What are the best sports movies of all time? All around the world, there is a diverse range of sporting activities people devote their lives to playing, watching, and getting very annoyed about. It stands to reason, then, that some of the greatest films ever made focus on the world of sport.
Sports have given us some of the best action movies and best drama movies in the business. Whether you call it football or soccer, like your fights to take place in a ring or an octagon, or prefer burning rubber to bouncing balls, there’s bound to be a sport out there to tickle your fancy.
But, if you’re not the athletic type, you might be happier just watching a movie about sports rather than going out and doing it yourself. So we’ve gathered a list of the very best sports movies out there to get your pulse racing. We’ve got Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, Margot Robbie on this list, with some old and some new, and a range of different sports on offer.
The best sports movies of all time:
- Bend it Like Beckham
- I, Tonya
- Ford v Ferrari
- Diego Maradona
- Rocky 4
- The Color of Money
Bend it Like Beckham (2002)
It’s very hard to make a good football movie, but this rom-com succeeds by combining all the best elements of the sport – teamwork, passion, ambition – with some good, old-fashioned British noughties culture.
With the rise in popularity for women’s football now, Bend it Like Beckham is more relevant than ever and has stood the test of time over 20 years later. It’s a fun flick, but also has a lot to say about equality in the sport.
The NBA may be a huge deal in the U.S, but what about those outside basketball’s elite league? This Will Ferrell comedy movie is hilarious, endlessly quotable, and isn’t afraid to poke a little fun at the overly-theatrical, ultra-competitive nature of basketball.
Ferrell stars as Jackie Moon, a washed-up singer with big dreams of leading his local basketball team to the heights of the NBA. As the owner, manager, and captain of the Flint Tropics, Moon lives and breathes the sport, so much so that he will attack anyone who stands in his way, whether they’re on his team or not.
I, Tonya (2017)
Margot Robbie swapped superhero movies and giant hammers for a pair of ice skates in this movie based on a true story. Robbie herself was nominated for an Oscar for her performance, and her co-star Allison Janney won for her supporting role.
Tonya Harding was a world champion figure skater for the USA but was later stripped of her awards after it emerged her ex-husband had orchestrated an attack on a rival skater. This crazy story is brought to life by an excellent cast, with brilliant choreography and editing to add a level of realism to proceedings.
Ford v Ferrari (2019)
This slick drama movie won the Oscar for film editing and sound editing, and it’s easy to see why. The race sequences throughout the movie are incredibly crafted to keep you on the edge of your seat and throw you right into the tension of the race track.
Hollywood superstars Matt Damon and Christian Bale lead the line as real-life figures Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles in James Mangold’s retelling of the story of car manufacturer Ford’s battle with Ferrari to win the Le Mans tournament in 1966.
When you think of all the best 2000s movies, it’s very likely that Dodgeball would make its way onto most lists of the best movies from that era. Quite simply, Dodgeball is slapstick comedy at its very best!
Vince Vaughn and his crazy crew of Average Joe’s take on Ben Stiller’s Globo Gym cronies, with Stiller delivering a fantastic performance as this most detestable movie villain. There are laughs aplenty, and Dodgeball is a film which really doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is all too rare in the world of sports.
Diego Maradona (2019)
There are so many amazing sports documentaries out there, but no one quite does documentaries like Asif Kapadia, who also directed the films Amy and Senna. With his venture into the world of football, Kapadia takes on the story of one of the most iconic players of all time, Diego Maradona.
The little Argentinian was quite the character, to say the least, and his career was full of moments of genius but also plenty of controversies, too. From cheating in the World Cup to getting mixed up with Italian mob bosses, Diego Maradona has done it all, and this documentary doesn’t shy away from any of it.
Rocky 4 (1985)
The whole Rocky franchise is arguably the very best sporting series in the history of film, but it is the fourth installment in the action movie saga that captures the thrill of the fight the best. By this point, we’ve seen Rocky Balboa rise through the ranks of the boxing world, take on some fierce rivals in the ring, and play happy families with Adrian (you have to say it like Rocky. Adrian!).
Rocky 4 sees the Italian Stallion step back into the ring to avenge his best friend, Apollo Creed, who is killed during a match by the Russian monster Ivan Drago. The film not only contains Cold War parables and an incredibly brutal fight but also gives us the best training montage of all time as Rocky puts himself through the paces in the snow while Drago hits the gym and looks like something out of the Terminator franchise.
Who would have thought that a movie about people just sitting in a room talking about baseball would be so compelling? This Brad Pitt movie proves you don’t really need to see the sport being played to craft a riveting story.
Moneyball follows the journey of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Pitt), whose team is financially unable to compete with the rest of the teams in the World Series. Thanks to utilizing statistical data from expert Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), Billy is able to transform his side into champions.
The Color of Money (1986)
We all know Martin Scorsese makes impeccable movies, but this ‘80s movie is probably one of his more underrated gems, and also saw the acclaimed filmmaker take on a sequel for the first time in his career.
Paul Newman reprises his role as Eddie, a hot-shot pool shark, from the 1961 movie The Hustler. This time, a more experienced Eddie takes newcomer Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise) under his wing, and the dynamic between the pair is electric. There’s also a one-shot sequence from Scorsese which tracks Vincent around the pool table that is pure cinematic gold, just in case you needed more convincing.
Many times, sport can feel like life or death. Your team loses, and you just feel miserable, but you’ll soon get over it (sort of). Well, for Tom Hardy in this epic thriller movie, mixed martial arts really is quite literally life and death.
Warrior captures the very best and worst of sport; how competition and dedication can make us better people and help us connect with one another, but also how damaging that drive to succeed can be on the athlete and those around them. Gavin O’Connor’s movie depicts the action in the ring through phenomenal choreography and is absolutely shattering on an emotional level, too, as Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte (both Star Wars series alumni) deliver top-drawer performances in this family feud for the ages.
And there’s the final whistle on our list of the best sports movies of all time. If you’re feeling ready for more action, dive into our guide on the Welcome to Wrexham season 2 release date for more football drama. We also have a guide breaking down the best new movies 2023 has to offer, and you can check out our Gran Turismo review to see what we thought of the newest sports movie to hit the screen.
We’ve also got a feature on all the hidden meanings behind the Rocky and Creed villains, as well as a guide on how to watch the Rocky movies in order. Go get ’em, champ.