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.

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  • 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)

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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

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39
Sports movies: Personal Best (1982)

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

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38
Sports movies: Knute Rockne All American (1940)

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

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37
Sports movies: Gentleman Jim (1942)

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

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36
Sports movies: Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)

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

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35
Sports movies: This Sporting Life (1963)

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

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34
Sports movies: Undisputed (2002)

Undisputed (2002)

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

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33
Sports movies: Pumping Iron (1977)

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

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32
Sports movies: White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

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

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31
Sports movies: Jerry Maguire (1996)

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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Users say

31 comments
dimitris ionas
dimitris ionas

sorry but a list without major league is disgraceful. Cant argue with rocky being number 1, but i think the 2nd one was better.

Drew
Drew

The lack of "Warrior" degrades this list tremendously.

awesome one
awesome one

I can agree that rocky is the greatest sport film of all time.

Corey
Corey

uh, no Remember the Titans, Cinderella Man, Basketball Diaries..this list sucks

capitaine514
capitaine514

you forgot Nick Nolte-Blue chips ;) keep it up!

Devin Howard
Devin Howard

May be top 100 would be better, because there are a lot of other films out there. "He Got Game" "Above the Rim" "varsity Blues" and oh lol Rob Lowe "Young Blood"

jcwebb
jcwebb

Not in any specific order....Bull Durham, Raging Bull, Rocky, Hoosiers,Major League, The Natural, always make every top10. Hoop Dreams and Caddyshack top 10? Good flicks...not top 10, esp. when Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, and so many othe great films ranked lower!

Chris Williams
Chris Williams

The wrestler made the list and not The Program? Where is Rocky 4? Remember the Titans? He Got Game? Blue Chips?

Rhys
Rhys

Raging Bull should have been number 1 in my opinion it was so masterfully done. And I agree Cinderella Man should have been included.

Daniel
Daniel

What about Secretariat or Cinderella Man? And Any Given Sunday shouldn't even be on the list. It was terrible.

Kent U
Kent U

How could you or anybody else not even mention not to have Secretariat. Come on that is one of the greatest sports stories of all time. Karate Kid and not Secretariat.

Kirk
Kirk

I no I'm not from the "greatest city on earth", yawn! but this list is wildly inconsistent, and geocentric to New Yawk. While I applaud the research done to compile a list that includes many forgotten and great sports doc's, therein lies the problem. Is Lincoln up against Searching for Sugarman for best pic this year? No, and it shouldn't be, different art form. So I take issue with the criteria used for ranking them, personal taste, I suppose. Guess I'm just bitchin cuz I'd have Hoosiers over the Italian Stallion, and I'm from Michigan! But I went through the whole damn list, so...thanks!

Darrin
Darrin

And you have field of dreams at 44. And how did the Karate Kid make this list. Caddy Shack is a good movie but not much of a sports movie.

Darrin
Darrin

Wow you forgot Warrior, The Longest Yard, Sandlot, Remember the Titans, We Are Marshall, and a number of others.

Sport
Sport

Remember the titans, we are marshall, coach carter, road to glory.... are you serious?!

KEVIN & GORDY
KEVIN & GORDY

DID ANYBODY ELSE NOTICED IN # 27 THAT THE PERSON IN THE PICTURE IS GOING TO THROW THE BALL RIGHT-HANDED. AND WE ALL KNOW THAT IN THE MOVIE ROY HOBBS STRIKES OUT THE WHAMMER ON 3 PITCHES, LEFTHANDED!

Funkysylvanelf
Funkysylvanelf

How about Remember the titans?? Return to your homeworks son!

James
James

Really? No Mighty ducks?

tch71
tch71

what about The Color of Money and The Hustler?

Gwen
Gwen

VICTORY, Michael Caine Sylvester Stallone, and Pele!!!

Geoxie
Geoxie

Bump for Brian's Song - And, ehem! ROLLERBALL? Duh.

John G.
John G.

Are you kidding me?! No Rudy and Any Given Sunday at #20? That's silly.

alfred weiss
alfred weiss

Too bad the trendy shunnung of musicals kept DAMN YANKEES off the list.

sara
sara

good list ! My favorite is Bull Durham !

Sally
Sally

Thank you,Thomas,I couldn't agree more...

Jordan
Jordan

This list is weak. Rocky at number one is cliche. Being that this is TimeOutNY not TimeOutBoston (or Philly), there are plenty of Yankees movies you left out, and "Pride" should be a helluva lot higher than 11th. It had Babe Ruth in it for God's sake! Also where is Basketball Diaries? I like sports movies that invoke childhood memories of the City.

Thomas
Thomas

What about Rudy?