The 101 Greatest Sports Movies of All Time

Sean Evans@@seanseaevansContributor IIIFebruary 5, 2014

The 101 Greatest Sports Movies of All Time

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    If you ask delinquents in a junior high detention hall and your Great Aunt Pam what they think about the movie Happy Gilmore, you're likely to get two wildly different answers. 

    So, in developing an ordered list of the 101 greatest sports movies ever, one must first find a person with discernible taste and an eagle eye for finding the truth. 

    Ladies and gentlemen, when it comes to inspiring a win with "new uniforms!" or timeworn stories about underdogs, I am a bona fide expert.

    And today, I offer my services. You're welcome.

    The following list is a carefully curated ranking of movies that feature sports as a main element in the storyline. Films that are rife with cliches or use athletics as a crutch instead of a pillar are ranked lower, while objectively awesome sports films rank towards the top.

    Easy enough? Good. Now, update your Netflix queue accordingly.

    Note: ESPN's "30 for 30" series is not included because those pieces are pretty good and, consequently, would infest this list like flawlessly edited cockroaches.

101. For Love of the Game (1999)

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    DirectorSam Raimi

    CastKevin Costner; Kelly Preston; John C. Reilly

    Rotten Tomatoes: 54%

    Like Macklemore songs, sports movies are afforded a moderate amount of corniness. In fact, their existence depends on it.

    For Love of the Game, as the name implies, is a movie that interlaces deep affection and baseball in a manner that will make your eyes tear up and roll equally.

    It's also a movie about friendship. And, in this disgusting, cruel world we live in, we'd all be fortunate to have a battery mate in life as loyal as Gus.

100. Glory Road (2006)

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    DirectorJames Gartner

    Starring: Josh Lucas; Derek Luke; Austin Nichols; Jon Voight

    Rotten Tomatoes: 55% 

    Glory Road is basically a sports movie Mad Lib, in which people, places and events are plugged into a cliche-driven, cookie-cutter narrative.

    But if you don't know the story of the 1966 Texas Western Miners, then it's worth a watch. 

99. The Waterboy (1998)

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    DirectorFrank Coraci

    StarringAdam Sandler; Kathy Bates; Henry Winkler; Fairuza Balk

    Rotten Tomatoes: 35%

    During the '90s, Adam Sandler is a Cary Grant-like icon for detention hall miscreants throughout suburbia, and The Waterboy is his North by Northwest-like swan song.

    As you'd expect, this film has more violent smacks and unintelligible hillbilly speak than drunken after hours at The Bad Girls Club.

    The Waterboy is Billy Madison with goal posts and thoroughly enjoyable for those of you into Sandler's brand of comedy.

98. The Program (1993)

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    DirectorDavid S. Ward

    StarringJames Caan; Halle Berry; Omar Epps; Craig Sheffer

    Rotten Tomatoes: 42%

    As Saved by the Bell: The College Years is to the original series, The Program is to Varsity Blues.

    It's a slightly less watchable, inexplicably more dramatic version of the high school days.

    In sum, this film is painfully mediocre, but a worthwhile watch if you've called in sick to work or school.

97. Space Jam (1996)

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    DirectorJoe Pytka

    Starring: Michael Jordan; Wayne Knight; Theresa Randle; Bill Murray

    Rotten Tomatoes: 35%

    Watching Space Jam is like huffing gasoline in a Wal-Mart parking lot: It's as much fun as you can have while completely wasting your life. 

    This film's plot is an absolute acid trip. 

    But, on the plus side, the soundtrack is absolute fire, and the on-screen chemistry between MJ and Bugs makes Richard Gere and Julia Roberts look like Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey.

96. Mystery, Alaska (1999)

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    DirectorJay Roach

    StarringRussell Crowe; Burt Reynolds; Hank Azaria; Mary McCormack 

    Rotten Tomatoes: 38%

    Between Russell Crowe, Burt Reynolds and Mary McCormack, Mystery, Alaska vaunts a cast that's strong enough to salvage a hackneyed storyline.

    This film takes the same David versus Goliath sports movie construct that's been done a bazillion times and zaps it in the microwave until it crusts over.

    That said, there are less charming ways to blow two hours on a Saturday night.

95. Green Street Hooligans (2005)

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    DirectorLexi Alexander

    Starring: Elijah Wood; Charlie Hunnam; Claire Forlani; Marc Warren

    Rotten Tomatoes: 47% 

    Green Street Hooligans is about the fans who are so wholeheartedly committed to their colors that they're willing to bleed in the streets to defend the hometown team.

    Some fans support their team with foam fingers, others with season tickets and an especially spirited few do it by way of the drunken haymaker.

    If you've ever sat in the Wrigley Field bleachers or worn New York Giants gear to Lincoln Financial Field, you understand that fandom occasionally requires a deductible.

94. Damn Yankees (1958)

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    DirectorGeorge Abbott and Stanley Donen

    StarringTab Hunter; Gwen Verdon; Ray Walston

    Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

    Like most regular dudes, I'm a guy who prefers his sports paired with musical accompaniment and a choreographed dance number.

    Damn Yankees marries performance theater and baseball together in a way that makes me want to celebrate every 6-4-3 double play with a jovial kick line.

    Don't knock it until you try it.

93. Rad (1986)

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    DirectorHal Needham

    Starring: Bart Conner; Lori Loughlin; Bill Allen; Ray Walston

    Rotten Tomatoes: 0% 

    Alongside Hollywood Hogan's No Holds Barred, Rad is an '80s sports movie that sucks so incredibly bad that it's awesome.

    You'll laugh out loud more during this film than during Happy Gilmore, guaranteed.

    And, while watching The Natural, you'll scroll Twitter out of boredom at least a dozen times, but Rad is a pure adrenaline injection to the jugular.

    To watch this movie after chugging a Red Bull is to know what it's like to redline a Ferrari 458 Italia down the slope of Mount Everest.

    You've been warned.

92. Blue Chips (1994)

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    DirectorWilliam Friedkin

    StarringNick Nolte; Mary McDonnell; J.T. Walsh; Alfre Woodard

    Rotten Tomatoes: 37%

    Nick Nolte is brilliant in his role as Bobby Knight on a steady diet of smelling salts and jet fuel. 

    And, the basketball sequences are mesmerizing, particularly Shaquille O'Neal's violent dunks. 

