The ten best sports films


Lights, camera, plenty of action…





  1. Peter Flynn says

    Let It Ride

  2. Hoop Dreams, yes. Raging Bull, definitely. But ‘Jerry Maguire’… are you fking kidding me? For fks sake, it’s not about sport as much as it’s about sport’s reptilian whore – the sports agent – a small, but not insignificant difference. That aside, it’s still not Top Ten. Not even close. Better than ‘The Natural’…? Go fk yourself The Guardian…

    *dry firing pistol into my mouth emoji*

  3. Well there’s debate that no one will ever agree on.

    For mine, love the inclusion of Hoop Dreams, and would give a nod towards “He got Game”, a Spike Lee movie that is flawed but good.

    Bull Durham, love it, great to see it on the list. Although a bit Disney, I liked The Rookie, nice and simple, although I’d still say the best baseball movie was ‘8 men out’.

    Point Break? If we are going with comedies, then Caddyshack.

    Jerry Maguire? Swap for Any given Sunday

  4. Most disappointingly no ‘Ace Ventura Pet Detective.’ C’mon don’t Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins count for anything these days?

    I’d have put ‘Litmus’ over ‘Point Break’ as a far superior example of a surfing film.

  5. Steve Baker says

    “Here Guardian and Observer critics…” And there’s where the biggest issue may lie.

    Of course film critics and sports fans aren’t mutually exclusive, but this list suggests that cineasts and lovers of sport are coming at this from different directions.

    No mention of “When We Were Kings” or if documentaries were excluded from the list, where the hell is “Moneyball”? Surely it has to be further ahead of Point Break in the Sport Film pecking order?

    But, like Mike Sheahan’s top 50 players, I think this article seeks to court controversy and discussion. *removes hook from side of mouth, chows down on the bait*

  6. G’day Tom. My emails to you are bouncing back on your tpg address. Do you have an alternative address?


  7. Scott Elliott says


    A few that come to mind for me-

    1) Big Wednesday
    2) Rudy (early 1990’s movie with the guy from Lord of the Rings about a college gridiron player)
    3) 61* (about the contest between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in baseball to beat Babe Ruth’s record for the most of amount of single runs in a season)
    4) When We Were Kings and the Thriller in Manilla
    5) The Wrestler
    6) The Damned United (about Brian Cloughs coaching career at Leeds United in 70’s).


  8. Apologies in advance, but I’m about to spoil ‘Rudy’ for some people…

    Joe Montana is in the minutes as saying they carried Rudy off the field as a “practical joke”…. so the inspirational aspect of the film is somewhat counterfeit.

    That said, it is a movie, and as such is allowed a degree of poetic licence. However, it should also be noted that in real life, people like Rudy, people who never turn off their unbridled intensity, are really fking annoying .

  9. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Definitely agree with the Wrestler and Damned United.
    ‘This Sporting Life’ brilliant portrayal by Richard Harris.

    ‘Invictus’ for the performances of Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.

    ‘Any Given Sunday’ was one of Pacino’s last decent efforts.

    ‘A League of Their Own’ is a beauty.

    Could ‘Fight Club’ be classed as a Sports film?

  10. Cobba Stevens says

    I was always a big fan of Chariots of Fire. Might be because I’m a runner. Any other athletics films spring to mind?

  11. Flash Dance

  12. How about Mean Machine (The Burt Reynolds one, not the shocking remakes), Champion (Kirk Douglas 1949), Win Win, Looking For Eric, California Split, Major League or Bad News Bears (Walter Matthau of course).

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    The Club

  14. Matty Q – thought the Billy Bob Thornton remake of Bad News Bears wasn’t the worst…

  15. Litza, Billy Bob wasn’t up a tree in his undies dispensing advice to the kiddies like Matthau.

  16. Peter Schumacher says

    How about Million Dollar Baby?

  17. mickey randall says

    When We Were Kings is fantastic, even for someone who has little interest in boxing. The drama and tension are compelling, and it lead me to The Fight by Norman Mailer. It showed me the power of a recount when told by a master.

  18. Daryl Sharpen says

    Good work Dips. We don’t get many movies down here on the island, obviously; Tin Cup, The Hustler (is that sport?) and Club Buggery (Was that a movie? Should’ve been).

  19. parochial perhaps, but would/could The Club rate a mention?

  20. Can anyone else claim never to have seen any of them?

  21. What always bugged me about “The Club” was the mark at the end of the film where the star player takes a specky and lifts himself placing his hand on the shoulder of the player in front of him. Beresford, the director, is a Sydney boy so I don’t think he planned for the Aussie audience to think “free kick” for his film’s final shot.

  22. I always cried at “Lassie Come Home”. Dog – Racing.

  23. On a more serious note:
    Hitchock’s “The Lady Vanishes” was made in the pre-war Europe of 1938. A lady vanishes from a train and all the passengers have their reasons for pretending not to have seen her on the train. Two of the older passengers are cricket tragics (Harms and Flynn) from memory, hurrying back to London from the continent to get there before the test starts. They are afraid an investigation will delay their travel, and result in them missing the Test. So they lie about what they know.

    Bull Durham is my all time fave for the wit and the underlying theme that baseball is more important for what is says about people and life, than for the game on the field. I love the season where Crash tells the coach to scare the young players, and he goes crazy in the locker room throwing bats. I always thought the actor playing the coach looked (and sounded in this scene) like Alan Killigrew.

    Field of Dreams was a lot more saccharine, but I still liked the underlying message of pursuing foolish dreams and honouring the past. Any film with James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster and Ray Liotta has to be pretty good.

