Patriotism, unpredictability, and drama. All great things that make sports the competitive event that we’ve all come to love. Movies are a great way to celebrate those themes, especially their dramatic aspects. When it comes to sports movies, people just want to witness an incredible story, and sometimes they want to see someone get laid out. Today, we’ve brought you a healthy dose of the two.
Some based on real events in history and some praised for their uniqueness, we want to make it easier for you to find many of the greatest sports movies of all time. It doesn’t take long for a great sports fan to name off a few of their favorites, but finding something new and refreshing can really hit the heartstrings on a good day. Hopefully, you’ll find this list just as impressive as we do, combining the visual aesthetics and the inspiring stories of an array of sports, giving 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 beautiful story that has made even the toughest sports fans shed a tear. Rudy (Sean Astin) is neither financially nor academically blessed, cursed with dyslexia and 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 and dramatic, Miracle is probably the best hockey movie ever made and based on a very real story that truly united America. Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) assembles an American hockey team to take on Russia, then the best team in the world, in the 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 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 never thought possible. Beautifully written, this film does more than tell a great sports story, it’s a story of victory in a personal sense when you can defy the odds and prove everyone wrong. 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 a golf comedy 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
The Replacements (2000)
Though this film inclusion on the 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. Recruiting people from all over the board, this movie becomes a feel-good comedy in no time that celebrates unlikely camaraderie, and has a killer cast to boot. Among other things already mentioned, this gem is so re-watchable, 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
Fat City (1972)
One of the best Jeff Bridges movies ever, we experience the visceral boxing drama Fat City. When an older, washed-up boxer (Stacy Keach) begins to feel his age in the ring with him, he begins sparring with a young and promising new boxer (Bridges) who has a slew of his own problems to bring to the table. With plenty of background story and character development to go around, this movie goes past being a sports movie and points out 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
Tin Cup (1996)
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, past pro golfer working at a driving range, but decides to attempt the PGA tour title after meeting his rival’s charming girlfriend and attempting to win her heart as well. 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
Ford v Ferrari (2019)
The most contemporary 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 5-time winning racecars 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
The Last Dance (2020)
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 is already gathering critical acclaim as it revisits 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 G.O.A.T (greatest of all-time) in the world of basketball.
Director: Jason Hehir
Main Cast: Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, David Aldridge
IMDb Rating: 9.2
Field of Dreams (1989)
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 Sean 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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