Football is a widely loved sport and for that reason, several film genres have been made featuring football ranging from high school, college, comedy, kids, and inspirational. These best football movies are great to watch any time of the year, but more so around the Super Bowl season.
For the Super Bowl fans out there, we’ve done the hard work for you by compiling this list of the best gridiron films ever made. Grab some popcorns and enjoy!
Best Football Movies Reviews
1. The Longest Yard (1974)
The Longest Yard is a 1974 American prison sports comedy film directed by Robert Aldrich, written by Tracy Keenan Wynn, and based on a story by producer Albert S. Ruddy.
The story is about the life of a former NFL player – Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds), who recruits a group of inmates to play football against their guards. It makes references to real-life football legends such as Ray Nitschke (Green Bay Packers).
Interwoven into the football movie are political themes exploring the effects of a totalitarian authority – represented by the warden Rudolph Hazen (Eddie Albert).
|Golden Globe Award for Best Motions Picture||Won|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Actor||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Film Editing||Nominated|
2. North Dallas Forty (1979)
North Dallas Forty seeks to portray the sordid and often depressing side of American professional football around the late 1970s using a satirical tone. The film is based on the best-selling novel by a former NFL player, Peter Gent.
At the time, the movie was praised for its realistic portrayal of life in the locker room and on the gridiron – which is more primitive than the NFL we know today. The details include single-bar helmet face masks, grass fields that become mud pits at the first sign of rain, and the players’ modest existence and their drug use.
Nowadays although many positive changes have occurred – including better financial compensation and better protective equipment, North Dallas Forty can still be embraced as there is still room for improvement.
3. All the Right Moves (1983)
Stefan Djordjevic (Tom Cruise) is a Serbian American high school student who excels at both sports and academics. Hoping to find a better life away from his small town of Ampipe and having to work a dead-end job at the local mill like his father and brother, Stef is seeking a college football scholarship.
While playing for his school’s football team, Stef makes a mistake that leads to the rival school’s victory. In the locker room, he argues with coach Nickerson (Craig T. Nelson) and ends up getting kicked off the team and blacklisted from receiving college scholarships.
With so many odds laid against him, Stef needs to fight for a chance to live out his life-long dream. You’ll love watching this college football movie.
|Duration||1 hour 31 minutes|
|Studio||20th Century Fox|
4. Rudy (1993)
Rudy is an American football movie inspired by the life of Daniel Ruettiger – who overcame many hardships to eventually play football for the University of Notre Dame.
Daniel Eugene, also known as Rudy (Sean Astin) – has long harbored a dream of playing football for Notre Dame but lacks the grades and funds, and is even told by the groundskeeper Fortune that he hasn’t got the athletic build for the sport.
After two years of studying and working at the stadium, he gets accepted to Notre Dame University and attends try-outs hoping to make it to the football team. Once a team member, Rudy still needs to work hard to convince the coaches to let him play on the field.
Astin’s performance in this film as a dogged kid that persists despite many obstacles thrown his way is compelling.
|Duration||1 hour 53 minutes|
|ESPN 25 Best Sports Movies of the Previous 25 Years||Won|
|AFI 100 Years – ranked 54th||Won|
5. Little Giants (1994)
Little Giants is an American family sports comedy film starring Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill as brothers living in a small town in Ohio as they coach rival football teams.
Danny has always felt somewhat inferior to his brother – who is a local football hero and now coaching the local ‘Pee-Wee Cowboys’ football team.
As Danny’s daughter – Becky and her teammates are eliminated from try-outs, she convinces her dad to start a rival team against her uncle. Seeing this as a chance to prove his worth, Danny gathers his own football team named ‘Little Giants’ and trains towards the playoff game to determine who’s going to represent Urbania.
|Duration||1 hour 45 minutes|
|Genre||Kids and Family, Comedy|
|Studio||Warner Brothers, Amblin Entertainment|
6. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Jerry Maguire is an American romantic comedy-drama sports film starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renee Zellweger, and Regina King.
Maguire is a 35-year-old sports agent who is experiencing a midlife crisis and afterward writes a memo about the perceived dishonesty in the sports management business and his wanting to work with fewer clients for better results.
As the memo is circled around the company, Jerry gets fired and ventures to start his own management firm, with only one other employee – a single mother named Dorothy.
|Duration||2 hours 18 minutes|
|Academy Award for Best Picture||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Actor||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|Golden Globe for Best Actor||Won|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Won|
7. The Waterboy (1998)
The Waterboy is an American sports comedy film starring Adam Sandler. The film was very profitable – earning nearly 39.5 million USD in its first opening weekend in the United States.
