Sports has gone from just being recreational activities to be a unifying factor for people regardless of their race, religion, and gender. Hence, it is no surprise that even in the world of movies we have a genre named after it.
In light of that, we bring you a review of the 30 best sports movies of all time. These movies cut across different sports from football movies, baseball movies, basketball movies, skateboard movies, gymnastic movies, soccer movies to wrestling, etc. Fasten your seat belts cause you’re in for a fun ride.
Review of the Greatest Sports Movies
1. Shaolin Soccer (2001)
This definitely has to be one of the most hilarious sports movies ever made but in spite of that, it is emotionally stimulating while mixing the richness of martial art with soccer.
Sing, the movie’s soccer star, seeks to promote Shaolin’s Kung Fu to the modern world, and while on this quest, he meets Fung, a former soccer legend. Fung encourages Sing to play soccer and offers to coach him.
Afterward, Sing recruits his former Shaolin brothers to be part of his squad under Fung’s mentorship so they can participate in the soccer tournament.
Sing meets Mui, a baker who has Kung Fu skills unknown to him and also becomes his love interest. Mui’s Kung Fu skill remains unknown to him till his team reaches the final of the soccer tournament and have to battle a team of scientifically enhanced Kung Fu players led by Fung’s arch-enemy.
Shaolin Soccer is a comedy sport action-packed movie with an emphasis on loyalty, friendship, and determination. It remains one of the greatest sports movies of all time and also one of the highest-grossing movies ever from Asia.
- Cast: Zhao Wei, Ng Man-tat, Patrick Tse, Danny Chan Kwok-kwan
- Box Office: $42.8 million
- Genre: Acton sports comedy
|Blue Ribbon||2003||Best Foreign Language Film|
|Golden Bauhinia||2002||Best Director – Stephen Chow|
|Golden Horse Award||2001||Best Visual Effects|
2. Bend it like Beckham (2002)
This romantic comedy movie is set in London, and it tells the story of a young Indian girl, Jess, who loves to play soccer. However, her traditional Indian parents want her to do what every other girl does; cook and get married.
They forbid Jess from playing soccer and she is torn between her love for football and her obligation to her parents. With no one to talk to, she confides in the picture of David Beckham hanging on the wall in her room.
Fortunately, she meets Jules who encourages her to try out for the local women’s football team and also introduces her to the local coach, Joe who later becomes Jess’ love interest much later in the movie
Bend it like Beckham is one of the great sports movies with an amazing plot and a strong emphasis on feminism. It changes the narrative of the stereotypical view that women can pursue a dream in soccer instead of centering their lives around getting married and making good wives. Bend it Like Beckham is available on this movie site at amazing discount deals.
- Cast: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightly, Jonathan Rhys Meyer, Anupam Kher
- Box Office: $76.6 Million
- Genre: Romantic sports comedy
|Bordeaux International Festival of Women in Cinema||2002||Audience Award- Gurinder Chadha|
|British Comedy Awards||2002||Best Comedy Film|
|Bordeaux International Festival of Women in Cinema||2002||Special Jury Award|
3. Ali (2001)
Co-written, produced, and directed by Michael Mann, this sports movie focuses on the true story of the boxer Muhammad Ali, between the years of 1964 and 1974.
The movie opens with Cassius Clay Jr. preparing for his championship debut against the-heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Clay dominates the fight and Liston quits before round seven, making Clay the second-youngest heavyweight champion after Floyd Patterson.
Afterward, we see Clay spending time with Malcolm X after which he is invited to the home of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, During this meeting with the Islam leader, he is given the name Muhammad Ali.
Clay’s father doesn’t approve of his christening but Clay has no problem with it. He goes ahead to marry Sonji Roi who is not a Muslim. Later on, he travels to Africa to spend time with Malcolm X. Upon his arrival, Elijah Muhammed Ali instructs him to cut off communication with Malcolm X. Ali obeys but shortly after Malcolm X is assassinated and Ali is devastated.
Upon returning to America, Ali divorces Sonji cause she refuses to adhere to Muslim laws. He marries someone else and later loses his boxing license, passport, title, and sentenced to 5 years in prison because he refused to be conscripted into the army for the Vietnam war. After three years he is released and he begins the journey to reclaiming his title.
The consensus about the movie on Rotten Tomatoes is “Though perhaps no film could fully do justice to the fascinating life and personality of Muhammad Ali, Mann’s direction and Smith’s performance combine to pack a solid punch.” It is indeed one of the greatest sports movies ever.
- Cast: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Mario Van Peebles
- Box Office: $87.7 million
- Genre: Biographical sports drama
|BET Awards||2002||Best Actor – Will Smith|
|Black Reel Awards||2002||Best Supporting actor – Jamie Foxx|
|Image Awards (NAACP)||2002||Best Motion Picture|
4. The Karate Kid (2010)
This sports movie has 12-year-old Dre Parker as the hero. Dre and his mum Sherry move from Detroit to Beijing cause Sherry got a transfer at work. In Beijing, Dre eyes Meiying, a young violinist who is also attracted to him but a certain Chinese boy named Cheng keeps them apart by constantly bullying Dre.
One day, Dre stands up to Cheng and his friends by throwing a bucket of water over them. Enraged by Dre’s audacity, Cheng and his friends beat him up without mercy until he is saved by Mr. Han who is actually a Kung Fu master.
Mr. Han heals Dre’s injuries with ancient Chinese medicine and he also informs Dre that Cheng and his friend are not so bad but they’ve learned to show no mercy from their teacher, Master Li.
