You're killin' me, Smalls!
March Madness is currently in the Sweet Sixteen (my bracket is more busted than Rocky's face at the end of every fight), so I thought it's a great time to release this ranking. Sports movies can be awesome. They can be terrible and predictable, but these ten are awesome. From true stories to inspirational underdog tales to outright comedies, there are many genres a sports film can fit into. Whether they were funny enough or resonant enough, these ten films are my favorite sports movies of all time. Let's dive in.
I think Moneyball is good. It isn't the most exciting movie, but it shows you the behind-the-scenes of how managing a team works. Brad Pitt is great in the lead role and Aaron Sorkin's script makes for a great underdog story from a totally different perspective than we've ever seen it. Instead of following one of the players, we follow the general manager as he finds an innovative new way of scouting talent and signing players. It shows a historic baseball season from a super interesting perspective, and I really enjoy that.
9. Major League
Major League isn't a super consistent comedy, but it can be very, very funny. A great cast combines with a funny premise about an owner trying to wreck the Cleveland Indians. It serves a little bit like a prototype for what Ted Lasso turns out to be (although I don't think it's as good as Ted Lasso), and that's kind of interesting. There are a ton of laugh-out-loud moments here, especially if you watch the MLB. I don't think this movie is fantastic. It isn't one of those comedies that sticks in your head. But if you're looking for a fun, funny movie, this is a good one to pick.
8. Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams is a super wacky concept that actually really works. The writers took the idea of Shoeless Joe Jackson playing ghost baseball and made a compelling, emotional film that is about so much more than baseball. There's themes of family and legacy and accomplishing goals in life. The script just crafts a personal, resonant film that all sports fans and movie fans should watch. It's a different type of movie, but it's very, very good.
Considered by most to be the greatest sports movie ever made, Rocky basically crafted this genre. Sure, there were sports movies before Rocky, but this film nailed the formula that has been used countless times. Sylvester Stallone's iconic underdog story benefits from a cast of great characters and performances. I don't think that this movie is as much fun as some of the later Rocky films, but it's easily the best story and the one that gets me the most. When that music starts playing and Rocky pumps his fist at the top of those steps, how can you not get the feels? Do I love this movie? No. Do I recognize it's greatness? Yes.
6. Ford v. Ferrari
Ford v. Ferrari is so close to being a top three film on this list. Obviously, Christian Bale and Matt Damon are fantastic in the leading roles. It's a compelling story about a rivalry between the Ford Motor Company and them trying to out-do Ferrari's best cars. James Mangold's direction adds a bit of a period piece element to it that just elevates the movie. I don't really like the ending of this movie. It's a true story, so it's the ending that they had to go with, but I didn't like the way that it was done, and it really knocks the movie back for me. Otherwise, this is a great movie.
5. Creed II
In my review of Creed III, I did say that it was my favorite of the Rocky / Creed franchise. I still really like that movie, but I don't stand by that statement. Creed II, however, is a great, great film. This movie takes three major characters and gives them totally different arcs than we've ever seen. Adonis has to come to terms with his father's legacy here. Rocky has to fight the past and stop Adonis from getting hurt by Drago. And Drago himself has an actual arc about losing respect and his relationship with his son. It makes for a different type of boxing flick that feels more personal. I love this film.
4. The Sandlot
The Sandlot is a fantastic movie. I would argue that this is one of the most quotable films of all time. I used to rewatch this movie all the time when I was a kid. It feels almost like The Goonies but with baseball instead of a fantasy adventure. The kids in this movie are incredibly memorable. There are some fantastic, laugh-out-loud moments here, whether it's the barfing sequence or the pool scene. The movie also uses baseball as a great, fun backdrop for this coming-of-age story. I love this movie. It's awesome.
While I do love The Sandlot, I think this top three is a step above the earlier part of this list. Invincible almost feels like Rocky, but with football and as a true story. Vince Papale is one of the most interesting people in NFL history, and Invincible does a great job of telling his story. Mark Wahlberg plays an extremely charming and likable hero that is made great by this fun, energetic group of friends that he has. It makes you root for him more, so you feel it when he eventually gets his shot in the NFL. I love this movie. I think it's extremely underrated. If you are reading this list and have not seen Invincible, get on Disney+ and go watch it.
2. The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid has a special place in my heart. Cobra Kai is the most popular content on my blog. It's helped the site grow a lot. So I am very thankful to this franchise just for existing and helping me grow. I also absolutely love this movie. There's nothing more compelling than a kid in need of father and a father in need of a son coming together and helping each other. Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi are two of my favorite characters ever. The film makes you hate Johnny Lawrence and John Kreese so much and it is so satisfying to see Daniel take Johnny down. This film is elevated by Cobra Kai continuing on the legacy of this movie and this franchise. But the one that started it all is still the best. This film is fantastic. I love it.
1. Remember the Titans
There's something deeper and more personal about Remember the Titans. Using football to tell the story of a group of kids coming together and accepting one another no matter what color they are is such a great story. Watching Denzel Washington's Coach Boone push his boys to become brothers is so compelling. It's such a great, relevant story that is about so much more than just football. It's able to use the sport to tell a true account of this football team that was able to overcome racial boundaries and became brothers, eventually going to the state championship and winning. Sure, it isn't an entirely honest historical account of the actual Titans, but it takes enough inspiration from them to make a great, great movie.