EMPIRE - The 50 Greatest Sports Movies

Ah, sport. Small boys in the park, jumpers for goalposts, a desperate last shot on target as the seconds tick down on the clock – or some combination of such ingredients, anyway. The sports movie is the perfect vehicle for tales of competition, triumph, desire and despair – and what could be more film friendly than that? Ahead of this summer's biggest sporting event, we took a look at the best sports films ever made...
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1.
Raging Bull (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
An emotionally self-destructive boxer's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it. (129 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
2.
Chariots of Fire (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics. (125 mins.)
Director: Hugh Hudson
 
3.
Rocky (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect. (120 mins.)
 
4.
Senna (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34. (106 mins.)
Director: Asif Kapadia
 
5.
Moneyball (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players. (133 mins.)
Director: Bennett Miller
 
6.
Friday Night Lights (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Based on H.G. Bissinger's book, which profiled the economically depressed town of Odessa, Texas and their heroic high school football team, The Permian High Panthers. (118 mins.)
Director: Peter Berg
 
7.
The Hustler (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match. (134 mins.)
Director: Robert Rossen
 
8.
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A group of misfits enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament in order to save their cherished local gym from the onslaught of a corporate health fitness chain. (92 mins.)
 
9.
Field of Dreams (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago White Sox come. (107 mins.)
 
10.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him and his former secretary. (139 mins.)
Director: Cameron Crowe
 
11.
Slap Shot (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A failing ice hockey team finds success using constant fighting and violence during games. (123 mins.)
Director: George Roy Hill
 
12.
Bull Durham (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A fan who has an affair with one minor-league baseball player each season meets an up-and-coming pitcher and the experienced catcher assigned to him. (108 mins.)
Director: Ron Shelton
 
13.
The Wrestler (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A faded professional wrestler must retire, but finds his quest for a new life outside the ring a dispiriting struggle. (109 mins.)
 
14.
Hoop Dreams (1994 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional. (170 mins.)
Director: Steve James
 
15.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A behind-the-scenes look at the life-and-death struggles of modern-day gladiators and those who lead them. (162 mins.)
Director: Oliver Stone
 
16.
Gregory's Girl (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Gregory is a normal teen who is infatuated with a classmate. He must work to win her affection. (91 mins.)
Director: Bill Forsyth
 
17.
The Fighter (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid 1980s. (116 mins.)
 
18.
This Sporting Life (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Despite success on the field, a rising rugby star senses the emerging emptiness of his life as his inner angst begins to materialize through aggression and brutality, so he attempts to woo his landlady in hopes of finding reason to live. (134 mins.)
 
19.
Kingpin (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A star bowler whose career was prematurely "cut off" hopes to ride a new prodigy to success and riches. (113 mins.)
 
20.
Warrior (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he's trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament - a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother. (140 mins.)
Director: Gavin O'Connor
 
21.
Hoosiers (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A coach with a checkered past and a local drunk train a small town high school basketball team to become a top contender for the championship. (114 mins.)
Director: David Anspaugh
 
22.
Rollerball (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game. (125 mins.)
Director: Norman Jewison
 
23.
The Natural (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
An unknown comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent. (138 mins.)
Director: Barry Levinson
 
24.
Murderball (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Paraplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. (88 mins.)
 
25.
Cool Runnings (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
When a Jamaican sprinter is disqualified from the Olympic Games, he enlists the help of a dishonored coach to start the first Jamaican Bobsled Team. (98 mins.)
Director: Jon Turteltaub
 
26.
Victory (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
As allied POWs prepare for a soccer game against the German National Team to be played in Nazi-occupied Paris, the French Resistance and British officers are making plans for the team's escape. (116 mins.)
Director: John Huston
 
27.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A juvenile offender at a tough reform school impresses its governor with his running ability and is encouraged to compete in an upcoming race, but faces ridicule from his peers. (104 mins.)
Director: Tony Richardson
 
28.
The Rookie (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A Texas baseball coach makes the major league after agreeing to try out if his high school team made the playoffs. (127 mins.)
 
