With all Australian sporting competitions shutting shop for the foreseeable future, live sport enters a lull period with replays of Grand Finals and classic matches providing slight relief. To help fill the gap during these sports-less times, ESPN.com.au has put together a list of the top 15 sports movies to help you get through self-isolation.
This is more than just a simple 'best sports movies of all-time list' - this list is the perfect mix of comedy, drama, heart break and realistic sports sequences to whet your sporting appetite. There's just one rule to reach this list: the movie must be available on Australian streaming services.
So pop your popcorn, get comfortable and get your tissues ready for those waterworks.
15. I, Tonya (2017)
The most recent film to make the list, I, Tonya is the perfect way to get your movie marathon started. Following the story of Tonya Harding and the famous attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan ahead of the 1994 Winter Olympics, the biopic is a great mix of comedy and drama with Margot Robbie stealing the show as Harding. The movie is more than just the 1994 incident though, telling the story of Harding's life from childhood to the lead-up to the Olympics and everything that occurred after. Whether you believe Harding had anything to do with the attack or not, you'll have a better idea of the background leading up to the horrible event. (If you want to learn more about the incident, make sure to check out ESPN's 30 for 30 the Price of Gold).
14. Happy Gilmore (1996)
One of Adam Sandler's best, the story of a terrible hockey player turned temperamental golfer looking to win enough money to buy back his grandmother's house, we get plenty of comedy with a little bit of heart and just the right amount of golf. One of the top quoted movies of all time (we think), the ridiculousness has you chuckling every time and is the perfect movie to lift the spirits during these sports-less times. Plus, you now have plenty of time to practice your own 'Happy Gilmore' swing.
13. The Mighty Ducks (1992)
It's knuckle puck time! It's time to go back to better days, when all that mattered was Gordon Bombay and the Mighty Ducks defeating the Hawks in the state championship match. A favourite growing up, the Mighty Ducks, while predictable, has plenty of heart and is the perfect movie to enjoy with the kids or just to relive the glory days.
12. Bend it like Beckham (2002)
One of the few sports movies focused on female athletes (we'll see a few more down the list), Bend it like Beckham is the feel-good movie you need. It tells the story of 18-year-old Jess, a British-Indian Sikh living in London who loves soccer but due to cultural reasons her family won't allow her to play. Going behind her family's back, Jess joins the local women's team alongside Jules Paxton, a white English 18-year-old whose father supports her playing while her mother tries to steer her away from sport. While the movie touches on serious subjects, it remains light-hearted and fun, as well as inspiring.
11. Foxcatcher (2014)
From light-hearted fun to a chilling true crime drama, we move onto Foxcatcher - another sport biopic. Loosely based on the events surrounding wrestling enthusiast John du Pont, his 1986 recruitment of two 1984 U.S. Olympic gold medalist wrestlers, Mark Schultz and his older brother David, and the subsequent murder of David Schultz in January 1996. A gritty, psychological drama, Foxcatcher will have you entranced from the beginning til the end.
10. A League of Their Own (1992)
There's no crying in baseball! Set in 1943 when World War II threatened to shut down Major League Baseball, baseball team owners came together to bankroll a women's league. A little schmaltzy but a lot of fun, A League of their Own is light, charming and full of laughs. While the movie is a fictionalised account, it tells the story of the real-life All American Girls Professional Baseball League and a time when women took centre stage.
09. Creed (2015)
Breathing new life into the Rocky franchise, Creed evolves the famous story while bringing us back to Philadelphia and those epic boxing scenes. Adonis Creed, the son of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, wants to follow in his father's footsteps and enlists Rocky Balboa to take him to the top. This movie will give you the realistic sports sequences you've been craving. Beware: Sylvester Stallone has only become harder to understand as he's aged.
08. Moneyball (2001)
A movie for sports fans and stats nerds alike, Moneyball is the true story of Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics, and his quest to field a team that can compete with the big boys of Major League Baseball, despite the As' comparatively minute budget for players. He, along with a Yale economics boffin, uses sabermetrics to build a team worthy of playoffs, despite disapproval from the team's owner and scouts. In addition to being an entertaining sports film, there's enough drama to ensure non-sports fans are still entertained.
07. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
It may not be Clint Eastwood's masterpiece, but it's certainly up there as one of his best. Million Dollar Baby will take you through a wide range of emotions as Hillary Swank, Eastwood and Morgan Freeman put in unforgettable performances to tell a beautiful but sad story of 31-year-old Maggie Fitzgerald and her determination to fight, and the devoted boxing trainer (Eastwood) who eventually takes her on. Be warned, you'll need those tissues.
06. The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling is all about the performance and Mickey Rourke puts on the performance to revive his career. Gritty and raw, The Wrestler tells the tale of a physically and mentally broken former headliner professional wrestler who now spends his time performing in front of diehard fans in school gyms. Mixed with some incredible shots from within the ring, The Wrestler will have you entertained from start to finish.
05. Varsity Blues (1999)
The quintessential high school football movie, West Canaan High gave us Lance Harbor's golden locks, Billy Bob's "puke and rally", and James van der Beek at his Dawson's Creek peak, doing a bizarre Texan accent. Yet, while those characters colour the film's feel-good legacy, it was oddly ahead of it's time with the Beek's explosive spread Oopty-oop offense, as well as serious concerns over concussions and CTE. A 90s throwback as fun and surprisingly relevant as ever.
04. Any Given Sunday (1999)
Oliver Stone meets football meets Al Pacino, what could be better during self-isolation? Intense and at-times dark, Any Given Sunday runs the full lap from the glamour of the "AFFA" to its sordid underbelly and flawed figures. Jamie Foxx and Dennis Quaid are two of the best quarterbacks in movie history, and the football scenes about as believable as Hollywood gets. Throw in the iconic "My name is Willie" single and that speech from Pacino? Two-and-a-half hours well spent.
03. Remember the Titans (2000)
Suuuunshine!! Based on actual events in 1971, Remember the Titans is most definitely a crowd pleaser. Although it's a little predictable, it's also heartwarming and emotional with plenty of humour to lighten the mood. If the rendition of 'Hey, hey-ey goodbye' doesn't bring you to tears in the end, are you even human?
In the midst of the Cold War, Stallone conjured the story of a generation, an unparalleled underdog tale that launched a franchise. Not as deliciously over-the-top as its 80s sequels (he did end the Cold War in IV), Rock is gritty, humble, and provides no small helping of belief in our own bizarre times. The soundtrack still fires tingles down your arm four decades and change later, and let's be honest, will set you on your own binge journey all the way through Creed II. (Except Rocky V, we can all skip that one.)
01. Friday Night Lights (2004)
No doubt a controversial decision, but who doesn't love a good underdog story? The later TV series may have taken over the mantle in recent years, but the original can't be beaten for drama, passion and grit. Retelling the true story of the 1988 Permian Panthers high school football team and their remarkable run towards the Texas State Championship, Billy Bob Thorton plays Garry Gaines, the new head coach tasked with taking his side to state with his star fullback James "Boobie" Miles. Although the story follows the cliché script with the star player getting injured and the side struggling to reach the big game, it's the players' back stories including racism and abuse that have you cheering til the final minutes. But, sometimes not everyone gets their fairy tale finish.
Honourable mentions: Cool Runnings, Space Jam, Coach Carter, The Sandlot, Escape to Victory, the Blind Side and Field of Dreams.
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