Every sport has at least one great movie about it – and we’ll tell you what that is.
Looking for your sports fix? The film industry has given us a lot of epic games and exciting contests to enjoy.
Get ready to root for heroic underdogs, heckle opponents and share the thrill of victory (or shed a tear in defeat) because we’ve selected our favourite movies from each genre below.
No matter what your passion – from football to rugby, tennis to baseball, boxing to wrestling, cycling to golf – a shining moment in sport is waiting for you…
Football: The Damned United (2009)
Directed by Tom Hooper, this movie starring Michael Sheen is about the belligerent yet brilliant Brian Clough. It follows his disastrous 44-day tenure with Leeds United in 1974. Clough previously led underdog Derby County to football glory before taking the manager’s job with his bitter rivals. Told through a series of flashbacks, The Damned United offers a moving story about Clough’s life and career before he took over the reigning champions, called the players cheaters and plummeted them into a losing streak.
Where to watch: Purchase The Damned United on Amazon Prime
Baseball: Moneyball (2011)
Brad Pitt hits a home run as Billy Beane, the general manager who guided the Oakland A’s to 103 wins in their 2002 season. Considered one of the game’s greatest innovators, Beane crunched data in order to build an unbeatable team made up of bargain-priced players. Focused more on the front office than the field, Moneyball isn’t your traditional baseball drama, but it is a gripping story of how analytics completely changed America’s greatest pastime.
Where to watch: Stream Moneyball on Netflix or rent it on Amazon Prime
Boxing: Raging Bull (1980)
No other boxing film hits harder than this one. The Martin Scorsese-directed biopic about middleweight legend Jake LaMotta features an Oscar-winning performance from Robert De Niro. He undergoes a chilling animalistic transformation in this intensely physical movie about the real-life brawler. Shot in black and white, Raging Bull’s incredible camerawork also captures the character’s ferociousness in and out of the ring.
Where to watch: Purchase Raging Bull on Amazon Prime
Basketball: He Got Game (1998)
Directed by Spike Lee, the ultimate basketball fan, He Got Game features Denzel Washington as a man in prison for killing his wife. He has a chance to shorten his sentence if can talk his son, one of the nation’s top-ranked high school basketball stars, into attending the state university. Instead of a big game, this movie highlights many of the problems with the recruitment process. But there is an incredible one-on-one scene between a father and the boy he taught to play many years ago that you’ll never forget.
Where to watch: Rent He Got Game on Amazon Prime
American Football: Any Given Sunday (1999)
This is Oliver Stone’s epic American football film. Among many stars, Any Given Sunday features Al Pacino as the drunken head coach of the Miami Sharks on the downside of his career and Jamie Foxx in his first serious dramatic role as Steamin’ Willie Beamen, the talented but unpredictable quarterback. Along with the in-your-face cinematography, you won’t soon forget Pacino’s stirring “life is just a game of inches” speech before the play-off game.
Where to watch: Rent Any Given Sunday on Amazon Prime
Ice Hockey: Slap Shot (1977)
When it comes to hockey movies, this heartfelt comedy is a barnburner. Slap Shot stars Paul Newman as the coach of the Charlestown Chiefs, a sleazy minor league team who love the game but play it poorly. On the verge of folding due to lack of money and support, things start to turn around with the arrival of the Hanson brothers, a trio of goons who up the level of bloody brawls and roughhouse rink action which brings in fans.
Where to watch: Rent Slap Shot on Amazon Prime
Tennis: Battle Of The Sexes (2017)
Prepare to watch one of the most legendary battles of all time – the 1973 match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. In his relentless pursuit of attention, Riggs slammed the quality of women’s tennis and demanded to face its top players. After beating Margaret Court, King was forced to accept his challenge. Viewed as a fight against male chauvinism, Battle Of The Sexes touches on everything from unequal prize money to homosexuality in sports.
Where to watch: Rent Battle Of The Sexes on Amazon Prime
Cricket: Lagaan (2001)
Running for an epic three hours and 42 minutes, this Bollywood gem might as well be the Spartacus of the cricket world. Set during India’s colonial British Raj, it tells the story a village that challenges their rulers to a game of cricket in order to escape paying a double tax. A cinematic masterpiece with a truly heroic underdog, Lagaan was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.
Where to watch: Stream Lagaan on Netflix
Cycling: Breaking Away (1979)
This touching and funny Oscar-winning film is regarded as the two-wheeled gospel among cycling enthusiasts. Part coming-of-age story, part underdog sports tale, the cult classic follows the tight friendship of four teens from Bloomington, Indiana who try to beat some college boys in their town’s annual bike race.
Where to watch: Rent Breaking Away on Amazon Prime
Athletics: Chariots Of Fire (1981)
Everyone recognises the scene when the runners are training on the beach while the iconic theme music by Vangelis plays, but Chariots Of Fire has much more to offer than just that. The winner of four Oscars, this film boasts a beautifully told story about two university students in Britain who come from different backgrounds and bring glory to the country at the 1924 Olympics.
Where to watch: Stream Chariots Of Fire on NOW TV or rent it on Amazon Prime
Motorsport: Rush (2013)
You’ll want to strap yourself in for this Ron Howard film depicting one of the fiercest rivalries in racing. Rush is about two drivers in the ’70s who rose up through the ranks to the world of Formula 1. McLaren’s James Hunt and Ferrari’s Niki Lauda were polar opposites – one a playboy and the other a perfectionist. A fascinating juxtaposition of characters, their appetite for winning and animosity for each other fuelled them to be their very best.
Where to watch: Stream Rush on Netflix or rent it on Amazon Prime
Rugby: Invictus (2009)
Rugby proves to be a political game in this inspiring film starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Newly elected President Nelson Mandela joins forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team in Invictus. With his people racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid, the underdog Springboks’ 1995 World Cup tournament run gave everyone in the country something to unite behind.
Where to watch: Rent Invictus on Amazon Prime
Wrestling: The Wrestler (2008)
This story about a faded wrestler brought fading actor Mickey Rourke back into the spotlight – and even earned him an Oscar nomination. He gives a tour de force performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson whose glory days are long passed. A former pro wrestling star in the ’80s, Robinson finds himself struggling to mend relationships and make ends meet because even with his body failing him, he can’t bear to leave the ring.
Where to watch: Stream or rent The Wrestler on Amazon Prime
Mixed Martial Arts: Warrior (2011)
Get ready for some knockout performances in this film where two brothers – played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton – compete against each other inside and outside the cage. Nick Nolte also delivers in a powerful role as their boozy and belligerent father. The battles in the octagon are gritty, but not nearly as bad as seeing them take a beating in their home life. Huge on humanity, by the end of Warrior you’ll want both to win.
Where to watch: Stream Warrior on Netflix or stream and rent it on Amazon Prime
Golf: Tin Cup (1996)
Kevin Costner plays washed-up, beer-swilling Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy, a former prodigy who’s been reduced to giving lessons on the driving range. He tries to qualify for the US Open in order to win over the girlfriend of his rival and the PGA Tour’s best player. A comeback story with humour and romance, Tin Cup also does the impossible by making golf sexy.
Where to watch: Rent Tin Cup on Amazon Prime
So these 15 films are our ultimate sports picks. Don’t agree? Share your favourites with us on Twitter.