The 100 Best Sports Movies of All Time: Updated 2022

Read on to find out whether you agree with our choices for the top sports movies of all time.

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Movie-makers don’t always manage to capture the energy and excitement of sports, but when they get it right they have produced some classic films. Our list of the 100 greatest sports movies ever made includes comedies, dramas and documentaries, and features some of the biggest names in cinema.

You probably won’t agree with all of our choices, but we are sure you’ll find some fantastic films to enjoy in our list.

100. Million Dollar Arm – Disney+

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99. All This Mayhem

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98. Major League

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97. Everest

There are quite a few climbing documentaries on this list, but this is the only fictional climbing movie to break into our top 100. An all-star cast makes this story of survival on the world’s highest mountain an enthralling watch.

 Released: 2015 Available: Prime πŸ…RT = 72%

96. Draft Day

This is the first time we’ll mention Kevin Costner in this list, but it certainly won’t be the last. Here he plays Sonny Weaver Jr, General Manager of the Cleveland Browns. Weaver juggles draft day machinations with his love life and a difficult boss, and the end result is a movie which is a whole lot better than you might expect.

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95. Invictus

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94. Tyson

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93. A League of Their Own

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92. Southpaw

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91. Pumping Iron

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90. Cobb

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89. 42

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88. Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator

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87. The Armstrong Lie

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86. Ali

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85. Queen of Katwe – Disney+

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84. Fighting With My Family

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83. Fever Pitch

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82. Varsity Blues/Pele

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81. Meru

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80. McFarland USA

It’s that man Costner again, featuring in a late-career sporting movie which has no right to be as enjoyable as it turns out to be. Inspirational coach… kids from challenging backgrounds… you know the drill, but somehow it comes together to make a great family movie about an athletics coach and his young squad.

 Released: 2015 Available: Disney+ πŸ…RT = 80%

79. No No a Dockumentary

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78. Red Army

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77. Rudy

If you’re a sucker for a sports story with a heart, then Rudy is one for your watchlist. Rudy (Sean Astin) has been told that he’s far too small to play college football, but he is determined to fulfil his dream of lining out for Notre Dame.

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76. Athlete A

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75. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg

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74. Battle of the Sexes – Netflix/YouTube

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73. Team Foxcatcher

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72. Undefeated

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71. Hoosiers

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70. Creed II

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69. The Bad News Bears

Who better to play a bad-tempered grouch of a coach than Walter Matthau? He is in charge of a bunch of misfit baseball players, boosted by the talents of star pitcher Amanda Whurlitzer (Tatum O’Neil). The original of its type, and far better than the Mighty Ducks series that followed in its wake.

 Released: 1976 Available: Prime πŸ…RT = 97%

68. Sugar

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67. Rocky Balboa

After the disappointment of Rocky V, and much like its central character, sequel number six in the series got off the canvas to deliver a powerful punch. It lacks the gritty charm of the unsurpassable original, but this is generally regarded as the best of the five Rocky sequels and a fine movie in its own right.

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66. Hands of Stone

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65. Riding Giants

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63. This Sporting Life

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62. Andre the Giant

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61. Unforgivable Blackness

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60. Space Jam

59. Bones Brigade: An Autobiography

58. Icarus

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57. Dawn Wall

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56. The Karate Kid – Netflix/Prime

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55. Journeyman

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54. Cinderella Man

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53. The Color of Money

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52. Dodgeball

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51. The King of Kong

To those readers who would quibble as to whether playing Donkey Kong qualifies as a ‘sport’, we would point out that esports are one of the fastest growing sports in recent years. And besides, this doc is just too much fun to leave off of our list. Rival players from across the States compete to record a high-score on the venerable video game, so that they can call themselves ‘King of Kong’.

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50. The Goon

To use the phrase ‘Seann William Scott has never been better…’ may sound like damning this movie with faint praise. However, not only is this true, but this knockabout and often foul-mouthed comedy is a definite hit. The Goon is the story of an ice-hockey ‘enforcer’ who gets a shot at the big time despite barely being able to skate, and features some genuinely funny set-pieces.

