30 Best Sports Movies of All Time
This list was compiled by Rolling Stone in
1. Hoop Dreams (1994)
"...a three-hour odyssey about high school kids William Gates
and Arthur Agee as they try to make their way to the NBA. A landmark
American documentary, this compassionate labor of love..."
"...a surprisingly lived-in, sensitive drama
about a broken-down boxer who gets one last, very unlikely chance
to prove himself against the World Heavyweight Champion..."
3. The Bad News Bears (1976)
"...so timeless — even
if the sight of Walter Matthau playing a beer-guzzling single
guy overseeing latchkey children screams 'Yes, this most
definitely is the 1970s.' Writer Bill Lancaster and director
Michael Ritchie capture the pressure grown-ups put on pre-teens
who have more on their minds than sports."
"...a brutal, unromantic portrait of the sport
and the film's real-life protagonist — the
charmless but utterly compelling Jake LaMotta (Robert
De Niro)...Less a biopic than a psychological study of
what it takes to get in the ring (and what happens when
you take that killer instinct home with you)."
5. Caddyshack (1980)
and supremely rewatchable, Caddyshack has
earned a sizable cult following since arriving in
theaters in the summer of 1980, and it's easy to see
6. Bull Durham (1988)
"A tribute to those
whose love for the game needs no limelight, Bull Durham is
at once a breezy romance, a knowing look at the
less-glamorous aspects of America's pastime, and
a story about how the compromises of aging aren't
just unavoidable — they're
far preferable to clinging to the past."
7. Slap Shot (1977)
profane tribute to sports' lost causes and
those who see them through to the end. Paul
Newman stars as a player/coach who resorts
to questionable, often violent, tactics to
boost the profits of the Charlestown Chiefs,
the local heroes of a failing steel-mill town."
8. When We Were Kings (1996)
"...Oscar-winning documentary is pretty much
the definitive last word on the legendary bout, complete with talking-head
testimonies from Norman Mailer and George Plimpton, training clips and
footage of the moment the Greatest takes back the belt (from George Forman
in the "Rumble in the Jungle" fight)."
9. Senna (2010)
Ayrton Senna became a national hero
and the photogenic face of the Formula
One circuit in the Eighties and Nineties
before an accident at the San Marino
Grand Prix in 1994 ended his life..."
10. Friday Night Lights (2004)
handheld camerawork against the
soaring emotions of the players'
lives both off and on the field,
then grounding the entire affair
via a rock-solid performance from
Billy Bob Thornton as a deeply
11. White Men Can't Jump (1992)
"...Real-life pals Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes
make for a sharp comedic dynamic duo as dead-end Venice Beach streetballers
reluctantly teaming up to win local competitions...
12. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
"Like most sports biopics of the time,
this retelling about Gehrig's life, career and ultimate demise
from ALS (a disease that's synonymous with his name) is shamelessly
sentimental, incredibly inspiring and focuses just as much on mythologizing
the man as it does the game."
13. Hoosiers (1986)
"... this dizzyingly feel-good sports movie
in which a troubled coach (Gene Hackman) motivates a group of underdog
1950s Indiana high schoolers to play the best basketball of their lives
by — wait for it — sticking
to the fundamentals."
14. Murderball (2005)
"...what makes Murderball – so named for the brutal sport
of wheelchair rugby it focuses on – such a great
film is that it skips all the gooey, inspirational bulls--t,
instead chronicling the burgeoning, bloody rivalry between
the U.S. and Canadian teams."
15. Fat City (1972)
"...John Huston's fatalistic film about the
relationship between the down-and-out alcoholic boxer Billy (Stacy Keach)
and Ernie, the young-up-and-comer (Jeff Bridges) who inspires the older
fighter to try for a comeback. It’s a boxing
movie more concerned with between-bouts trials and
traps than what goes on in the ring."
16. The Endless Summer (1966)
"The greatest surfing
picture of all time, this unassuming piece of counterculture
anthropology is so likable that it had kids around
the world buying boards and heading to the California
coast in search of the perfect barrel."