Dre implores Han to train him in Kung Fu but the latter refuses. Instead, he takes Dre to Master Li’s studio to make peace with his students. Master Li rejects the peace offer and instead challenges Dre to a fight with Cheng.
As a result, Mr Han agrees to coach Dre in preparation for the challenge. Hence, Dre’s journey into the world of Kung Fu begins.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave The Karate Kid a positive review, rating the film three and a half out of four stars, and calling it “a lovely and well-made film that stands on its own feet.” It is indeed of the best recent sports movie.
- Cast: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson, Wenwen Han
- Box Office: $359 million
- Genre: Martial arts drama
|ASCAP Awards||2011||Top Box Office Films|
|BET Awards||2011||Best Actress – Taraji P Henson|
|Kids Choice Awards||2011||Favorite Movie|
5. Raging bull (1980)
Directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by Robert Chartoff, this top-rated sports film tells the true story of Jake LaMotta, an Italian American middleweight boxer who is overly jealous and has a terrible temper.
Jake’s obsessive behavior goes on to affect his relationship with his wife, his brother and at the end of the day, it also has an adverse effect on his boxing career as well.
The movie opens in 1941 when Jake has a boxing match against Jimmy Reeves and he suffers his first loss in his career. A while later, Jake spots a 15-year-old girl named Vickie and he pursues a relationship with her even though he is already married.
In 1945, Jake marries Vickie but he constantly worries about Vickie having feelings for other men, particularly when she makes an off-hand comment about Tony Janiro, Jake’s opponent in his next fight.
Fueled by this anger, Jake brutally defeats Janiro. As Joey discusses the victory with journalists he is distracted when he sees Vickie approach a table with Salvy and his crew.
Vickie is disgusted by Jake’s constant jealousy and rage, so she informs Joey, Jake’s brother, that she is getting tired of their marriage.
Later on, Jake accuses Vickie of having a relationship with Joey, he beats up Joey hence, their relationship crumbles. From this point, Jake’s boxing career begins to decline and he eventually loses his title to Sugar Ray Robinson in their final encounter in 1951.
The consensus about this top sports movie is “Arguably Martin Scorsese’s and Robert De Niro’s finest film, Raging Bull is often painful to watch, but it’s a searing, powerful work about an unsympathetic hero.”
- Cast: Roberto De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
- Box Office: $23.4 million
- Genre: Biographical sports Drama
|Academy Awards, USA (Oscars)||1981||Best Actor in Leading Role – Robert De Niro|
|Academy Awards, USA (Oscars)||1981||Best Film Editing – Thelma Schoonmaker|
|Academy Awards, USA (Oscars)||1981||Best Actor in Supporting Role – Joe Pesci|
6. Love and Basketball (2000)
Love and Basketball is one of the top-rated sports movies and it tells the story of Monica Wright and Quincy Mccall, two high school teenagers with dreams of becoming professional basketballers. The movie opens in 1981 with Monica’s family moving next door to Quincy’s family in Los Angeles.
Almost immediately, Monica and Quincy are drawn to each other because of their love for basketball. Quincy is surprised that a girl loves basketball as much as he does and he is in fact angered when Monica beats him at their first one-on-one game.
As a result, a short rivalry ensues between both of them but it is quickly dispelled when their mothers intervene. Before we know it, Quincy and Monica fall in love and soon they share their first kiss.
Later on, they both go on to become the irrespective leaders of their high school basketball teams. Quincy becomes extremely popular with the girls in school while Monica still secretly harbors feelings for him.
Monica leads her team to the championship games, they perform below expectations, and she is devastated. In order to help her recover from the loss, Lena, Monica’s elder sister, finds Monica a college friend to take her to spring dance.
Despite having his own date, Quincy notices Monica at the dance. Later that night they both speak outside Monica’s window and they both reveal that they have both been accepted into college. They celebrate with a kiss and this leads to them having sex for the first time. They go ahead to college and try to manage being students, athletes, and a couple as well.
Film reviewer Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave Love & Basketball an A- review. She enjoyed how the film portrayed women’s sports in general and says “The speed and wiliness of the game itself ensure that movies about men who shoot hoops are exciting, but the novelty of watching women bring their own physical grace to the contest is a turn-on.”
- Cast: Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Heysbert
- Box Office: $27.7 million
- Genre: Romantic sports drama
|BET Awards||2011||Best Actress – Sanaa Lathan|
|Black Reel Awards||2001||Best Director – Gina Prince- Bythewood|
|Black Reel Awards||2001||Best Actor – Omar Epps|
7. Rocky (1976)
Starring Sylvester Stallone, this is one of the best sports movies of all time and it tells the rags to riches story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated but kind-hearted Italian-American boxer.
The story opens in 1975 with heavyweight boxing champion, Apollo Creed announcing plans to hold a title bout in Philadelphia. Five weeks before the fight he is informed that his scheduled opponent will be unavailable for the fight because he has an injured arm.
Hence, Creed decides to spice things up by giving a local contender a chance to be his opponent. Rocky Balboa, a southpaw boxer who works as a collector for a loan shark, is chosen as Creed’s new opponent.
Rocky agrees to be paid $150,000 for the fight and begins to undergo training in preparation for the fight.
Mickey Goldmill, a former bantamweight fighter turned trainer and whose gym Rocky frequents, approaches Rocky with the offer to train him for the fight. Rocky is reluctant at first but eventually, he accepts the offer.
