The excitement to see the last-minute winner going for the gold, knocking it out of the park, or making a slam dunk, sports movies provide not just action and thrill but also motivation. A sports movie can make you cry, yell, laugh, or punch something, which is why so many have attempted to make one. Sports movies are a full package of action, drama, emotions, romance, and comedy.
The enthusiasm that sports movies instill in people is indescribable. The stories of individuals and teams overcoming adversity to wrest victory from the jaws of defeat tug at the heartstrings and make you want to put on your boots and head out into the field yourself.
Many sports movies based on true events are cliched, but they still bring joy and thrill to the audience, and they will end up watching the entire film.
Here are the 35 Best Sports Movies To Watch
The best sports movies, in our opinion, are not those that are full of action or have a great storyline, but those that can have a mass appeal and draw in an audience that is not a sports fan.
For this list, we are adding a variety of sports films that manage to lift our spirits, and there are various moments of triumph that make these movies entertaining and inspirational at the same time.
Sports are all about conflict and competition, so they are a perfect metaphor for family dynamics at work. In Warrior, sibling rivalry reaches new heights as two estranged brothers, each a martial arts expert, fight out. They are not just in to win the crown but also their dreams, but one of them is going to fail. In the end, both of them learn that the battle of the heart is bigger than any battle of the body.
The movie got positive reviews from critics, and Nick Nolte won an Academy Award nomination for best-supporting actor. The fight scenes in the movie are choreographed and filmed with great energy and are brilliantly performed by the actors. This is a rare fight movie where we don’t want to see either fighter lose. This movie is available on HBO MAX.
As the tagline says, Rocky’s whole life was a million-to-one shot. This is what the movie actually portrays, starring Sylvester Stallone, who did justice with his role as he reminded the audience of the young Balboa. Rocky is a rags-to-riches American sports drama based on the life and legacy of Italian-American boxing legend Rocky Balboa.
It follows Balboa from his humble beginnings as a debt collector in Philadelphia to compete for the world heavyweight championship against Apollo Creed. This is a big underdog story, but it is showcased with so much realism that it appears appealing to the audience.
Rocky is a must-see film for any sports fan, and the film is available on a variety of streaming services, so there are no excuses for not watching it. Rocky is an evergreen film that has still not lost its charisma like the evergreen Stallone.
The Wrestler (2008)
The Wrestler, a 2008 sports drama, restored Mickey Rourke’s reputation after years of bad projects and controversial personal decisions. He portrays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a former wrestler who is about 40 years old and still competes because he enjoys it so much and also has a passion for wrestling. Ram has a nervous reunion with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood).
Ramzinski suffers a heart attack as the film progresses but manages to find love along the way while never losing his passion for wrestling. The movie was iconic and was directed by Darren Aronofsky and was his comeback movie. This movie is available to rent on Amazon.
The Natural (1984)
Can you mix metaphysics and symbolism with baseball and still get a film that makes you stand up and cheer? This movie proves you can. The Natural is filled with texture adversity and challenges, but ultimately it boils down to a man, Roy Hobbs, who decides to make a comeback to professional baseball after 16 years, chasing a chance to do what he was born to do no matter what gets in his way.
The movie is based on a 1952 novel of the same name. Robert Redford played a brilliant role of a rising baseball extraordinaire. The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards. You can watch the classic movie on Amazon Prime Video.
The inspirational sports drama, starring Kurt Russell as college coach Herb Brooks, takes its title from the real-life miracle on ice when the US men’s hockey team defeated the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics.
This movie uses real-life hockey players to put you in the game, and in the end, you are breathless and way uplifted. This is a nice Saturday afternoon movie that you can watch while relaxing with your family, so give it a shot at some point.
This movie has a down-on-his-luck football coach, an alcoholic ex-coach, and run of a mill high coach team. Watching all these losers turning into winners gets your pulse rising and puts a smile on your face. This is a classic sports film with some fantastically filmed basketball scenes and momentum in its final scenes that you can’t help but succumb to.
Gene Hackman delivered a terrific, prickly performance, and Dennis Hopper received an Oscar nomination for his role as one of the players’ alcoholic fathers. It is available on Starz. One should definitely watch this amazing movie.
