Baseball

The 50 Best Sports Movies Ever

By Ryan Finklestein - April 16, 2019

Sports movies are the perfect personification of everything that we love about sports. They give the audience the same thrilling emotion that goes into the competition of sports, but with a dash of movie magic.

Stories of perseverance such Rudy or Rocky teach you to never give you up. While movies like Replacements and Bad News Bears show how any group of misfits can come together as a team to overcome all odds.

Now before we get into this list one thing needs to be made clear, there is spoilers that lie ahead as we look back at the Best Sports Movies of all-time.  

50. Air Bud (1997)

If you watch this movie, or any of the dozen sequels and spin-offs that have been made since, you will realize that they all have the same plot and the movies don’t really hold up.

49. Rookie of the Year (1993)

48. Glory Road (2006)

47. Hardball (2001)

This movie stars Keanu Reeves as a gambler who is in serious debt and gets paid $500 a week to coach a little league team made up of a group of street-kids. One of those kids just happened to turn into a massive star, as Michael B. Jordan plays Jamal, the oldest kid on the team.

46. The Sandlot (1993)

While the movie does not hold up quite as well as you would expect, it cannot be denied that it is one of the most classic sports movies of all-time.

Phrases from the movie like “You’re killing me smalls!” have been repeated so often they have become commonplace even with people who have not seen the movie.

45. Blue Chips (1994)

The movie starred Shaquille O’Neal and Penne Hardaway and led to their eventually real-life paring on the Orlando Magic a year later. Blue Chips is a great basketball movie, with cameos from basketball royalty such as Larry Bird, Allan Houston and Dick Vitale.

44. Eight Men Out (1988)

43. When We Were Kings (1996)

When We Were Kings is a documentary film that surrounds one of the most iconic matches in the history of boxing, “The Rumble in the Jungle”. This was of course the heavyweight championship bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. When We Were Kings won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.  

42. Slap Shot (1977)

Slap Shot is a movie about a minor league hockey team that resorts to violent play to drum up interest in their team and is one of the best hockey movies of all time.  

Spoiler alert, you will not find Goon on this list.

The reason is because Slap Shot was Goon before Goon, but it was not just one player it was the whole team.

41.The Replacements (2000)

The Replacements is a great football movie about a band of misfit football players coming into the league as replacements during a player strike. Keanu Reeves plays Shane Falco, the beleaguered quarterback that had washed out of the NFL after losing the Super Bowl. But as a replacement, Falco regains his form and reaches the championship heights he failed to reach in the past.  

40. Moneyball (2011)

The ironic thing about this story is that now the big market teams have embraced the analytics and are doing “Moneyball” better than the team that originated it.

Getting to the movie, Brad Pitt stars as Beane and is great in the role. Also, Jonah Hill provides the comic relief for the movie, as Beane’s genius sidekick that crunches all the numbers.

39. Creed (2015)

Adonis Creed’s backstory of growing up in a foster home as the rejected child from one of Apollo Creed’s affairs gives the character more depth than simply being a legendary boxer’s son. It is also one of the best Rocky performances of Sylvester Stallone’s career in which the iconic character battles cancer.

38. A League of Their Own (1992)

A League of Their Own tells the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. This was a league that took place of Major League Baseball when WWII threatened to shut down the MLB. Tom Hanks is at his best as the Peaches manager and former Cubs slugger that thinks of the league as a joke, that is until he realizes that the girls can play. Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Geena Davis all star alongside Hanks in this classic baseball flick.  

37. Coach Carter (2005)

Samuel L. Jackson embodied a hard-nosed high school basketball coach in Coach Carter and it is one of his best roles. Coach Carter is about a high school coach that suspended his undefeated basketball team for failing to keep up their grades in the classroom. It is based on the true story of coach Ken Carter of Richmond High School and argues that student-athletes need to take their education seriously.

36. The Blind Side (2009)

Offensive lineman do not get nearly enough love, whether on the field or in the movies but that all changed in 2009 when the story of Michael Oher was told. Oher was one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL when he first entered the league, but this movie delves into his past as a kid living off the streets.

