Today we’re choosing violence and bringing you an article that is sure to get you fired up-the best sports movies of all-time. We repeat-the best sports movies of all-time. Now this is a conversation that you have probably already had amongst friends, family members, colleagues, etc., and if those debates have gone anything like ours, then nobody was able to come to an agreement. While the topic of which movie is the best is one is purely subjective, there are certain films that have to be included in every list. In our opinion, the best sports films are the ones that not only have great storylines, but are able to pull in an audience outside of sports lovers. Here are 35 movies that we believe did that.
The 35 Best Sports Movies of All-Time, Ranked
35. 'Major League' (1989)
Major League is a 1989 sports comedy that starred Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, and Tom Berenger. The film is based on a sultry Vegas showgirl named Rachel Phelps (portrayed by Margaret Whitton) who inherits the Cleveland Indians from her deceased husband. Phelps desires to move the team to party city Miami, but in order to get out of Cleveland, the squad has to have a terrible season. Major League was a huge box office success, and can now be watched on multiple streaming services.
34. 'Dodgeball' (2004)
2004 was a great year for film releases, and one of the best was Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller as two members of a group of troublemakers determined to save their local gym from being taken over by a corporate health fitness chain, the movie was a box office success grossing over $114 million domestically, and nearly $170 million worldwide.
33. 'Celtic Pride' (1996)
Depending on who you talk to, some believe that Celtic Pride deserves a spot on any all-time list, while others think it can be skipped depending on the amount of movies making the list. We feel Celtic Pride has earned a rightful spot on ours. The 1996 comedy stars Daniel Stern and Dan Akroyd as a couple of dedicated to the core Celts fans who are desperate for a Game 7 win against the Utah Jazz. So what do they do? Well, the two decide to come up with a ‘brilliant’ plan to kidnap Utah’s best player Lewis Scott (portrayed by Damon Wayans). If you haven’t already seen this movie, you have to check it out.
32. 'Bend It Like Beckham' (2002)
Anybody who questions Bend It Like Beckham just wasn’t there to experience it. Simple. To understand the power of this movie, you have to revisit the landscape of popular culture in 2002. David Beckham was at the peak of his global popularity, which was enhanced by his relationship with Spice Girls superstar Victoria Beckham. The two were a ‘power couple,’ and their impact both together and individually was something that may not be seen again for a very long time. Titling the film Bend It Like Beckham was already enough to get seats filled and theaters, but then when you add in the fact that Beckham himself was actually in the movie-this was sure to be success.
31. 'The Blindside' (2009)
The Blindside tells the story of Michael Omer, a young boy dealing with the effects of homelessness and trauma that goes on to become an All-American football player and first-round NFL draft pick with the help of Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock), and her husband (Tim McGraw). Now it’s important to note that in the years since, the movie has sparked controversy due to its negative racial stereotypes, but at the time of its release, The Blindside was considered a commercial success, with Bullock ultimately winning an Oscar for ‘Best Actress.’
30. 'The Jackie Robinson Story' (1950)
The Jackie Robinson Story is a biographical movie chronicling the life and times of hall of famer Jackie Robinson. The film focuses on Robinson’s trajectory and struggles with poverty, racism, and many other issues as he eventually becomes the first African-American MLB player. The Jackie Robinson Story is widely regarded as one of the best sports films to ever be made, and can be re-watched on various streaming platforms.
29. 'Ali' (2001)
For some reason Ali gets largely ignored when it comes to the topic of sports movies because it did horrible at the box office. Starring Will Smith as Ali, the film covers the renowned boxer’s many different successes and controversies as he aimed to secure his spot as one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports. Even though the film bombed commercially, the acting was praised with Smith and co-star Jon Voight receiving Academy Award nominations.
There are a few reasons why many believe Ali didn’t do well in terms of overall success. Some feel Ali’s character development could have been better, and it also could have been that the movie's subjects were too ‘heavy’ for the time period. 2001 was the height of the ‘bubblegum’ era where feel good movies like The Wedding Planner were dominating the box office. So that also could have played a part in the movie's lack of success.