17. North Dallas Forty (1979)
"Set among the players and management of a team semi-loosely
modeled after the Dallas Cowboys, Ted Kotcheff's down-and-dirty sports
drama does double duty as a broad satire as it delves into the corrupt
underbelly of professional football – the drugs, the sex, the
backstabbing, and the bureaucratic incompetence..."
18. The Wrestler (2008)
"...Mickey Rourke’s Randy "The Ram" Robinson:
an ex-superstar who gets beat to hell whenever he entertains. Director
Darren Aronofsky's film lingers over the sport's lurid details (performers
using blades to make their shows more visceral), and contrasts the
Ram's colorful costumes with the bleak existence of his life offstage..."
19. The Natural (1984)
"...in this loose adaptation of Bernard Malamud's
novel. Robert Redford plays the once-promising phenom Roy Hobbs, who,
in his mid 30s, finally gets his shot at the big leagues after disappearing
from the scene for mysterious reasons..."
20. The Big Lebowski (1998)
"Joel and Ethan Coen's Raymond Chandler-inspired
shaggy dog story is, among its other qualities, a great bowling
movie...The Big Lebowski captures
how much of the experience of chucking a heavy ball down a lane
depends on a number of factors: alley ambience, team camaraderie,
between-frames taunts, and fetishistic equipment maintenance."
21. Victory (1981)
"Based on the Hungarian film Two Half
Times in Hell, director John Huston's
potboiler stars Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, and Brazilian
superstar Pele as WWII POWs who're going to use a match against
the Germans as an opportunity to escape..."
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor
"Co-produced by Motown honcho
Berry Gordy and directed by a pre-Saturday
Night Fever John Badham, this period baseball comedy
recalls the age of barnstorming, when pro athletes supplemented
their income by traveling the country to play against
23. Bend It Like Beckham (2002, UK)
follow-your-dreams fable wouldn't work half as well if
weren't for future ER star
Parminder Nagra's winning performance and a real knack
for nailing how sports can boost the self-esteem and
self-identity of young women."
24. Any Given Sunday (1999)
"... this look at a turbulent season in the
life of a struggling Miami football franchise...That collective sense
of anxiety and hopelessness is just one of the reasons why Pacino's climactic "Life's
just a game of inches" speech to his troops
has earned its place as one of the all-time greatest
sports movie speeches."
25. Blue Chips (1994)
"Basketball-fanatic director William Friedkin
populated screenwriter Ron Shelton's story of college hoops corruption
with the likes of Larry Bird, Bob Knight, Dick Vitale, Bob Cousy, and
Shaquille O’Neal — some as themselves,
and others as characters from a fictional west
26. Rudy (1993)
got a story about a hard-working, huge-hearted
hero overcomes all obstacles (dyslexia, diminutive
size, coach Dan Devine) to get his shot in
the final home game of the 1975 season..."
27. Chariots of Fire (1981, UK)
"It's remembered today primarily for its pulsing
Vangelis synthesizer score and that shot of Olympians running along a
beach in slow-motion — but
director Hugh Hudson's Oscar-winning
sports drama is anything but an easy
28. Miracle (2004)
"...one of the finest attributes of Gavin O'Connor's
tribute to gruff coach Herb Brooks is that it never stops reminding
us that the man who led the underdog U.S. hockey team to an unlikely
gold medal was no touchy-feely, heart-tugging dude."
29. Tin Cup (1996)
"Kevin Costner reunited with his Bull Durham writer-director
Ron Shelton for this golf-themed rom-com, playing Roy "Tin Cup" McAvoy,
a burned out ex-pro who tries to win the heart of a woman (Rene Russo)
by out-shooting her boyfriend (Don Johnson) at the U.S. Open..."
30. No No: A Dockumentary (2014)
"Dock Ellis is most famous for claiming that he once pitched
a no-hitter while tripping on LSD, but as Jeff Radice's "dockumentary" makes
clear, the Pirates hurler had a fairly distinguished career, intersecting
with one of baseball's wildest decades..."