Oher was taken in by a family who got him into playing football and eventually got him into college. Sandra Bullock won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, among many other awards for her portrayal of Oher’s adopted mom Leigh Anne Tuohy.

35. Cool Runnings (1993)

Cool Runnings is a hilarious sports movie about a Jamaican bobsled team going to the 1988 Winter Olympics. The movie was the last major motion picture that John Candy starred in before his early passing. Candy coaches the rag-tag bobsled team to greatness although their old bobsled ends up costing them in the end.  

34. The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)

The Legend of Bagger Vance centers around a former star golfer turned drunk (Matt Damon) who rediscovers his greatness with the help of the mysterious Bagger Vance. Bagger Vance (Will Smith) is one hell of a caddy as he not only helps Rannulph Junuh with his golf swing but also helps him get his life back on track.  

33. Little Giants (1994)

32. The Karate Kid (1984)

The best sports movies of all-time list would be incomplete without The Karate Kid, which is one of the most iconic movies ever made. Mr. Mayagi is Daniel LaRusso’s karate instructor that teaches him the arts of karate throw unconventional teaching methods such as making him do menial chores to learn muscle memory.

The name Mr. Mayagi has transcended the movie as it has become a common synonym to describe a coach or instructor that unlocks the potential in an athlete.  

31. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

A great cast of Clint Eastwood as a boxing coach, Morgan Freeman as his assistant and Hillary Swank as the boxer lead this great boxing movie about a woman’s path to becoming a professional. The movie takes a tragic turn in the end, as an accident in the ring leaves Swank’s character as a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic.  

30. Tin Cup (1996)

Tin Cup is about Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner), who is a former golf prodigy that lacks ambition and is perfectly content being “the man” at the little driving range that he owns. McAvoy only gets motivated to do something with his life when an attractive doctor (Rene Russo) begins getting golf lessons from him.

In an attempt to win her affection, McAvoy makes the U.S. Open as an amateur in hopes of beating her boyfriend who is a professional golfer. McAvoy does not win the Open, but he still gets the girl in the end.  

29. The Bad News Bears (1976)

The Bad News Bears was the poster child for every Mighty Ducks and Little Giants type movie that followed it, as the Bad News Bears go from being the worst little league team ever, to champions. The team is led by Morris Buttermaker, their alcoholic coach who is often seen guzzling beers in the dugout.  

28. Kicking and Screaming (2005)

Will Ferrell coaches a youth soccer team in a Tiger-striped jumpsuit in Kicking and Screaming, which is basically all you need to know as to why it made it on the list for best sports movies ever made.

Ferrell takes the job as head coach so seriously that he hires, then later fires, Mike Ditka as an assistant coach and eventually even benches his own son in favor of his better teammates. Kicking and Screaming personifies all of the way over-the-top coaches that we had playing youth sports growing up.  

27. Hoop Dreams (1994)

Hoop Dreams is a documentary that follows two African-American high school students that have aspirations of becoming players in the NBA. William Gates and Arthur Agee are the players at the focus of the film, as they had to take a 90-minute commute to and from school to play for the basketball program at St. Joseph High School. The documentary was widely regarded by critics and raised a variety of societal issues that exist in our country.  

26. DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story (2004)

DodgeBall has had a lasting impact on the sports world as ESPN has taken one of fictional aspects of the movie, ESPN 8 and turned it into a reality. ESPN 8, which is known as “The Ocho” is a network dedicated to peculiar sports such as DodgeBall and in real life there is one day each year now in which ESPN brings it to life.

The movie itself is a great underdog story that pits Vince Vaughn’s gym of slobs at Average Joe’s, against the peak physical specimens from Ben Stiller’s Globo Gym in a DodgeBall tournament.  

25. Major League (1989)

In Major League, the Cleveland Indians are inherited by a former Las Vegas showgirl Rachel Phelps after her husband dies and she decides that she wants to relocate the team to Miami. In order to make the relocation possible she tries to field the worst team possible, but her plan backfires as the band of misfits wins the division.

One of the things that made Major League a classic was that it centered around the Cleveland Indians, who were one of the worst teams in the MLB at the time. When the Indians won in the movie, it was celebrated by their actual fan base as a championship.  