    Don't get it twisted. Blue Chips is not worthy of a Criterion Collection release, but it explores the unscrupulous underbelly of college recruiting relatively well.

91. The Boxer (1997)

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    DirectorJim Sheridan

    StarringDaniel Day-Lewis; Daragh Donnelly; Frank Coughlan

    Rotten Tomatoes: 80% 

    The Boxer moves slower than recently released contemporaries like Warrior and The Fighter, but a Daniel Day-Lewis performance is always worth the price of admission.

    Equal parts political thriller and sports flick, The Boxer is the perfect film to watch with a dad who consistently conquers the New York Times crossword puzzle.

90. Rookie of the Year (1993)

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    DirectorDaniel Stern

    Starring: Thomas Ian Nicholas; Gary Busey; Albert Hall; Amy Morton

    Rotten Tomatoes: 39% 

    Rookie of the Year tells the story of a little jerk who throws untouchable heat.

    After breaking his arm and subsequently developing a major-league fastball, Henry Rowengartner becomes a wildly brazen pitcher in the big leagues.

    He baits runners into being picked off by calling them "chicken," rattles opposing pitchers by telling them they have a "big butt" and—with the season on the linehas the cojones to deliver an underhand lob pitch to a roided-out slugger.

    The guy has the moxie of Johnny Manziel, the showmanship of Ric Flair and a bedtime of 9 p.m.

89. More Than a Game (2008)

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    DirectorKristopher Belman

    StarringLeBron James; Dru Joyce; Romeo Travis; Sian Cotton

    Rotten Tomatoes: 71% 

    Between recruiting websites and camera phones, amateur sports are being documented and revered at an increasing rate.

    While the consequences of idolizing teenagers can be severe (stay strong Justin Bieber!), the increased attention does yield a treasure-trove of video footage. 

    Sure, More Than a Game has its fair share of compelling testimony and first-hand accounts of James' rise to superstardom.

    But the video evidence of his development steals the show.

88. Little Giants (1994)

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    DirectorDuwayne Dunham

    Starring: Rick Moranis; Ed O'Neill; Shawna Waldron; Devon Sawa

    Rotten Tomatoes: 40% 

    This film addresses gender roles, bullying and the lows to which adults are willing to sink in order to secure an adolescent (albeit freakishly built) running back.

    But, above all, Little Giants proves that, with the right number of sight gags and hilariously timed fart noises, the flimsiest of scripts can be made into a classic children's movie.

87. Rocky III (1982)

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    Director: Sylvester Stallone

    StarringSylvester Stallone; Talia Shire; Burt Young; Carl Weathers 

    Rotten Tomatoes: 60% 

    For the Rocky series to be successful, the writers had to expand upon the underdog tale.

    Rocky III delivers with a ridiculous plot twist involving Mr. T and the death of Rocky Balboa's trainer.

    If there's one plot line Sylvester Stallone executes better than the long shot, it's the story of bloodthirsty revenge.

86. Rounders (1998)

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    DirectorJohn Dahl

    CastMatt Damon; Edward Norton; Gretchen Mol; John Malkovich

    Rotten Tomatoes: 65%

    Granted, the athletic merit of card counting and chip stacking is debatable, but we're calling Rounders a sports movie.

    YOLO.

    Edward Norton and Matt Damon are an incredible on-screen tandem, and John Malkovich plays a chilling heavy.

85. Blades of Glory (2007)

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    DirectorJosh Gordon and Will Speck

    Starring: Will Ferrell; Jon Heder; Amy Poehler; Will Arnett

    Rotten Tomatoes: 69% 

    Blades of Glory is a film that grants Will Ferrell carte blanche to act like a short-tempered Neanderthal.

    Raise your hand if you have a problem with that. I thought so.

    Watching this film is like driving a minivan while two infantile jerks fight in the backseat.

    But one of those jerks is Will Ferrell, and the guy has war chest of deliriously funny one-liners.

     

84. Wimbledon (2004)

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    DirectorRichard Loncraine

    Starring: Adam Brooks; Jennifer Flackett; Jon Favreau; Sam Neill

    Rotten Tomatoes: 60% 

    You always need a chick flick in the arsenal.

    When it comes to sports movies, your options are limited. There's Fever Pitch, of course, but that film is about as enjoyable as a Flying Elbow Drop to the nuts from Randy Savage.

    Wimbledon will let your girl know you're making an effort without completely obliterating your night, and there's something to be said for that.

83. The Armstrong Lie (2013)

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    DirectorAlex Gibney

    Starring: Lance Armstrong; Reed Albergotti; Betsy Andreu 

    Rotten Tomatoes: 84% 

    Alex Gibney attempts to unearth Lance Armstrong's deceit-ridden career.

    But, this documentary—however comprehensive—seems to only scratch the surface.

    There are a lot of feel-good movies on this list, but The Armstrong Lie is not one of them.

82. The Heart of the Game (2005)

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    DirectorWard Serrill

    Starring: Darnellia Russell; Bill Resler; Ludacris

    Rotten Tomatoes: 86% 

    This film is a documentary, but Bill Resler is so endearingly quirky that The Heart of the Game could easily be an award-winning character study.

    The movie follows a high school women's basketball program through a series of pitfalls and triumphs.

    If you enjoyed Hoop Dreams, this should be the next film loaded onto your Netflix queue.

81. Secretariat (2010)

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    DirectorRandall Wallace

    StarringDiane Lane; John Malkovich; Margo Martindale; Dylan Walsh

    Rotten Tomatoes: 64% 

    There aren't a lot of movies that can make a seamless transition from your mom's crib to date night, but Secretariat is the invariably appropriate answer to, "What are we watching tonight?"

    The race scenes are enough to keep your troublemaking cousin Travis entertained, and it's a verifiable fact that chicks dig horses. 

80. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

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    DirectorRawson Marshall Thurber

    Starring: Ben Stiller; Christine Taylor; Vince Vaughn; Justin Long

    Rotten Tomatoes: 60%

    When you really get down to it, theres nothing more entertaining than watching people get assaulted with errant playground balls.

    On that intrinsic truth alone, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is worth seeing.

    But mix in the seething tension between White Goodman and Peter LaFleur, as well as some brilliantly timed nut shots, and you have all the makings of a great comedy.