While preparing for the fight, Rocky begins a romantic relationship with Adrian Pennino. The night before the fight, Rocky begins to lose confidence and doubts if he will win the fight. At the end of the day, the fight turns in a way nobody expected.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the movie 4 out of 4 stars and said that Stallone reminded him of “the young Marlon Brando. Also, in 2006, Rocky was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
- Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers
- Box Office: $225 million
- Genre: Sports drama film
|Academy Awards, USA (Oscars)||1977||Best Picture – Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff|
|Academy Awards, USA (Oscars)||1977||Best Director – John G. Avildsen|
|Academy Awards, USA (Oscars)||1977||Best Actor in Leading Role – Sylvester Stallone|
8. Moneyball (2011)
This baseball film was directed by Bennett Miller and written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. It is based on Michael Lewis’s 2003 non-fiction book of the same name.
Billy Beane is the manager of the Oakland Athletics, and he is saddened by the team’s loss to the New York Yankees in the 2001 American League Division Series.
As if that is not enough, his best players are frequently poached by wealthier clubs and as a result, his club is nicknamed “organ donors to the rich”
Thankfully, he meets Peter Brand, a young Yale economics graduate with unconventional ideas about how to assess a player’s value. Billy hires Brand as his Assistant General Manager and with Brand’s insight, he is able to turn things around for the club.
Film critic Roger Ebert praised the film for its “intelligence and depth”, specifically highlighting the screenplay and its “terse, brainy dialogue. Moneyball is a great sports movie and it is only fair that it makes the sports movies list.
- Cast: [Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Robin Wright]
- Box Office: $110.2 million
- Genre: Biographical sports drama film
|AFI Awards||2012||Movie of the Year|
|AAFCA Awards||2011||Best Song – Jason Reeves and Lenka|
|Boston Society of Film Critic Awards||2011||Best Actor – Brad Pitt|
9. Miracle (2004)
Starring Kurt Russell and Indeed one of the greatest sports movies, Miracle follows the true story of the United States men’s ice hockey team, led by head coach Herb Brooks, that won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
The movie opens with Herb Brooks, ice hockey coach of Minnesota being interviewed by the United States Olympic Committee for the role of the coach for the national team.
During his interview, Brooks calls for changes in the practice schedule and strategy and also shares his philosophy on how to beat the much respected Soviet Union team. He gets the job.
Brooks selects a preliminary roster of 26 players and during the initial practice, tempers flare as long time college rivals Rob McClanahan and Jack O’Callahan get into a fight.
Brooks rebukes them and urges the players to let go of old rivalries and work as a team. Afterward, he tells them to introduce themselves and every player goes ahead to tell their name, hometown, and the team they play for.
Later on, Brooks cuts down the team to 20 and the players begin to worry about being cut at any time.
Eventually, Brooks is able to get all the players to see the US national team as a family which they must represent well. He pushes them way past their limitations and they emerge champions at the Olympics.
As of January 2017 Miracle was rated the number two sports movie of all time with a rating of 8.85 out of 10 in the ongoing poll at Sports In Movies, after maintaining the number one spot for several years.
- Cast Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich
- Box Office: $64.5 million
- Genre: Sports film
|AARP Movies for Grownups Awards||2005||Best Intergenerational Film|
|ESPY Awards||2004||Best Sports movie|
10. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
This sports movie follows the story of 33-year-old Margaret (popularly known as Maggie), a waitress from town in Missouri. Maggie shows up at the Hit Pit, a run-down Los Angeles gym owned and operated by Frankie Dunn, a boxing trainer. Maggie implores Frankie to train her, but he refuses.
Not deterred by his response, Maggie works out at the gym every day, even after Frankie says she’s “too old” to begin a boxing career. On the other hand, Maggie is encouraged by Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris, Frankie’s friend and employee.
A while later, Frankie’s star trainee, Big Willie, signs with successful manager Mickey Mack because Frankie kept rejecting offers for a championship bout. With no trainee left under his care, Frankie reluctantly agrees to train Maggie however he insists that he will only teach her the basics and then find her a manager.
Hence, Maggie’s journey into the world of boxing begins.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film four stars and stated that “Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby is a masterpiece, pure and simple,” listing it as the best film of 2004. If Roger Ebert says it’s a great film then indeed it is one of the great sports movie out there.
- Cast [Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel]
- Box Office: $216.8 million
- Genre: Sports drama film
|Academy Awards USA (Oscars)||2005||Motion Picture of the Year|
|Academy Awards USA (Oscars)||2005||Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role|
|Academy Awards USA (Oscars)||2005||Best Acting by an actor in a Supporting Role|
11. Hoosiers (1986)
Hoosiers is a great sports movie very loosely based on the story of the 1954 Indiana state champions, Milan High School. The story begins in 1951 with Norman Dale arriving in Hickory, Indiana.
Dale has just been hired by his old friend, high school principal Cletus Summers, as the civics and history teacher and also as head basketball coach. Dale is grateful for the opportunity and mentions off-hand that he hopes things will work out for him this time.
The people of Hickory are very passionate about basketball hence they were devastated when Hickory High School’s best player, Jimmy Chitwood, left the team to focus on schoolwork and also mourn the death of the previous coach.
At the first practice, Dale dismisses a player named Buddy for rudeness. As a result, another play, Whit walks out of the practice in anger. Dale is left with the other players, Rade, Merle, Everett, Strap, and manager Ollie.
Even though the players are not familiar with Dale’s strategy and tactics they go ahead to win the 1952 state championship under his leadership.
In the words of Roger Ebert, Hoosiers is a “movie that is all heart.”