24. The Natural (1984)

The Natural starring Robert Redford is about a baseball prodigy named Roy Hobbs, who’s career gets cut short before it even starts when he is shot at the age of 19 years old. Sixteen years later, his natural gifts as a ballplayer carry him to heights of Major League Baseball.

The scene where Hobbs hits a walk-off home run into the overhead lights to deliver a pennant to his team, is one of the best scenes ever made in a sports movie.  

23. Friday Night Lights (2004)

Friday Night Lights is about a big-time high school football program in Texas that has to make an improbable run to the state championship after star running back Boobie Miles tears his ACL in the first game. The film was based on a true story of the Permian Panthers run to the state championship game in 1988.

A television show of the same name was later made after the great success of the movie.  

22. Rudy (1993)

One of the greatest underdog stories in the history of sports, detailing the miraculous walk-on story of Rudy Ruettiger. Rudy made it onto Notre Dame’s mighty football team after years of tireless work proving himself. At just five-foot-six, Rudy accomplished his goal despite long odds, making it one of the best stories of perseverance depicted in a sports movie.

21. Caddyshack (1980)

Caddyshack is a golf movie that does not focus too much on golf as much as it focuses on the eccentric personalities that surround a country club. Chevy Chase and Billy Murray both deliver amazing comedic performances that are underscored by the comedic brilliance of Rodney Dangerfield. There are countless scenes in Caddyshack that have become a part of pop culture, such as Chase’s putting instruction that you have to “be the ball”.  

20. White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

The comedy duo of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson is one of the best in history of sports movies in White Men Can’t Jump. The movie pins the two as initial enemies on the basketball court, until Snipes’ character realizes that he can make a lot of money hustling streetballers by pairing with a white player.

The two wise-mouthed hustlers win a big two-on-two tournament despite going back-and-forth arguing with each other the entire time. White Men Can’t Jump is one of the best buddy comedies as well as being a great sports movie.  

19. Invincible (2006)

Mark Wahlberg stars in the true story based on the life of Vince Papale. Papale was a sandlot football player, that last played competitively in high school but when the Philadelphia Eagles new coach Dick Vermeil calls for open tryouts, Papale miraculously makes the team.  

18. Mighty Ducks (1992)

The Mighty Ducks is another movie about a rag-tag squad of misfits overcoming all odds to become champions. The Mighty Ducks are led by their head coach Gordan Bombay, an attorney that only coaches the pee-wee team as a way to pay of his 500 hours of community service for a DUI arrest.

The Mighty Ducks was later made into a trilogy with two sequels being later released, making for one of the best sports movie series of all-time.  

17. The Rookie (2002)

The Rookie is almost two separate baseball movies tied in one, as the movie opens with Dennis Quaid as a high school baseball coach. The first half of the movie is a typical high school sports story, in which a coach promises his team that he will try out for the big leagues if his team can win Districts.

After his high school team wins Districts and the bet, Quaid embarks on a minor league baseball career at nearly 40 years old that ends up with him pitching in the MLB. This was all based on the true story of Jim Morris’ life.

16. Hoosiers (1986)

Hoosiers is often viewed as the pinnacle of all basketball movies, which is about a high school team in a small town in Indiana that makes an improbable run to win the state championship. Gene Hackman’s portrayal of head coach Norman Dale is one of his best, as his old school mentalities of playing at a slow pace and playing great defense propel his team to the championship.  

15. Foxcatcher (2014)

Foxcatcher was maybe the greatest acting performance in Steve Carell’s career as he transformed himself into John du Pont. du Pont was a rich wrestling enthusiast that started the Foxcatcher wrestling team in the 1980s and 90s.

Based on a true story, the movie ends with du Pont committing a shocking murder that leaves the audience stunned, unless of course they remembered when it happened in real life.

Foxcatcher is a slow-moving film but one with incredible acting performances and moments that you will not soon forget.  

14. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Show me the money!

Jerry Maguire is yet another classic film, about a sports agent that loses everything except for a single client that still believes in him. That client is played by Cuba Gooding Jr., while Maguire is played by Tom Cruise.