79. Above the Rim (1994)

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    Director: Jeff Pollack

    StarringDuane Martin; Tupac Shakur; Leon; Tonya Pnkins

    Rotten Tomatoes: 53% 

    Like a Chipotle burrito, Above the Rim is exactly what you expect and still awesome. 

    There are critics who dismiss the basketball drama for being formulaic, but the film moves quicker than a Duane Martin fast break, and Tupac Shakur delivers a standout performance.

78. Varsity Blues (1999)

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    DirectorBrian Robbins

    Starring: James Van Der Beek; Jon Voight; Paul Walker; Ron Lester

    Rotten Tomatoes: 40% 

    If you like your operatic football scenes paired with keg stands and heavy-handed preaching, then Varsity Blues is your Casablanca

    Bottom line: This is a movie about high school football, which means it's intrinsically entertaining.

    As an added bonus, James Van Der Beek solidifies his place in '90s heartthrob lore with the derpiest, most brooding performance since Jason Priestley played Brandon Walsh in 90210.

     

77. The Blind Side (2009)

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    Director: John Lee Hancock

    Starring: Quinton Aaron; Sandra Bullock; Tim McGraw; Ray McKinnon

    Rotten Tomatoes: 66%

    This film about future Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher (or is it about supermom Leigh Anne Tuohy?) is saccharine enough to get you sick. So, consult a doctor before viewing.

    While some of the film's more sensitive and complicated themes seem to be—at best—trivialized, The Blind Side will play your Aunt Nancy's heartstring like an Italian symphony.

    Whether it kills you with cheesiness or nourishes your soul, this film will make you feel something, which is more than can be said for most movie theater offerings. 

76. Step into Liquid (2003)

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    DirectorDana Brown

    StarringLaird John Hamilton; Layne Beachley; Dan Malloy

    Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

    As proven by The Endless Summer, surfing is to the sports documentary as Taco Bell is to eating while intoxicated, which is to say viscerally satisfying 100 percent of the time.

    In this film, Dana Brown explores a handful of surfing subcultures, and—more importantly—showcases people carving enormous waves.

    Step Into the Liquid is substantive and visually jarring. What more do you want?

75. Any Given Sunday (1999)

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    Director: Oliver Stone

    StarringAl Pacino; Dennis Quaid; Cameron Diaz; Jamie Foxx

    Rotten Tomatoes: 50% 

    Oliver Stone's ode to football is a digitized helmet-to-helmet hit that's nearly three hours in length.

    In other words, Any Given Sunday will almost certainly cause permanent damage to your brain, but you'll be too atmospherically blissful to care.

    Jamie Foxx is amusing in his role of an afterthought-turned-big shot, and Al Pacino is enjoyably intense, per usual.

     

74. D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)

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    DirectorSam Weisman

    Starring: Emilio Estevez; Kathryn Erbe; Michael Tucker; Joshua Jackson

    Rotten Tomatoes: 15%

    Like Tostino's Pizza Rolls and the Goosebumps series, D2: The Mighty Ducks is a childhood staple that you remember fondly.

    Also like Tostino's Pizza Rolls and the Goosebumps series, this film is something that's exponentially less enjoyably once you're past the age of, say, nine.

73. Ali (2001)

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    DirectorMichael Mann

    StarringWill Smith; Jamie Foxx; Jon Voight; Mario Van Peebles

    Rotten Tomatoes: 67%

    At nearly three hours in length, Ali will repeatedly challenge your ability to resist Instagram.

    But, overall, it's an ambitious project, and The Greatest is a subject who deserves as much of your time as you can allot. 

72. Goon (2011)

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    DirectorMichael Dowse

    Starring: Seann William Scott; Jay Baruchel; Alison Pill 

    Rotten Tomatoes: 82% 

    If you've forfeited a significant amount of security deposit money by punching holes in the wall, then Goon is the comedy for you.

    This film is very funny and perfectly suited for the crazed sensibilities of a hockey fan.

71. Happy Gilmore (1996)

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    DirectorDennis Dugan

    Starring: Adam Sandler; Christopher McDonald; Julie Bowen; Carl Weathers

    Rotten Tomatoes: 60% 

    When comedy is melted down to its purest form, one is left with nut shots, expletive-laden temper tantrums and lowbrow sight gags.

    By that standard, Happy Gilmore is a farcical triple threat. 

    Sandler is at his best when he's playing a hair-trigger jerk, and Happy is as unhinged on the golf course as Alec Baldwin is on a commercial flight.

70. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

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    Director: Adam McKay

    Starring: Will Ferrell; John C. Reilly; Sacha Baron Cohen 

    Rotten Tomatoes: 71% 

    Ricky Bobby is just as detestable as he is sympathetic, which is the mark of an inspired character study.

    He embodies the rampant egotism of the 21st-century superstar while, simultaneously, championing all that is sacred in this world, like NASCAR, beautiful blondes and Domino’s Pizza.

    If Talladega Nights doesn’t inspire you to chug a Budweiser and adopt a Bald Eagle, then I don’t have anything else to say to you, comrade. 

69. Riding Giants (2004)

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    DirectorStacy Peralta

    Starring: Laird John Hamilton; Darrick Doerner; Dave Kalama; Dru Harrison

    Rotten Tomatoes: 93% 

    This isn't the surfer-dude-bruh documentary that you're probably expecting.

    Riding Giants traces the sport of surfing back to the legends, which turns out to be a wildly exhilarating history lesson.

68. Touching the Void (2003)

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    DirectorKevin Macdonald

    Starring: Simon Yates; Joe Simpson; Brendan Mackey

    Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

    The only thing more harrowing than watching Touching the Void is actually climbing the north face of Everest in your underpants. 

    Enduring this exhibition in summit chasing is enough to give a man vertigo.

    Netflix responsibly.

67. Girlfight (2000)

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    DirectorKaryn Kusama

    StarringMichelle Rodriguez; Santiago Douglas; Jaime Tirelli; Paul Calderon

    Rotten Tomatoes: 87% 

    Michelle Rodriguez is as badass a chick as there is in Hollywood.

    And, her role as the battle-hardened Diana in Girlfight served as a launching pad for her film career.

    This movie is celebrated in obscurity, and it's about time you discover what all the fuss is about.

66. Senna (2010)

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    DirectorAsif Kapadia

    Starring: Ayrton Senna; Alain Prost; Frank Williams; Ron Dennis

    Rotten Tomatoes: 92% 

    Senna is a documentary about a Formula One racer, which means it's going to be a hard sell in a room full of people who are partial to Michael Bay films.

