Sports lend themselves well to the film format, so it’s no surprise that there have been some excellent films about sports over the years. Preparing for a sports match and the buildup to the final match and throughout the game can make for gripping storylines, and sports games can certainly be visually arresting. The top 10 best sports movies will all contain those elements and give people a free sports match in the process, but they’ll give you a sense of character and context that is difficult to replicate in any other format.
10. The Rookie
Many of the top 10 best sports movies were inspired by actual events, and The Rookie is no exception. Dedicated sports fans will no doubt see the parallels between the film and baseball player Jim Morris’s career. Dennis Quaid puts in a great performance as Jim Morris himself, as do Rachel Griffiths and acclaimed actor Brian Cox. Many sports films feature players that had to face additional obstacles on their road to success, such as Jim Morris’s success in spite of starting his career later in life.
There aren’t as many films about horse racing as there are about other games, but as Seabiscuit demonstrated, it can make for a very compelling subject. The film is set during the throes of the Great Depression, and has almost a documentary feel to it. Seabiscuit features not one, but two athletes who are down on their luck and working together: Seabiscuit the racing horse and his jockey Red Pollard. They both win together and their shared struggle makes the film that much more compelling. Much of the country was doing the same thing during the Great Depression, if on a different scale and in a different way, which makes the film even more dramatic among the top 10 best sports movies.
8. Fever Pitch
Being able to reconcile your interests with those of your partner is a familiar challenge for many people in a long-term relationship, and that’s crucial to the central conflict of Fever Pitch. American audiences may be more familiar with the remake of the film, but both the original British version and the newer American one are worth seeing.
7. Friday Night Lights
Some of the most highly acclaimed of the top 10 best sports movies delve into the culture surrounding sports games, which is what Friday Night Lights does admirably. The film is just as much about the character’s personal conflicts and their town’s personal dedication to them as it is about football itself. Friday Night Lights manages to be a good example of the high school film genre, in addition to being one of the top 10 best sports movies.
6. Million Dollar Baby
A rare example of a boxing film involving a female boxer, Million Dollar Baby has become one of the most celebrated boxing films in recent years. The film won four Oscars and was nominated for three more. Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman both gave top-notch performances, and Clint Eastwood proved that he was just as talented as ever with his direction and tremendous overall involvement with Million Dollar Baby.
The Rocky film series has become one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Rocky Balboa’s story certainly struck a chord with many Americans and other people throughout the world who share the same hope of overcoming desperate situations and achieving success. Fans disagree on which film in the series was the best, but the first one was certainly a tremendously successful film in its own right. Sylvester Stallone may have made some unsuccessful career choices since the Rocky film series, but these are certainly the films he will be remembered for historically.
4. Remember the Titans
Many of the top 10 best sports movies have a social appeal, in addition to their appeal as sports movies themselves. The racial tensions between the players add another layer of depth to an already gripping story in Remember the Titans, as does the exploration of racism throughout the film. Denzel Washington puts in another spectacular performance as Coach Herman Boone, and Will Patton puts in a good turn as Coach Bill Yoast. The film’s title is certainly appropriate, given the audience’s reaction.
3. A League of Their Own
It’s a film that’s thoroughly grounded in a particular historical period, like many of the best of the top 10 sports movies. The World War Two era is stamped all over the film, which adds a whole layer of intrigue. Sports films involving women and women’s experiences are also relatively rare, giving films like A League of Their Own a unique distinction. Tom Hanks and Geena Davis’s career-defining performances have been captivating audience members for years.
No list of top 10 best sports movies could be complete without a mention of the modern classic Rudy. Fans of the Lord of the Rings series will quickly recognize Sean Astin in one of his famous and iconic earlier film roles. Many audience members will be able to identify with Rudy’s struggle to prove himself. His insecurities make him vastly more relatable than many similar characters in many sports films, and the film’s message has truck a chord with many people even over the course of the film’s twenty-year history.
1. Raging Bull
Raging Bull has become a classic not just among the top 10 best sports movies, but films in general. Martin Scorsese demonstrates his tremendous directorial talent, while his star Robert De Niro delivers one of the greatest performances of his career. Raging Bull doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and presents a dark and uncompromising vision of the life of boxer Jake LaMotta.