SPORTS FILMS


Examples - 6


Sports Films
History | Examples - 1 | Examples - 2 | Examples - 3 | Examples - 4 | Examples - 5 | Examples - 6

30 of the Greatest Sports Films in History

This list (without commentary) was compiled by Time Magazine, in late 2015. It was presented, unranked, in chronological order:

1. The Hustler (1961)

2. Brian's Song (1971)

3. The Longest Yard (1974)

4. Rocky (1976)

5. The Bad News Bears (1976)

6. Raging Bull (1980)

7. Caddyshack (1980)

8. Chariots of Fire (1981, UK)

9. The Natural (1984)

10. The Karate Kid (1984)

11. Hoosiers (1986)

12. Bull Durham (1988)

13. Major League (1989)

14. Field of Dreams (1989)

15. White Men Can't Jump (1992)

16. A League of Their Own (1992)

17. The Mighty Ducks (1992)

18. Cool Runnings (1993)

19. Rudy (1993)

20. The Sandlot (1993)

21. Hoop Dreams (1994)

22. Space Jam (1996)

23. Jerry Maguire (1996)

24. Rounders (1998)

25. He Got Game (1998)

26. Remember the Titans (2000)

27. Ali (2001)

28. Bend It Like Beckham (2003)

29. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

30. The Wrestler (2008)

50 Best Sports Movies of All Time

In this ranking by Timeout from early 2016, only traditional athletic sports were included:

1. Rocky (1976)
"Written by its star (who insisted he play the lead), this Oscar-winning hit is the ne plus ultra of underdog movies, the story of every guy who’s been pegged a loser so many times that he believes it. Then Bill Conti’s iconic score kicks in and, suddenly, Rocky becomes a symbol for finding the true winner in all of us."

2. Raging Bull (1980)
"Martin Scorsese’s evocative black-and-white biopic about real-life brawler Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) is an intensely physical movie, tracing with operatic grandeur its protagonist’s life from volatile middleweight contender to an obese has-been."

3. Hoop Dreams (1994)
"Arthur Agee is a wispy kid who worships Isiah Thomas; William Gates is a soft-spoken young man with a killer layup. Both of these 14-year-old NBA hopefuls will see their lives change drastically over the next five years, but the one constant remains basketball. Filmmaker Steve James followed Agee and Gates around Chicago throughout their respective high-school careers..."

4. Bull Durham (1988)
"The movie sets up its themes via three wonderfully complex characters: Catcher 'Crash' Davis (Kevin Costner at the peak of his likability) is the aging also-ran, clutching to memories of a 21-day stint in 'the Show' while struggling to stay relevant as a leader in the single-A leagues. Annie (Susan Sarandon) is the superfan, luring fresh players to her bed while depositing serious wisdom. And 'Nuke' LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) is the goofy hotshot pitcher, undisciplined and the future of the game."

5. Caddyshack (1980)
"Harold Ramis made his directorial debut with this hilarious comedy set at an exclusive golf course...What could have been an unmemorable youth comedy became an endlessly quotable classic..."

6. The Wrestler (2008)
"Everyone loves a comeback—and though it doesn’t seem possible for fictional Randy 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a down-on-his-luck pro wrestler who longs to relive his ’80s glory days, it was definitely achievable for former leading man Mickey Rourke. This unflinching portrait of death-wish dedication would be unthinkable without the actor, who imbues the role with a heartbreaking pathos—especially in the tender scenes with his estranged daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood."

7. Slap Shot (1977)
"...you don’t get a complete picture of sports without a healthy dose of animal rage, vulgarity and shameless rule-breaking. This is where George Roy Hill’s beloved hockey comedy comes in: It undermines the lure of winning with an appeal to the worst instincts. Player-coach Paul Newman leads a squad of ruffians who resort to on-ice fighting to spur interest."

8. Senna (2010)
"Asif Kapadia’s documentary on the Brazilian world champion keeps talking-head testimonies and expert voiceovers to the barest minimum. Instead, he tells Senna’s story almost entirely through footage of press conferences, vintage interviews with the star himself and the races, as seen from the cockpit-cam..."

9. When We Were Kings (1996)
"...documentary director Leon Gast headed to Zaire, Africa, to capture 1974’s 'Rumble in the Jungle,' the apotheosis of Muhammad Ali’s legend... all eyes ultimately turn to the fleet-tongued Ali, charming in his training routine and fierce against George Foreman via the celebrated “rope-a-dope."