    But, if you somehow win the room on Netflix night, you'll be treated to a riveting story about a man who redlined his way through life, both on the track and off of it.

65. Big Fan (2009)

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    DirectorRobert D. Siegel

    StarringPatton Oswalt; Kevin Corrigan; Michael Rapaport; Marcia Jean Kurtz

    Rotten Tomatoes: 86% 

    Professional sports provide fans (like us!) with the means to live vicariously through people who lead superior lives.

    We receive a sense of self-worth from the success of other people, willfully pay $8 to drink a beer inside a taxpayer-funded stadium and displace our own personal shortcomings on a missed field goal.

    And, worst of all, professional sports are so shamelessly sentimentalized that we, as fans, are rarely confronted with our own pathetic reality.

    Big Fan draws attention toas oxymoronic as it soundsthe sobering side of life in the bleachers.

    It's as poignant and necessary a film as any on this list.

64. Seabiscuit (2003)

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    Director: Gary Ross

    Starring: Tobey Maguire; Jeff Bridges; Elizabeth Banks; Paul Vincent O'Connor

    Rotten Tomatoes: 77% 

    The film's cast is incredible, and the horse-racing scenes alone are worth the On Demand purchase.

    Set against The Great Depression, Seabiscuit tells a story of triumph during a time of despair.

     

63. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998)

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    Director: Aviva Kempner

    Starring: Reeve Brenner; Hank Greenberg; Walter Matthau; Alan M. Dershowitz

    Rotten Tomatoes: 92% 

    Hank Greenberg was one of baseball's first notable Jewish players and a close personal friend to Jackie Robinson.

    His story isn't as famous as some of the other trail blazers in major sports, but it's similarly compelling.

     

62. Invincible (2006)

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    DirectorEricson Core

    Starring: Mark Wahlberg; Greg Kinnear; Elizabeth Banks

    Rotten Tomatoes: 71% 

    Invincible tells the true story of a bartender-turned-football player who secures a roster spot on his beloved Philadelphia Eagles by way of an open tryout. 

    Beautifully shot and considerably less banal than its Disney contemporaries, this film is a must-see for every fantasy football commissioner with real-life special teams aspirations.

     

61. 42 (2013)

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    DirectorBrian Helgeland

    StarringChadwick Boseman; T.R. Knight; Harrison Ford; Lucas Black

    Rotten Tomatoes: 78% 

    Harrison Ford is nothing if not spirited as Branch Rickey, and Chadwick Boseman, who plays Jackie Robinson, carries the film.

    If you can stomach the cheesy dialogue, particularly the on-feld banter between Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, then 42 is a mostly enjoyable biopic. 

60. 61* (2001)

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    DirectorBilly Crystal

    StarringBarry Pepper; Thomas Jane; Anthony Michael Hall; Richard Masur

    Rotten Tomatoes: 80% 

    ESPN's "30 for 30" series notwithstanding, HBO consistently produces some of the best original sports content on television. 

    Directed by Billy Crystal, 61* profiles Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, who hit a combined 115 home runs during the 1961 MLB season.

    This film is a beautifully shot reminder of what baseball was like before hammerhead shark testosterone injections and luxury suites.

     

59. Victory (1981)

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    Director: John Huston

    StarringMichael Caine; Sylvester Stallone; Pele; Bobby Moore

    Rotten Tomatoes: 67% 

    Victory is a delightful combination of The Great Escape and The Longest Yard, only with the added bonus of futbol virtuoso Pele. 

    Stories about patriotism and underdogs are worthwhile sports movie constructs in their own right.

    But, when combined, these themes make it impossible to sit through an entire movie without drop kicking your coffee table in half out of unadulterated emotion.

     

58. Brian's Song (1971)

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    DirectorBuzz Kulik

    CastJames Caan; Billy Dee Williams; Jack Warden; Shelley Fabares

    Rotten Tomatoes: 91% 

    The 1971 ABC Movie of the Week Brian's Song has moved more grown men to tears than razor burn and male pattern baldness combined.

    If you make it through Gale Sayers' poignant ode to backfield cohort Brian Piccolo without sobbing inconsolably, than you have the heart of a Roman emperor. 

    Let's all pour out a pint of Old Style for our old friend, Brian Piccolo.

     

57. Rocky II (1979)

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    Director: Sylvester Stallone

    StarringSylvester Stallone; Talia Shire; Burt Young; Carl Weathers

    Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

    All great boxing rivalries need an exalted rematch, which is what made Balboa versus Creed 2.0 downright necessary.

    On the acting front, Sylvester Stallone was born to play the role of a downtrodden prizefighter.

    This guy is to the oafish brute as Michael Cera is to the uneasy wallflower. He was put on this planet to be bloodied and shirtless on screen.

56. Tin Cup (1996)

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    Director: Ron Shelton

    StarringKevin Costner; Rene Russo; Don Johnson; Cheech Marin

    Rotten Tomatoes: 69% 

    Like a chocolate fudge Pop-Tart, Tin Cup is an enjoyable experience that requires minimal effort. 

    It's a formulaic chick flick, only with Kevin Costner's hallmark charm, which has to count for something.

    There are definitely worse in-flight movie staples. 

55. Kingpin (1996)

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    Director: The Farrelly Brothers

    Starring: Woody Harrelson; Randy Quaid; Bill Murray; Vanessa Angel

    Rotten Tomatoes: 50% 

    Kingpin is more than an underrated sports movie—it's the most slept-on comedy of the last quarter century.

    Even if you watch this movie alone, you will laugh audibly two dozen times.

    Care for another objectively correct (but widely unaccepted) statement?

    Ishmael and Roy Munson are a more harmonious on-screen duo than Sam and Frodo.

    You mad?

54. Love & Basketball (2000)

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    Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

    StarringSanaa Lathan; Omar Epps; Glenndon Chatman; Kyla Pratt

    Rotten Tomatoes: 82% 

    The only bad thing about watching Love & Basketball is that it'll coerce you into texting Drake lyrics to your senior prom date during a night of heavy drinking. 

    Compelling stories about loyalty and sacrifice are not for easily flustered, single guys.

    True happiness is finding the Monica Wright to your Quincy McCall; a person who—win or lose—is always down for another game of one-on-one in the game of life.