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49. Coach Carter

We’ve all seen movies like this before – inspirational new coach elevates a team of no-hopers – but this is a particularly good example of the genre. Samuel L. Jackson is ‘Coach Carter’ and the film has enough emotion and excitement to hook you in.

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48. Borg vs McEnroe

Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe formed one of the greatest rivalries in the history of tennis, and this film captures how that rivalry evolved. The icy Swede and the volatile New Yorker would become friends in later years, but here we see the fierce competition between them as they rise to prominence in the game.

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47. Tin Cup

Kevin Costner is the star (once again) of ‘Tin Cup’, a golfing comedy-drama with bucket loads of charm. The movie is played (mostly) for laughs, with Costner as the small-time golfer who gets a shot at the U.S. Open.

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46. The Blind Side

The movie version of the best-selling book removes the history of tactics in the game of American Football and instead focuses on the human-interest story. The tale of a homeless student taken in by a loving family may be a little schmaltzy for some tastes, but it is still an engrossing and heart-warming tale.

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45. Happy Gilmore

To say that Adam Sandler’s cinematic output has been ‘patchy’ may be something of an understatement, but he is in top form here. Sandler is the hockey player who discovers that he is blessed with a thunderous – if unorthodox – golf swing. The plot may be thin, but there are enough laughs to keep this one rolling along.

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44. Chariots of Fire

You are probably already humming the iconic theme tune as you read this, but this Oscar-winning movie holds up in its own right. Two young English athletes from very different backgrounds race in the 1924 Olympics in search of gold.

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43. The Hurricane

Boxer Reuben Carter is accused of murder and sent to prison, and this telling of the true story is a genuinely moving biopic. Denzel Washing rarely appears in a bad movie, and here he displays his craft to the fullest as he inhabits the role of the man known as ‘The Hurricane’.

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42. Remember the Titans

A movie with a very similar plot to the afore-mentioned Coach Carter, only this time Denzel Washington is the man charged with guiding his squad of young players. This American Football drama follows all the beats you would expect from a movie of this nature, but does it with oodles of charm and characters you want to root for.

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41. The Damned United

While the book of the same name is darker and more intense, the film version is a much more light-hearted affair. Michael Sheen has played a number of real-life figures over the course of his career, and here he nails the accent and mannerisms of iconic football manager Brian Clough, ably supported by Timothy Spall as assistant Peter Taylor.

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40. The Edge

The first documentary to appear on our list shows us exactly what it takes to become a first-class cricket international. Interviews with England players and coaches plus lots of previously unseen footage makes this a gripping watch, whether you are a fan of the game or not.

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39. Escape to Victory

While it’s fair to say that this war-time/sporting drama failed to trouble the Oscar voters upon its release, it remains a cherished favourite. The unlikely combination of Michael Caine, Pele and Sylvester Stallone are players on the Prisoner of War team that takes on their German captors in a high-stakes game of football. Don’t worry too much about the plot or some of the questionable acting and footballing on display, just sit back and enjoy the fun.

 Released: 1981 Available: Prime πŸ…RT = 67%

38. Next Goal Wins

The football team of American Samoa are one of the worst international teams in the world, but they hope that the arrival of a new coach from the Netherlands will lead to a change in fortunes. This documentary takes us inside the camp, revealing the back-stories of the players and their new trainer as they try to earn some positive results on the pitch.

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37. Foxcatcher

The excellent documentary ‘Team Foxcatcher’ covers the same ground as this fictionalised version, but this drama makes for the better watch of the two. Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in the bizarre tale of the millionaire who funds a wrestling squad as a way to fulfil his own thwarted ambitions.

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36. White Men Can’t Jump

Another iconic sports comedy from the ’90s, this time starring Woody Harrelson as a basketball hustler in Los Angeles. He teams up with one of his victims to form a winning duo, and this highly entertaining action-comedy follows their exploits on and off the court.

