Everyone loves a great sports movie! From the drama of winning or losing, to the off-field issues that impact most sports, it is a great subject for filmmakers to get stuck into.
While some sports films are a little too formulaic – the Rocky series immediately springs to mind – there are plenty of examples of movies that have done justice to the story they portray.
Read on as we take a closer look at ten of the best sports movies that you simply must watch again to fully appreciate their mastery.
In terms of pure sporting drama, you would be hard pushed to find a better story than the United States’ victory in the ice hockey tournament at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, the inexperienced US squad were tipped to be swept aside by the all-conquering Soviet Union team at Lake Placid.
However, led by head coach Herb Brooks, the US famously defeated the Soviets on their way to winning one of the unlikeliest gold medals in history.
Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s iconic ‘anything with a ball, no good’ comment perfectly summed up the disdain he held for sports.
Despite this, Scorsese is a sucker for a good story and put his hatred for sports to one side to create this stunningly superb biopic about boxer Jake LaMotta.
Robert De Niro is magnificent as LaMotta in a film that has widely been ranked as one of the finest sports movies ever produced.
Racial tension comes to the fore in Invictus, a brilliant movie that details how South Africa came together as a nation at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Any film starring Morgan Freeman is generally worth watching and his portrayal of Nelson Mandela earned him plenty of accolades from movie critics.
The Clint Eastwood directed film perfectly highlighted sport’s ability to unite, delivering an inspiring message that should put a huge smile on your face.
Remember the Titans
Denzel Washington is another actor who improves anything he stars in and that is certainly the case where Remember the Titans is concerned.
The film is based on real-life events during the early 1970s, where head coach Herman Boone attempted to tackle racial disharmony in a high school football team in Alexandria, Virginia.
His innovative coaching methods brought players on both sides of the divide together and led to the team mounting an unlikely bid to win the state championship.
The Damned United
Soccer has a patchy history when it comes to movies, with the likes of Bend it Like Beckham and Kicking and Screaming demonstrating that point to perfection.
However, The Damned United is a notable exception to the rule, with Tom Hooper’s masterpiece rightly rated as one of the best soccer movies ever made.
The film details Brian Clough’s disastrous 44-day spell as Leeds United manager, where player power and fan fury left an indelible mark on one of the game’s greatest characters.
As we have already highlighted, true stories often fare well with sports film fans and that is undoubtedly the case with Coach Carter.
Samuel L Jackson is at his belligerent best as Ken Carter, a coach who refused to be bowed by the challenge of leading the Richmond High School basketball team.
The ongoing battle between Carter, the team and the local community is compelling. This is a film you have to watch more than once to fully appreciate its quality.
Slap Shot is rated by many ice hockey fans as the definitive movie about the sport, despite being panned by critics when it was first released in 1977.
Paul Newman is superb as Reggie Dunlop, the player/coach of the Charlestown Chiefs whose future in the sport is under threat due to financial issues.
His decision to sign the Hanson Brothers – a hilarious trio of ice hockey goons – proves to be inspired as the Chiefs enjoy a fantastic comeback.
Field of Dreams
Films such as A League of Their Own, Moneyball and Bull Durham highlight that baseball translates extremely well onto the big screen.
Field of Dreams expertly adds its name to the list, with the adaption of WP Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe another sports film classic.
Starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta and Burt Lancaster, if Field of Dreams does not have you crying at the end you should check your pulse.
Hoosiers is often overlooked when people discuss the best sports movies of all-time, but its omission from the conversation is unquestionably criminal.
Gene Hackman sparkles in the lead role as coach Norman Dale, who famously led a small-town Indiana team to the state basketball finals in 1954.
Dennis Hopper provides admirable support to Hackman, with his role as the town drunk who loves basketball earning him a thoroughly deserved Oscar nomination.
The Longest Yard
Long before Remember the Titans and We Are Marshall came to the fore, The Longest Yard was widely rated as the standard bearer for American Football movies.
Burt Reynolds is at his cheeky best as Paul Crewe, a disgraced former NFL player who ends up taking charge of a group of prisoners to play a game against their ruthless guards.
Crewe overcomes their initial distrust to get them on board, before facing a massive moral dilemma that leaves his fellow convicts questioning where his allegiances rest.