53. Invictus (2009)

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    Director: Clint Eastwood

    StarringMorgan Freeman; Matt Damon; Tony Kgoroge; Patrick Mofokeng

    Rotten Tomatoes: 76% 

    With Clint Eastwood running the show and Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela, Invictus is an incredibly ambitious project.

    Besides its scope, the film tackles the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which is a complicated endeavor in its own right.

    Overall, Invictus is a well-executed story and visually stunning to boot.

     

52. The Hurricane (1999)

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    Director: Norman Jewison

    StarringDenzel Washington; Vicellous Reon Shannon; Deborah Kara Unger; Liev Schreiber

    Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

    Director Norman Jewison examines the incredible true story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer who was poised to be to be a title contender before a wrongful conviction sent him to prison for nearly three decades.

    And, per usual, Denzel Washington is commanding as the film's lead.

51. The Rookie (2002)

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    Director: John Lee Hancock

    StarringDennis Quaid; Jay Hernandez; Rachel Griffiths; Angus T. Jones

    Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

    As a floundering freelance writer who pays the majority of his bills on a credit card, I have a soft place in my heart for stories about delayed gratification. 

    The Rookie tells the tale of a middle-aged man who realizes his Major League Baseball aspirations more than a decade after suffering a devastating shoulder injury. 

    The worst thing about being a parent is getting dragged to family movies that you don't want to see, but this Disney flick is an all-embracing feel-good story.

50. Cinderella Man (2005)

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    Director: Ron Howard

    StarringRussell Crowe; Renée Zellweger; Craig Bierko; Paul Giamatti

    Rotten Tomatoes: 80% 

    This film moves about as quickly as your grandmother making a left-hand turn in a '90 Mercury Grand Marquis.

    That said, the film's sum is greater than its parts. So, if you stick with it until the end, you're left with an uplifting and powerful narrative. 

    Ron Howard depicts 1930's New York beautifully, and Russell Crowe is a convincing hero.

49. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

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    DirectorJohn Hancock

    StarringMichael Moriarty; Robert De Niro; Vincent Gardenia; Phil Foster

    Rotten Tomatoes: 88% 

    Baseball's version of Brian's Song will almost certainly make you tear up.

    So, as a primer for your inevitable blubbering, complain about "stupid allergies" before viewing this film with a group.

48. Undefeated (2012)

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    DirectorDaniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin

    Starring: Bill Courtney; O.C. Brown; Montrail 'Money' Brown

    Rotten Tomatoes: 96% 

    Set in a poverty-stricken area of Memphis, Tenn., Undefeated tells the story of a battered football program led by volunteer coach Bill Courtney. 

    The team's season, while not conventionally successful, is moving and the indomitable spirit of the Manassas Tigers is impossible to ignore. 

47. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

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    DirectorGurinder Chadha

    Starring: Parminder Nagra; Keira Knightley; Jonathan Rhys Meyers

    Rotten Tomatoes: 85% 

    If you're enduring an especially painful kidney stone or had a rough day at the office, Bend It Like Beckham is the type of movie that will turn your spirits around.

    The film is about a woman who hides her love of soccer from her disapproving family.

    When it comes to movies about people perpetuating a double life for the sake of scoring goals, there's finally a better option than Ladybugs.

     

46. Tyson (2008)

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    Director: James Toback

    StarringMike Tyson; Mills Lane; Trevor Berbick; William Cayton

    Rotten Tomatoes: 84% 

    Over the last quarter century, Mike Tyson has gone from the most detested athlete in the country to one of the most endearing personalities in sports, mostly because of his candor.

    Iron Mike is nothing if not forthcoming in this film. 

    Featuring stories of his checkered past and his relationship with Cus D'Amato, Tyson is Greek tragedy in the form of a documentary.

45. Sugar (2008)

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    DirectorAnna Boden and Ryan Fleck

    Starring: Algenis Perez Soto; Jose Rijo; Walki Cuevas

    Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

    Sugar is a character study that examines the plight of a foreign-born pitching prospect, from assimilation to the allure of steroids. 

    This film won't inspire you crank out push-ups in the living room like some of the other movies on this list, but it says more about life than almost all of them.

44. Heaven Can Wait (1978)

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    DirectorWarren Beatty and Buck Henry

    StarringWarren Beatty; James Mason; Julie Christie

    Rotten Tomatoes: 88% 

    The sports version of It's a Wonderful Life is funny, artistically unblemished and features the '70s era eye candy of Julie Christie and Dyan Cannon.

    If you've had the misfortune of seeing Juwanna Mann, you know how incredibly bad sports comedies can be. 

    Thankfully, this is one of the better ones.

43. Remember the Titans (2000)

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    DirectorLeon Gast

    StarringDenzel Washington; Will Patton; Wood Harris; Ryan Hurst

    Rotten Tomatoes: 73% 

    Hell hath no fury like a suburban high school football coach who has recently watched Remember the Titans

    As Rudy is to deep bench zeal, this movie is to outrageously long conditioning sessions.

    Despite inspiring a generation of insufferable coach archetypes, Denzel Washington murders the role of Herman Boone, and that Marvin Gaye number in the locker room is enough to make a water buffalo smile.

     

42. A League of Their Own (1992)

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    Director Penny Marshall

    StarringTom Hanks; Geena Davis; Lori Petty; Madonna

    Rotten Tomatoes: 77%

    Directed by Penny Marshall, starring Tom Hanks and featuring Madonna, A League of Their Own is predictably fun.

    Like most comedies, it loses a lot of steam in the second half, but the film is inescapably enjoyable.

41. Beyond the Mat (1999)

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    YouTube

    DirectorBarry W. Blaustein

    StarringTerry Funk; Mick Foley; Jake Roberts; Vince McMahon

    Rotten Tomatoes: 82% 

    Professional wrestling might not be as real as this kid thinks it is, but there's nothing exaggerated about the pain and brutality of life inside the ring.

    Beyond the Mat is an intense and unflinching look at what life as like as a professional wrestler, and it runs the gamut from superstar to washed-up has-been.

    Whether you're a fan of the sport or not, this film is worth your time.

40. The Longest Yard (1974)

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    Director: Robert Aldrich

    StarringBurt Reynolds; Eddie Albert; Ed Lauter; Michael Conrad

    Rotten Tomatoes: 81% 

    Burt Reynolds has the bravado of a Stetson cologne ad personified, so he really shines as the irreverent criminal with an arm. 