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35. The Longest Yard

The original version starring Burt Lancaster is far superior to the tepid Adam Sandler vehicle released in 2005, or the British ‘soccer’ version made with Vinnie Jones. While certainly a little dated, this still makes for an enjoyable watch, as Burt’s American Football player turned convict is enticed to join the prisoner’s team as they take on the guards for what will be an extremely bruising match.

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34. Diego Maradona

There are a number of documentaries about Diego Maradona, but none better than this one from Asif Kapadia. Here the focus is on the Argentine superstar’s time at Napoli, and the turmoil that followed him. Archive footage of Diego’s time in Italy – both on and off the pitch – make this a must-watch for fans of the little genius.

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33. Field of Dreams

The next Costner vehicle on our list is something of a classic, one responsible the quote ‘If you build it, he will come’ entering into popular culture. That’s the line which inspires Iowa farmer Ray (Costner) to build a baseball diamond in his corn-field, in the face of his neighbours’ scorn. This is a sentimental drama with a touch of the supernatural, and one which has stood the test of time.

 Released: 1989 Available: Prime/Youtube πŸ…RT = 87%

32. Jerry Maguire

Another movie with some memorable lines (‘Show me the Money!’) stars Tom Cruise as sports agent Jerry Maguire. Leaving a soulless corporate agency to strike out on his own, Maguire finds himself with just one client, a temperamental wide receiver called Rod Tidwell. The pair strike up a close relationship, while romance bubbles up in the background between Jerry and a single mother played by Renee Zellweger.

 Released: 1996 Available: Prime πŸ…RT = 83%

31. The Natural

Robert Redford is a minor-league baseball player with a natural ability and a bat formed from a lightning-struck tree. When this mysterious middle-aged man joins a struggling team, they cannot stop winning. While certainly not short on sentimentality, a great cast and gripping storyline will keep you watching ’til the end.

 Released: 1984 Available: YouTube πŸ…RT = 82%

30. Bend it Like Beckham

This coming-of-age comedy was released during the ‘Peak Beckham’ era, but stands the test of time thanks to an engaging story and a lively young cast. A young girl (Jess) defies cultural expectations to join a local football team, finding freedom and stirrings of love in the process. The main man pops up in a cameo appearance, while Keira Knightley makes her movie debut as Jess’ best friend.

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29. Any Given Sunday

This is another movie on the list which is more beloved by viewers than critics. An aging quarterback (Dennis Quaid) gives his all for the team and becomes a mentor to the headstrong young buck (Jamie Foxx) hired to replace him. Meanwhile, turmoil reigns in the boardroom while veteran coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) tries to keep the the show on the road.

 Released: 1999 Available: Prime πŸ…RT = 52%

28. Seabiscuit

Adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book, Seabiscuit tells the story of the race-horse who captured the heart of a nation. Starring Toby Maguire and Jeff Bridges, this is an uplifting and heart-warming tale which it is almost impossible to dislike.

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27. The Battered Bastards of Baseball

You may be familiar with Kurt Russell the actor, but here we are introduced to Kurt the young baseball player, and more prominently his dad Bing. Russell Senior was a jobbing actor who decided to set up an independent baseball team once his career had wound down. This is the story of the bunch of misfits and reprobates he recruited to play for his Portland Mavericks team.

 Released: 2014 Available: Netflix πŸ…RT = 100%

26. Caddyshack

Bill Murray is in rare form here as golf groundskeeper Carl Spackler in this zinger-laden comedy. Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase add their own brands of humour to this manic, knockabout laugher which remains one of the funniest sports movies ever made.

 Released: 1980 Available: YouTube πŸ…RT = 73%

25. When We Were Kings

Muhammad Ali is one of the most compelling figures in sporting history, and When We Were Kings gives a true flavour of his magnetic appeal. The documentary takes place around the famous Rumble in the Jungle, when Ali is strongly favoured to lose against the fearsome George Foreman.

