By Joel Del Gesso
We’re all missing certain sports right now, whether that’s playing it or watching it it’s all not quite the same. But we can rely on film to create amazing stories for our screens that get our hearts racing none the less, and here are some of my favourite ones…
Moneyball (2011) – Bennett Miller
Do not be put off by the fact that this is a baseball movie, despite this being the sport that they story revolves around it is so much more than that.
This film is based on the true story of Billy Beane’s ambitious attempt to create a budget team of players that through statistical data analysis of selecting his players aims to win the 2002 world series.
I get that it sounds boring, but the plot and characters have you glued to your screen from start to finish as you become invested in the success of Bill Beane’s Oakland A’s.
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill star and both give Oscar worthy performances and prove to be the sporting film star duo on screen that no one knew they needed.
The climax of the movie is also magnificent and the fact that more than likely no one reading this knows anything about baseball (I certainly don’t), is what keeps you engaged right till the end.
Chariots of Fire (1981) – Hugh Hudson
If you’ve not watched this one before then without a doubt you will have heard of it, whether that’s it title or it’s iconic score.
This British historical drama is based on the true story of two British athletes in the 1924 Olympics, one a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of his God, and another an English Jew who runs to over come prejudice.
This sporting classic won itself 4 Oscars including best picture, best adapted screen play and best original score (yes it’s that one).
This film explores ideas that are at the core of all reasons for anyone taking part in sport: drive, determination and ultimately success.
The film explores two very different men as we watch them fight for glory and see the very different and similar ways in which they are driven to do what they do.
It’s and oldie but a goldie as some might put it, and one that I think a lot of people would get great satisfaction from watching and be one they return to for years to come.
I, Tonya (2017) – Craig Gillespie
This film follows infamous competitive ice skater Tonya Harding and her rise amongst the ranks in the U.S. figure skating championships, starring Margot Robbie as Tonya.
The first time I saw this movie I did not know what to expect, but looking back now after multiple viewing I can confidently say this movie surpasses expectations and introduced audiences to one of sports most interesting characters of all time.
Based on the true story we follow Tonya through her professional career as a young woman from a rough background trying to make it big in a sporting community that rejects her for who she is.
Margot Robbie gives and Oscar nominated performance here and the supporting cast feature the like of Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney who are also brilliant.
This film is full of moments that make you ask the question “did that really happen?” as you following the career of Tonya who after this movie will surely become one of your favourite sporting professionals you’ve ever seen depicted in cinema.
This is another one I highly recommend looking up on after you’ve seen the film as going in blind only adds to the brilliant narrative of the story.
Raging Bull (1980) – Martin Scorsese
What is there to say that hasn’t already been said about Scorsese’s black and white masterpiece?
I’m going to limit this list to one boxing film else we’d be here all day (sorry rocky fans) but for me this is the greatest depiction of boxing on screen that there has ever has been.
Robert De Niro earned his second Oscar for his portrayal of Jake La Motta as a professional boxer whose violence and temper took him to the top of the game inside the ring, but outside became his downfall.
What this film does so brilliantly for me is it not only focuses on La Motta’s career in the sport but is also is an incredible character study that watches a man climb to the top of ranks professionally whilst destroying his personal life in the process.
If you’re both a film and sport enthusiast this I think is the best film on the list for you to check out, as both elements are blended so well together that solidify this movie as not only one of the greatest sports movies of all time, but one of the greatest films of all time.
Remember the Titans (2000) – Boaz Yakin
This Disney classic starring Denzel Washington follows the true story of football coach Herman Boone and his attempt to integrate the T.C. Williams High school football team in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971.
There not many American football films that do such a good job of portraying the sport in film format whilst simultaneously dealing with race issues inside the narrative.
We follow the integration of one black football side as they begin training with a white football side in 1970s America.
Through the contemporary challenges face in the movie with both black people and white people being intergraded into one education system the Virginia players must learnt to depend and trust on another to achieve victory.
This picture is a great display of filmmaking from start to finish thanks to the great work of the director and cast, that has you routing for the side as they overcome their differences to become a team united as one.
Highly recommend checking this out as a fun sports film to watch that deals with some really pressing issues than are still apparently to this day in the process.
The Big Lebowski (1998) – Joel & Ethan Coen
What? The big Lebowski? A sports movie? Yes, the big Lebowski belongs on this list and I’ll hear no different.
In these sporting films whilst some offer comic relief during their story none doing it quite like this cult-classic bowling film.
We Follow ‘the dude’ (Jeff Bridges), a simple minded man who just loves to bowl with his boys Walter and Donnie, but when he’s mistaken for a more famous Lebowski who owes ransom, his life his flipped upside down as he must team up with his buddies to retrieve his much loves rug ands get their focus back to their upcoming bowling competition.
I can understand why to many this may be a confusing choice for the list, but it being one of my favourite films it deserves it place amongst the rest.
All these boys want to go is bowl and they’re very clear about that, but the wild journey that the Coen brother take us on in the process of just getting back to bowling is like nothing I’ve ever seen in film and somehow work incredibly.
To justify its reasoning for it’s place on this list I’m going to label it the greatest bowling movie of all time and urge you to check this one out if you haven’t already… and quickly move on.
Green Street (2005) – Lexi Alexander
The wrongly accused Harvard ‘yank’ Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) gets kicked out of school and ventures across the pond to get some life experiences and happens to find him self rolling with the famous GSE West Ham football firm.
Again this may be blending the line of sports film but for me always has had a place in my heart for it’s great take on the dark side of football fans and the amusing portrayal of watching an American coming to the realisation that England isn’t just tea and scones.
It been a film I’ve watched endlessly over the years and is an action packed piece of filmmaking from start to finish that has you feeling like you belong with Pete Dunham and his crew.
Whether you’re a football fan or not, this depiction of a violent hooligan gang from East London is sure to get you rooting for the hammers for at at least an hour and a half.
Warrior (2011) – Gavin O’Connor
Two brothers, one an ex-marine haunted by his past and another a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a school teacher face the fight of a lifetime as they face off against each other in a winner-take-all battle.
This film from every stand point whether you’re an MMA lover or a film enthusiasts will have you gripped as you take a deep dive into the troubled past of these two brothers played my Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton.
The film a lot of the time deals with more drama rather than action, but the narrative works so well and you are so invested into these character it’s not something that cannot be put down as a flaw in the movie.
The climax to the film works brilliantly as these two brother face off, both of whom you’ve been finding out more about as the story develops and it all to boil down to a final face off that has you on the edge of your seat.
Both are fighting for the life changing prize money in a mixed martial arts contest, however there is far more at stake for both the brothers by the time they find themselves in the octagon together.
It’s one of the best MMA movies I can recall having ever seeing and highly recommend checking this one out as it is available on Netflix right now.