    As far as climactic games go, the final matchup in The Longest Yard is as stirring a competition as there is on this list.

39. Warrior (2011)

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    DirectorGavin O'Connor

    Starring: Tom Hardy; Nick Nolte; Joel Edgerton; Jennifer Morrison

    Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

    Warrior is an underdog story about sibling MMA fighters, but it's not the Spike TV version of a Lifetime Original movie that you'd expect. 

    It's a gripping film with a brain, and it moves at a breakneck clip without compromising substance. 

    Warrior isn't the best sports movie made in the last 10 years, but it's arguably the most entertaining. 

     

38. Pumping Iron (1977)

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    DirectorGeorge Butler and Robert Fiore

    StarringArnold Schwarzenegger; Lou Ferrigno; Matty Ferrigno

    Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

    Arnold Schwarzenegger has played a cyborg and a retired Black Ops Commando, but his most compelling role to date is as a hulking version of himself. 

    Pumping Iron takes a look at what it takes to go from a scrawny weakling to a walking pallet of shrink-wrapped textbooks.

    Spoiler alert: It takes a lot of raw eggs and homicidal screams at the squat rack. 

37. Cool Runnings (1993)

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    DirectorJon Turteltaub

    Starring: John Candy; Leon; Doug E. Doug; Malik Yoba

    Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

    This fact-based comedy about a Jamaican Olympic bobsledding team is as goofy as its premise.

    But, like a trip down the ice track in a toboggan, it's a lot of fun too.  

36. He Got Game (1998)

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    Director: Spike Lee

    StarringDenzel Washington; Milla Jovovich; Ray Allen; Rosario Dawson

    Rotten Tomatoes: 80% 

    As an ardent basketball fan, proud New Yorker and brilliant artist, Spike Lee has a unique perspective when it comes to creating a sports movie, especially one as earnest as He Got Game.

    Denzel Washington steals the show, but Ray Allen deserves attention for his admirable command of the detached star athlete.  

35. Rudy (1993)

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    DirectorDavid Anspaugh

    CastSean Astin; Jon Favreau; Ned Beatty; Charles S. Dutton

    Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

    Rudy tells the inspiring true story of an undersized football player who—through sacrifice, hardship and the loss of his fiancée to his own brother—records a single sack in the garbage minutes of a blowout. 

    Never let anybody tell you that you can't achieve your dreams, kiddos.

     

34. North Dallas Forty (1979)

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    DirectorTed Kotcheff

    Starring: Nick Nolte; Charles Durning; Mac Davis; Dabney Coleman

    Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

    All good football movies need two things: Spectacularly violent on-field scenes and slapstick locker room antics. Thankfully, North Dallas Forty has both key elements in spades.

    If you have the misfortune of seeing Wildcats or ESPN's ill-fated series Playmakers, this film serves a regenerative mind cleanse.

33. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

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    DirectorSam Wood

    Starring: Gary Cooper; Teresa Wright; Babe Ruth; Walter Brennan

    Rotten Tomatoes: 92% 

    Lou Gehrig's biopic is appropriately captivating and features an Oscar-nominated performance from Gary Cooper.

    If it's between The Pride of the Yankees and The Scout, your pick of Bronx Bomber films will be a remarkably easy decision.

32. The Natural (1984)

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    DirectorBarry Levinson

    StarringRobert Redford; Robert Duvall; Glenn Close; Kim Basinger

    Rotten Tomatoes: 82% 

    Becoming a professional athlete requires talent and tireless training.

    Unless a nearby tree is struck with lightning, in which case superstardom merely requires a perfunctory knowledge of woodworking.

    The Natural is a story about the American spirit, and it's reason No. 4,087 to pay attention during shop class.

     

31. Jerry Maguire (1996)

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    Director: Cameron Crowe

    StarringTom Cruise; Cuba Gooding Jr.; Renée Zellweger; Jonathan Lipnicki

    Rotten Tomatoes: 85% 

    Between Cuba Gooding Jr.'s role as Arizona Cardinals wideout Rod Tidwell and Tom Cruise as a high-minded sports agent, Jerry Maguire is arguably 1996's best collective acting performance.

    This character-driven love story will make you smile, laugh and stare longingly at the Facebook profile of an ex-girlfriend while playing a Bruce Springsteen record. 

    So, it sounds like your Saturday night is booked.

30. Miracle (2004)

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    DirectorGavin O'Connor

    StarringKurt Russell; Patricia Clarkson; Nathan West; Kenneth Welsh

    Rotten Tomatoes: 80% 

    The story of the 1980 United States Ice Hockey team's improbable win over the Soviet Union is strong enough to withstand Disney's trademark onslaught of superficial rah-rah. 

    Kurt Russell is great as coach Herb Brooks, and the climactic game is enough to make you shed red, white and blue tears of joy.

29. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

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    DirectorClint Eastwood

    StarringHilary Swank; Clint Eastwood; Morgan Freeman; Jay Baruchel

    Rotten Tomatoes: 91% 

    From its inherent risk to the blood, sweat and punches to the face required for success, boxing embodies the American dream like no other sport.

    Million Dollar Baby is about struggle, overcoming obstacles and, ultimately, horrible luck. 

    For every hokey iPhone commercial that trivializes existence with a cute montage, there needs to be an uppercut of truth.

    This movie is the truth.

28. Rush (2013)

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    Director: Ron Howard

    StarringDaniel Bruhl; Chris Hemsworth; Olivia Wilde; Pierfrancesco Favino

    Rotten Tomatoes: 89% 

    Rush was spearheaded by Ron Howard and a team of writers that have more Academy Award nominations than Philip Rivers has bolo ties.

    The story is about Formula One racing, recovering from severe burns and frenemies.

    Bruhl and Hemsworth are stellar, and—racing fan or notthe movie's entertaining enough to hold your attention.

    The cinematography is amazing as well, with incredible race sequences and establishing shots from all over the world.

     

     

27. White Men Can't Jump (1992)

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    DirectorRon Shelton

    CastWesley Snipes; Woody Harrelson; Rosie Perez; Tyra Ferrell

    Rotten Tomatoes: 77% 

    White Men Can't Jump is a clean narrative that never takes itself too seriously.

    The film's heartfelt moments are sweet without being syrupy. 

    And, the tandem of Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes is like watching petty criminal versions of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Together, the two are phenomenally entertaining.

    In sum, there's no knocking the hustle.  

26. The Bad News Bears (1976)

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    DirectorMichael Ritchie

    StarringWalter Matthau; Tatum O'Neal; Vic Morrow; Joyce Van Patten

    Rotten Tomatoes: 96% 

    Show me a movie about a ragtag Little League team that's led by a functioning alcoholic and I'll show you a film worth seeing.

    The Bad News Bears is hilarious, authentic and oddly heartwarming. 

25. Friday Night Lights (2004)

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    Director: Peter Berg

    StarringBilly Bob Thornton; Jay Hernandez; Derek Luke; Lucas Black

    Rotten Tomatoes: 81% 

    This film is grandiose, but so is the stage for high school football in Texas. 

    Peter Berg's direction is a crackback block to the viscera, and Explosions in the Sky provide a fittingly majestic soundtrack for the on-field brutality. 

    This movie is everything.

24. Chariots of Fire (1981)

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    DirectorHugh Hudson

    StarringBen Cross; Ian Charleson; Nicholas Farrell; Daniel Gerroll

    Rotten Tomatoes: 85% 

    Chariots of Fire will inspire you to join a gym and take night classes, even if you watch it with your eyes closed.

    The score is that powerful.

    It also won the award for Best Picture during the 1981 Academy Awards, so rest assured that the film's more than just a bumping soundtrack.

23. The Damned United (2009)

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    DirectorTom Hooper

    Starring: Michael Sheen; Colm Meaney; Henry Goodman; David Roper

    Rotten Tomatoes: 94% 

    If you've never heard of Michael Sheen, you better ask somebody. 

    The guy is a Welsh, slightly less photogenic version of Leonardo DiCaprio, and he's undeniably great in the role of a defiant soccer coach. 

     

22. Moneyball (2011)

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    DirectorBennett Miller

    StarringBrad Pitt; Chris Pratt; Jonah Hill; Philip Seymour Hoffman

    Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

    With an affinity for sabermetrics, Billy Beane turns the nameless, all-in 2002 Oakland Athletics into a veritable title contender.

    Moneyball focuses on the genius of Beane and his sidekick Peter Brand, as the two fill the roster with unappreciated role players like Scott Hatteberg.

    Of course, the squad also has three aces in the rotation and a hulking-on-anabolic-steroids Miguel Tejada, but that doesn't matter because Hollywood.

    If you can ride with the simplified praise of sabermetrics, Moneyball is arguably the decade's best sports film.

     

21. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)

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    Director: Stacy Peralta

    StarringSean Penn; Jay Adams; Tony Alva; Bob Biniak

    Rotten Tomatoes: 92% 

    Narrated by Sean Penn, Dogtown and Z-Boys traces the origins of the contemporary skateboarding culture back to a group of Santa Monica misfits. 

    The film is unrestrained, inspiring and downright fun to watch.

    If a shopping mall security guard has ever forcibly manhandled you, this movie will change your life.

20. Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns (1994)

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    YouTube

    Director: Ken Burns

    Starring: John Chancellor; Daniel Okrent; Ossie Davis 

    Rotten Tomatoes: N/A 

    Baseball is a 10-part DVD series by Ken Burns, which tracks the sport's 150-year history with more than 24 hours of content.

    That probably sounds ambitious, but—between DexterGame of Thrones and Breaking Bad—you and your couch are kindred spirits at this point. Right?

    Bottom line: If you're a diehard baseball fan, this mini-series is your Xanadu.

     

19. Slap Shot (1977)

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    DirectorGeorge Roy Hill

    StarringPaul Newman; Michael Ontkean; Strother Martin; Jennifer Warren

    Rotten Tomatoes: 85% 

    Movies that depict their subjects in an honest and thoughtful way are few and far between, particularly when it comes to sports.

    However, Slap Shot is funny, incendiary and presents hockey as the uninhibited exhibition in machismo that it is.

    Chalk up another win for the legendary Paul Newman.

18. The Sandlot (1993)

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    DirectorDavid M. Evans

    CastTom Guiry; Mike Vitar; Patrick Renna; Chauncey Leopardi

    Rotten Tomatoes: 63% 

    The official sleepover movie of '90s era Little Leaguers is a story about baseball and the best three months of your life. 

    A truly great movie is one that allows you to escape, and The Sandlot is a vehicle for reaching the summers of your childhood. 

    There's no better place to be, really.

17. Caddyshack (1980)

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    DirectorHarold Ramis

    CastChevy Chase; Rodney Dangerfield; Bill Murray; Ted Knight

    Rotten Tomatoes: 76%

    Your goofball dad treasures this flick alongside his archived stash of National Lampoon magazines and Bandai games. 

    Caddyshack is like Citizen Kane for "cool guy" Little League coaches, and for good reason.

    There's no better venue for slapstick humor than a country club. 

16. The Wrestler (2008)

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    DirectorDarren Aronofsky

    StarringMickey Rourke; Marisa Tomei; Evan Rachel Wood; Mark Margolis

    Rotten Tomatoes: 98% 

    We're mostly exposed to an artificial side of contact sports, particularly in the steroid-addled, carnival barker world of professional wrestling. 

    The Wrestler takes a poignant look at the life of a discarded gladiator, which—in the wake of the NFL's concussion crisis—seems like an especially relevant theme. 

15. Major League (1989)

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    Director: David Ward

    Starring: Tom Berenger; Charlie Sheen; Corbin Bernsen; Margaret Whitton

    Rotten Tomatoes: 81%

    Baseball is a sport in which grown men scratch themselves incessantly and spit in the dirt for three hours.

    It's a game for dirtbags, complete with mouthfuls of chewing tobacco and the occasional bench-clearing brawl.

    Films like Field of Dreams and For Love of the Game romanticize the sport of goons, but Major League represents the reality of locker room hijinks in all its glory.

14. The Karate Kid (1984)

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    DirectorJohn G. Avildsen

    StarringRalph Macchio; Pat Morita; Elisabeth Shue; Martin Kove

    Rotten Tomatoes: 90% 

    Teen movies peaked during the '80s, and—with all due respect to John Hughes—this film is right up there at the top.

    In the age of bold mustaches and Hollywood Hogan, The Karate Kid was a beacon of hope for pint-sized kids who were repeatedly coerced into handing over their lunch money.

    This movie delivered a roundhouse kick to society's face when the little guy needed a win most.

