Ranking the 10 Best Sports Movies of All Time
Arguments have become a fabric of the sports world, and those disagreements extend to the movie screen.
Don't buy it? This top 10 doesn't include Hoosiers and Rudy.
Since the order is subjective, disagreements are inevitable. Entertainment value, critical acclaim, plot line and historical value can drastically differ in importance to viewers.
No matter one's personal opinion, though, the chosen movies are widely considered memorable films.
Documentaries were not considered for the list, so would-be worthy candidates such as Hoop Dreams, Icarus and several 30 for 30s—O.J.: Made in America, for example—are not included.
Yo Adrian! What’s the most memorable line from your favorite sports movie? From Rocky to The Godfather, Caddyshack and more, the stories behind the movies you love are coming to CNN! The new CNN original series The Movies, from the people who brought you The Seventies and The Eighties, starts Sunday, July 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT only on CNN.
- Coach Carter
- He Got Game
- I, Tonya
- Love and Basketball
- The Natural
- Bend It Like Beckham
- Bull Durham
- Cool Runnings
- Happy Gilmore
- Slap Shot
- Space Jam
- Tin Cup
- White Men Can't Jump
- Angels in the Outfield
- The Bad News Bears
- Little Giants
- The Mighty Ducks
- Rookie of the Year
10. Creed (2015)
Creed provides a full-circle element to the Rocky franchise with Sylvester Stallone training the son of Apollo Creed.
Donnie Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) retires from a financial career to pursue his dream of becoming a professional boxer. Johnson seeks out Rocky, who initially declines but ultimately accepts and soon begins preparing Donnie for a fight with "Pretty" Ricky Conlan.
Although the rising star loses a split decision, Conlan tells Johnson he's the future of the light heavyweight division.
Perhaps fittingly, Stallone was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 88th Academy Awards but didn't win, either.
9. Major League (1989)
During the 2018-19 NBA season, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry credited his new contact lenses for helping him break a slump.
But Rick Vaughn did it first.
Played by Charlie Sheen, the main character in the 1989 film Major League had a wicked fastball but no control over the heater. That erratic nature led to the nickname "Wild Thing." Vaughn, though, corrects the issues after Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown realizes the pitcher needs to wear glasses.
The underdog story ends with unlikely hero Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) legging out a game-winning bunt despite his bad knees. And, of course, Cleveland upsets the New York Yankees.
8. Miracle (2004)
Kurt Russell stars as Herb Brooks in the retelling of the United States' dramatic victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Prior to the Games, the collegiate-filled USA squad loses to the professional Soviet side 10-3. But as the players shift from a roster carrying old grudges to a team-oriented group led by the unconventional head coach, the Americans advance to the semifinals and set up a dramatic clash with the Soviets.
And that showdown is remembered as the Miracle on Ice.
Team USA scored twice in the third period to upset the Soviets 4-3, stunning the hockey world before going on to defeat Finland and win the gold medal.
7. Field of Dreams (1989)
Sparked by a simple phrase—"If you build it, he will come"—Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) builds a gorgeous baseball diamond on his farm despite clear financial ramifications.
"I have just created something totally illogical," Kinsella says, smiling in a wonderful moment of self-awareness.
The voice he heard also speaks to author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), who travels from Massachusetts to Minnesota to Iowa alongside Kinsella. The ghosts of former players, including "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, eventually enjoy a game on the Iowa dirt.
But most importantly, that field allows Kinsella to find closure on "have a catch" with his father, John.
6. A League of Their Own (1992)
History slowly started to forget the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which ran from 1943 to 1954. But in 1992, A League of Their Own ensured that would never happen.
Jimmy Duggan (Tom Hanks), a former major leaguer, reluctantly coaches the Rockford Peaches. On that team are sisters Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petty), whose disagreements result in Kit being traded to the Racine Belles.
Later on, Dottie—a superstar catcher—temporarily leaves the league but returns for Game 7 in the World Series. After driving in the go-ahead run, Dottie seems to have the upper hand on her younger sister yet again. Kit, however, responds with a game-winning inside-the-park homer that culminates in her running over Dottie at the plate.
Though her Peaches teammates enter the locker room dejected, Dottie smiles as her sister is carried off the field in victory.
After all, there's no crying in baseball.
5. Rocky (1976)
When you hear "Gonna Fly Now" begin to play, the natural reaction is simple: Cue the montage!
The famous scene features Rocky (Stallone) training for his showdown with Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Rocky's memorable jog concludes with him sprinting up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and then raising his arms as the skyline sits in the background.
Nominated for 10 awards in nine categories at the 49th Academy Awards, Rocky won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing.
4. Remember the Titans (2000)
Based on a true story, "Remember the Titans" recalls the integration of the T.C. Williams High School football team in 1971.
Racial tension permeates the film, which stars Denzel Washington as head coach Herman Boone and Will Patton as top assistant Bill Yoast. They oversee a roster that—with a couple of exceptions—comes together, helps bond the community and wins a state title.
Despite the real-life Titans not needing a "Fake 23 Blast with a Backside George Reverse" to secure the championship, that play-call has become a staple in backyard and neighborhood games.
And remember: Ryan Gosling was an absolute liability at corner.
3. Caddyshack (1980)
If you ask 100 people which character is their favorite in "Caddyshack," the answers will range dramatically.
Perhaps it's Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe) for his pursuit of a scholarship. Maybe it's Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) and his relentless irritation of Bushwood Country Club co-founder Elihu Smails (Ted Knight), otherwise known as "The Judge."
Last but certainly not least, others will pick Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) for his relentless efforts to rid the course of gophers—which ultimately assists Noonan's climactic victory alongside the obnoxious and wealthy Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield).
Rotten Tomatoes' consensus review says it best: "Though unabashedly crude and juvenile, Caddyshack nevertheless scores with its classic slapstick, unforgettable characters, and endlessly quotable dialogue."
2. The Sandlot (1993)
What kind of sports movie doesn't end with a massive underdog celebrating a stunning win? The one where plucky underachievers need to overcome a battle with a massive dog.
Although the nine lovable characters in The Sandlot demolish their rivals, the summit is "The Beast" chasing Benny Rodriguez, who jumped the fence to snag the Babe Ruth-signed ball the group failed to retrieve in several imaginative ways.
We could suggest the film examines the challenge of making friendships. But honestly—from Porter's constant verbal jabs to Squints pretending to drown so he could kiss the lifeguard Wendy (and marrying her later!) to each kid's unique quirks—it's just plain hilarious.
Heroes are remembered, but legends—like this film—never die.
1. Raging Bull (1980)
Raging Bull is an exploration of self-sabotage that follows the life of Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) and his emotional volatility.
Jealousy, rage and anger overwhelm LaMotta, who unleashes the emotions throughout a disturbed relationship with his family and a violent career in the ring. He fights Sugar Ray Robinson on three occasions, winning the first before controversially losing the rematch. LaMotta is later pummeled in the final bout.
True to his disconnected persona, the bloodied and battered LaMotta taunts, "You never got me down, Ray."
Of the eight Academy Award nominations, "Raging Bull" won two—most notably De Niro's first triumph in the Best Actor category.