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Horse Feathers (1932) The Marx Brothers merrily annihilate every social more in sight in this lunatic satire, set on a college campus. Remember: The password is swordfish.—Joshua Rothkopf
Brian’s Song (1971) It's made for TV but feels a cut above. Want to see a grown man cry? Set him down in front of this weepie and let Billy Dee Williams and James Caan go to work on him.—Joshua Rothkopf
The Longest Yard (1974) See mustachioed Burt Reynolds earn redemption in prison, where his former status as a pro quarterback comes in handy for building morale.—Joshua Rothkopf
Heaven Can Wait (1978) This sports comedy stars Warren Beatty as a Los Angeles QB who dies suddenly but gets a shot at reincarnation. Julie Christie and James Mason watch from the sidelines.—Joshua Rothkopf
Big Fan (2009) Folks in the stands are thanked plenty enough come postseason, but how often do they get their own movie? After scripting The Wrestler, writer-director Robert D. Siegel turned his attention to the subject—darkly and with great empathy—via this tale of a Giants fan (Patton Oswalt) tackled by his own obsession.—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
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
Friday Night Lights (2004) Before there was a beloved TV series, there was Peter Berg’s feature film about high-school football in Texas—a lyrical, stirring look at the way communities revolve around their pigskin heroes. Even a viewer who doesn’t know a punt from a pass could understand how these games could give an economically gutted small town something to believe in.—David Fear
Any Given Sunday (1999) Leave it to Oliver Stone to make you enjoy feeling like a tossed-around pigskin. His absorbing look at a fictional pro-football team and the veteran coach trying to lead them to victory (Al Pacino at full bellow) packs a testosterone-filled blitz into two-and-a-half thrillingly steroidal hours.—Keith Uhlich
North Dallas Forty (1979) The mightiest of football movies enters the world of pro athletics through the beer-and-drug-laced locker room, the debauched lifestyle and endless partying. Intended as a satirical comedy, the darker truth of the circus surrounding the game lingers, as does a terrific Nick Nolte performance as a hero past his prime.—Joshua Rothkopf

Football movies: The top ten films

Just in time for the Super Bowl, pump up your pregame with six essential football movies

By David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich

It won't be long until the Super Bowl kickoff, but to the truly football-obsessed any amount of time feels like eons. Pass the hours at a sports bar with our ranked list of sports movies and these six football movies that, yard for yard, hold up to any sports scenario. Ferocious coaches, grizzled pro quarterbacks and desperate high-school dreamers: You'll find them all here.


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