You know that feeling you get when your favorite team scores that final goal at the last second? Multiply that by a thousand and you will know the feeling people get watching a sports movie. These movies eschew the old "It's just a game" adage and show how sports can teach people about teamwork, friendship, determination, and more. For this reason, people find sports films to be a particularly inspiring genre. Movies regarding athletic achievement detail the exploits of people we could only ever dream of emulating. There are some sports movies everyone should watch, regardless of your interest in football, hockey, baseball, and the like.
Essential sports movies usually show how games and athletics can represent so much more to the characters, which is why they're popular with mainstream audiences in addition to rabid sports fans. Famous films like Rocky and Rudy are all about determination. Hoosiers explores life in Small Town, America. Field of Dreams is all about the fraught nature of parent/child relationships and A League of Their Own is a seemingly eternally relevant film about women trying to navigate a traditionally masculine arena. If you're unfamiliar with sports films, these sports films for beginners should familiarize you with the tropes and conventions commonly found in the genre.
If you're new to the genre, you can consider this list an intro to sports movies. Check out these must-see sports movies below and vote your favorites to the top of the list.
Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. The film was conceived and produced by David Puttnam, written by Colin Welland, and directed by Hugh Hudson. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay. It is ranked 19th in the British Film Institute's list of Top 100 British films. The film is also notable for its memorable instrumental theme tune by Vangelis, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Score. The film's ...more on Wikipedia
Actors: Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm, John Gielgud, Richard Griffiths, + more
Initial Release: 1981
Directed by: Hugh Hudson
Miracle is a 2004 American sports docudrama about the United States men's hockey team, led by head coach Herb Brooks, that won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The USA team's victory over the heavily favored Soviet team in the medal round was dubbed the Miracle on Ice. Miracle was directed by Gavin O'Connor and written by Eric Guggenheim. ...more on Wikipedia
Actors: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Dryden, Eddie Cahill, Al Michaels, + more
Initial Release: 2004
Directed by: Gavin O'Connor
Hoosiers is a 1986 sports film written by Angelo Pizzo and directed by David Anspaugh. It tells the story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that wins the state championship. It is loosely based on the Milan High School team that won the 1954 state championship. Gene Hackman stars as Norman Dale, a new coach with a spotty past. The film co-stars Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper, whose role as the basketball-loving town drunk earned him an Oscar nomination. Jerry Goldsmith was also nominated for an Academy Award for his score. ...more on Wikipedia
Actors: Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey, Chelcie Ross, Robert Swan, + more
Initial Release: 1986
Directed by: David Anspaugh
#7 on The Best Movies of 1986
Blue Chips is a 1994 basketball drama film, directed by William Friedkin, written by Ron Shelton and starring Nick Nolte as a college coach and real-life basketball stars Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway as talented finds. It features cameos from noted basketball figures Bob Knight, Rick Pitino, Nolan Richardson, Bob Cousy, Larry Bird, Jerry Tarkanian, Matt Painter, Allan Houston, Dick Vitale and Jim Boeheim, as well as Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr. ...more on Wikipedia
Actors: Shaquille O'Neal, Larry Bird, Kevin Garnett, Nick Nolte, Jim Caviezel, + more
Initial Release: 1994
Directed by: William Friedkin
#90 on Movies Turning 25 in 2019
#77 on The Best Movies of 1994