Gooding provides the movie with much needed comic relief, to go along with the love story between Maguire and his secretary. Jerry Maguire still holds up to this day, as many of themes that we see are still commonplace today.  

13. The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter is a boxing movie starring Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg, which provided their viewers with a much different story then your typical boxing film. Bale played Wahlberg’s brother and his trainer, who is a crack cocaine addict. Bale won an Academy Award for his performance, which is one of the seven that the movie was nominated for.  

12. BASEketball (1998)

Then BASEketball comes around and changes everything as the drive-way basketball game overtakes the sports world. BASEketball is a hilarious movie with scenes like taking a “Make a Wish” kid to a strip club, that would never get made today. It also still hits all of the same notes as your typical sports movie. If this was a list for most underrated movies of all-time it would definitely top the list.

11. Field of Dreams (1989)

If you just simply describe the concept of Field of Dreams to someone who has never heard of it before, they probably would think the idea is crazy. Some guy builds a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield and that somehow brings the best players in baseball history back to life.

But the iconic phrase, “If you build it, he will come” does not refer to the great players of the past coming, but instead refers to the return of the main character’s father. Field of Dreams is a great baseball movie that is centered around the relationship between a father and his son, which is really the basis for the entire sport of baseball.  

10. He Got Game (1998)

The warden to his father’s prison is also a booster for one of the colleges that Shuttlesworth is considering, and the warden releases him for a week to try to convince Shuttlesworth to go to his school in return for a shortened prison sentence.

Washington and Allen make for a believable and entertaining father-son duo with the movie culminating in an emotional one-on-one game between the two. He Got Game is a Spike Lee Joint that delivers in every way.

9. Space Jam (1996)

8. Bill Durham (1988)

Kevin Costner sure loves baseball movies, as he starred in Field of Dreams, Bull Durham and For the Love of the Game during his acting career.

Bull Durham is the story of “Crash” Davis, a lifelong minor league catcher that has only played 21 days in the big leagues and has spent 12 years in the minors. Davis is sent down single-A to mentor a hot-shot young pitcher and get him ready for the MLB. It is a great romantic comedy baseball movie, that will never get old.  

7. Any Given Sunday (1999)

Any Given Sunday is a football movie that featured a star-studded cast of Al Pacino, LL Cool J, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz and Jamie Fox amongst others. Any Given Sunday is as straight-forward of a sports movie as you will find, but still a great one at that.  

6. Raging Bull (1980)

One of the movies that put Robert De Niro on the path to being one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Raging Bull is a classic black-and-white boxing film. The movie focuses on the life of Jake LaMotta, an actual boxer that lived a difficult life both inside and outside of the ring.

While there were many different great aspects to Raging Bull, the main one is De Niro, as the film let him show off all of his acting chops with the wide-ranging performance.

5. Remember the Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans is based on a true story about an African-American coach that attempts to integrate his high school and in turn the community at large. Denzel Washington stars as coach Herman Boone, who leads his school through a magical season to a state championship.  

4. The Wrestler (2008)

The Wrestler tells the tragic story of a washed-up wrestler that continues to wrestle even though his body is failing him. This drama starring Mickey Rourke tells the sad side of wrestling, which often leaves these men with broken lives after their careers in the ring are over or worse still continuing when they should be over.    

3. Happy Gilmore (1996)

2. Miracle (2004)

The greatest moment in the history of American sports made for some great source material for one of the best sports movies of all time. Kurt Russell stars as coach Herb Brooks, who led the U.S. men’s hockey team to a gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The “Miracle on Ice” took place when the young American team defeated a Soviet team that had won four straight gold medals.  

1. Rocky (1976)

Rocky could have five or six spots on this list if we included each of the sequels separately, as it is clearly the greatest sports movie franchise of all-time. Heck they are still making Rocky movies to this day that draw massive box-office numbers as Creed II proved last month.

Rocky is a love story wrapped around a great boxing match, as an unknown amateur boxer challenges the heavyweight champion of the world Apollo Creed. Rocky did not have to win the fight to be a champion, all he had to do was go the distance.