13. Breaking Away (1979)

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    DirectorPeter Yates

    StarringDennis Christopher; Dennis Quaid; Daniel Stern; Jackie Earle Haley

    Rotten Tomatoes: 94% 

    Breaking Away is the coming of age tale of Dave Stoller, a recent high school graduate who has aspirations of being a champion bicycle racer.

    This film is exponentially better than the American Pie series and more relatable than Almost Famous. Think Superbad, only with multi-speed gears.

     

     

12. The Color of Money (1986)

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    DirectorMartin Scorsese

    Starring: Paul Newman; Tom Cruise; Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio; Helen Shaver

    Rotten Tomatoes: 92% 

    The Color of Money is a cocaine '80s version The Hustler, but with Martin Scorsese in charge of the creative vision.

    If that's not reason enough for you to see this film, then you're probably not a lot of fun to talk to at parties.

11. The Fighter (2010)

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    DirectorDavid O. Russell

    Starring: Mark Wahlberg; Christian Bale; Amy Adams 

    Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

    As superbly acted and well-paced a movie as there is on this list, The Fighter tells the true story of boxing brothers Dicky Eklund and Micky Ward.

    Picture Boy Meets World, if Cory and Shaun grew up in a battle-hardened area of Lowell, Massachusetts and were vexed by uppercuts and drug addiction instead of pop quizzes from Mr. Feeny. 

10. When We Were Kings (1996)

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    DirectorLeon Gast

    StarringMuhammad Ali; George Foreman; Don King; James Brown

    Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

    Between Lance Armstrong and Instagrammed bottle service receipts, you're more likely to find a mint condition copy of "Amazing Spider-Man No. 1" than a transcendent sports star these days.

    But When We Were Kings, which spotlights the 1974 heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, reminds us that athletes are occasionally worthy of their demigod pedestals.  

    This documentary by Leon Gast takes a probing look at boxing's greatest icon within the context of the sport's biggest event.

     

     

9. Field of Dreams (1989)

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    Director: Phil Alden Robinson

    Starring: Kevin Costner; James Earl Jones; Ray Liotta; Amy Madigan

    Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

    Field of Dreams is Kevin Costner's Revolver, which is to say that it's not his best piece, but a bona fide classic nevertheless. 

    It tells the story of an Iowa farmer who hears voices. But, instead of ritualistically shooting his John Deere equipment like an agricultural version of the Son of Sam, he builds a baseball field for ghosts.

    The film also uses country's heartland to say something about beauty of America's pastime as it relates to this sick, sad world we live in.

    Bravo, Hollywood.

8. Hoosiers (1986)

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    DirectorDavid Anspaugh

    CastGene Hackman; Barbara Hershey; Dennis Hopper; Sheb Wooley

    Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

    Hoosiers is the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of sports movies, which is to say remarkably simple and unequivocally perfect.

    From its rural Indiana setting to the obligatory last-second shot, the film doesn't do anything you haven't seen beforeit just does it better.

    And, Gene Hackman is absolutely brilliant in his role as the unsung high school basketball coach with a hair-trigger temper. 

7. Bull Durham (1988)

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    Director: Ron Shelton

    Cast: Kevin Costner; Susan Sarandon; Tim Robbins; Trey Wilson

    Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

    Crash Davis is a washed-up minor league baseball player whose life mission has been reduced to mentoring a talented-but-unhinged pitching prospect.

    There's nothing glamorous about his role, but Davis—alongside Annie Savoy—reveals himself to be an infinitely quotable and sage adviser.

    Bull Durham is a great movie because it reminds us that life can take us in unexpected directions and end up pretty awesome.  

6. Murderball (2005)

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    Director: Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro

    StarringJoe Soares; Keith Cavill; Mark Zupan; Christopher Igoe 

    Rotten Tomatoes: 98% 

    Murderball is a game that's equal parts rugby and demolition derby.

    It's a sport that's physical, vicious and played with the fervent energy of a One Direction concert inside a Forever 21 store.

    After watching this documentary, a quarterback playing through a groin pull won't look so tough.

5. Eight Men Out (1988)

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    Director: John Sayles

    StarringJohn Cusack; Clifton James; Michael Lerner; Christopher Lloyd

    Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

    Director John Sayles' story about the 1919 Chicago White Sox illustrates how some of the country's most distinguished athletes were bribed into throwing the World Series.

    The set design is stunning and John Cusack—despite his unshakable allegiance to the Chicago Cubs—is a moving Buck Weaver.

4. The Hustler (1961)

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    DirectorRobert Rossen

    CastPaul Newman; Jackie Gleason; Piper Laurie; George C. Scott

    Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

    There was a time when chain-smoking Chesterfield cigarettes and playing pool was the coolest thing a guy could do, and no one embodied the unadulterated machismo of degenerate gambling like Paul Newman.

    The Hustler is about humiliating enemies and steamrolling one's way to redemption, which are profoundly important life lessons. 

    And, the film's pool hall showdown between Eddie Felson and Minnesota Fats is the sports movie equivalent to Luke Skywalker battling it out against Darth Vader, only with pool sticks instead of fluorescent tube lights.

3. Rocky (1976)

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    DirectorJohn G. Avildsen

    StarringSylvester Stallone; Talia Shire; Burt Young; Carl Weathers

    Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

    The story about middling boxers and their quests to become champions has been done ad nauseam, but Rocky is the underdog story's inarguable gold standard.

    If this movie doesn't inspire you to slap box a few frozen pizzas and crank out 100 crunches, then it's time to look into a testosterone-boosting energy supplement.

2. Hoop Dreams (1994)

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    DirectorSteve James

    StarringWilliam Gates; Arthur Agee; Emma Gates; Gene Pingatore

    Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

    Hoop Dreams illustrates the plight of two inner-city Chicago basketball players as they navigate the competitive and often dubious landscape of amateur athletics. 

    By telling a story about the cost of ambition, director Steve James draws attention to racial inequality, class divide and the devout, perhaps reckless value we place on sports.

1. Raging Bull (1980)

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    DirectorMartin Scorsese

    Cast: Robert DeNiro; Cathy Moriarty; Joe Pesci; Frank Vincent

    Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

    Martin Scorsese's visually stunning portrayal of middleweight boxer Jake La Motta is gritty, savage and brilliantly perverse.

    Much like seeing a bloodied prizefighter on the ropes, it's as hard to watch as it is to look away.