It is really pretty easy to define what a sports movie is. Any movie that revolves around an athlete—or athletes—or takes place in an athletic setting can be placed in this category. But what makes one of these movies great can be much harder to pinpoint. If you were to ask a person what it is that makes a great sports movie great, you may hear one of any number of responses. Sports movies can be considered great for their ability to be anything from entertaining and funny to suspenseful, heart-warming, and inspiring.
Some, perhaps the best, contain a combination of the above traits. They will make you cry your eyes out in one scene and laugh out loud in the next. They will have you cheering for the hero when he is down and out. And they will have you booing his archrival, whether it is the member of another team or a crooked prison warden.
You may or may not disagree, but here is our list of the 25 best sports movies of all time, with the years they were released, the sports they featured, and who starred in them. Our list includes all styles of movies within the genre—important directorial feats, such as Scorsese’s Raging Bull, as well as documentaries like Hoop Dreams, comedies like Talladega Nights, Caddyshack, and Major League, and the movie that spawned the franchise of all franchises, Rocky.
25. Talledega Nights (2006, NASCAR racing, starring Will Ferrell)
24. Jerry Maguire (1996, football, starring Tom Cruise)
23. Rudy (1993, football, starring Sean Astin)
22. Heaven Can Wait (1978, football, starring Warren Beatty)
21. Seabiscuit (2003, horse racing, starring Jeff Bridges)
20. The Longest Yard (1974, football, starring Burt Reynolds)
19. Remember the Titans (2000, football, starring Denzel Washington)
18. Slap Shot (1977, hockey, starring Paul Newman)
17. The Bad News Bears (1976, baseball, starring Walter Matthau)
16. Eight Men Out (1988, baseball, starring John Cusack, Clifton James, and Michael Lerner)
15. The Pride of the Yankees (1942, baseball, starring Gary Cooper)
14. Hoop Dreams (1994, basketball, starring William Gates and Arthur Agee)
13. Chariots of Fire (1981, track, starring Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, and Ian Charleson)
12. The Hustler (1961, pool, starring Paul Newman, Jackie Cleason, and Piper Laurie)
11. A League of Their Own (1992, baseball, starring Tom Hanks, Gina Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell)
10. Field of Dreams (1989, baseball, starring Kevin Costner)
9. Major League (1989, baseball, starring Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, and Corbin Bernsen)
8. Breaking Away (1979, cycling, starring Dennis Christopher and Dennis Quaid)
7. Caddyshack (1980, golf, starring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Ted Knight)
6. The Natural (1984, baseball, starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, and Kim Basinger)
5. Bill Durham (1988, baseball, starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins)
4. Million Dollar Baby (2004, boxing, starring Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank)
3. Rocky (1976, boxing, starring Sylvester Stallone)
2. Hoosiers (1986, basketball, starring Gene Hackman)
1. Raging Bull (1980, boxing, starring Robert De Niro)
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