Whether you’re particularly interested in sports or not, nothing can suck you in like a good sports movie. Even if you couldn’t care less about the sports at hand, these films are sure to entertain.
10. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: A quick glance at Will Ferrell’s filmography reveals he’s been in a disproportionate number of sports comedies. While they run the gamut from pretty good to terrible — looking at you Semi-Pro — his turn as a Kentucky-fried NASCAR driver remains the gold standard. Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat fame steals the show as Ferrell’s French rival.
9. All the Right Moves: it’s a lesser-known film, but a true gem regardless. A pre-fame Tom Cruise leads as a high school football star in a dead-end steel town trying to use his athletic talents to secure a better future for himself. It certainly has more than its fair share of sentimental and cliché moments, but what genre does clichés better than sports movies?
8. The King of Kong: following a “sport” of a very different breed, this documentary tracks underdog competitive video-gamer Steve Wiebe in his quest to dethrone the reigning champ — the malevolent Billy Mitchell — for the world-record high score on the Donkey Kong arcade game. While competitive video-gaming is debatably no sport at all, by Wiebe’s commitment and dedication, you’d never know it.
7. Kingpin: while The Big Lebowski is a decidedly better movie to feature bowling, Kingpin showcases the sport in a superior way. A humiliated ex-champ whose bowling hand has long since been crushed and replaced with a hook takes a young Amish protégé under his wing. Unconventional to be sure, but funny as hell and the most fun you’ll ever have watching people bowl.
6. Friday Night Lights: the TV series this film inspired is supposed to be even better — I couldn’t tell you first-hand — but the original film undeniably stands on its own feet. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name, it chronicles an environment in which dedication to high school football reigns supreme and feeds an obsession for an entire Texan town.
5. Miracle: it’s practically sacrilege as a Canadian, but I never learned how to skate. Nonetheless, the true story of the 1980 American men’s Olympic hockey team taking down the rival Russian team is riveting, thrilling and inspiring in the way only Disney sports movies can be. It’s also worth seeing if only for Kurt Russell’s truly amazing Minnesotan accent.
4. Moneyball: a list like this without a baseball movie wouldn’t be fair, and since Angels in the Outfield is terrible, Moneyball it is. Another true — but still intriguing — story, it follows the manager of the Oakland Athletics as he seeks to turn his pitiful team around by unconventional means. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill act out a smart-as-a-whip screenplay with ease.
3. Slap Shot: about as Canadian a movie to ever come out of the United States, this comedy about boozing, brawling, foul-mouthed hockey players is sure to strike a chord with those in the Great White North. Paul Newman carries a cast of primarily lesser knowns — including many professional hockey players turned actors.
2. Rocky IV: it would be all too easy for a list like this to comprise almost entirely of Rocky Balboa adventures, but this one sits atop the heap. After seeing his rival-turned-chum Apollo Creed beaten to death in the ring by Soviet superman Ivan Drago, the “Italian Stallion” goes to Russia to defend not only his character, but his country. Chest thumping patriotism abounds in this Cold War classic.
1. Raging Bull: one of the greatest movies of all-time in any genre, director Martin Scorsese’s portrait of real-life boxer Jake LaMotta is electrifying, if not always inspiring — LaMotta is no Rocky Balboa to say the least. What the film lacks in uplift it makes up for in gorgeous cinematography, masterful editing and performances by Robert De Niro — in an Academy Award winning role — and Joe Pesci.
Photo Illustration: Jeremy Britz / Graphics Editor