The 40 Best Sports Movies of All Time

Bell Malley@milesmalleyAnalyst IIIJuly 5, 2011

The 40 Best Sports Movies of All Time

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    Sports Movies: The perfect mix of Hollywood and athletics.

    For a sport fan, it's almost heaven--it holds the action that can drive a sport fanatic to ridiculous excitement, with the benefit of getting to know the players, or the team, and the drama that surrounds it all.

    A sport movie can make you cry, yell, laugh, punch something...which is why so many have tried and make one. Thus, today I attempt at finding the best fifty sports movies of all time.

40. Space Jam

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    An unbelievably dumb story line, and an acting performance that would rank even under his baseball performance for Jordan.

    But, I can't leave it off this list, because when I was younger, it was amazing. Seeing my all time favorite player, who I had really only seen on the court, act with my favorite cartoon character was almost too much to handle.

    Yes, I re watched it and realized how weird it was, but with a good conscience, I couldn't leave it off this list.

39. Blades of Glory

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    Yes, a very, very dumb movie. But also the only successful movie about ice skating ever made, so it has to deserve a spot on this list.

    Also, almost impossible to watch without laughing out loud at least a couple of times, as it completely ridicules the sport, yet somehow makes it seem cool at the same time.

38. Like Mike

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    Another movie that re watching may not be that great, but that played a huge part in my favorite child hood films.

    Bow Wow steps outside of his norm, and delivers a very good acting performance for someone of his age, and it made it all the better to see players such as Iverson and Carter in the movie.

    Plus, obviously, some memorable raps are worth hearing in the movie.

37. The Waterboy

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    Three straight comedies to start off the list.

    The Waterboy is Adam Sandler before he stopped caring about his movies, plus it's somewhat feel-good, plus there are a lot of hard hits which everyone loves, plus a really, really hot girl.

    A couple things that make a fairly good sports movie.

36. Cool Runnings

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    I think the movie may deserve a higher place on this list, but it didn't have near as much commercial success as the ones above, so I placed it here.

    The true story about a Jamaican bobsled team, Cool Runnings is easily the only successful bob sledding movie ever made. Furthermore, John Candy was terrific, as were Leon and Doug E. Doug.

    A comedy that can also make you tear, Cool Runnings is a must see.

35. More Than a Game

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    As much as I truly hate Lebron, this movie made me like him at least for a couple hours and that alone should make it deservant of a spot on this list.

    LeBron's team really preached brother hood, especially James' himself, and it is what led to their dominance.

    It does make it seem weirder that Lebron completely through brotherhood out the window last summer.

34. Blue Chips

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    Surprisingly, Shaq was actually a very, very good actor.

    The movie perfectly captures all of the illegal dealings in college basketball, and just how serious it is for some of the organizations, coaches, and players.

    But, yeah, Shaq by himself makes the movie worth watching.

33. Dodgeball

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    One of Vince Vaughn's funniest movies. Considering his track record, that's a pretty big deal.

    Though the movie was a bit too stupid at times, the dodge ball scenes and some other lines are to funny to miss out on.

32. Bend It Like Beckham

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    Before I say anything else, let me just say that it has an awesome title. One that many people who have never seen the movie know.

    A very good movie at the least about a girl who goes against her parents ruling, and decides to follow her true love in the sport of soccer.

    And wouldn't you know it? She's pretty good. The story is cliche, yet something about it makes it better than the average sports movie.

    Maybe the title...

31. We Are Marshall

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    Great acting, very good story line, a movie that can make you cry, a movie with a few comedic snippets; this movie could have been really, really amazing.

    Instead, and I don't know why, it didn't fully capture me and settled for just really good.

    Which still isn't too shabby.

30. Happy Gilmore

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    Another Sandler movie where he over played it so much that it could have been awful...yet somehow he did it almost perfectly and came out with a hilarious good sports movie.

    Very few sport comedies have scenes has memorable as Gilmore's running start before hitting the ball 500 yards.

    Plus, it's a pretty cool idea to have a full on hockey player play almost the sport that could qualify as it's opposite in golf.

29. Slap Shot

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    When I first saw this movie, around two years back, my honest reaction was that this was one of the stupidest, and definitely the most over rated sports movie ever.

    Then, I re saw it like two months back, and saw its true beauty. It's not meant to be a feel good, or drama, or even honest comedy. It's just meant to be a somewhat slap stick movie about ice hockey.

    The Hansons are terrifically funny, and Paul Newman acts in his best role in a sports movie. Though I still find this movie to be overrated (especially amongst hockey fans) it deserves a place on the list.

28. Love and Basketball

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    Perhaps one of the cheesiest sports movies ever made, and one of the only few good chick flicks about sports, Love and Basketball is somehow very entertaining and a very good movie.

