There are many movies that you left off this list: -Glory Road -Coach Carter -Remember the Titans -Cool Runnings
Sports movies: The top 50 sports films of all time
Get into the game with our definitive list of the best sports movies: inspirational dramas, rude comedies and classic documentaries celebrating the real thing.
Mon Sep 17 2012
Sports movies: The Set-Up (1949)
Sports movies: Personal Best (1982)
Sports movies: Knute Rockne All American (1940)
Sports movies: Gentleman Jim (1942)
Sports movies: Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
Sports movies: This Sporting Life (1963)
Sports movies: Undisputed (2002)
Sports movies: Pumping Iron (1977)
Sports movies: White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
Sports movies: Jerry Maguire (1996)
Sports movies: The Set-Up (1949)
The Set-Up (1949)
In this dark, disturbing noir, the great Robert Ryan plays a has-been pugilist who learns his manager has fixed one of his bouts—which unleashes some of the old fighting spirit. The jittery boxing sequences directly influenced Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull.—Keith Uhlich
Personal Best (1982)
The characters are U.S. track-and-fielders striving to qualify for the women’s team headed for the 1980 Olympics (a Games the States would boycott). But what will always set this drama apart is its exploration of physical attraction between same-sex competitors, presented in an honest, nonexploitative manner. Side note: Here’s how you do arm wrestling.—Joshua Rothkopf
Knute Rockne All American (1940)
Pat O’Brien may have played the titular character in this ode to the legendary Notre Dame football figurehead, but it’s Ronald Reagan’s gridiron all-star, George Gipp, who inspired football’s most famous inspirational motto: “Let’s win one for the Gipper!” So many coaches have quoted the movie’s line that Reagan’s estate should be paid annual royalties.—David Fear
Gentleman Jim (1942)
One of Hollywood’s most charismatic actors plays one of the sweet science’s most charming practitioners: You’d swear Errol Flynn was born to play heavyweight champion “Gentleman Jim” Corbett. Raoul Walsh’s film re-creates 1890’s rollicking, game-changing Corbett vs. John L. Sullivan match—the moment when boxing became as much about brains as brawn.—David Fear
Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
The director, Stacy Peralta, was a teenage celebrity in the late-’70s: a SoCal skateboarder whose revolutionary style got him all the way to a cameo on Charlie’s Angels. His affectionate, irreverent profile of his fearless comrades plays more like a rock documentary, the band broken up by money, endorsements and bad luck.—Joshua Rothkopf
This Sporting Life (1963)
Director Lindsay Anderson made his fiction debut with this gritty tale of a hotheaded coal miner (Richard Harris) who finds stardom on the rugby field. Harris’s jagged-edge performance complements the film’s immersively rough-hewn aesthetic; even the sports scenes feel as if they’ve been doused in kitchen-sink grime.—Keith Uhlich
Fueled by a scrappy, improvisatory energy, this prison-set boxing drama pits a recently incarcerated heavyweight champ (Ving Rhames) against a yard favorite (Wesley Snipes). Apart from the imminent clash of fists and egos, there’s a fascinating side plot concerning promotion, masterminded by elderly con Peter Falk in one of his craftiest turns.—Joshua Rothkopf
Pumping Iron (1977)
The biceps are watermelon-size, the grunts deafening and the imposed narratives a little dodgy. But boring this docudrama is not. Mainly, it serves as a fascinating peek at two future superstars, Arnold Schwarzenegger (witty and already a ham) and TV-Hulk-to-be Lou Ferrigno, his chief competition for the title of Mr. Olympia.—Joshua Rothkopf
White Men Can’t Jump (1992)
No film better captures the psych-out art of athletic trash-talking than Ron Shelton’s ode to playground B-ballers. Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes display serious game on the court, but it’s the way they gracefully ace lines like “Still throwing up bricks? What is this, a mason’s convention?” that makes the duo so dynamic.—David Fear
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Writer-director Cameron Crowe casts an eye off the field in his crowd-pleasing romantic comedy, focusing on a conscientious sports agent (Tom Cruise) who starts his own firm. Classic scenes abound, from Cruise’s ecstatic rendition of “Free Fallin’ ” to costar Cuba Gooding Jr.’s highly memorable demand to “Show me the money!”—Keith Uhlich
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i think the list is pretty good, some stuff i hadn't seen before. agree cool runnings should be there or thereabouts and am i the only one who loves midnight sting??
the fact that "Mystery Alaska" isnt in this makes me not respect any of this!! also ihate baseball but "The Sandlot" come on both of these movies should be gimmies!!!
I do not know how the author of this list graded these movies but as soon as I saw "A League of Their Own" was ahead of "Field of Dreams" I could not keep reading.
Leaving out Rudy and Remember the Titans while including Bend it like Beckham and Dodgeball is asinine. Not to say that Dodgeball is a bad movie, but Rudy and Remember the Titans are classic feel good sports movies that define the genre.
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I enjoyed the article, but in my opinion you are missing a terrific movie from the list: Remember the Titans. Although it's a disney movie, there is no way that it is not in the top 50 sports movies. Well acted and a touching thesis, the only thing left to be desired is an ending that isn't such a hollywood cliche.
Rudy??? Ever heard of it? I was surprised to see that it was not in your top ten, but not even on the list...Seriously? Yet, Dodgeball, Bend it like Beckham, and Any Given Sunday are? This list is a joke.
I'm sorry, but I don't respect and "top sports movies" list that doesn't include Remember the Titans.
This list, should bring shame to your family. Cinderella Man in my opinion, is the greatest boxing movie of all time. To not have it in your list is inexcusable! SHAME!
Awesome article but shocked that Remember the Titans(top 5, if not number 1) one of the greatest sporting movies ever made, and Coach Carter didnt crack the list! 'Ya'all wanna victory?"
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