- Cast: Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Hopper
- Box Office: $28.6 million
- Genre: Sports film
|Heartland International Film Festival||1986||Special Achievement Award David Anspaugh, Angelo Pizzo|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award||1976||Best Supporting Award – Dennis Hooper|
12. Field of Dreams (1989)
Field of Dreams is one of the top sports movies and it is centred on Ray Kinsella who lives with his wife, Annie, and a daughter, on their Iowa corn farm. He is dissatisfied with the relationship he had with his late father, John Kinsella, a devoted baseball fan and we discover this early in the film.
One evening while walking through his corn farm he hears a voice whisper “If you build it, he will come” and also sees a vision of a baseball diamond in his field and the great Shoeless Joe Jackson (an American outfielder who played Major League Baseball (MLB) in the early 1900s)
Encouraged by his wife, Ray decides to actually build the baseball field in hopes that Joe Jackson will actually play on it.
In order to build the baseball field, Ray travels to Boston so that he can enlist the support of a famous writer (James Earl Jones) who has disappeared from sight, and north to Minnesota to talk to what remains of a doctor (Burt Lancaster) who never got the chance to play with the pros.
Caryn James of The New York Times had this to say about the movie “A work so smartly written, so beautifully filmed, so perfectly acted, that it does the almost impossible trick of turning sentimentality into true emotion”.
- Cast: Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta
- Box Office: $84.4 million
- Genre: Sports fantasy drama
|Awards of the Japanese Academy||1991||Best Foreign Film|
|Blue Ribbon Award||1991||Best Foreign Language Film|
|Hochi Film Awards||1990||Best Foreign Language Film|
13. Bull Durham (1988)
This old sports movie is partly based on the minor-league baseball experiences of writer/director Ron Shelton and depicts the players and fans of the Durham Bulls, a minor-league baseball team in Durham, North Carolina.
The film stars Kevin Costner who plays the role of Crash, a veteran baseball catcher who is brought in to train Ebby, a hotshot rookie pitcher.
Both men get off to a rocky start. As if that is not enough, they also get into some sort of love triangle with Annie, a “baseball groupie” and lifelong spiritual seeker who chooses a Bull Durham player to be her lover and student every year.
At the end of the day, both men are able to put their differences aside, Ebby becomes a dominant pitcher and he’s called up to the major league. Crash and Annie also become an official couple.
In David Ansen’s review for Newsweek magazine, he wrote that the film “works equally as a love story, a baseball fable, and a comedy, while ignoring the clichés of each genre.
- Cast: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Trey Wilson
- Box Office: $58 million
- Genre: Romantic comedy sports film
|BMI Film and TV Awards||1989||Michael Convertino|
|Boston Society of Film Critics Award||1989||Best Film|
|Boston Society of Film Critics Award||1989||Best Screenplay – Ron Shelton|
14. Remember the Titans (2002)
This sports movie begins In 1981 and it tells the true story of a group of former football coaches and players attending a funeral. However, the greater part of the movie is a flashback to 1971 at the integrated T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia.
Herman Boone, an African-American head coach is hired to coach the school’s football team. He is assigned to the coaching team under current white coach Bill Yoast, who has been nominated for the Virginia High School Hall of Fame.
Due to the rising racial tension in the community, the school board decides to make Boone the head coach. Boone rejects the role believing it to be unfair to Yoast.
However, at the end of the day, Boone takes on the role while Yoast becomes a defensive coordinator under him.
Afterward, the African-American and Caucasian football team members frequently clashing in racially motivated conflicts. However, through forceful coaching and rigorous athletic training by Boon, they are able to put aside their differences and become a united team.
Roger Ebert, in the Chicago Sun-Times, viewed the film as “a parable about racial harmony, yoked to the formula of a sports movie.”
- Cast: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst
- Box Office: $136.7 million
- Genre: Biographical sports film
|Black Reel Awards||2001||Best Actor – Denzel Washington|
|Image Awards (NAACP)||2001||Outstanding Motion Picture|
|Image Awards (NAACP)||2001||Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture – Denzel Washington|
15. A League of their Own (1992)
A league of a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). The story begins in 1988 when Dottie Hinson attends the opening of the new All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many of her former teammates and friends are at the event and this prompts a flashback to 1943.
It is 1943 and the world war threatens to shut down Major League Baseball, as a result Walter Harvey, a club owner persuades his fellow owners to sponsor a women’s league. The other club owners agree and Ernie Capadino is saddled with the responsibility of recruiting the players.
Capadino’s search takes him to the rural part of Oregon where he finds Dottie, the catcher for a local dairy’s team. Capadino successfully scouts Dottie and her sister Kit alongside May, Doris, Evelyn, Shirley, Ellen, and eight others, and the Rockford peaches team is born. The team displays a lot of potentials and goes ahead to win the World Series.
The consensus about the movie on review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes reads “Sentimental and light, but still thoroughly charming, A League of Their Own is buoyed by solid performances from a wonderful cast” It is indeed one of the best sports movies of all time.
- Cast: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rossie O’Donnell
- Box Office: $132.4 million
- Genre: Sports comedy-drama film
|American Comedy Awards, USA||1993||Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture – Tom Hanks|
|ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards||1993||Most Performed Song from Motion Picture – Madonna and Shep Pettibone|
|Casting Society of America||1993||Best Casting for Feature Film and Comedy- Ellen Lewis, Amanda Mackey|
16. Pride Of the Yankees (1942)
Pride of the Yankees is one of the best sports movies ever made and it is a tribute to the legendary New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, who died only one year before its release, at age 37, from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which later became known to the public as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”
Lou is a Columbia University student of engineering who is gifted at baseball. When his mum becomes sick he signs with a baseball team he has always revered thereby forfeiting his dream to be an engineer unknown to his sick mum.