28. 'The Basketball Diaries' (1995)
If you are looking for a young Leonardo DiCaprio throwback, then The Basketball Diaries is one of his finest. This poignant 1995 film strays away from the comedy/fun elements that we are used to with basketball movies, and instead dives deeper into more serious topics such as drug addiction and crime. This is a tough watch, so make sure you are in the mood for a ‘darker’ movie.
27. 'Love and Basketball' (2000)
Starring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps, Love and Basketball is a fan favorite that still remains culturally relevant two decades after its original release. The film combines basketball with romance, and explores how sports can actually play a role in the demise of a relationship. Love and Basketball airs pretty regularly on television, but the movie is available on a number of streaming platforms as well.
26. 'Field of Dreams' (1989)
Field of Dreams is a 1989 sports fantasy drama released to positive reviews from fans and critics. The film stars Kevin Costner, and focuses on an Iowa farmer named Ray. One random evening Ray hears a voice in his head telling him to build a baseball diamond on his land, and shortly afterwards, the ghosts of baseball greats begin to appear on his property. Field of Dreams was a box office success grossing over $87 million.
25. 'Raging Bull' (1980
Raging Bull revisits the life of Jake LaMotta as he aims to earn his first shot at the middleweight crown, and in the process falls in love with a young attractive woman from the Bronx. The film covers various aspects of the boxer’s life, and was directed by the legend Martin Scorsese.
24. 'High School Musical' (2006)
Your first thought may be to roll your eyes. High School Musical? On a list of the greatest sports films of all-time where there are plenty of other classics that can take their spot. That argument is a valid one, but if you are old enough to remember this era, then you know that the High School Musical series had the game on lock for a serious couple of years.
The franchise ultimately ended up getting a theatrical release, but it was the first installment that was more centered on sports. High School Musical was everywhere, and you couldn’t escape it. Not all of the movies on this list are appropriate for children/tweens/teenagers, so when it comes to that category, you absolutely have to mention High School Musical.
23. 'The Natural' (1984)
The Natural is a 1984 sports film based on the 1952 novel of the same name. Starring Robert Redford, the film focuses on the journey of rising baseball extraordinaire Roy Hobbs who unfortunately is shot on the way to a tryout with the Chicago Cubs. Sixteen years after the incident, Hobbs decides he wants to make a return to professional baseball. The Natural was nominated for four Academy Awards, and you can now catch the classic on a variety of streaming platforms.
22. 'Miracle' (2004)
Who could ever forget Miracle? Starring Kurt Russell as college coach Herb Brooks, Miracle tells the story of a young attitude-ridden hockey team, who is tasked with adjusting to their equally brash and ‘shoot from the hip’ coach. Together they try to put their differences aside as they look to defeat the nearly unbeatable Soviet team. This is a nice Saturday afternoon film that you can catch as you're relaxing, so definitely try it out at some point.
21. 'Little Big League' (1994)
Any baseball fan is required to watch Little Big League. It’s mandatory. A 1994 sports film starring Dennis Farina, Timothy Busfield, and Luke Edwards, the movie brings you both comedy and adventure as it focuses on the story of a twelve-year-old, who ends up becoming the owner and manager of the Minnesota Twins. Imagine an entire organization being run by a tweenager. Madness. As with the other movies, you can catch Little Big League on many different streaming services.
20. 'Creed II' (2018)
When talking about the Creed series, it’s hard to decide which one is better. The original from 2015, or it’s sequel. Some believe nothing tops the first, while others prefer the second movie. Whatever the case may be, Creed II was an excellent film that saw Michael B. Jordan reprising his role as Adonis Creed as he faces off against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteau), the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren).
19. '42' (2013)
A poignant film starring the late great Chadwick Boseman, 42 tells the story of Jackie Robinson through his journey of becoming the first African-American MLB player. The movie received positive reviews from critics grossing $97 million, establishing as one of Hollywood’s elite rising actors.
