Movies and sports are engraved in culture. The question many find themselves getting asked is, “How have you not seen this movie?” The same question is asked regarding sports oftentimes.
Watching movies allows for quotes to be used in conversation, and can kick off a conversation with just about anyone. Movies are special. Sports movies are that much better. The common theme in this list of the greatest sports movies is they all have unforgetable quotes.
Here are the top-10 sports movies of all time to help advance one’s movie knowledge
Top 10 sports movies of all-time: Honorable mentions
Honorable Mention #1 – Karate Kid
One of the criteria for a classic sports movie is unforgettable quotes, and Karate Kid has its fair share.
The seminal movie about karate has captivated the hearts of many, and the relationship between martial arts master Miyagi and teenager Daniel is one of the best in any sports movie.
The words “wax on and wax off” are immortalized as one of the most recognized quotes in any sports film, and the infamous crane kick is one of the greatest action moves in all of cinema.
However, compared to the other movies on this list, Karate Kid seems to fall out of place. It’s definitely one of the most memorable movies, but the others on this list gain an edge and pack just a little more punch.
If the list stretched to the top 15 sports movies ever, then Karate Kid would have a place among those rankings.
Honorable Mention #2- Creed
It may be unpopular to put a new movie on a list of all-time sports movies. However, Creed does an excellent job of standing on its own while also tapping into the nostalgia of a beloved franchise.
Creed successfully brings back the greatness of the Rocky series, highlighted by an Oscar-nominated supporting turn from Rocky Balboa himself, Sylvester Stallone. This Michael B. Jordan-led boxing blockbuster pays homage to key fan-favorite moments in Rocky, yet continues the overall narrative in a new direction.
The addition of updated filmmaking techniques makes Creed all the more entertaining, with the boxing and training scenes taking on an enhanced, immersive viewing experience.
Very few movies can successfully produce a sequel to such a historic movie, much less a long-running series of films. However, Creed does just that, and deserves an honorable mention as a result.
Top 10 sports movies of all-time
10. The Blind Side (Sling TV)
The Blind Side is the only movie on the list in which off-field scenes were better than the on-field action. A great blend of humor and emotion makes the movie compelling to so many people. The Blind Side tells the true story of Michael Oher’s rise to the NFL.
This film gives the audience insight into Oher’s difficult family life and makes everyone feel empathy for the down-to-earth football player. Oher’s relationship with the Tuohy family strikes deep.
As for thematic substance, The Blind Side‘s primary message is that life has its up and downs, but through the turbulence and trying times, one thing holds true: family will always be there.
There’s a touching Thanksgiving scene that stands out as one of the most moving parts of the movie, and if you missed it during the holiday last month, it’s still very much worth revisiting.
9. The Sandlot (Disney Plus)
“You’re killing me, Smalls.” What a legendary quote. The Sandlot is unlike every movie on this list. It’s about backyard baseball, and while other movies on this list targets more of an adult audience, The Sandlot appeals to the youth and makes the old feel young again.
Although there’s no shortage of levity and humor, this diamond in the rough also hones in on the innocence of youth. Tying it in to a sport that emphasizes teamwork only adds to the emotional weight.
All told, The Sandlot is one of the best 90s movies and a must-watch for any baseball fan.
8. Moneyball (Netflix)
Who knew a movie about data and numbers would appeal to a vast majority of sports fanatics? Who also knew Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill would make a dynamic duo? So many unique factors led to Moneyball making this list.
Similar to Coach Brooks in Miracle, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (Pitt) is a misunderstood figure in his industry. Many, including those within his own organization, doubt his innovative philosophy on player acquisition. Beane relies on statistics to form his new-look club. One of the most important statistics he relies on his on-base percentage.
The movie takes us through the emotions of what it was like transforming the way front offices built their teams. Viewers are drawn in by the work-life balance Beane struggles with, in addition to a good, old-fashioned underdog tale. It does help the movie was based on a true story, but Pitt and Hill captivate the audience, as the latter shows his chops as a dramatic actor.
A movie about numbers shouldn’t necessarily equate to mass appeal outside the sports world, but in this case, it was a hit. Moneyball is one of the most underrated sports films ever created, and it deserves a place on this list.
7. Hoosiers (The Roku Channel, STARZ, and Sling TV)
Hoosiers is a movie about second chances. It revolves around a coach with a difficult past and his attempt to lead an Indiana high school to the promised land with a state championship.
Based on a true story, the memorable combo of Gene Hackman as coach Norman Dale and Dennis Hopper as his drunk confidant Shooter Flatch faces a variety of challenges.
Hoosiers highlights the difficulties of high school sports. Whether it is disgruntled parents, education interfering with athletics, or hard-to-teach teenagers, Hoosiers shows the true ramifications small-town high schools experience.