Gehrig works his way through the minor league baseball and eventually joins the Yankees. Along the line, he meets Eleanor whom he falls in love with and eventually gets married to. The Yankees become the most dominant team in baseball, and Gehrig becomes a fan favorite.
At the peak of his career, Lou discovers he has a disease and in the words of the doctor “Gehrig has a rare, incurable disease, and only a short time to live.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times describes Pride of the Yankees as a “tender, meticulous and explicitly narrative film” that “inclines to monotony” because of its length and devotion to “genial details.”
- Cast: Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, Babe Ruth, Walter Brennan
- Box Office: $3 million
- Genre: Sports biography
|Academy Awards USA, (Oscars)||1943||Best Film Editing – Daniel Mandell|
|Academy Awards USA, (Oscars)||1943||Best Actor in Leading Role -Gary Cooper|
|Academy Awards USA, (Oscars)||1943||Best Picture – Samuel Goldwyn Production|
17. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
Directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell, this sports movie is centered on Ricky Bobby who was born in the backseat of a racing car on country roads because his father, Reese accidentally missed the turnoff for the hospital because he was driving too fast.
Ricky basically grew up without his father and the last words his father said to him before leaving was “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” This phrase sticks with Ricky even until adulthood.
Sometimes later, Ricky has the opportunity to work with the pit crew of Dennit Racing driver Terry Cheveaux. Fortunately, Rocky is chosen as Terry’s replacement because the latter had to take a bathroom break while in last place.
As luck would have it, Ricky finishes third in the race, then he gains fame and fortune in NASCAR by winning many races. While racing, he meets his future wife Carley (Leslie Bibb), after she flashes her breasts.
Years later, Dennit Racing announces they will field a second team with Ricky’s best friend Cal Naughton Jr. as the driver. Ricky and Cal become a terrific team on the track but they are soon joined by a new teammate who happens to be the openly gay French Formula One driver, Jean Girard. The Frenchman soon outperforms both Ricky and Cal to become Dennit Racing’s racing star.
In a bid to win, Ricky exceeds his limitations and crashes during a race, his performance declines and he gets fired from his team. From this point, it’s a slippery slope for him.
- Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reily, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Clarke Duncan
- Box Office: $163 million
- Genre: Sports comedy
|Chicago Film Critics Association Award||2006||Sacha Baron Cohen|
|ESPY Awards||2006||Best Sports Movie|
|Teen Choice Award||2007||Best Movie Actor – Will Ferrell|
18. Bad News Bears (2007)
In this great sports movie, Bob Whitewood, a city councilman and attorney files a lawsuit against an ultra-competitive Southern California Youth Baseball League because they are discriminatory.
In order to settle the lawsuit, the league decides to create an additional team named The Bears, and Morris Buttermaker, a former minor-league baseball pitcher and alcoholic is hired to coach them. The new team consists of a black kid, two Spanish speakers, an Indian, a kid who’s almost too little to hold a bat, and another one in a wheelchair. Basically, none of these kids can actually play baseball
Not deterred by his team’s lack of ability, coach Morris recruits Amanda Whurlitzer, a skilled pitcher, and Kelly Leak. Much to the surprise of everyone, The Bears make it to the finals of the championship.
is described by Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times as “the best American screen comedy of the year to date,” adding, “Bright, pugnacious and utterly realistic as most children seem to be today, these kids are drawn with much accuracy and are played beautifully.” It is definitely one of the best sports movie of all time.
- Cast: Walter Matthau, Vic Morrow, Joyce Van Patten, Ben Piazza
- Box Office: $42.3
- Genre: Sports comedy
|Writers Guild of America USA||1977||Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen|
19. Major League (1989)
Written and directed by David S. Ward, this top sports movie is centred on the fictionalized version of the Cleveland Indians baseball team. Former Las Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps inherits the Cleveland Indians baseball team from her deceased husband but the problem is that she detests Cleveland and intends to relocate the team to Miami.
However, she can only move the team on the condition that attendance for the entire season is below 800,000. Determined to relocate to Miami at all costs, Rachael decides to put together the worst team ever in the major league.
The team consists of Jake, a veteran catcher with dodgy knees, Ricky, a rookie pitcher, paroled from prison, Roger, and also a Cuban refugee who practices voodoo in the locker room.
Basically, they’re a terrible team. But they go ahead to surprise everyone especially Phelps whose plan of relocating the team fails.
The consensus about the movie reads “Major League may be predictable and formulaic, but buoyed by the script’s light, silly humor—not to mention the well-built sports action sequences and funny performances.”
- Cast: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Margaret Whitton
- Box Office: $49.8
- Genre: Sports comedy
None as of the time of writing this post
20. The Babe (1992)
Unarguably one of the top sports movies, The Babe is a biographical film that tells the story of Babe Ruth. The story begins in 1902 in Baltimore, Maryland, where seven-year-old Babe Ruth is sent to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys because he is troubled and cannot be handled by his father.
At the school, Ruth is schooled by Catholic missionaries and taunted by other kids because of his size.
A while later, Brother Matthias Boutlier, Head of Discipline at St. Mary introduces Ruth to the game of baseball. At a practice session, Ruth hits several high home runs off of Matthias, who is pitching. Everyone is stunned by his hitting prowess.
Years later, 19-year-old Ruth is on St. Mary’s baseball team. Ruth continues to excel as a great baseballer and his skills come to the attention of Jack Dunn. Dunn adopts Ruth and signs him to a contract with the Baltimore Orioles.
A while later, Ruth is sold to the Boston Red Sox and he becomes popular in Boston for his home runs. However, he angers Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee when he demands a raise and for this reason, Frazee sells him to the New York Yankees.