    The ending disappointing me a little (I was convinced he would have a great pro career), but the movie was so unique in its style--jumping five years or so every 30 minutes--that I loved it.

    A good movie for a sports fan, a must see for a basketball fan.

27. Cinderella Man

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    In my honest opinion, Russell Crowe's best movie. For me, it always had its place as the best boxing movie not named Rocky, but all that changed this year as you'll later see.

    Crowe had to fight during the depression just so that he could scrape by on money, so his success meant more than a regular under dog winning story.

    I'm sure living through the depression would have made the story even more touching, but I can't say that positively.

26. Pride

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    A great movie about breaking down racist barriers through the sport of swimming. When a basketball hoop is taken away at a local playground, a coach convinces the people who played there to take up swimming.

    And, wouldn't you know it, they're quite good.

    A movie that did not get great money in box office or great critical acclaim, but one that you should definitely watch.

25. Tallegeda Nights

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    This was a hate it or love it type of movie, so for the people out there who are part of the haters, my apologies: I admit this is perhaps one of the stupidest sports movies of all times, but on a comedic level, it's gold.

    One of Will Ferrell's best movies, it focuses on the story of a race car driver, who bounces back on his feet and into glory.

    Shake and bake, my friends.

24. Coach Carter

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    The definition of a movie where education prevails over athletics.

    Coach Carter is a fairly recent movie, where the Coach (Samuel L. Jackson) takes an awful team, and through discipline starts leading them to an undefeated record.

    Towards the end of the season, he sees that their grades, and most notably his star players', are faltering and that they won't have a realistic chance at college.

    He locks up the gym, forces them into the library and gets them to start working. A large amount of the kids go to college, and Coach Carter's deed is done.

    A great, true story, one that will make you laugh and tear at the same time.

23. Invictus

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    One of the greatest sport/political movies of all time, and without a doubt the best, perhaps the only good, rugby movie of all time.

    Morgan Freeman was terrific as Nelson Mandela, the President who views rugby as a way of united the apartheid country.

    Very well done.

22. Friday Night Lights

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    I'll admit it: this movie made me do a little more than just tear.

    One of the saddest, and more accurate, sports movies ever made, Friday Night Lights focuses on a team with expectations to win the title from the preseason to the state championship game.

    A drama filled movie, it is also the reason for the FNL TV, for which thousands of sports fans have to be thankful for.

21. The Longest Yard

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    This one should generate more than a few complaints: though most people vastly preferred the original, I was also a much bigger fan of the remake with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.

    I thought it had as much dramatic appeal, and much better comedy as well. Perhaps Sandler's best movie, the Longest Yard is yet another movie that can generate more than a few different emotions.

20. Bang the Drum Slowly

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    One of the saddest sports movies ever made, and also one that basically started off the career of one of the greatest actors of all time in Robert DeNiro.

    It's about an amazingly talented baseball player with Hodgkins disease. Definitely a tear jerker.

19. The Damned United

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    Another true story that can make a non soccer fan fall in love.

    Too complicated to explain, but will make you forever think that Brian Clough is the single greatest soccer coach. Perhaps of any sport. Though he may not be, watch the movie. I guarantee you that directly after the movie you'll feel the same way.

    A classic.

18. The Fighter

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    One of the best boxing movies of all time, and add in the fact that it just came out and it has to be on this list.

    Both Marc Wahlberg and Christian Bale's best movies, and the best boxing movies since any of the Rocky's.

    The story is again based on a real one,and is amazing.

17. White Men Can't Jump

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    I'm sure that the fact that I am a white man who plays basketball added to my liking of this movie. Also, I may award the sports movie with the best trash talking of all line: some very, very memorable insults.

    An added benefit in the movie being this high on the list, is the fact that very little other movie titles are now used as much in a regular day conversation to make a point.

16. Jerry Maguire

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    The odds of making a very good movie about a sports agent must have been low, but Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr. and the rest of the Jerry Maguire actors pulled it off.

    A seemingly simplistic idea for a movie, it remains an all time classic with perhaps one of the most known lines in any movie:


15. The Express

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    A very recent movie, and also a very good one.

    Kenyon from Coach Carter stars as Ernie Davis, a player who goes through unbelievable racism to try and prove that he is the best running back on the face of the earth. Yet, tragedy strikes (you'll have to watch the movie to see) and nothing goes as planned.

    One of the most touching and saddest sports movies out there, and an almost guarantee to give you watery eyes.

    Worth seeing.

14. The Blind Side

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    Another pretty recent movie, and another based on a true story movie.

    Though in my honest opinion, the book by Michael Lewis was far better, Sandra Bullock was exceptional, and the movie was very well written, getting it a place on this list.

    Plus, even as an avid Redskins fan, I find myself cheering for the Ravens solely because of Oher.

13. Million Dollar Baby

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    Who would have thought that a woman boxing movie would have such success and beauty? And this isn't a sexist comment...I just challenge any of you out there to name me a woman boxer.

