The 35 Greatest Sports Films of All Time

Whether or not you’re athletic, most people can agree that sports movies can be pretty entertaining, from race tracks and ball fields to courts and rinks. For die-hard sports fans and causal viewers alike, the following sports movies stand out from the rest for their inspirational underdogs, dramatic true stories, and hard-earned victories. 

From basketball dream teams to Olympic medalists, here are some of cinema’s most popular sports films.

Raging Bull (1980)

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Considered to be one of the greatest pairs in the history of filmmaking, Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro’s partnership made Raging Bull reach new heights. The film follows the story of the boxer Jake La Mata, who gradually climbs up the boxing ranks and becomes the boxer to beat. This is a deeply layered story and Jake La Mota shows to the audience that ultimately we are fighting against ourselves.

Miracle (2004)

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With every great sports film there’s an even greater comeback story. This defines the movie, Miracle. Based on a true story, the film takes place in the 80s during the Cold War when the U.S. Olympic hockey team faced the Soviets to win the gold medal. Coached by Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), the U.S. wins the game in epic fashion and reinstalls hope in the nation during turbulent times.

Lords of Dogtown (2005)

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With a carefully selected cast and an authentic story, Lords of Dogtown introduces us to a world that was once foreign. The movie shines a light on the surf and skateboarding subculture that emerged in California during the 70’s. More specifically, the film is told through the eyes of the Zephyr skate team members who overcame many obstacles in order to raise the level of both sports. It is thanks to them that these sports are where they are now a days.

Green Street Hooligans (2005)

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The film is told through the point of view of a Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) who moves to London after being kicked out of Harvard. He is then introduced to the violent underworld of the soccer thugs also known as hooligans. This film is very authentic and it will make you want to know more sport and culture around it.

I, Tonya (2017)

Winner of one Academy Award, I, Tonya is one of the most extraordinary figure skating films ever made. It recounts the story of Tonya Harding as she rises amongst the ranks of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. But to make things harder, her husband’s persistes on intervening in her career until he ends up tarnishing it. This is a tragic tale that teaches us to be aware of who with associate ourselves with.

Point Break (1991)

Even though this might sound like a typical detective story, it’s not. Point Break, has a widely entertaining plot filled with thrills and spills. The plot follows a FBI agent who decides to go undercover to infiltrate a gang of extreme sports athletes who he suspects are behind a string of bank robberies. Even though the film doesn’t have much depth, it certainly doesn’t lack epic action scenes.

White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

White Men Can’t Jump stars Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, possibly the oddest, but greatest black and white duo ever. Foes at first, the duo later joins forces to win money on a street basketball tournament. Even though this film misses the chance to touch on racial commentary, it still provides a fresh take on the sports genre.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby is about a female boxer who trains hard to become a professional. At first sight, this movie may seem like another boxing movie, but it manages to avoid all cliches. With a phenomenal cast and world renowned actor/director, Clint Eastwood, this film delivers deep heartfelt scenes and highly emotional performances. It also teaches us the quality of modesty.

Ali (2001)

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Before the famous Oscar ceremony slap, Will Smith was known for his acting accomplishments. His outstanding performance in the biopic, Ali is one of his greatest accomplishments yet. This biopic explores the triumphs and controversies of the legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali. Ali, caters an emotional pull that compelled audiences and critics worldwide and the film stand the test of time.

Foxcatcher (2014)

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Nominated for 5 Oscars, Foxcatcher is an unusual biopic, packed with drama and self destructive behaviors. This biopic takes place in 1988 Olympic games, as the multi millionaire coach John du Pont (Steve Carell) trains the U.S wrestling team for the competition. This film reveals to us how a sense of entitlement can be detrimental to an individual.

A League of Their Own (1992)

With a phenomenal ensamble of actors, A Legue of Their Own is set during the WWII and follows a team o female professional baseball players who struggle to succeed. Set in a unique moment in history, with A-list actors casted and no special effects, this film went on to make $105.1M in profit worldwide. This proves that successful films can also be “simple”.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans is a modern classic. It showcases one of Denzel Washington’s most iconic performances. He interprets the role of Virginia’s High School football coach Herman Boone who is Its an inspiring football drama with a healthy dose of social criticism. Based on a true story, this film defines the true nature of overcoming adversity.

Senna (2011)

This documentary invites us to took a closer look into the life of one of Brazil’s most beloved heroes, Ayrton Senna. He was a formula one driver who was obsessed with winning and pushing his limits. Packed with dramatic and inspirational moments, Senna will take you through a roller coaster of emotions. It’s tragic yet heartwarming.

Free Solo (2018)

Also a documentary, Free Solo you’ll keep you at the edge of your seat as your heart pounds. We follow Alex Honnold as he free solo climbs the 3,000 ft vertical rock wall of Yosemite National Park. Alex, shows us that hard work and talent go hand in hand. It’s also a study of what humans can accomplish if they put their heart, body and mind into something.

The Wrestler (2008)

With a perfomance of a lifetime, Mickey Rourke shows us that fighters can act too. The Wrestler, is a story of an aging wrestler who is caught between two tough choices in life; does he give his last shoot in the ring or tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter? It’s a richly affecting and deeply emotional film. There’s a good chance you might be crying as the credits roll down the screen.

Cool Runnings (1993)

Rising above the sports genre, Cool Runnings is a lightly humored film. The story centers around the Jamaican bobsled team as they seek to achieve glory during the winter Olympics. Differently from other films of this genre, this is a warmly funny film that proves that not all sports films need to be formulaic. It’s impressive how the Jamaicans can break the mold in all senses.

Rocky (1976)

Before Sylvester Stallone became who he is, he played the role of Rocky Balboa in the movie Rocky. Rocky Balboa, is amateur boxer who by chance gets an opportunity to fight the boxing champion. Although it may seem we’ve seen it before, this movie is emotionally deep. It deals with sacrifices and what it takes to achieve the “American Dream”. This movie goes beyond boxing.

Rush (2013)

Besides being an exhilarating race-car film, Rush provides a strong acting performance from Chris Hemsworth. This film takes place in the 70s where Formula One driver James Hunt and Niki Lauda battle each other for the podiums. Packed with thrilling race scenes and adrenaline fueled moments, this film makes us care about Formula One even if we never did.

Moneyball (2011)

Based on true events, Moneyball takes place during the ups and downs of the baseball season in 2002. Faced with a lean budget, Oakland’s baseball general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), decides to use an untraditional method to scout and acquire new players and succesfully executes it. This film teaches us that innovation and creative problem solving are great skills to posses.

Hoop Dreams (1994)

When talking about talent, resilience and perseverance. There’s no other guys that defines these words better than the two inner-city Chicago boys from Hoop Dreams. The film follow the lives of these boys as they face numerous adversities to become professional basketball players. This movie reiterates the idea that you are in control of your own fate.

Hoosiers (1986)

Turner Classic Movies

Creed (2015)

Rudy (1993)


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