10 Best Sports Movies of the Decade
The past decade of sports films show how race, poverty, sex and of course violence fuel the passion of the contenders.
The right balance between authentic sports sequences and sub-plots that go beyond the trailer park cliché are what sets some films above the rest.
I don’t pretend to have watched every sports film out there, but challenge you to see any on this list that you haven’t already. Moneyball is on my to-do list so chime in if you have seen it and think it belongs here.
Here are the 10 Best Sports Movies of the Decade.
10. Blades of Glory
Just when you thought you could not possibly handle ever seeing Napoleon Dynamite dude, Jon Heder, in another movie, he found his calling as a figure skater alongside Will Ferrell.
This film does an amazing job making fun of the sport of skating, while delivering some impressive ice jumps, tricks and chase scenes to keep it interesting.
The spandex costumes are not to be missed. This film is good for a night when you don’t want to think too hard about what you are watching.
9. Bend It Like Beckham
Admittedly, this is a borderline chick flick, but not without some girl kissing scenes to keep it interesting for everyone.
It’s the story of an orthodox Sikh girl who rebels against her parents by playing soccer, really well. It helps that her teammate, friend and alleged lesbian lover is the stunning Keira Knightly.
Some respectable soccer scenes and serious culture-clashing make for an entertaining tribute to Mr. Beckham.
8. Million Dollar Baby
I’m starting to wonder if every boxing film is about a poor underdog who lives in a trailer. In any case, this Oscar winning film puts a twist on it by making the amateur fighter a girl.
What in my opinion is his last great role, Clint Eastwood plays the gruff coach who takes on the persistent Maggie Fitzgerald and turns her into a star. Ironically, Hilary Swank who plays the lead, also grew up in a trailer park in real life.
Swank actually trained at Brooklyn’s Gleason’s Gym for her part, which was no small undertaking. Think what you will about the film, but Swank who could barely do one pull-up at the start of her training, bulked up into a believable, champion boxer.
7. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
It’s safe to say that not every Will Ferrell film is going to be a winner, but this one hits the mark. As a top NASCAR driver, Ricky Bobby must reclaim his fame when he is ousted from the top spot by European driver played by Sacha Baron Cohen.
There are some legit race car scenes in this film, but what makes it work are the over-the-top characters. From the clueless Ricky Bobby, to his half wit family praying to Lord Baby Jesus over a bucket of KFC, Talladega goes all the way.
Combine a dash of hot hilarious women characters and a good rivalry (with a logical story line for once) and you have a fun no-brainer flick.
6. Cinderella Man
Cinderella Man reminds you to pay your electric bill if, for some reason, you haven’t gotten around to it.
Another depressing backdrop for a champion fighter story, this one follows James Braddock from starving family, cold winters and no heat, to redemption in the ring.
The art direction in this film is impeccable. Every detail is carefully executed and somehow Russell Crowe even looks like a real 1930s boxer who knows his way around the ring.
The title says it all, you know how it ends, but you keep watching in suspense at Miracle.
The story of the 1980 men’s Olympic hockey team was up against a Soviet team of professionals, who were at the time considered the best in the world. The American rag-tag group of collegiate players is led by a bell-bottomed Kurt Russell.
Even if you hate watching hockey or Disney movies, this one is a crowd pleaser all around. And yes, I do believe in miracles.
I still cannot understand the game of rugby, but Invictus had me cheering for the players regardless. Set in the backdrop of a divided South Africa, the Springboks union rugby team was strategically embraced by President Mandela (Morgan Freeman) as part of his campaign to unite the nation.
What’s not to love about Mandela cheering alongside Jason Bourne (ok, it's Matt Damon playing some rugby guy, but he’s forever Bourne to me).
A decent job on the rugby scenes, well-balanced with political background, and not a total butchering of accents make this film worth watching.
3. The Blind Side
Now, before you start to complain that this is a chick flick, remember that if it were not for the lead chick in this film Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by the fierce Sandra Bullock) the NFL would likely have never met Baltimore Raven Michael Oher.
Sure the story seems a little embellished to tug at the heart strings but, there is no denying that a wealthy Southern woman, taking in a total stranger from the wrong side of the tracks makes for one hell of a football story.
The cameos by actual NCAA football coaches are classic: No actor could do a better job than these real-life recruiters rocking everything from toupees to suntans, in hopes of getting Oher to play for their team.
2. The Fighter
Not the best boxing movie of all time, but certainly one with all the right elements to entertain; Irish angst, drugs, swearing and lots of fighting in and out of the ring.
Mark Wahlberg rises and falls with his troubled family who trains him and manages his fighting career. He eventually leaves them in an attempt to break the cycle.
A memorable moment of this movie is the white trash girl-on-girl porch fight, that even scared the men nearby.
Christian Bale steals the thunder from Wahlberg as his drug addicted brother, and many would say he makes the movie.
1. The Wrestler
This film does the unimaginable by reviving Mickey Rourke’s career, and making heroes out of a wrestler and a stripper. The film gives a bleak glimpse behind the scenes of the wrestling industry, steroids and the requisite broken family.
Ironically, it’s as real as you can get when depicting a mostly fabricated sport. Almost all of the fight scenes were shot with real audiences at real wrestling matches. You can’t get more authentic than the unscripted moment when a fan in the audience offers his prosthetic leg as a weapon during a fight.
Mickey Rourke is lovable in spandex and bleach blond hair. Meanwhile Marisa Tomei represents for the mature ladies showing off just enough of her hot bod to keep her classy.