It’s a debate that’s had throughout the land and one that every sports fan has their own opinion about. Just what is the best sports movie ever made?

Generally speaking, sports movies, and for the purposes of this list, we specifically mean films where a specific sport or sporting event plays an integral role, don’t tend to be all that successful both in terms of critical acclaim and box office. It’s just a medium that is very hard to crack.

That makes those movies that do pass the test all the more worthy of credit. Here is a selection of those that we feel are way ahead of the pack.

Uncut Gems (2019)

Though this movie is more about sports betting than just sports, it’s an astonishing feat of pacing and drama. The tension builds to a crescendo, and the moment of impact when a key event takes place, which we won’t discuss here, leaves you breathless.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

More often than not, our lead loses his bets; perhaps he should have made the most of Sidelines, where he could have checked out the odds comparisons offered as well as some solid overall betting guidance.

Adam Sandler is simply incredible in the role of hapless jeweler Howard Ratner, who has an addictive personality that leaves the audience hoping he triumphs over adversity. Kevin Garnett plays himself, and the supporting cast is mesmeric.

Bull Durham (1988)

Kevin Costner has made more than one baseball movie, but we elected to include Bull Durham over Field of Dreams, mainly because we feel it’s a more overlooked movie than the latter.

Ron Shelton’s comedy was a big hit and showed a minor league baseball team’s travails and events that unfold on and off the field. As well as Costner, a host of great talents emerged from the movie, including now-married couple Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Tom Cruise’s turn as a cocky sports agent is great to watch, as is the manner in which he becomes more human and less of a parasite. Renee Zellweger won a lot of plaudits for her role, and Cuba Gooding Jr won an Oscar, and the movie will be forever known for ‘that scene,’ you know, the one which has been mimicked by everyone at some point in their lives.

‘Show me the money!’

Moneyball (2011)

This movie digs deeper into the dynamics and customs within the world of baseball but does so in a way that works even if you have little or no knowledge of the sport. It’s based on Michael Lewis’s hugely successful book that charts the rise of the Oakland Athletics under Billy Beane.

It’s a terrific movie that has two very strong leads in Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, and is an honest appraisal of what goes into making a successful ball club.

Raging Bull (1980)

Martin Scorcese’s account of Jake LaMotta, pardon the pun, pulls no punches and is a tough watch. It charts the rise and fall of a fighter whose life unravels, and it led to Robert De Niro winning his second Oscar and earning him a lot of praise for his unflinching portrayal of a very damaged individual.

Joe Pesci is also astounding in this classic that cemented Scorese’s reputation in Hollywood.

Author: James Greenstone

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