and sometimes they want to see someone getting laid out. Today, we’ve brought you a healthy dose of the two.
With some based on real historical events and some praised for their inventive storytelling, we want to make it easier for you to find many of the greatest sports movies of all time. It wouldn’t take long for massive sports fans to name off a few of their favorites, but finding something new and refreshing can really hit the heartstrings on a good day. Combining the visual aesthetics and the inspiring stories of an array of sports, we hope these give you that rising feeling in your throat as a touching moment surprises you with a single tear.
Considered to be one of the best football movies of all time, Rudy is an inspiring and heart-wrenching story that has made even the toughest sports fans shed a tear. Rudy (Sean Astin) is neither financially nor academically blessed. He struggles with dyslexia and has a low-paying steel mill job that keeps him grounded, but he never loses sight of his true goal to gain admission to and play football for Notre Dame.
Director: David Anspaugh
Main Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
Runtime: 114 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Fantastic, melodramatic, and based on a very real story that truly united America, Miracle is probably the best hockey movie ever made. Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) assembles an American hockey team to take on the Soviet Union, then the best team in the world, in a Cold War proxy at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Full of intrepid acting, incredible direction, and an unstoppable resolution, this is a wonderful re-telling of one of the most patriotic moments in U.S. sports history.
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Main Cast: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Nathan West
Runtime: 135 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, Rocky is the rough and tough underdog boxer story that movie fans have endlessly appreciated since its conception — making it one of the best fighting movies of all time. Rocky is a little-known boxer and local resident of Philadelphia, but when he is randomly chosen to fight the heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), he must overcome physical and emotional obstacles he never thought possible. Beautifully written, this film does more than tell a great sports story. It’s an inspiring story of personal triumph in defiance of all odds. You can also check out the greatest boxing fights in history for something less fictional.
Director: John G Avildsen
Main Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Runtime: 120 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Hilarious and unconventional, Caddyshack is one of the best golf movies that envelops so many zany characters and storylines, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe) is a young and impressionable caddy at a high-class country club who is just trying to get a scholarship to afford an education, but what he receives is an education in the ways of life paralleled with golf. This film is unstoppably wacky and has some of the best comedic moments of the ’80s, making it an instant contender for one of the best comedies of all time.
Director: Harold Ramis
Main Cast: Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray
Runtime: 98 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Though including this film on this list may be heavily debated, The Replacements is a football story that is loosely based on the 1987 NFL strike, one of the strangest moments in Washington football history. The Washington “Sentinels” have gone on strike late in the season, forcing their coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) to replace the entire team. As McGinty recruits new players from all over the board, this movie becomes a feel-good comedy that celebrates unlikely camaraderie and has a killer cast to boot. This gem is so rewatchable, you’ll be quoting it in no time.
Director: Howard Deutch
Main Cast: Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton
Runtime: 118 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.6
One of the best Jeff Bridges movies ever, Fat City is filled with visceral boxing drama. When an older, washed-up boxer (Stacy Keach) begins to feel his age in the ring, he begins sparring with a young and promising new boxer (Bridges) who brings a slew of his own problems to the table. With plenty of background story and character development to go around, this movie goes beyond being a sports movie and offers some great societal commentary along the way.
Director: John Huston
Main Cast: Stacy Keach, Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrrell
Runtime: 96 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Featuring a cleverly written script and a charming cast of characters, Tin Cup is a golf movie about love, pride, and (of course) a comeback. Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner) is a washed-up, trailer-living, former pro golfer working at a driving range who decides to attempt the PGA tour title after meeting his rival’s charming girlfriend and setting out to win her heart. A classic for recreational golfers everywhere, this film will have you playing entire courses with just your 7 iron, just to see if you can.
Director: Ron Shelton
Main Cast: Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson
Runtime: 135 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.4
The only racing-focused film on our list today, Ford v Ferrari is fast, furious, focused, and factual as it tells a lesser-known story in car racing history. Famous and successful car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and fast-talking, flippant driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) team up to create a race car for Ford that will hopefully match up against Enzo Ferrari’s five-time winning race cars at the 24-hour French Le Mans race in 1966. With incredible performances from the main actors and high tension from creative cinematography, this film will keep you laughing and on the edge of your seat.
Director: James Mangold
Main Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal
Runtime: 152 minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.1
One of the best sports documentaries to date (and so not technically a movie), The Last Dance takes a thorough look at the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty through never-before-seen footage of the team’s final championship-winning season in 1997-1998. The 10-part series gathered critical acclaim as it revisited the career of one of the world’s greatest athletes, Michael Jordan. It’s the rawest you’ll ever see Jordan, who keeps a cigar and a neat pour of Cincoro tequila by his tableside as he relives the years that made him internationally known as the greatest of all time in the world of basketball.
Director: Jason Hehir
Main Cast: Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, David Aldridge
IMDb Rating: 9.1
Referred to as “my generation’s A Wonderful Life” by star Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams is a heartwarming account of an Iowa farmer compelled to create something magical. When Ray Kinsella (Costner) gets inspiration from a detached voice telling him the ever-referenced line, “If you build it, they will come,” he becomes compelled to transform his ordinary cornfield into a baseball diamond. Based on the 1982 novel Shoeless Joe, which is loosely based on a true story, we witness the dream of a man inspired by what some called lunacy but which turns out to be one of the most magical baseball movies of the century.
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Main Cast: Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta
Runtime: 107 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Added to this list for its unique story and uncharacteristic performance by Seann William Scott, this unexpected treasure is unlike any sports movie on the list. Alienated from his family of successful intellectuals, Doug Glatt is a bouncer who dreams of making something out of himself, and when his fighting skills catch the attention of a local semi-pro hockey coach, he becomes a name feared by most other players in the league. With great moments of true sincerity and unexpected comedy, Doug is an enforcer that will kick your heart in the ass.
Director: Michael Dowse
Main Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill
Runtime: 92 minutes
IMDb Rating: 6.8
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