The Blind Slide (2009)
We all know that in life, as in sports playing fields are not always at the level. In this real-life story, Sandra Bullock rages a women’s campaign to see that a disadvantaged but good-hearted and massively talented football player gets the chance he deserves.
The film Blindside follows Michael Omer, a young boy who overcomes the effects of homelessness to become an All-American football player with the assistance of Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and her husband (Tim McGraw). At the time of its release, the movie was considered a commercial success, with Sandra Bullock eventually winning an Oscar for ‘Best Actress.’
Major League (1989)
Major League a 1989 sports comedy starring Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, and Tom Berenger. The movie was a huge commercial success. The movie had been an all-time favorite baseball movie. This David S. Ward movie was a big baseball sitcom.
In the film, Margaret Whitton, who portrays Rachel Phelps, a Vegas showgirl, plays an important role as her former husband left her the Cleveland Indians. Phelps wants to relocate the team to Miami, but in order to do so, the team must have a disastrous season. This movie is available on Showtime, and people must watch this entertaining movie.
Chariots Of Fire (1981)
The movie, set in the early 20th century, primarily follows two real-life Olympic runners, the Scottish Eric Little and the English Harold Abrahams, as the selected two players who would represent Britain in the 1984 games.
They are each forced to confront how their passion clashes with their religious beliefs on the world’s largest stage. Moreover, the film depicts the inner turmoil every athlete contends with in the pressure to succeed, which makes it more gratifying when these two finally win the gold.
The movie, directed by Gary Ross, is a brilliant adaption of the Laura Hillenbrand bestseller. The movie is about how America is still struggling in the depression and eventually winning in the end. You can’t resist watching the racing scenes that pack a wallop. The movie turns out to be exciting to watch as a horse comes back from last place and wins the big race.
A modern-day sports movie starring Brad Pitt, this wonderful film is based on a novel of the same title. It is, however, one of Brad Pitt’s best acting performances, for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
In this movie, general manager Billy Beane attempts to build a team capable of competing with larger market teams like the New York Yankees. Moneyball, which also stars Jonah Hill, has a box office gross of more than $75 million.
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Many of writer Gurinder Chadha’s movies chronicle the struggles of Indian women living in the UK, and this comedy-drama is no different. In this movie, protagonist Jesminder “Jess” Bhamra seeks to pursue a career in soccer or football against the wishes of her traditional Sikh family.
This leads to Jess living a double life that’s rife with misconceptions and humorous moments but underneath that is a compelling story of identity as we relate to Jesse’s plate of honoring her own family and wanting to forge her own path. This movie was very successful at the box office.
The Karate Kid (1984)
Skirting a line between sports movies and keen coming-of-age drama is 1984’s Karate Kid, while the discipline of Karate is unlike many of the other sports listed here. The plot mechanics of the movie makes it more than eligible for this list. The Karate Kid is a fantasy for any sensitive young person.
After Rocky, director John G. Avildsen delivered another underdog sports film, telling the story of Daniel, played by Ralph Macchio, a New Jersey kid who moves to Southern California and falls in love with Elisabeth Shue’s cheerleader character Ali and trains with an immigrant handyman, Pat Morita after being bullied and threatened. There is a reason this classic spawned a whole franchise that continues to this day.
Breaking Away (1979)
Breaking Away, a 1979 American comedy-drama, won the 1979 Academy Award for best original screenplay and received nominations in four other categories, including Best Picture, and for a good reason. This coming-of-age movie follows four recent college graduates.
Sports angle comes in through the likes of Dave, whose fascination with Italian culture, particularly competitive cycling, gives the gang the opportunity to prove that they are more than just local cutters. The movie has much to offer to the audience and should be watched by those who haven’t watched this classic movie yet.
Fighting With My Family (2019)
The movie is a sports comedy-drama about an aspiring wrestler, Paige, who comes from a family of wrestlers. Her dream is to compete in the WWE, but things take a turn when she qualifies for her training, but her brother Zack does not.
We get two stories for the price of one where the former struggles with the pressure to succeed, and the latter struggles to move on. The movie gives non-wrestling fans a new appreciation for the sport.
Love and Basketball (2000)
A romantic sports drama film written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. This movie starring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps, still remains culturally relevant two decades after its original release.