Ruth Goes on to become very popular in New York, as he helps the Yankees win the World Series in 1923.
- Cast: John Goodman, Kelly McGillis, Trini Alvarado, Bruce Boxleitner
- Box Office: $19.9 million
- Genre: Biographical drama film
|Primetime Emmy Awards||1992||Outstanding Individual Achievement in costuming for a Miniseries or special – Darryl Levine (Costume Supervisor)|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||1992||Outstanding Individual Achievement in costuming for a Miniseries or special – Molly Harris Campbell (Key Customer)|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||1992||Outstanding Individual Achievement in costuming for a Miniseries or special – Bridget Ostersehlte (Key Customer)|
21. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
This sports comedy film is centered on Peter LaFleur, owner of Average Joe’s Gymnasium, a small, dilapidated gym with just a few members.
Peter defaults on the gym’s mortgage and it is purchased by White Goodman, the cocky owner of a Gym across the street. Not only that, Peter has thirty days to raise $50,000 if not Goodman will foreclose on the gym and demolish it to build a parking garage.
Attorney Katherine is employed to work on the transaction for Goodman and he attempts to seduce her but she rejects his advances. Later on, she becomes close to Peter while reviewing his financial records.
Peter’s employees and members of the gym; Dwight and Owen, Steve, Justin, and Gordon try to raise the money needed to save the gym. Gordon suggests they all enter a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas with a $50,000 prize.
In order to prepare themselves for the competition, they watch a 1950s-era training video narrated by dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan. Despite their training, they are defeated by a Girl Scout troop in the local qualifying match, but the Scouts are disqualified when a member is caught using drugs.
Roger Ebert gave the film a three stars out of four ratings in his Chicago Sun-Times review and writes “in a miraculous gift to the audience, 20th Century-Fox does not reveal all of the best gags in its trailer.” Dodgeball is hilarious but it remains a top sports movie.
- Cast: Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Ben Stiller, Rip Torn
- Box Office: $167 million
- Genre: Sports Comedy
|BMI Films and Tv Awards||2005||BMI Film Music Award – Theodore Shapiro|
|MTV Movie + TV Awards||2005||Best Villian – Ben Stiller|
22. Rudy (1993)
Directed by David Anspaugh, this movie follows the account of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger who dreams of playing football at the University of Notre Dame but lacks the grades, money, and skills to play major college football.
After high school, he works at a steel mill with his father and older brothers. A while later, his supportive best friend, Pete is killed in an explosion, and Rudy is spurred to pursue his dream.
In 1972, Rudy visits Notre Dame but he is not qualified to enroll. With hopes to transfer and with the help of a priest, Father Cavanaugh, Rudy enrolls at nearby Holy Cross College. He also gets a job at Notre Dame through Fortune, the head groundskeeper.
Rudy is homeless, so he sneaks into Fortune’s office through a window to sleep on a cot. Fortune finds out and provides him with blankets and a key to the office. Rudy learns that Fortune, has never seen a Notre Dame football game despite working at the school for years.
After two years at Holy Cross and three rejections from Notre Dame, Rudy is finally admitted and he finally gets a chance at his dreams.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that the film “has a freshness and an earnestness that gets us involved, and by the end of the film we accept Rudy’s dream as more than simply sports sentiment. It’s a small but powerful illustration of the human spirit.” Rudy is a great movie and it is no surprise that it makes it to the best sports movies list.
- Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty, Charles S. Dutton
- Box Office: $22.8 million
- Genre: Biographical sports film
|Christopher Awards||1993||Robert N. Fried|
|Heartland International Film Festival||1994||Studio Crystal Heart Award- David Anspaugh|
|Heartland International Film Festival||1994||Studio Crystal Heart Award- Angelo Pizzo|
23. Caddyshack (1980)
Caddyshack is one of the top sports movies and it follows the story of Danny Noonan who works as a caddie at the exclusive Bushwood Country Club because he wants to raise money for college.
Danny caddies for Ty Webb, the son of one of Bushwood’s co-founders. Danny also tries to get in the good books of Judge Smails, the club’s co-founder and director of the caddie scholarship program.
Meanwhile, Carl Spackler, a mentally unstable groundskeeper who lives in the maintenance building, is sent by his Scottish supervisor Sandy McFiddish to hunt a gopher that is damaging the course. He attempts to kill it with a rifle and high-pressure hose but fails.
A while later, Al Czervik, a free-spirited, new and rich golfer, begins to attend the club. One day, Czervik distracts Smails as he tees off, making his shot go badly. Czervik wagers with Smail and afterward, Smails is angry he lost the bet and flings his putter, injuring an elderly woman.
Eager to win Smail’s favor, Danny takes the blame for the incident. Smails encourages him to apply for the caddie scholarship. Later, Danny wins the Caddy Day golf tournament and the scholarship.
- Cast: Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield
- Box Office: $39.8
- Genre: Sports comedy
None as of the time of writing this post
24. The Natural (1984)
Described by James Berardinelli as arguablyone of the best sports movie ever made, The Natural is based on Bernard Malamud’s 1952 novel of the same name. In 1910s Nebraska, 10-year old Roy Hobbs learns to play baseball from his father, who later suffers an early fatal heart attack near an oak tree.
Nine years later, Hobbs heads to Chicago for a tryout with the Chicago Cubs, leaving behind his girlfriend, Iris. Sixteen years later, in 1939, Hobbs is signed as a rookie to the Knights, a struggling ball club sitting in the last place.