The movie is a true demonstration of the heart of young men — and a comeback story for two once-ashamed men.
6. Field of Dreams (Peacock)
“If you build it, he will come.” This sounds like a quote from the Bible, not a movie about an Iowa farmer, Ray Kinsella, who builds a baseball field on his farm.
Field of Dreams seems like a superhero blockbuster more than a sports movie. Kinsella sees the ghosts of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who was a part of the infamous Black Sox team. Kinsella starts a quest to build a field despite everyone around him basically calling him crazy.
With the support of his wife, he becomes an analog for refusing to give up on a dream. That calling was supposed to be about bringing former great baseball players back to play their beloved game together. However, Ray realizes the meaning was much more, and that is what makes the movie so special.
Top-five sports movies of all-time
5. A League of Their Own (Sling TV and USA Network)
“There is no crying in baseball.” This quote is used so often, but many do not know the movie being referenced. As stated earlier in the article, all great sports movies have unforgettable quotes, and A League of Their Own has one of the best quotes of ever.
World War II left a lot of men overseas fighting the fight, and left many U.S. jobs vacant. Teams in baseball decided to form teams with women on the roster, and the film dives deep into the drama and challenges associated with such teams.
The movie is humorous, but there’s dramatic weight to create a stellar combination that underscores the challenges women faced, as they were not accepted due to their gender.
A League of Their Own is such an all-time movie that even starring actor Tom Hanks quoted his famous line when he had COVID-19, “There is no crying in baseball.”
4. Remember the Titans (Disney Plus)
Some of the best sports movies are based on a true story — several on this list are — and Remember the Titans is no exception. Unlike the somewhat nonfiction stories that preceded it, though, Remember the Titans is truly special in a way other movies on this list simply cannot replicate.
Remember the Titans is not just a movie about sports. It is a movie about race relations and segregation. What could’ve been really didactic and dark becomes an uplifting story about humanity’s ability to come together and transcend intolerance.
Thanks to a talented core of actors rounding out the football rosters and an excellent central performance from Denzel Washington, Remember the Titans elevates above most other sports movies of its kind.
3. Rudy (Only available to rent or buy)
Compared to movies like Moneyball and The Blind Side, Rudy is not the most accurate movie. Creative liberties were definitely taken to make Rudy more Hollywood-friendly, slanted in a way for the viewers to feel for the ultimate underdog in this story.
Having said all that, Rudy is still an exceptional film that is a must-watch for sports and movie fanatics. The message that Rudy embodies is what resonates with people. Rudy was told he was too small. He was told he could not play football at Notre Dame. What makes him relatable is the audience feels like Rudy is “one of us.” An ordinary man embarking on a journey to accomplish something truly extraordinary.
Despite being too undersized to earn a football scholarship and not quite making the grade academically at Notre Dame, Rudy persevered. His grit and determination were enough to sustain him, and ultimately made Rudy a magnificent, moving sports drama.
2. Rocky (Only available to rent or buy)
Every movie considered among the best ever has its fair share of unforgettable quotes, and Rocky is a prime example of that. People asking Rocky how he fought last night, and he responds with his special swagger “Did great, shoulda seen me!” Who can forget his iconic yelling, “Adrian! Adrian!” with his face swelled up and his eyes almost closed shut following his epic clash with Apollo Creed? The quotability quotient is indeed strong with this one.
It’s very difficult to pick the best Rocky movie, so we’ll implicitly include the entire array of Rocky movies makes their way into the second spot.
Go to Philadelphia and see how many people are jumping up and down with their hands on their heads. Rocky is a rugged fighter who climbs his way to the top of the boxing world. Luck does come Rocky’s way, but he maximizes his opportunities with intense dedication, preparation and relentless heart.
The love for Rocky can be perfectly demonstrated by the success of the sequel, Creed, which we featured in the honorable mention section. That semi-reboot shows how many people still have love for the Rocky franchise.
Greatest sports move of all-time
1. Miracle (Disney Plus)
“Again.” Who knew one word could carry so much meaning? The word, “again,” defines the entire movie. It defines the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team.
Miracle is two hours and 15 minutes of pure and utter greatness. Head coach Herb Brooks, played by Kurt Russell, is a misunderstood visionary who understands how much it will take to topple the seemingly unstoppable Soviet Union.
The universal admiration for Miracle comes from how well director, Gavin O’Connor did in making the movie accessible to all generations, driving home how important this sporting event was to 20th century history. It seems no matter what the age group, O’Connor achieved something special in that his film appeals to any audience.
In Lake Placid, the stores are filled with Miracle merchandise commemorating the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team. Teenagers, young adults, the elderly, and even the youth seem to be enthralled with a team who played over 40 years ago, and this is largely due to Miracle being the greatest sports movie of all-time.