The movie is a beautiful combination of basketball and romance, and it investigates how sports can play a role in the demise of a relationship. The film has a dedicated fan following and is a cult classic movie that should be watched by all.
Coach Carter (2005)
If there is one role that Samuel L. Jackson was born to play, it may just be that of a hard-ass basketball coach. Indeed Jackson is steller as the real-life Ken Carter, who managed to change the lives of several young athletes during his time coaching high school basketball in Richmond, California.
Moreover, Carter made sure that every single one of his players over his five-year tenure graduated, making sure they put scholastic interests ahead of athletic ones. The basketball ball featured in Coach Carter is exhilarating.
It’s not the crux of the story; instead, rather, the climactic playoff game they ultimately lose. It’s the fact that Carter is able to inspire his students to excel in all aspects of life, and that’s the true victory.
Most movies on this list focus on the Western world. This drama shifts it to the nation of South Africa. The story is set around the events of the 1995 Rugby World cup, where the national team, the Springboks, won their first title. The achievement was particularly meaningful for the host country as it was just coming out of the devastating effects of Apartheid.
Naturally, politics plays a key role in this movie as Morgan Freeman stars as then-president Nelson Mandela and is excellent in his role. Invictus greatly succeeds in depicting a watershed moment in international sports history.
Remember The Titans (2000)
Another sports drama that tackles racial tensions, the Titans does it better than its contemporaries. Here Denzel Washington stars as coach Herman Boon who joins the TC Williams High School football team for the 1971 season.
The school has become more racially integrated than ever. Tensions are high, but ultimately everyone in the team is brought together. Even though the team goes undefeated to a state championship, every down is filled with excitement, and we can’t help but celebrate when they finally achieve the impossible.
Field Of Dreams (1989)
It is hard not to be romantic about baseball in Field Of Dreams. Kevin Costner plays Ray, a farmer who gets messages from beyond to construct a baseball field in his corn stalks from there since departed players like shoeless Joe Jackson appear to play once more as Ray is further encouraged to bring people to the field.
Even though the movie doesn’t have an actual athlete for a protagonist, it manages to get so much right about the love of the game. It’s also a testament to always follow your heart and your dreams, even if they may seem crazy to others.
Brian’s Song (1971)
Brian’s Song holds the distinction of being the only made-for-TV movie on this list. It is so powerful, in fact, that it has managed to transcend its boundaries and become one of the most liked sports films of all time. The late James Caan plays Brian Piccolo, a running bear for the Chicago bears who was given a terminal cancer diagnosis during his rookie season.
The story is made even more dynamic through the lens of his teammate Gale Sayers played by Billy D Williams. Piccolo and Sayers have roomed together in a racially integrated situation that was basically unheard of back in 1965, and the two become close friends. If you want to cry and be moved, you need to watch Brian’s Song.
Three features after Hoosiers, David Anspaugh returned to the sports genre to direct Rudy. The movie is a biopic about a one-time Notre Dame player Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, while the movie embellishes a good deal about the theatrics of Ruettiger’s story.
Here Sean Astin’s Rudy is told time and again that he doesn’t have the physique to make the collegiate team, but his all-time dream to be a member of the fighting Irish won’t be denied. He works, studies, and works hard for years just to get on the practice squad and even more so just to get on the field. In the end, Rudy finally sees his dream become a reality.
White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
White Men Can’t Jump some fantastic basketball scenes. The sports comedy directed by Ron Shelton helped launch Woody Harrelson‘s film career and made Wesley Snipes an even bigger star. The movie also stars Rosie Perez.
In this movie, Harrelson and Snipes are two enthusiastic basketball players who later team up for a bigger score. A reboot of this iconic movie is being made, and musician Jack Harlow will be making his acting debut in this movie.
Cinderella Man (2005)
The term Cinderella has become anonymous in sports stories, particularly those of underdogs. This movie depicts one of the biggest comebacks in sports history, overcoming ostensible retirement due to multiple injuries and outright poverty in the wake of the depression to claim the world heavyweight title in 1935. The filmmakers do justice by building up Braddock’s ascension from hopelessness to sheer triumph.