Robert Boucher, aka Bobby, is a stuttering 31-year-old waterboy for the University of Louisiana football team and is slightly mentally challenged who lives with an overprotective mom.
When the coach named Beaulieu fires him, Bobby goes on to work for the rival football team called Mud Dogs. There he is teased by the team members – which leads to Bobby knocking out the team’s quarterback.
Coach Klein sees potential in Bobby and decides to take him in as a linebacker.
|Duration||1 hours 28 minutes|
8. Varsity Blues (1999)
Varsity Blues is a coming-of-age sports comedy football movie that follows a small-town high school team as they deal with an overbearing coach through an eventful season.
Jonathan Moxon, aka Mox – is a backup quarterback for the West Canaan high school football team. He at the same time excels at school and – although receives high expectations from his dad and coach, has callings other than football to pursue.
As the main quarterback is injured, Mox is thrown to the spotlight. In the movie, we observe the players as they navigate their ways through the pressures of adolescence and their local community who is obsessed with football.
9. Remember the Titans (2000)
Remember the Titans is an American biographical sports film based on the true story of the African-American coach, Herman Boone – portrayed by Denzel Washington. The film is listed among the best football films.
The main theme running through the movie is racial harmony. Set in Alexandra, Virginia in 1971 where high school football is highly regarded among the local community, the movie starts with Boone – an African American trainer hired to coach the school’s football team.
The decision by the school board to integrate black and white players puts the very foundation of football at the time to the test. The film is considered one of the best football movies that incorporate an important social message.
Remember the Titians is packed with action and emotions. You’re going to love watching this high school football movie.
|Duration||1 hours 28 minutes|
10. The Replacements (2000)
The Replacements is an American sports comedy film starring Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, and Brooke Langton.
The film revolves around a professional football league – Washington Sentinels whose players go on strike while the season still hasn’t finished. The owner – Edward O’ Neil asks a former coach – Jimmy McGinty to help the team win by recruiting replacement players in just one week.
Shane Falco and other new recruits see this as their second chance at football success.
|Duration||1 hour 58 minutes|
11. Friday Night Lights (2004)
Friday Night Lights is an American sports drama film about the life of a coach and his players of a high school football team in a football-obsessed town of Odessa, Texas. It is based on a book titled ‘Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream’ by H. G. Bissinger.
The movie is about the Permian high school football team as pre-season practice begins in August 1988. Bobbie Miles – the star tailback – suffers a serious knee injury during the first game leading to losses, after which many of the town’s problems start to emerge.
The coach Gary Gaines needs to bring back inspiration for the team members and even the town itself.
|Duration||1 hour 57 minutes|
|Best Sports Movie ESPY Award||Won|
|Entertainment Weekly – Best High School Movies||Nominated|
12. We Are Marshall (2006)
We Are Marshall is an American historical biopic film that depicts the horrific 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people, 35 of whom are football players and other team members of the Marshall university team called Thundering Herd.
Things are looking bleak for the football program when Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) is hired in 1971 – determined to rebuild the football team and heal the grieving community in the process.
The film is considered one of the best football movies as it chronicles a tragic incident of American football history and at the same time tries to provide some closure for the victims’ families.
|Duration||2 hours 7 minutes|
|Studio||Thunder Road Productions|
13. Invincible (2006)
Invincible is a sports underdog film based on the true story of Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) – who is a former professional American football player who played 3 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles in the National Football League.
Papale is a 30-year-old substitute teacher and part-time bartender in Philadelphia when protests shut down several job sites and leave him unemployed. Desperate for funds, he is encouraged to attend the try-outs for the local football team and ends up being selected.
The rest are the ensuing events of the oldest rookie in NFL history who never played football in college.
14. The Game Plan (2007)
The Game Plan is an American family comedy film starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as a professional quarterback who finds out that he has an 8-year-old daughter from his previous relationship.
Joe Kingman (The Rock) seems to have it all as he is at the prime of his career – living a wealthy and carefree life as his football team is well on its way to capture the championship.
Out of a sudden, a young girl appears who claims to be his daughter. Joe now needs to strike a difficult balance between his career commitments and his personal life needing to care for a young child.
15. The Express (2008)
The Express is an American sports film whose screenplay is based on a 1983 book ‘Ernie Davis: The Elmira Express’ by Robert C. Gallagher. The themes explored include civil rights, racism, discrimination, and athletics.
Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) is a young African American growing up in Pennsylvania with his uncle and extended family in the late 1940s. His mother then remarries and is financially able enough to enroll Ernie at a school in Elmira, New York.