Manager Pop Fisher is furious that Hobbs was recruited, believing him too old. He initially refuses to play Hobbs but finally relents and Hobbs impresses the entire team with his powerful hitting.
In the face of many obstacles, Roy goes on to become successful and famous after which he also discovers that he has a son with his teenage sweetheart. This old sports movie will definitely get you in your feelings.
- Cast: [Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger]
- Box Office: $48 million
- Genre: Sports film
|Grammy Awards||1985||Best Instrumental Composition – Randy Newman|
|Heartland Film||1984||Truly Moving Picture Award -Barry Levinson|
|Hochi Film Award||Best Foreign Language Film|
25. The Wrestler (2008)
Directed by Darren Aronofsky and written by Robert Siegel, The Wrestler tells the story of Robin Ramzinski, popularly known by his ring name Randy. Randy is a professional wrestler who enjoyed fame in the 1980s. Now past his glory days, Randy wrestles on weekends while working part-time at a supermarket.
Randy frequents a strip club, where he befriends an elderly stripper named Cassidy. Sometimes later, Randy wins a local match and then agrees to a proposed 20th-anniversary rematch with his most notable opponent, “The Ayatollah”, in hopes that this would bring him back to stardom.
In preparation for the rematch, Randy begins to train and also begins to take steroid injections. While wrestling in a match, Randy suffers a heart attack and undergoes coronary artery bypass surgery.
He is warned by the doctor to stop taking the steroids else he would die. His doctor tells him that he nearly died and has to stop the steroids. Randy decides to retire and begins to work full-time at the supermarket’s deli counter. Afterward, he attempts to reach out to his daughter whom he abandoned years ago.
The consensus about the movie on Rotten Tomatoes is “Mickey Rourke gives a performance for the ages in The Wrestler, a richly affecting, heart-wrenching yet ultimately rewarding drama.”
- Cast: [Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Mark Margolis, Todd Barry
- Box Office: $44.7 million
- Genre: Sports drama
|Golden Globes USA||2009||Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Mickey Rourke|
|Golden Globes USA||2009||Best Original Song Motion Picture – Bruce Springsteen|
|BAFTA Awards||2009||Best Leading Actor – Mickry Rourke|
26. Tin Cup (1996)
This romantic comedy and sports movie stars Kevin Costner who plays the role of Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy, a former golf prodigy.
Roy owns a driving range in West Texas, where he drinks and hangs out with his friends, one of whom is Romeo Posar. Roy is approached by Dr. Molly Griswold, a clinical psychologist, with requests for golf lessons.
Molly’s request is inspired by the fact that her boyfriend David Simms is a top professional golfer. Also because Roy and Simms were both top college golfers at the University of Houston. Roy is immediately attracted to Molly, but she ignores his advances.
Hours later, Simms shows up at Roy’s trailer ahead of a local benefit tournament and he invites Roy to caddy for him. During the round, Roy needles Simms about “laying up” instead of having the nerve to take a 230-yard shot over a water hazard.
Roy brags that he can make the shot encouraging spectators to make bets among themselves. Simms threatens to fire Roy if he attempts the shot, Roy does and he is fired immediately
On Rotten Tomatoes, the consensus about the movie is “Breezy and predictable, Tin Cup is a likeable sports comedy that benefits greatly from Kevin Costner’s amiable lead performance.” Although hilarious, Tin Cup is a great sports movie.
- Cast: Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin
- Box Office: $75.8
- Genre: Romantic comedy and sports film
None as of the time of writing this post.
27. Creed (2015)
Definitely one of the greatest sports movies of all time, The Creed is both a sequel and spin-off to the Rocky film series, serving as the seventh instalment of the series and a sequel to 2006’s Rocky Balboa.
Creed opens in 1998 with Adonis “Donnie” Johnson, son of an extramarital lover of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed serving time at a youth detention center in Los Angeles. A while later, Creed’s widow, Mary Anne, visits and offers to take him in.
Time jumps to 2015 and Donnie is in Tijuana, preparing for his fight in a boxing bout hosted in a bar. Upon returning from his latest fight, Donnie resigns from his day job to pursue his dream of becoming a professional boxer.
Mary Anne vehemently opposes his decision, recalling how her husband was killed in the ring by Ivan Drago thirty years ago. Donnie refuses to listen to her and goes ahead to audition at Los Angeles’ elite Delphi Boxing Academy, managed by a family friend Tony “Little Duke” Evers Jr. Tony happens to be the son of Apollo’s trainer Tony “Duke” Evers, but nonetheless, he turns Donnie down.
To prove himself, Donnie challenges the whole gym and puts up his 1965 Ford Mustang as a bet. Unfortunately, he is beaten by light heavyweight division first contender Danny “The Stuntman” Wheeler.
Undeterred by his defeat, Donnie travels to Philadelphia in hopes of getting in touch with his father’s old friend and rival, former heavyweight champion, Rocky Balboa.
Movie reviewer, John Lasser gave the film an 8.5 out of 10, saying, “Creed is a mirror of Rocky’s story and we have all been watching that unfold on the big screen for decades.
- Cast: [Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thomson, Phylicia Rashad
- Box Office: $173.6 million
- Genre: Sports drama film
|Golden Globe USA||2016||Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Sylvester Stallone|
|African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA)||2015||Best Director – Ryan Coogler|
|African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA)||2015||Best Supporting Actress – Tessa Thompson|
28. Seabiscuit (2003)
This top sports movie is written and directed by Gary Ross and based on the best-selling 1999 non-fiction book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand.
The movie tells the coming together story of three men; Red Pollard, Charles S. Howard, and Tom Smith as the principal jockey, owner, and trainer of the champion racehorse Seabiscuit.