Slap Shot (1977)
One of the great sports movies of the 70s that didn’t gather a lot of attention from the audience when it was released. But now, over the years, the movie has made a remarkable mark and is now considered a cult classic.
Starring Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean, they play ice hockey, and their team becomes quite violent. Some of the action on the ice is beautifully shot, and the violence is out of this world that makes this worth a movie watch.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood, this sports drama won four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. The movie is about an amateur boxer Hilary Swan who is coached by the very talented Eastwood.
Hilary Swank also shows her talent as a boxer and gets the opportunity to fight for a world title. The closing act of the movie is very emotional and can bring tears to your eyes. This is a movie that can be rewatched, so if you have not seen this wonderful movie, do watch it.
A wonderful biopic on Mohammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time, who died in 2016. Michael Mann made this biopic on the world’s most personal. Will Smith has wonderfully played the role of Muhammad Ali.
He definitely did justice with this role as he tried to match the charisma and spirit of the esteemed boxer. The movie on the boxing legend focuses on his triumphs and controversies between 1964 and 1974.
A League Of Their Own (1992)
Penny Marshal’s sports comedy-drama film is based on the story of a women’s professional baseball league during WWII. Also, the relationship between the sisters, played by Geena Davis and Lori Petty, becomes more powerful as the movie proceeds. In the movie, Tom Hanks plays the role of an alcoholic manager who gets behind these inspiring women. The movie is available on Amazon Prime Video, and the audience must give it a watch.
Senna, directed by Asif Kapadia, is a documentary film that depicts the life and death of the Brazilian motor-racing champion Ayrton Senna. The story of Ayrton Senna is very compelling, he died at the age of 34, and Kapadia effectively uses archival footage to narrate Senna’s story.
The documentary focuses on Senna’s racing career in Formula One and also some important parts of his life that the audience had no idea about. The movie is available on Netflix and must be watched by people so that they can know about the tragic life and death of Senna.
The Hurricane (1999)
The movie is based on the impressive story of Rubin Carter, a top-ranking middle-weight boxer of the 1960s that was falsely imprisoned for murder for almost two decades. Starring Denzel Washington as the Hurricane in a moving and complex feature about the horrors of racial profiling during the mid-20th century. Washington’s performance in the movie was so powerful that he earned an Oscar nomination for the movie.
The rivalry of real-life race car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda heated up during the 1976 Formula One Season. Starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl as McLaren and Ferrari drivers, respectively.
The film mixes high-paced action with moving drama as the two battle to keep their careers and personal life intact. Impressive acting and storytelling keep the emotions high with every lap of this car-based biopic.
The Fighter (2010)
The real-life tale of Micky Ward had many Oscar nominations, and many thumbs-ups had them away thanks to this David O. Russell film. Starring good old Mark Wahlberg as the welterweight boxer, this is a story that’s more about the fight between brothers rather than the matches themselves.
The movie stars Christian Bale, who played a very challenging role and bagged the Academy Award for the best-supporting actor at the 83rd Academy Awards. It is a truly moving and entertaining film that deserves every bit of praise it has received.
Raging Bull (1980)
This iconic biopic by Martin Scorsese deserves all the praise and appreciation. After the booming success of Rocky Balboa in the mid-70s, Robert De Niro played the role of real-life middle-weight boxer Jake LaMotta in this sports drama that became a huge success.
LaMotta’s life story is shown in this movie; various details of his life, his struggles, and his jealousy of his wife everything is perfectly portrayed in the movie, which everyone must watch. The movie is regarded as one of the best American films ever made.
Bennett Miller’s biographical sports film received critical acclamation and also won many Golden Globes award nominations. Miller won the award for best director at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. The movie is based on the true story of the Schultz brothers and their coach. Starring Steve Carell, who plays the role of John du Pont and recruits Mark and Dave Schultz for his team so that they can bring gold for the US in the 1988 Olympics.
A 2015 sports drama film directed by Antoine Fuqua. The movie follows Billy Hope, a boxer who sets out to get his life back on track after a fatal incident sends him back on a rampant path of destruction.
He begins to fall into a great depression, but finally, Billy decides to take his life back on track by getting back into the ring. The movie is a mixed bag of emotions and must be watched by the audience.