18. 'Like Mike' (2002)
Again this is a matter of personal preference. If you don’t believe ‘kiddie’ movies belong on an all-time list, then you will disagree with this selection (although this wasn’t a super kiddie film as it focused on more serious topics at different points in the movie.) In our opinion, Like Mike was for the culture. The film featured Bow Wow (then known as Lil Bow Wow), who at the time was one of the biggest young stars in the world, and Morris Chestnut, along with cameo appearances from Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and more.
17. 'The Wrestler' (2008)
A 2008 sports drama film starring Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler is a film about a 40-something wrestler (Robin Ramzinski) looking to recapture the success of his early career, while struggling to come to terms with aging and waning relevance. As the film progresses, Ramzinski suffers a heart attack and relationship issues with his estranged daughter, but somehow manages to find love along the way, while never losing his passion for wrestling.
16. 'Bill Durham' (1988)
A romantic sports comedy released in 1988, Bill Durham is based on the minor league baseball experiences of writer and director Ron Shelton. The film stars Kevin Costner as a veteran catcher tasked with teaching rookie pitcher Ebby LaLoosh everything about the game on a pro-sports level to prepare him for the major leagues. You can catch Bill Durham on many different streaming services.
15. 'The Bad News Bears' (1976)
Movies from the mid-70s are always a ton of fun to watch, and The Bad News Bears captures the essence of simpler carefree time. Starring actors Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal. The movie focuses on a youth team called The Bears, who in short are one of the worst youth squads in the entire little league. With the help of some recruiting, the team is able to slowly turn their season around. We won't ruin it, so you’ll have to watch the movie to see how the Bears’ season ends up turning out.
14. 'The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh' (1979)
Speaking of films from the 1970s (though was technically the end of the decade), The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh is a classic. This movie doesn’t get nearly enough appreciation in our eyes, as it set the tone for future basketball films in terms of its storytelling. Starring Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving as basketball standout Moses Guthrie, the movie highlights the story of the atrocious Pittsburgh Pythons basketball squad. In desperate need of a miracle, the waterboy (played by James Bond III) comes up with an idea to form a team consisting only of players whose Zodiac sign is Pisces. Does it work? Well you’ll have to catch the movie to find out.
13. 'Rookie of the Year' (1993)
Rookie of the Year is one of those weird films that received an almost overwhelming amount of negative reviews from critics who panned the movie, but was still a huge box office success. Starring Gary Busey and Thomas Ian Nicholas, two players for the Chicago Cubs, Rookie of the Year, the movie was an entertaining tale with cameos from Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Pedro Guerrero. Like it or not, the movie remains a baseball cult classic.
12. 'Teen Wolf' (1985)
Teen Wolf gets ignored in the general ranking of sports films as well. It seems to make every all-time basketball movie list, but gets left out of the larger conversation when it comes to sports movies as a whole. Now is it a little corny? Yes, but pretty much all 1980s movies had a tad bit of corniness to them that made the films endearing. Teen Wolf is a basketball movie classic regardless of what anyone says. Starring Michael J. Fox as a basketball-playing teen werewolf determined to break the status quo through unconventional methods, Teen Wolf, takes you through many different emotions while bringing awareness to the fact that we all need to quit being so judgmental of one another.
11. 'Moneyball' (2011)
When it comes to modern-day sports movies, Moneyball absolutely has to make any all-time list. Not only is it a wonderful film based on the novel of the same title, but it is one of Brad Pitt’s best acting performances (one that he received an Academy Award nomination for). The film chronicles the Oakland Athletics, as general manager Billy Beane tries to build the team to compete with larger market teams such as the New York Yankees. Moneyball also stars Jonah Hill, and grossed over $75 million at the box office.
10. 'Creed' (2015)
As mentioned earlier, there is often the debate over which Creed is the best film so far in the series (Creed III is expected to be released November 2022), many people prefer the former over the latter. There’s no right or wrong answer on this one, but the original will always hold a special place in our hearts. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan made his debut in the series Adonis Creed, capturing the attention of fans worldwide. Creed grossed $173 million worldwide, surpassing its original expectations.
