From underdog stories to nail-biting moments, sports can provide plenty of drama. However, sports also provide a great backdrop for movies as well. There are loads of sports movies that totally miss the mark, but others are able to capture the essence of what makes sports so exciting. These 10 films do just that, and they are my favorite sports movies of all time.
Hockey is greatly underrepresented in movies, so let’s give one some love. Miracle is a movie about one of the greatest upsets in sports history, when the USA Ice Hockey team beat Russia. Yeah the movie is full of sports clichés, but I thought they capture the excitement around that great moment in 1980 so well, and it leaves you inspired and ready to kick some ass. Also, Kurt Russell is so freaking good in it as Minnesota hockey legend Herb Brooks.
9. The Fighter
Boxing on the other hand has a boatload of great movies, but this one stands out. The Fighter is about so much more than the action in the ring. It’s about family and one man’s struggles to step out of his brother’s shadow. It’s an acting showcase with a powerhouse cast, led by Christian Bale, who plays strung out boxing legend Dicky. It’s fun, it’s in your face, it’s gritty, and it has that one awesome song How You Like Me Now? that’s was in every bit of pop culture for like 8 years.
When you think of Caddyshack, there are about a dozen quotable lines that jump into a person’s brain. The dialogue paired with the wacky characters are what make this golfing movie stand out. Yes it’s stilly, and a lot of the humor is slapstick and juvenile, but it doesn’t shy away from the audience it’s intended for. It’s something worth checking out, especially because this type of comedy isn’t around in contemporary movies.
7. The Wrestler
This movie couldn’t be any different than the previous one on this list. The Wrestler is a heartbreaking look at the balance of a Professional Wrestler’s career and his deteriorating “real” life. Mickey Rourke jumped back into the spotlight, earning an Oscar nomination for his amazing work as Randy Robinson. The final scene is gut-wrenching, and it’s amplified by the amazing final song from The Boss.
6. Major League
I love me some silly humor, and that’s what Major League is all about. Sure the movie follows all the underdog sports clichés, but when you have a dude practicing voodoo in the locker room, and the team’s pitcher played in the “California Penal League,” you forget all that and just have a good time. Watching the Minnesota Twins put out some horrible teams in my lifetime, you think maybe the organization is run by Rachel Phelps.
5. Bull Durham
Director Ron Shelton was a former minor-league baseball player, and it shows with his ode to the bus rides and fast food in Bull Durham. This movie has it all, and it’s not afraid to be cheesy when it needs to be. There’s comedy, drama, romance, and Kevin Costner leads an amazing cast as the career minor-leaguer Crash Davis. You can tell everyone involved is having a good time making the film, which makes for a fun experience.
4. Hoop Dreams
There are a bunch of great sports documentaries out there, but I think this one is the best. Hoop Dreams follows high-school athletes from Chicago as they try to use basketball to overcome obstacles like poverty, parental drug addiction, and inner-city violence. The movie pulls on every emotion, but mostly you just want these kids to succeed. It was made in 1994 (the best year for movies ever) but it still holds up. A must-see for any documentary fan.
Rocky is amazing. If you don’t know that and you call yourself a sports fan, you’re a big fat liar. That’s all that needs to be said.
2. The Natural
Baseball is by far my favorite sport, and I feel no movie is a more testament to baseball then The Natural. This movie plays out like a fable, with larger than life characters going through pain and success. Robert Redford is amazing as Roy Hobbs, the perfect example of a flawed hero. There’s a lot of great moments and memorable lines in this epic movie, but the final scene will stick with me for a long time.
1. Raging Bull
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are a match made in Hollywood Heaven. They took that partnership to a whole different level with the boxing masterpiece Raging Bull. The film focuses on Jake LaMotta, a former boxing champion, who struggled with anger issues that left him alone despite his success in the ring. The movie is violent, especially during the amazingly shot and edited boxing scenes, but it also does a great job at showing how violence can negatively impact someone’s life. It’s De Niro’s best performance, and Scorsese shines behind the camera as well. It’s a must see for not just sports fan, but for anybody with a pulse. Stop reading this and go watch it.