Top 10 Sports Movies Of All-Time and Why

Chris SurovickContributor IJanuary 11, 2010

Sports movies come in all varieties. Action packed, tear-jerkers, inspirational, you name it. Below is a list I've compiled through the years.  These are movies that have done all of the above and have stood up through the test of time. While this list will surely leave some of your favorites off, I want to hear from you which ones missed your top 10, but tell me why.


1.) BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY (1973) —Beautifully acted by Michael Moriarty and a young Robert DeNiro, this touching adaptation of a Mark Harris novel depicts the friendship between an ace pitcher and his dying catcher. Some of the best locker-room insights ever.

2.) EIGHT MEN OUT (1988) —Director John Sayles managed a rare feat for a baseball movie, stripping away the sentiment and the legend to portray the sad but true story surrounding the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

3.) FIELD OF DREAMS (1989) —Based on a novel by W.P. Kinsella, this Kevin Costner vehicle remains the only movie to capture accurately the emotional sinew that connects baseball, fathers, and sons.

4.) HOOSIERS (1986) —The amazing work of star Gene Hackman and director John Anspaugh catapulted what could have been a hokey David-and-Goliath tale into the best basketball movie ever.

5.) THE HUSTLER (1961)— Paul Newman’s finest is a film whose subject matter is as gritty and depressing as the postwar, other-side-of-the track landscape that is its setting. Jackie Gleason is a revelation as Minnesota Fats.

6.) IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING (1949) —A fun-filled baseball fantasy about a performance-enhancing substance. After a college professor inadvertently develops a serum that repels wood, he becomes a big-league pitcher and leads his team to a World Series.

7.) MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004) —Hillary Swank won an Oscar in one of director Clint Eastwood’s top films. A controversial and weighty examination of a strong-willed female boxer and the injury that derailed her desperate dream.

8.) RAGING BULL (1980) —Director Martin Scorcese’s epic biopic of boxer Jake LaMotta is both earthy and ethereal. DeNiro is typically brilliant. Not just a great sports movie but a great movie period.

9.) REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT (1962) —Depressingly stark version of Rod Serling’s legendary teleplay, this look at the demeaning decline of a professional boxer and his relationship with the equally sad souls surrounding him is an underrated gem. Gleason again is superb.

10.) ROCKY (1976) —The boxing scenes are the weakest part of this poignant, uplifting story about a down-and-out Philadelphia fighter. The score is special, too. Stallone should have stopped here.