10. Olympia (1938, Germany)
"...(Leni) Riefenstahl was the inspired mind behind this stylish account of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, a classic piece of sports glorification. Among its innovations are the tracking shot through cheering crowds, the prerace close-up of a concentrated athlete’s face and the balletic filming of divers seemingly in defiance of gravity."

11. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
"Gary Cooper’s 'luckiest man on the face of the earth' speech captures the dignity, grace and resolve of one of the game’s true MVPs."

12. Hoosiers (1986)
"Small-town athletes make good in this enthralling underdog drama about a gruff coach with a checkered past (a terrific Gene Hackman) who leads his high-school basketball team to the state championships."

13. The Bad News Bears (1976)
"Those who see themselves in these foulmouthed little-leaguers—would call this one of the key movies of the ’70s."

14. North Dallas Forty (1979)
"The mightiest of football movies enters the world of pro athletics through the beer-and-drug-laced locker room, the debauched lifestyle and endless partying."

15. Miracle (2004)
"This uplifting drama about the U.S. hockey team’s 'Miracle on Ice' at the 1980 Olympics is a fabulous paean to coaching."

16. Fat City (1972)
"In John Huston’s engrossing drama, Stacy Keach plays a past-his-prime boxer who acts as both mentor and rival to cocky up-and-comer Jeff Bridges."

17. Chariots of Fire (1981)
"Even if all you remember is that shot of Olympians running on the beach to Vangelis’s pounding synth score, it’s fine. Sometimes a great sports movie only needs sweat and exhilaration."

18. Breaking Away (1979)
"Peter Yates’s feel-good sports drama says a lot about the allure of competitive biking, but this is really a movie about relying on your teammates..."

19. Offside (2006, Iran)
"Several Iranian female soccer fans are detained at the stadium gates (women aren’t allowed to attend such taboo 'male' events) and engage in a dialogue with the guards about the ridiculousness of it all...."

20. Any Given Sunday (1999)
"...absorbing look at a fictional pro-football team and the veteran coach trying to lead them to victory (Al Pacino at full bellow) packs a testosterone-filled blitz into two-and-a-half thrillingly steroidal hours."

21. The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1962, UK)
"Tom Courtenay gives a classic angry-young-man performance as a borstal boy who starts training for a race while in the juvie clink."

22. The Karate Kid (1984)
"Wax on, wax off and practice your crane before you see this classic bit of ’80s uplift. Make Mr. Miyagi proud..."

23. Tokyo Olympiad (1965)
"Japan’s first hosting of the Games in 1964 was considered a massively important moment for national rebranding... an unusually thorough and artful tribute to both winners and losers."

24. Seabiscuit (2003)
"A racehorse takes center stage here, as a taciturn but sensitive trainer (Chris Cooper) and a gifted jockey (Tobey Maguire) come along for the ride."

25. Ali (2001)
"Michael Mann’s overly schematic biopic proudly refuses to demystify its subject (played by a transformed Will Smith)...the fight scenes are unsurpassed: brutal, kinetic and purely expressive."

26. The Endless Summer (1966)
"Bruce Brown’s look at two wavehounds—longboarders Mike Hynson and Robert August—on a mutual quest for the perfect ride is easily the best work about surfing ever made..."

27. The Natural (1984)
"Even if the film changed the ending of Bernard Malamud’s classic novel, there’s no doubting the genius of cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (Zooey’s dad) and effortless star Robert Redford."

28. Friday Night Lights (2004)
"Peter Berg’s feature film about high-school football in Texas—a lyrical, stirring look at the way communities revolve around their pigskin heroes."

29. Pat and Mike (1952)
"Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy play a golf pro and her shady but lovable manager in this likable example of the duo’s relaxed chemistry."

30. Sugar (2008)
"...there are a dozen Dominican players like the fictional composite Miguel 'Sugar' Santos—a talented pitcher hacking it out in the U.S. minor leagues."

31. Jerry Maguire (1996)
"This box-office blockbuster gave us Tom Cruise as a redemption-seeking sports agent and spawned the oft-quoted catchphrase: 'Show me the money!'"