Pollard’s Canadian family is financially incapacitated by the Great Depression. In need of money, his parents get him a job with a horse trainer. Eventually, Pollard becomes a jockey and also makes extra money through illegal boxing matches.
On the other hand, Howard runs a bicycle shop, begins to sell automobiles, and eventually becomes the largest car dealer in California and one of the Bay Area’s richest men. Unfortunately, his son, Frankie, is killed in an automobile accident, he falls into a deep depression and his wife leaves him.
Later on, Howard meets Marcela Zabala, marries her, and goes ahead to acquire a stable of racehorses.
Howard hires Smith to manage his stables and Smith convinces him to acquire a colt, “Seabiscuit”, who comes from a notable lineage but has been deemed difficult to handle by past handlers.
In need of a jockey to handle Sea Biscuit’s temperament, Smith hires Pollard who is able to establish a connection with the horse.
Seabiscuit and Pollard become close, they begin to race together and after overcoming some difficulties Seabiscuit earns considerable success and becomes a popular underdog to the millions affected by the Great Depression. Without doubt, Seabiscuit is one of the greatest sports movies of all time.
- Cast: Toby Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks
- Box Office: $148.3 million
- Genre: Sports film
|American Society of Cinematographers, USA||2004||Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases – John Schwartzman|
|ASCAP Film and Television Music Award||2004||Top Box Office Film – Randy Newman|
|Hochi Film Award||2004||Best Foreign Language Film|
29. Any Given Sunday (1999)
This top sports movie follows the story of Miami Sharks, a once-prominent American football team struggling to make the 2001 Associated Football Franchises of America (AFFA) playoffs. Their coach is thirty-year veteran Tony D’Amato who has run out of favor with the team’s owner, Christina Pagniacci, and his successor, Nick Crozier.
In the thirteenth game of the season, two starting quarterbacks Jack “Cap” Rooney and Tyler Cherubini are injured and as a result, they are benched.
Third-string quarterback, Willie Beamen replaces them and he tries his very best to win the game for the Sharks. Meanwhile, injured Rooney vows to make it back by the playoffs, with D’Amato promising to not give up on him.
The next day, D’Amato and Pagniacci argue about the direction of the team. D’Amato argues that Pagniacci’s father, the previous owner, would never meddle in his coaching plans.
During the next game, Beamen disregards the team’s conservative offense and changes their game tactics. Beaman is praised by the media but his newfound success feeds his pride and leads to tension with teammates and coaches. As a result, D’Amato demotes him back to the bench.
As if that was not enough, during an interview, Beaman takes credit for his team’s winning streak and in response to that, the other players refuse to perform for Beamen and consequently lose a home game.
D’Amato expresses his embarrassment at his team and finally, Beamen acknowledges his wrongdoings and amends his self-centered behavior.
- Cast: [ Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, James Woods]
- Box Office: $100.2 million
- Genre: Sports drama
|ALMA Awards||2000||Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film – Cameron Diaz|
|Blockbuster Entertainment Award||2000||Favorite Actress (Drama)- Cameron Diaz|
|Blockbuster Entertainment Award||2000||Favorite Actor (Drama)- Al Pacino|
30. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
This great sports movie is a film adaptation of the 1956 baseball novel of the same name by American author Mark Harris. It tells the story of two baseball players Henry Wiggen and Bruce Pearson.
Henry Wiggen is a star pitcher for the New York Mammoths, a fictional Major League Baseball team while Bruce Pearson is the team’s catcher, and is a player of limited skill and intellect.
Early in the film, we discover that Bruce is terminally ill with Hodgkin’s disease. Upon learning of his illness, Henry takes it upon himself to keep the news from the rest of his team and also ensures that Bruce enjoys his final days.
Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times describes the film “deeply affecting, often humorous but never morbid or maudlin,” and “a film studded with terrific scenes and telling bits of dialog, reminding us anew of how valuable the contribution of even the most unprepossessing individual can be.
- Cast: Roberto De Niro, Michael Moriarty, Phil Foster, Vincent Gardenia
- Box Office: $1 million
- Genre: Sports drama
|National Board of Review, USA||1973||Top Ten Films|
|New York Film Critics Circle Awards||1974||Best Supporting Actor – Roberto De Niro|
Yes, there are sports movies based on true stories. In fact, a number of the movies reviewed in this article are biographical and based on the true-life events of the heroes. Some of them include; The Babe, Pride of the Yankees, Remember the Titans, Moneyball, and Raging Bull.
All of the sports movies reviewed in this article are inspirational and some of the best are; Miracle, Rudy, Rocky, The Hoosiers, Karate Kid, and many more.
Of course, there are recent sports movies and some of them include; Rising Phoenix, The Way Back, Fast Girls, High Flying Bird and Rise Like a Girl to mention a few.
Some of the most underrated sports movies are Hoop Dreams, Million Dollar Baby, Breaking Away, 61, Mystery Alaska, and Murderball.
There are several great sports movies based on true stories and a few of them are; The Rookie, Glory Road, Concussion, Rudy, and Rocky.
Wrapping up the Best Sports Movie of All Time
There you have it! The 30 best sports movies of all time.
If you’ve watched any of the movies we reviewed please take out time to share your thoughts about the movie. Also, if we missed out on any of your favorite sports movies, do mention them in the comment section as we might review them some other time. You can also check out our best African movies, best romantic anime movies, best movies for couples, best action comedy movies, and best soccer movies for more juicy movie reviews. Also, remember that there are amazing movie deals and discounts on this movie site, so shop away!