In Elmira, Ernie excels in football and later gets accepted into the Syracuse University football team. There Ernie works hard to become one of the school’s best players. Later on in the movie, another ordeal strikes him by surprise.
16. Leatherheads (2008)
Leatherheads is a sports comedy film directed and starring George Clooney about the early years of professional American football.
Dodge Connolly (George Clooney) is the captain of a 1920s football team named Duluth Bulldogs as they are having a tough time. Wanting to rejuvenate the team and pro football in general, Dodge hires Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski) – whose heroic past, speed, and good lucks help Bulldogs regain their fans.
An interesting turn of events occurs as a newswoman named Lexie Littleton (Renee Zellweger) starts digging dirt on Carter.
|Duration||1 hour 54 minutes|
|Studio||Casey Silver Productions|
17. The Blind Side (2009)
The Blind Side is an American biographical sports drama film based on the 2006 book ‘The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game’ by Michael Lewis.
Michael Oher has a difficult upbringing as he is rotated through different foster care centers because his mother is a drug addict. While at the local school, Michael meets Leigh Anne Touhy and her husband Sean – who later decide to take him in and become his legal guardians.
Thanks to the help of the Touhy family and a kind tutor, Michael realizes his own protective instincts and learns to apply his strengths in playing football, as well as improves his academic performance.
For more movies featuring the lives of African Americans, check out our review of hair movies!
|Academy Award for Best Picture||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Actress||Won|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Actress||Won|
|People’s Choice Award for Favorite Movie Actress||Won|
|Teen Choice Award for Best Drama||Won|
|ESPY Award for Best Sports Movie||Won|
18. Undefeated (2011)
Undefeated is an American documentary film that documents the struggles of a high school football team – the Manassas Tigers of Memphis.
Since its founding in 1899, the football team of Manassas high school in North Memphis has never won a playoff game for roughly 110 years.
In 2009, hoping for a change of events, coach Bill Courtney puts in the efforts and builds up the players’ both physical and emotional strengths.
|Duration||1 hour 53 minutes|
|Director||Dan Lindsay, T.J. Martin|
|Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for One of the Best Football Movies||Won|
19. Draft Day (2014)
Draft Day is an American sports drama film starring Kevin Costner. The film revolves around a fictional general manager of the Cleveland Browns as he contemplates his next moves in the upcoming National Football League draft.
Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) is experiencing a stressful month as the NFL draft is drawing near and he is still undecided about which player to choose. Added to the tension are happenings that occur in his personal life: grief over the recent passing of his father, and the revelation that his girlfriend Ali is pregnant.
|Duration||1 hour 49 minutes|
|Studio||Montecito Picture Company|
20. Concussion (2015)
Concussion is a biographical sports drama film based on the expose ‘Game Brain’ by Jeanne Marie Laskas published in 2009. Set in the year 2002, the movie follows Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) – a forensic pathologist as he uncovers chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and fights against NFL as they try to brush his research under the carpet.
The movie starts with the case of Mike Webster – a former Steelers center as he is found dead in his pickup truck. Dr. Omalu finds evidence of brain trauma and terms it CTE as well as publishes his findings in a medical journal.
Despite efforts by the NFL to rebuke his work, Dr. Omalu begins a tireless fight to raise public awareness about the dangers of football-related head trauma.
The movie is praised to be one of the best football movies for daring to talk about a topic commonly avoided by the NFL at the time.
|Duration||2 hours 1 minute|
|Studio||The Cantillon Company, Scott Free Productions|
|African-American Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor||Won|
|Black Reel Awards||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Actor||Nominated|
|Hollywood Film Award for Actor of the Year||Won|
|MTV Movie Award for Best Male Performance||Nominated|
|Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards||Won|
FAQs – Best Football Movies
The main theme throughout the movie is the idea of ‘friendship can overcome prejudice’. At the start, the black and white players don’t see eye to eye on many issues. However, towards the end of the movie, they start bonding, become good friends, and win the game.
The Blind Side is based on a real-life story of Michael Oher and his adoptive family, the Tuohys.
The Replacements is loosely based on the 1987 NFL strike of the Washington Redskins – who won all three games with replacement players and went on to win the Super Bowl XXII.
Filming took place at the Georgia State prison in Reidsville, Georgia. This iconic movie is considered one of the best football movies ever made.
Some of the best football movies on Netflix right now are The 4th Company (2016), Career High (2015), Concussion (2015), and Facing the Giants (2006).
Best Football Movies Conclusion
Yay! You’ve made it! That’s all we have for the best football movies we’d recommend you check out. Hopefully, you’ve found one, two, or even more films you particularly like. Feel free to browse our website for more awesome movie deals and reviews!