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24. Creed

There has been no shortage of sequels to the iconic Rocky movie, and Creed is certainly the best of these to date. Here the focus is on Apollo Creed’s son Adonis, as he comes to terms with his father’s legacy and tries to create a boxing career for himself, with the help of the aging Italian Stallion.

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23. Touching the Void

Most climbing documentaries are concerned with the ascent to the summit, but here the focus is on the treacherous descent and the disaster which ensues. This is a scarcely believable tale, told using interviews with the main protagonists as well as expertly staged re-enactments.

 Released: 2003 Available: YouTube πŸ…RT = 94%

22. Once in a Lifetime

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21. Blades of Glory

This is the first of two Will Ferrell sports movies to appear on this list – although neither Kicking and Screaming or Semi-Pro made the grade. Blades of Glory is a lot of fun though, as Chaz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) team up to form an unlikely ice-dancing pair. The chase scene where everyone is wearing skates is a particular highlight.

 Released: 2007 Available: Prime πŸ…RT = 70%

20. I, Tonya

Margot Robbie won an Oscar for her fantastic portrayal of disgraced ice-skater Tonya Harding in this comedic biopic. Harding is the rough-and-ready outsider who never quite fit in to the gentile world of figure-skating, and this is her story, told with a knowing wink to the viewer.

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19. The Way Back

You may have missed this low-key release when it came out in 2020, but it is definitely one to look out for. Ben Affleck stars as the former high-school basketball star who mysteriously quit the game and now struggles with alcoholism. Affleck’s authentic performance lifts this film above others of its type and will have you rooting for his character to come good.

 Released: 2020 Available: Netflix πŸ…RT = 84%

18. Murderball

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17. The Hustler

Silver-screen icon Paul Newman gives a career-best performance as pool hustler Eddie Felson in this classic from 1961. This is a movie with style as well as substance, and one that still packs a powerful punch to this day. It was followed by a belated sequel in 1986 (The Colour of Money) starring Newman and Tom Cruise, which is also a very fine picture.

 Released: 1961 Available: YouTube πŸ…RT = 98%

16. Free Solo

Vertigo-sufferers may want to grip those armrests tight before settling down to watch this documentary film. Climber Alex Honnold attempts to scale the daunting El Capitan rock face, and to do it without ropes. It’s a gripping watch, and makes for a great companion-piece with the similarly exciting Dawn Wall on Netflix.

 Released: 2018 Available: Disney+ πŸ…RT = 97%

15. The Fighter

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14. Bull Durham

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13. The Wrestler

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12. Rush

Acclaimed director Ron Howard turned his attention to Formula 1 for this high-octane dramatization of the rivalry between Nikki Lauda and James Hunt. Hunt is the champagne-swilling bon vivant, while Lauda is the dour and methodical Austrian, but both are possessed of supreme talent. The action never lets up for the 2-hour duration of this pulsating drama.

 Released: 2013 Available: Prime πŸ…RT = 88%

11. Ford v Ferrari

Known as ‘Le Mans ’66’ in Europe, this movie takes us back to 1966 when the upstart Ford racing team attempted to take on the mighty Ferrari. The race was the famous Le Mans 24-Hour, and Christian Bale and Matt Damon head up a starry cast here.

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10. Cool Runnings

We defy anyone to dislike this hugely entertaining recounting of the Jamaican bobsleigh team’s Olympic debut. John Candy is perfectly cast as the coach, while the team’s often bumpy ride is told here with good humour and no little emotion.

 Released: 1993 Available: Disney+ πŸ…RT = 76%

9. Senna

A Brazilian sporting legend gets the Asif Kapadia treatment here, as he follows the career of F1 champion Ayrton Senna. Archive footage and talking heads give a fully-rounded profile of the superstar driver whose life was cut tragically short.

 Released: 2010 Available: YouTube πŸ…RT = 93%

8. Dogtown and Z-Boys

A small band of surfers from California revolutionise skateboarding with their anarchic approach to the sport. Here we are introduced to the main protagonists, whose lives have followed dramatically different courses but whose love for skating remains as strong as ever.