29.
Whip It (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In Bodeen, Texas, an indie-rock loving misfit finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin. (111 mins.)
Director: Drew Barrymore
 
30.
When We Were Kings (1996 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A documentary of the 1974 heavyweight championship bout in Zaire, "The Rumble in the Jungle," between champion George Foreman and underdog challenger Muhammad Ali. (88 mins.)
Director: Leon Gast
 
31.
Big Wednesday (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The lives of some California surfers from the early '60s to the '70s. (120 mins.)
Director: John Milius
 
32.
The Damned United (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The story of the controversial Brian Clough's 44-day reign as the coach of the English football club Leeds United. (98 mins.)
Director: Tom Hooper
 
33.
Twenty Four Seven (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
In a typical English working-class town, the juveniles have nothing more to do than hang around in gangs... (96 mins.)
Director: Shane Meadows
 
34.
Tin Cup (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A washed up golf pro working at a driving range tries to qualify for the US Open in order to win the heart of his succesful rival's girlfriend. (135 mins.)
Director: Ron Shelton
 
35.
Shaolin Soccer (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A young Shaolin follower reunites with his discouraged brothers to form a soccer team using their martial art skills to their advantage. (113 mins.)
Director: Stephen Chow
 
36.
The Bad News Bears (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
An aging, down-on-his-luck ex-minor leaguer coaches a team of misfits in an ultra-competitive California little league. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Ritchie
 
37.
Major League (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The new owner of the Cleveland Indians puts together a purposely horrible team so they'll lose and she can move the team. But when the plot is uncovered, they start winning just to spite her. (107 mins.)
Director: David Ward
 
38.
Eight Men Out (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A dramatization of the Black Sox scandal when the underpaid Chicago White Sox accepted bribes to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series. (119 mins.)
Director: John Sayles
 
39.
Ali (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A biography of sports legend Muhammad Ali, focusing on his triumphs and controversies between 1964 and 1974. (157 mins.)
Director: Michael Mann
 
40.
Downhill Racer (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Quietly cocky Robert Redford joins U.S. ski team as downhill racer and clashes with the team's coach, played by Gene Hackman. Lots of good skiing action leading to an exciting climax. (101 mins.)
Director: Michael Ritchie
 
41.
The Champion (1915 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Walking along with his bulldog, Charlie finds a "good luck" horseshoe just as he passes a training camp... (31 mins.)
 
42.
Miracle (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Miracle tells the true story of Herb Brooks (Russell), the player-turned-coach who led the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to victory over the seemingly invincible Russian squad. (135 mins.)
Director: Gavin O'Connor
 
43.
Girlfight (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Diana, without her father knowing it, trains as a boxer and achieves impressive success, blazing new trails for female boxers. (110 mins.)
Director: Karyn Kusama
 
44.
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
The people of a small village in Victorian India stake their future on a game of cricket against their ruthless British rulers. (224 mins.)
 
45.
Breaking Away (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A small-town boy obsessed with the Italian cycling team vies for the affections of a college girl. (101 mins.)
Director: Peter Yates
 
46.
Redbelt (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A fateful event leads to a job in the film business for top mixed-martial arts instructor Mike Terry. Though he refuses to participate in prize bouts, circumstances conspire to force him to consider entering such a competition. (99 mins.)
Director: David Mamet
 
47.
Happy Gilmore (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A rejected hockey player puts his skills to the golf course to save his grandmother's house. (92 mins.)
Director: Dennis Dugan
 
48.
A League of Their Own (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry. (128 mins.)
Director: Penny Marshall
 
49.
The Longest Yard (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A sadistic warden asks a former pro quarterback, now serving time in his prison, to put together a team of inmates to take on (and get pummeled by) the guards. (121 mins.)
Director: Robert Aldrich
 
50.
National Velvet (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A jaded former jockey helps a young girl prepare a wild but gifted horse for England's Grand National Sweepstakes. (123 mins.)
Director: Clarence Brown