32. White Men Can't Jump (1992)
"No film better captures the psych-out art of athletic trash-talking than Ron Shelton’s ode to playground B-ballers."

33. Pumping Iron (1977)
"...a fascinating peek at two future superstars, Arnold Schwarzenegger (witty and already a ham) and TV-Hulk-to-be Lou Ferrigno, his chief competition for the title of Mr. Olympia."

34. Undisputed (2002)
"...this prison-set boxing drama pits a recently incarcerated heavyweight champ (Ving Rhames) against a yard favorite (Wesley Snipes)."

35. This Sporting Life (1963, UK)
"Richard Harris made a name for himself with this angry-young-man drama in which a English North Country miner becomes a local rugby star. It’s British class warfare and disillusionment at its finest..."

36. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
"The director, Stacy Peralta, was a teenage celebrity in the late-’70s: a SoCal skateboarder whose revolutionary style got him all the way to a cameo on Charlie’s Angels..."

37. Gentleman Jim (1942)
"Hollywood legend Errol Flynn shines as real-life boxer Jim Corbett: scrappy, arrogant, proud and capable. Director Raoul Walsh serves the material with a minimum of showiness..."

38. Knute Rockne: All American (1940)
"Pat O’Brien may have played the titular character in this ode to the legendary Notre Dame football figurehead, but it’s Ronald Reagan’s gridiron all-star, George Gipp, who inspired football’s most famous inspirational motto: 'Let’s win one for the Gipper!'"

39. Personal Best (1982)
"The characters are U.S. track-and-fielders striving to qualify for the women’s team headed for the 1980 Olympics (a Games the States would boycott). But what will always set this drama apart is its exploration of physical attraction between same-sex competitors, presented in an honest, nonexploitative manner."

40. The Set-Up (1949)
"Robert Ryan is an over-the-hill boxer who must either throw his last fight or risk a cement-shoe trip to Palookaville."

41. The Fighter (2010)
"Using vintage Betamax cameras and hiring veteran cable-sports crews to replicate the look of HBO’s mid-’90s boxing matches, David O. Russell adds a level of period-perfect verisimilitude to this biopic on welterweight champ Micky Ward. The stoic Boston brawler is played, punch for punch, by Mark Wahlberg..."

42. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
"When white-trash dreamer Hilary Swank wanders into wise old trainer Clint Eastwood’s backstreet gym, another Rocky fairytale looms, yet this modern fable takes us into darker territory—the perilous lure of success and the impassable road to redemption."

43. A League of Their Own (1992)
"Penny Marshall...hits a solid line drive in this pop-feminist period piece about a WWII-era women’s baseball team. Tom Hanks has one classic line (“They’re no crying in baseball!”), while cringeworthy performances from Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna are offset by Lori Petty and the always-reliable Geena Davis."

44. Field of Dreams (1989)
"'If you build it, they will come.'...Kevin Costner, a natural in sports movies... acquits himself nicely here as a baseball-obsessed DIY-er who turns his backyard into a diamond."

45. Big Wednesday (1978)
"Everybody’s goin’ surfin’—including Jan-Michael Vincent, Gary Busey and William 'The Greatest American Hero' Katt —in this borderline-ridiculous comedy from director John Milius."

46. Eight Men Out (1988)
"...the real-life scenario—about the infamous Chicago 'Black Sox,' who threw the 1919 World Series—makes the stridency go down in riveting fashion, as does a dynamite cast led by John Cusack."

47. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
"...this violent playground game offers the perfect vehicle to parody sports-movie clichés: the team of lovable misfits, the rich snob rivals, the tournament with a decisive sudden-death moment."

48. Murderball (2005)
"Quadriplegic athletes don’t want your sympathy—and to watch them play their variation of wheelchair rugby, flesh and metal merging into living cruise missiles, they don’t want casual entertainment either."

49. Big Fan (2009)
"...writer-director Robert D. Siegel turned his attention to the subject—darkly and with great empathy—via this tale of a Giants fan (Patton Oswalt) tackled by his own obsession."

50. Bend It Like Beckham (2002, UK)
"Fresh-faced Keira Knightley became a star when this crowd-pleasing cross-cultural drama booted its way into American multiplexes. Even if the definitive soccer movie is yet to be made, this one—about the importance of inclusiveness on the field and off—scores nicely."




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