 Released: 2001 Available: iTunes πŸ…RT = 92%

7. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are at their hilarious best as none-too-bright NASCAR drivers in this 2006 comedy. The jokes keep coming from start to finish, with a lot more hits than misses, as we follow the travails of Ricky Bobby when a snooty French Formula 1 driver threatens to take his spot on the winner’s podium.

 Released: 2006 Available: YouTube πŸ…RT = 71%

6. Moneyball

Another movie to arrive via a true story which became the subject of a book, Moneyball is the story of how a lateral-thinking coach turned around the fortunes of a baseball club. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill star, the latter earning an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of economics graduate Peter Brand.

 Released: 2011 Available: Netflix πŸ…RT = 94%

5. Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood stars in and directs this inspirational movie about a female boxer from a tough background. Eastwood is trainer Frankie, and Hilary Swank plays Maggie, the young woman with big dreams and courage to match. This is a fantastic story, well told by a master craftsman.

 Released: 2004 Available: Netflix πŸ…RT = 91%

4. Friday Night Lights

Many readers will be more familiar with the long-running TV show than the movie, but this is where Buzz Bissinger’s book first transitioned to the screen. Starring Billy Bob Thornton as the inspirational coach of the Permian Panthers high-school football team, this is one of the best big-screen examples of the genre.

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3. Raging Bull

Iconic film-makers Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro team up to produce one of the greatest sports movies ever made. De Niro plays the complex and often brutal Jake La Motta as the middle-weight battles his demons outside of the ring and aims to become a champion inside the ropes.

 Released: 1980 Available: YouTube πŸ…RT = 93%

2. Hoop Dreams

Our vote for the best sporting documentary ever made goes to Hoop Dreams, the story of two African-American teens hoping to make it to the NBA. Shot over the course of five years, this follows the struggles they face both on and off the court as they try to achieve their dreams.

 Released: 1994 Available: iTunes/Curzon πŸ…RT = 98%

1. Rocky

There could only be one choice for top position on our list, and that’s the underdog story of a down-at-heel boxer from Philadelphia who achieves the impossible. This movie has spawned a host of sequels – of varying quality – but you cannot beat the original. This is a classic movie which has become embedded in popular culture and fully deserves its spot at the head of our list.

 Released: 1976 Available: Prime/YouTube πŸ…RT = 94%
  1. Team Foxcatcher
  2. Dawn Wall – Netflix
  3. Meru
  4. Icarus – Netflix
  5. Undefeated
  6. Red Army
  7. Andre the Giant
  8. Unforgivable Blackness
  9. Draft Day
  10. Athlete A – Netflix
  11. The Mighty Ducks – Disney+
  12. Ali – Prime
  13. The Bad News Bears
  14. Rudy – Netflix
  15. Battle of the Sexes – Netflix/YouTube
  16. Fever Pitch
  17. Space Jam
  18. No No a Dockumentary
  19. Riding Giants
  20. The Color of Money
  21. Cinderella Man
  22. Rocky Balboa – Prime
  23. Hoosiers – Prime
  24. Dodgeball
  25. Varsity Blues
  26. Journeyman
  27. Queen of Katwe – Disney+
  28. The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
  29. Creed II
  30. The Karate Kid – Netflix/Prime
  31. Southpaw – Netflix
  32. Hands of Stone – Netflix
  33. Pumping Iron – Netflix
  34. McFarland USA – Disney+
  35. Draft Day
  36. A League of Their Own
  37. 42
  38. Cobb
  39. Tyson 2002
  40. The Armstrong Lie
  41. Invictus
  42. Major League
  43. Sugar
  44. Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator
  45. All This Mayhem
  46. Bones Brigade: An Autobiography
  47. Everest
  48. Safety – Disney+
  49. Pele – Netflix
  50. Million Dollar Arm – Disney+

Ross O’Connor is an experienced sports writer with a particular interest in the NFL, pro boxing and football. He has written for numerous online and print publications on sports and a variety of other topics.
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