The Best Sports Movies Since 2000

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2014

The Best Sports Movies Since 2000

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    The '90s were a good time.

    They gave us baggy clothes, incredible sports heroes and some damn good sports movies that have stuck with us for a long time.

    Whether it was Rudy, The Mighty Ducks trilogy or Happy Gilmore, most of us can recite nearly every line to those flicks without hesitation.

    But what about the movies since 2000? How do those sports films stack up?

    To answer that, I'm giving you the top sports movies since the new millennium, so see if your favorite one made the cut.

Murderball (2005)

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    Not too many people may be familiar with the film Murderball, but if you haven't peeped it yet, I recommend doing so.

    A documentary about quadriplegic athletes who play wheelchair rugby, the movie is both high-energy and interesting.

    Focusing on the rivalry between the U.S. and Canada in the 2004 Paralympic Games, the flick was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2006 Academy Awards.

Hardball (2001)

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    Sure, the lead role is played by Keanu Reeves—who often never gets praise for his acting skills—but the movie as a whole is pretty damn good.

    Based on the book Hardball: A Season in the Projects, the movie follows a little league team in Chicago's projects that is led by a gambler who is trying to repay his debts.

    It's sort of like The Mighty Ducks, but with youngsters playing baseball—and a little more serious.

The Blind Side (2009)

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    Telling the story of current Tennessee Titans offensive lineman Michael Oher's football journey, The Blind Side was recognized as a great film when it was released in 2009.

    Going from home to home through his middle and high school years, Oher was finally adopted by a family in Memphis, Tennessee to help stabilize his life and help him get on track for great things in the future.

Seabiscuit (2003)

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    As someone who graduated from the University of Kentucky, I have to give some love to the ponies.

    While most of the great sports movies focus on comeback stories or underdogs in people, this one is about the story of the horse Seabiscuit, who overcomes doubters to inspire a nation during a tough time in American history, the Great Depression.

Friday Night Lights (2004)

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    Like a few others on this list, I won't give away the ending, but it's definitely one of the more shocking for viewers.

    Telling the story of the 1988 Permian Panthers, Friday Night Lights tackles many cultural and economic differences while also focusing on the obsession and expectations of high school football in Texas.

Cinderella Man (2005)

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    Going from rags to riches following an injury and working on the docks during the Great Depression, boxer James Braddock—played by Russell Crowe—earns himself a heavyweight championship bout against favorite Max Baer.

    Since I don't want to spoil the ending for you, I suggest you go watch Cinderella Man and see why it'll make you think you can accomplish anything.

Moneyball (2011)

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    Anyone who read Moneyball by Michael Lewis—which is one of my favorites—probably wasn't too disappointed with how the film turned out.

    While other books get watered down and "Hollywooded" up, Moneyball sticks to the story of the Oakland Athletics and how the team used deep analytics to put together a consistent playoff contender.

    Nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brad Pitt) and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Moneyball re-enacts one of the most influential baseball teams in history superbly.

We Are Marshall (2006)

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    Telling the emotional story about the Marshall football team following the unfortunate 1970 plane crash that killed 37 players and five coaches, among others, We Are Marshall is more than just a football movie.

    Recent Best Actor Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey stars as head coach Jack Lengyel, who had the tough task of rebuilding both a program and morale following the loss of the team's friends and teammates. As expected, McConaughey delivers a strong performance.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

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    Anytime a sports movie gets mentioned as the Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it's a good film.

    In the case of Million Dollar Baby, it didn't just earn a nomination but actually won the Oscar back in 2004 for its superb performances and plot.

    With Clint Eastwood winning for Best Director, Hilary Swank for Best Actress and Morgan Freeman for Best Supporting Actor, Million Dollar Baby is a knockout whether you're a fan of boxing or not. It tells a great story about a female boxer overcoming the odds toward becoming a professional.

The Wrestler (2008)

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    While I personally thought that The Wrestler was one hell of a movie, a bunch of people I know actually disagree, saying it was just OK.

    To them, I ask, "Are you nuts?"

    Focusing on the life of longtime wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson, actor Mickey Rourke had to be at his best—and he was, as he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 2009 Academy Awards.

    It's dramatic in every way, with The Ram trying to hang onto the glory of being a wrestler while also trying to resurrect a strained relationship with his daughter.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

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    Seeing how I just realized that Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is the lone comedy on my list, I suppose I'm labeling it as the funniest sports flick since 2000.

    And I'm not too mad about proclaiming that.

    With Will Ferrell acting a fool as Ricky Bobby and his good buddy John C. Reilly as Cal Naughton Jr., the two give moviegoers not only hilarious one-liners but a solid movie that's more than just sophomoric humor.

The Fighter (2010)

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    Made from a similar mold as Rocky, The Fighter uses many of the same elements to make the movie great.

    With Mark Wahlberg playing the lead role as Micky Ward—a Boston-born, junior welterweight champ—and Christian Bale alongside him as his loyal half-brother and trainer Dicky, the two put together great performances in a film that proves dedication and hard work can reap rewards.

    For their performances in the movie, both Bale and Melissa Leo won Academy Awards, showing just how greatly executed the plot was.

The Two Escobars (2010)

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    In my opinion, made-for-TV movies don't typically do too well—or should count—as sports movies.

    Then again, most made-for-TV movies aren't as good as The Two Escobars, a story about the 1994 Colombian national soccer team and the relationship between drug lord Pablo Escobar and former captain Andres Escobar.

    Easily the best 30 for 30 ESPN documentary, The Two Escobars talks about how much soccer can really impact a culture and does it in a powerful way.

Remember the Titans (2000)

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    Remember the Titans is one of the best sports movies ever created.

    Sure, it was made by Disney to re-enact the true story about the 1971 T.C. Williams high school football squad in Alexandria, Va., but that doesn't mean it qualifies as cheesy.

    With Denzel Washington playing head coach Herman Boone and a cast of fairly young, unknown actors filling in as the players, Remember the Titans doesn't disappoint when it comes to dramatic scenes—and will probably have some dudes tear up a few times.

Miracle (2004)

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    Anytime a memorable sports moment can be brought to the silver screen, it's usually a box office win—and the movie Miracle was no different.

    Re-enacting the event from the 1980 Olympics when the U.S. men's hockey team upset the mighty Soviet Union before winning the gold medal a game later, this movie should make everyone proud to be an American.

    Kurt Russell played head coach Herb Brooks beautifully, and the movie was recognized as the Best Sports Movie at the 2004 ESPY Awards.