9. 'Coach Carter' (2004)
Starring Samuel L. Jackson as Coach Carter, this movie is widely regarded as being among the greatest basketball movies ever produced. The film focuses on Carter returning to his old high-school as the new head coach of the basketball team. The team almost instantly improves under his tutelage, but when the athletes' grades begin to suffer due to not spending enough time on their studies, Carter shuts down their championship season, which in turn causes controversy. Coach Carter received high praise from critics, earning Jackson the ‘NAACP Image Award for Best Actor.’ The film grossed $76 million worldwide.
8. 'The Rookie' (2002)
The Rookie is recognized as being one of the greatest sports films in history. Starring Dennis Quaid, the movie was based on a real life story about a high school baseball coach (Jim Morris) finally getting his first professional playing opportunity at the age of 35. A skilled pitcher with a lifelong talent for baseball, Morris proves all of his doubters wrong proving that age is indeed nothing but a number.
7. ‘Space Jam’ (1996)
While Space Jam isn’t considered the best basketball movie ever, in terms of cultural impact it has a case for being the prominent hoops movie of all-time as even non-basketball fans are familiar with the film. Space Jam starred Michael Jordan as he teamed up with the Looney Tunes to fight the infamous Monstars. Of course as you all know, Space Jam 2: A New Legacy is now confirmed for a July 16th release date, and Jordan is rumored to be making a cameo appearance.
6. ‘Hoop Dreams’ (1996)
While this is technically a documentary, Hoop Dreams still ranks as potentially one of the best basketball documentaries ever. The doc follows two Chicago youth prospects, Arthur Agee and William Gates, as they relentlessly try to follow their dreams of becoming NBA superstars. Hoop Dreams was filmed over the course of five years giving a detailed look at the challenges that high school hoopers face when aiming for a professional career.The movie was nominated for an Academy Award, making it the second documentary to receive that nomination. Hoop Dreams was also added to the Library of Congress in 2005 for its cultural relevance.
5. ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ (1992)
A 1992 classic that reflects the early 1990s beautifully, White Men Can’t Jump starred Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes, and Rosie Perez, and focused on a street hustler named Billy Hoyle (Harrelson), who made a living by betting on African-American players underestimating his game. Hoyle meets his match when he encounters an equally smooth con-man Sidney Deane (Snipes), who eventually comes up with the idea to become partners. White Men Can't Jump blended together hoops and comedy, netting over $90 million at the box office.
4. ‘Hoosiers’ (1986)
When you blend multiple hotheads with slick mouths together, there is sure to be tension. Hoosiers is a 1986 sports drama that tells the story of a failed college coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) looking for a second chance at coaching. Along the way, Dale teams up with assistant coach Shooter (Dennis Hopper), and the two struggle with leaving their negative qualities behind while coaching the team. Eventually they are able to put their differences to the side as they look to lead their team to a state championship.
3. 'The Sandlot' (1993)
Next up we have The Sandlot. The GOAT baseball movie. Released in the summer of 1993, the film tells the story of a group of young baseball players during their 1962 summer campaign. When it comes to baseball cult-classics, nothing tops The Sandlot in terms of longevity, cultural relevance, and legendary status.
2. 'Rocky' (1976)
A rags-to-riches American sports drama on the life and legacy of Italian-American boxing legend Rocky Balboa, Rocky chronicles Balboa’s story from his humble beginnings as debt collector in Philadelphia, to competing for a world heavyweight championship against Apollo Creed. Rocky is one of the films that is a must watch for any sports film, and with the movie available through many streaming services, there are absolutely no excuses as to why you can't watch.
1. 'He Got Game' (1998)
Is there a movie character more iconic than Jesus Shuttlesworth? No is the only acceptable answer to this question. Sure Ray Allen is an NBA champion and Hall of Famer. Sure he made one of the greatest shots in NBA history when he single-handedly saved the Miami Heat’s championship chances by draining a game-tying 3 in the final seconds of an overtime Final’s elimination game against the San Antonio Spurs. That, however, takes a backseat to his role as Jesus Shuttlesworth in this 1998 basketball movie classic that also starred Denzel Washington (you may have heard of him). We won’t spoil the film because we want you to see it if you haven’t already, but just know, it’s worth the time.