    Yet, Clint Eastwood, as director and actor, somehow managed to pull this off, with Morgan Freeman's unbelievably cool voice narrating and Hillary Swank acting in an amazing movie.

    It would have easily been placed higher if the story didn't overdo itself at the end, what with Hillary Swank's personal life interfering way to much with the original beauty of the movie.


12. He Got Game

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    Both Denzel's and Spike Lee's best movie: and, you know, neither really have a shabby resume.

    Add in the fact that somehow they made a professional basketball player with no acting resume whatsoever look that good, has to give the movie as a whole credit.

    Perhaps the all time best street ball movie.

11. The Karate Kid

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    I disliked the remake so much that for a while it even caused a dislike in the original. Luckily for me, and for this list, I just recently watched the original and remembered why I had loved it so much.

    No matter how cheesy it is at times, it remains the greatest martial art movie of all time, and probably will be for a while.

10. Miracle

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    Weirdly, I have almost never felt as much national pride as I did right after watching this movie. It's not even like I enjoy watching hockey; frankly, I don't find it very fun to watch at all.

    But it perfectly captured one of the greatest sport moments in our countries history, in a movie that no American can claim to dislike...

    The line that says it all: "I Play for the United States of America"

    Kind of like the movie, a simplistic line, but one that resonates in you for days to come.

9. The Sandlot

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    I remember watching it as a young kid, and thought all the children in the movie were so cool. And that's what made the movie special: it wasn't incredible written, the plot or acting wasn't phenomenal.

    It was just some kids playing some pick up baseball, not caring about anything else. And that's what made it so cool.

8. The Natural

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    Another movie where the character is just inexplicably cool, yet this is one with an also unbelievable acting group put together, and a story line made of gold.

    The Natural is about a baseball player with innate talent, yet his life puts him on a roller coaster as he struggles to become the best baseball player to ever be; something he knows he can do.

    An amazing movie.

7. Hoop Dreams

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    I'll say it and I'll say it again: Hoop Dreams is the best documentary of all time sports related.

    When it first came out, I was hesitant to see a three hour movie about two high school basketball players, but it quickly became one of my favorite movies of all time.

    Hoop Dreams perfectly captured the essence of hope.

6. Remember the Titans

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    One of the more powerful sports movies of all time. Another movie that caught Denzel Washington at his near best, as he plays the black coach, who faces high racism, trying to bring a divided team together.

    The last scene, the one where everyone is singing "na na na naa goodbyee" to their beloved teammate is something I will never forget.

    Same goes for when the one time enemies, the two star players, one of whom was black and the other white, call themselves brothers.

    And did I mention how good Denzel was?

5. Rudy

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    To any kid who's ever felt like he can't make it in his sport because of physical shortcomings: watch Rudy.

    Rudy is one of those movies I don't truly know why I like, but I end up watching it time and time again, loving it even more than the last time I did.

    Perhaps the ultimate feel good movie in the sports world, Rudy is one of those characters whom you feel like you know by the end of the movie.

    Even more than many other great sports movies, you will always find yourself cheering for Rudy. And you can almost always see some of yourself in him as well.

4. Raging Bull

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    If this was best sports movie story line of all time, it would take a lot from me not to award it to Raging Bull. An amazing story, with very, very good acting. Compelling and definitely emotional to watch.

    But the acting wasn't as good as it could have been at times, and, on a sports note (which is what this is about, really) it just wasn't as good as the next three.

    That isn't to say that it wasn't amazing. It's the fourth best sports movie of all time.

3. Field of Dreams

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    To anyone thinking of watching this movie, I suggest you don't read the plot or synopsis first. The idea of it all sounds more than a bit ridiculous: a man building a baseball field so for dead players? Doesn't really sound like the third best sports movie of all time.

    But the movie actually comes out as..beautiful. The idea that seems fantasy and messed up earlier ends up looking genius.

    It is a movie every single sports fan, hate or love baseball, should watch.

2. Rocky Series

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    I didn't have the heart to break it up into individual movies because, out of the first three, it's almost impossible to decipher which one is better.

    Thus, I compiled them all together into one big thing. Rocky is undoubtedly the greatest sports movie to ever have a sequel. By far the best...

    But I can't award any of the movies, or even all the movies together, as the best sports movie of all time...I just can't.

    Because that prestige award goes toooooooo

1. Hoosiers

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    The best sports movie of all time.

    It was almost too easy choosing it. It set the tone for almost all other basketball movies, and even many other sports movies, after it.

    It is the classic underdog story, even more so than "Rocky."

    The acting in it is beyond incredible, as are the lines and story.

    It will forever set the bar for best pump-up speech made by a coach in a sports movie.

    It will forever (well not forever, but you get what I mean) set the bar for best sports movie ever made.

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