Films are awesome experiences, but not all are created equal. This certainly goes for sports flicks, too—and towards that end, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to breakdown 5 of the All-Time Greatest Sports Movies for you.
A couple notes on our methodology here: These aren’t necessarily the Top 5 of all-time, merely five among the greatest. Documentaries were not considered for this list. Also, we decided to avoid featuring the same sport more than once, just to give you guys some variety.
1. Rudy | 1993
Starring Sean Astin (you may know him better as the hobbit “Samwise Gamgee” from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy), this is the almost absurdly heartwarming tale of how diminutive Daniel E. 'Rudy' Ruettiger overcame all the odds—academic, socioeconomic and size-related, among others—to play football for the legendary Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It’s one of the most powerfully motivational feature films ever, so we just couldn’t resist.
2. White Men Can’t Jump | 1992
Hoosiers (1986) often gets the nod for the basketball slot, and we get it. But while that flick admittedly offers the mega-acting chops of Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper, White Men Can’t Jump effortlessly entertains us with the uber-fun talents of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.
There’s plenty of heartwarming sports tales out there (and on this very list), but this one has a timeless cool. And it certainly has to win some kind of award for foul language. F-bombs away!
3. Rocky | 1976
Yes, you’ve probably seen it, and yeah, we were mad tempted to go with the masterpiece that is Martin Scorsese’s and Best Picture-winner Robert De Niro’s Raging Bull (1980), but Rocky not only preceded it, it inarguably holds a special place in the cultural zeitgeist. And whether you agree on its merits or not, the fact it won “Best Picture” at the 1977 Academy Awards makes Sly Stallone’s feature an undeniable heavyweight.
And now, the training montage you knew was coming. Watch this, stand up, and go punch something:
4. Tin Cup | 1996
How do you impress your rival’s girlfriend and win her heart? Why, you attempt to qualify for golf’s U.S. Open, of course. (Like, what else would you do?)
A story examining the personal, romantic, and sports journey of a washed-up driving range golf pro (Kevin Costner), some of the other big names may be before your time—Rene Russo, Don Johnson, and even Cheech Marin of “Cheech and Chong” fame—but regardless, this is a strong cast having a lot of fun on set. And notably, Tin Cup was written and directed by the same writer/director of White Men Can’t Jump. So there ya go.
5. Field of Dreams | 1989
Whoa, we just hit you with a “Double Costner.” (That sounds like either an alcoholic drink or one of those dirty Urban Dictionary listings, doesn't it?) That’s right—both Tin Cup and Field of Dreams feature the 90s superstar in the lead role. And while it wasn’t by design, we’re totally cool with him popping up twice on this list, because Field of Dreams is not only one of our “Greatest Sports Movies,” it’s one of our favorite films ever.
Some might argue this isn’t so much a sports movie as it is a father-son story, but anyway you slice it, Field of Dreams is beyond special. A must-watch also starring James Earl Jones (Mr. “Voice of Darth Vader” himself) and Ray Liotta (Goodfellas).
And now, that famous scene you’ve heard of since before you can remember: