Top 10 American Sporting Movies of All Time
To love a good sports movie, you don’t have to be a sports fan. That feeling of watching the underdogs win, the camaraderie, and the heart that holds them all together. Of course, an avid sports fan definitely gets more out of the experience, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from turning on a great sports film.
The sheer number of sporting movies out there can get incredibly overwhelming. So we thought it was a good idea to maybe nail down some of the undeniable sporting movies of all time. So that’s exactly what we did! Here are the top ten American sporting movies of all time.
Number 10: Caddy Shack
Okay, at its core, Caddy Shack is a comedy. It’s hilarious. There’s no denying that basic fact. However, it’s much more than just another funny film. It’s a great movie because it’s a comedy about golf, focusing on the caddies. Maybe calling it a sports movie is using the term too generously. Still, it’s genuinely the best movie about golf out there, and we stand by that statement. Considering it was made in 1980, it’s impressive how well it stands up to today’s stringent standards. It follows a young caddie seeking a scholarship at an elite country club to attend college. Of course, it’s not going to be easy to achieve, making it such a treat to watch from start to finish.
Number 9: Moneyball
Unlike many other movies on this list, Moneyball isn’t the oldest of films. Maybe in 20 years, it will have been replaced. Still, for now, it’s firmly featured on a list of the top 10 American sporting movies of all time, unapologetically. It follows the true story of Billy Beane, played masterfully by Brad Pitt. Beane is the general manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team. One day, Beane has this epiphany that baseball’s conventional wisdom is wrong. So he sets about reinventing his team on a tight budget and challenges the status quo with Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill. This movie is about the science of baseball, teaching old dogs new tricks, challenging the status quo, aging, the fears of failure and not living up to one’s potential.
Number 8: Bull Durham
Bull Durham is an interesting film. It follows Crash Davis, a veteran catcher, who’s hired to coach Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh. The two get involved with Annie, a lover of the sport. The film is partly a breezy romance, a tribute to lovers of the great game of baseball, and a look at the darkness behind the baseball diamond. It touches on aging in sports and how unpredictable it can be, which we can all relate to at least once in our lives.
Number 7: I, Tonya
It would be a crime not to mention the film I, Tonya. It’s a female-driven story of a competitive ice skater who rises to fame but suffers personally. It’s a story of failure and a fall from grace. Margot Robbie takes this film far as she portrays Tonya Harding, who’s infamous for the 1994 incident when Harding’s competitor Nancy Kerrigan’s knee was struck and took her out of the competition. It tells a human story of what fame and toxic relationships can do to us when we’re going for gold. It may not seem relatable, but it’s a riveting film that masterfully brings you into Harding’s mind.
Number 6: The Wrestler
The Wrestler was perhaps a bit of a surprise. We’re not sure anybody expected it to be as incredible as it was upon release. Following an aging wrestler coming to terms with leaving his career behind, but not without a fight. Mickey Rourke wowed just about everyone with his portrayal of Randy Robin. While the world sometimes doesn’t take wrestling seriously, this film shows how much wrestlers do take it incredibly seriously. It shows us the darkest depths of the wrestling world, which is far more intense than you might imagine.
Number 5: Ford V Ferrari
This movie is fast, entertaining, and a boatload of fun. Following Carrol Shelby and Ken Miles, an automotive designer and racer, they joined together to take on Ferrari at the Le Mans in 1966. It’s a story that shows how far we’re willing to go to win, even when the odds are stacked against us. Matt Damon and Christian Bale bring this film to life and leave us in awe throughout the moderate run time as we see failure, turmoil, and really fast cars come to life on screen.
Number 4: Raging Bull
It would be a crime not to include Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Raging Bull on a list of the greatest sporting films. The story of how Raging Bull made it to screens is a testament to how sports films can attract any audience. Scorsese was known for his dislike of sports, even saying that boxing is boring. However, the actor who’d portray Raging Bull, Robert De Niro, would make him see that this story was about more than just wrestling. It was a story about Jake LaMotta, but it’s themes were violence, women, and pain. Sure, at its core, it’s about sports, specifically wrestling, but there were layers here, and Scorsese loves layers. Upon release in 1980, Raging Bull turned into a hit in every sense of the word. The film showcases the darkest corners of the world of wrestling, and filmgoers couldn’t get enough of this incredible movie.
Number 3: Rudy
Ask anyone, and most people will tell you that Rudy represents everything right with sports. Another underdog story, this time on the football field, Rudy tells the story of Daniel E. Ruettiger, more commonly referred to as Rudy. He’s got a dream, don’t we all, to play football for Notre Dame. One small problem, his height has made it, so he’s always told he’ll never be a football player. Does that stop him? You better believe it does no such thing! Rudy chases that dream of his, and well, we’ll let you watch the movie. It’s a tear-jerker. It has you routing relentlessly for the underdog that is Rudy.
Number 2: Field Of Dreams
Field of Dreams is another one of those feel-good sporting movies. It’s sappy, no doubt, but it is one of those movies that makes you feel so good once it’s over. It leans heavily into the theme of baseball being a symbol of the greatness of America and does so unapologetically. However, it works in the film’s favor. You’ll see even the most formidable men weeping due to Field of Dreams. The movie follows Ray, a farmer in Iowa played by Kevin Costner. One night he hears this mysterious voice telling him, ‘if you build it, he will come.’ As a result, this moment sets off the movie of him building a baseball diamond on his farm and playing with ghost baseball players. No matter how it sounds, this movie is a feel-good, heartwarming movie about baseball and family.
Number 1: Rocky
Picking the best of the best is never easy. Rocky was first released in 1976 and to this day remains one of the most potent sporting movies of all time. This movie is a critically acclaimed movie not just by critics but also among audiences. Everyone fell in love with the underdog story of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. For more than 40 years, this story has resonated with audiences both familiar with the film and first-time watchers. It spawned sequels and spin-offs like another popular entry, Creed. It’s a film with grit and told with astonishing realism, and the whole time, you’re rooting for Rocky to take on the odds, even when it seems impossible.
You’re missing out if you haven’t seen any of these movies. Whether it’s a lighthearted movie like Caddyshack, Rudy, Field of Dreams or something a bit darker like Raging Bull and Rocky, you’ll find something to love in these incredible sporting movies. They’re a reason why they’re some of the greatest American sporting films of all time.