    Pride of the Yankees about Lou Gehrig the iron man baseballer who succumbs to muscular dystrophy (the septics still call it Lou Gehrig’s Disease) made me cry as much as Lassie.

    Great list in the Guardian. I would only take out Jerry Maguire for Any Given Sunday – great movie about the brutal realities of professional sport. The Nazi film is a strange choice but I guess it is for the artistic cinematography, not the script.

    “Where Eagles Dare” is very popular at our house. “The Eagle has Landed” is more popular in Fremantle.

    Best Australian sports film is the Hoodoo Gurus video for “My Girl”. This one will have Crio slavering for Angle Park or the Meadows:

  24. Luke Reynolds says

    One of the Gurus finest. I’ve heard that even to this day people tell them that they love the ‘song about the dog’.

  25. Good point re Billy Bob, Matty Q…

    Also, how can we be 24 comments in with not one mention of ‘Hoosiers’.

    ‘Hoosiers’, people. ‘Hoosiers’.

  26. Strictly ballroom

  27. Andrew Else says

    Yep. Hoosiers.

    And ‘The Cup’……

    Nah, seriously. Hoosiers is great

    If Hoop Dreams is included, then I assume Docos are allowed. Really enjoyed ‘Fire In Babylon’

    Jerry McGuire is not a sports film

  28. Fever Pitch

  29. …And, “Slapshot”

  30. I liked Bull Durham but my favourite film on baseball is Eight Men Out directed by John Sayles (America’s most underrated film director) and starring John Cusack. It tells the story of the “Black Sox” scandal.

    I was amazed that The Damned United wasn’t in a British list of the ten greatest sports movies.

    The Club is still the best Australian sporting movie. Coolangatta Gold is undoubtedly Australia’s worst sports movie and would have to be in the running for the worst sports movie in the English language.

  31. Andrew Starkie says

    yeah, Hooisers. Travelled through that part of Indiana years later and relived it all.

    All Rocky films except no.5, which was an insult to masculinity.

  32. Andrew Starkie says

    Yes, yes, Coolangatta Gold.

  33. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Some credits for The Club (including a cross-dressing future Pies captain ?)

    Lou Richards
    … Commentator
    Toni-Gay Shaw
    … Stripper
    Scot Palmer
    … Newspaper Reporter 1
    Bob Davis
    … Himself – ‘World Of Sport’ panelist (uncredited)
    Jack Dyer
    … Himself – ‘World Of Sport’ panelist (uncredited)
    Mike Brady – Music
    Billy Baxter
    … third assistant director (as Bill Baxter)
    Scott Hicks
    … first assistant director
    Phil Judd
    … sound re-recording mixer
    Tommy Hafey
    … football choreographer
    Frank Vardanega
    … football consultant

  34. Anyone else happen to see the film ‘Silent Partner’ (about greyhounds) – featured a Paul Kelly & Gerry Hale soundtrack.

  35. mickey randall says

    The Club- both Williamson’s play and the film adaptation are great. Jock is a terrific buffoon. Geoff Hayward, the prize recruit, is played by the good John Howard, although he is less than convincing in the football scenes, especially when up against Tank (Rene Kink).
    The Club in question (Collingwood) in the film seems almost unrecognizable to us as a powerhouse organisation. The facilities are less than some amateurs now enjoy. Still the play and film are set when football was making the clumsy transition to professionalism. I love watching it every couple years.

  36. Peter Fuller says

    I haven’t seen “Salute to the Great McCarthy”, so I’m wondering if anyone who has, can express an opinion on its ranking. It seemed to me the storyline from the book made it potentially superior to “The Club.”
    I’m also struggling for the name of a fine Australian film of a few years ago (set in SA, iirc), with an indigenous protagonist. It canvassed some issues of important cultural significance – race relations, rural youth, gender issues.
    Collingwood co-operated with the production of “The Club” (just as South Melbourne did with “McCarthy”), and the physical surroundings were authentic. The Social Club at Victoria Park (board-room scenes) and the dressing rooms were entirely true-to-life. It’s a long way to the Westpac Centre and the contemporary MCG. Melbourne’s facilities at the Junction Oval as late as 2010 were much like those featured in “The Club.”

  37. Peter

    Was it called Australian Rules?


  38. Turket Shoot anyone?

    I agree with Dave Nadel on Eight Men Out.

    There is a boxing film from the late 40s called The Set Up which might not make a Top 10 sports films but would make a Top 10 Boxing films. What about On The Waterfront?

  39. Peter Fuller says

    That sounds plausible, Sean.
    Frankly I doubt whether the films of our game rank among the best sports films. Footy is inherently difficult to film, so the match scenes tend to look contrived, and I think it’s questionable whether many Australian films of any genre feature in the ten best ever in their category.

  40. Yes it was Australian Rules, a terrific film based on the book Deadly, Unna.

    I’m not sure I agree Peter. I don’t think Aussie Rules is any more difficult to film than any other action (sport or non sport). The contrivance comes with the story-telling, which is the same issue whatever the topic.

    Reaching into my bag of great big generalisations, I think it is because there is a more telling divide between the Arts and sport in this country than elsewhere (UK and USA). Australia does not have a great record of making sports films. Considering the focus Aussie have on sport it is a conundrum why there is not a greater emphasis on sports as stories in our films, plays, novels and poetry.


  41. Balls of Fury. If there has EVER been a better Table Tennis themed film, I’d like to see it!

  42. Peter F. Salute to the Great McCarthy was a disappointing film. Oakley’s book (about which I have reservations) was only marginally about football but they tried to make the film a football movie which means they lost most of the things that the book had going for it. The Club was a much better film.

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