150 Best Sports Movies of All Time

In the arena of the sports movie, every story can be told. The impossible underdog team that survives a brutal season into the final game. The kid who’s just starting out and the veteran being pulled back into the game, who both share the same odds: Against. Stories of the power of coming together as a selfless team, and myths of individual strength when you remove all the limits. Sports movies make us cheer, laugh, cry, and scream. They even make us think about renewing that gym membership.

We’re going all the way to the end zone with our list of the 150 Best Sports Movies of All Time, sorted by Adjusted Tomatometer from at least 20 reviews each. (The Adjusted Tomatometer is our special formula which takes into account, among other factors, the movie’s year of release and its number of reviews.) Just about every sport ever played is here: football (Rudy), baseball (Bull Durham), hockey (Miracle), soccer (Bend It Like Beckham), boxing (Rocky), ice skating (I, Tonya). There’s racing: by foot (Without Limits), by car (Talladega Nights), by horse (Seabiscuit). We got fictional sports (Rollerball) and sports we made up through sheer tyranny of will (Murderball). If it’s in the spirit of competition, it’s in this list.

Because this is a movie list, there are no TV movies (we pour one out for Brian’s Song), and nothing rated Rotten — even fan favorites like Any Given Sunday. Please deal with your rage accordingly before continuing.

And with our most recent updates, we welcome in new popular hits like Ben Affleck’s The Way Back, Best Picture nominee Ford v Ferrari, wrestling family drama Fighting With My Family, the vertigo-inducing Free Solo, and Maiden, about the first all-woman crew in a global yacht race.

Ready? For the leisure, life, and love of the game, here are the 150 Best Sports Movies of All Time!

#150

Blue Crush (2002)
62%

#150
Adjusted Score: 66017%
Critics Consensus: The surfing sequences are exhilarating, but the plot is pretty forgettable and trite.
Synopsis: Nothing gets between Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) and her board. Living in a beach shack with three roommates including her... [More]
Directed By: John Stockwell

#149
Adjusted Score: 66004%
Critics Consensus: Despite all the underdog sports movie conventions, the likable cast and lush production values make The Greatest Game Ever Played a solid and uplifting tale.
Synopsis: Blue-collar Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) fights class prejudice while mastering golf, a game guarded by the upper crust. Employed as... [More]
Directed By: Bill Paxton

#148

The Express (2008)
62%

#148
Adjusted Score: 65432%
Critics Consensus: The Express crosses the goal line as an inspirational sports drama, although fans of the genre will recognize many -- if not most -- of its clichés.
Synopsis: Born into poverty, Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) overcomes many obstacles to get into Syracuse University's football program. Under the guidance... [More]
Directed By: Gary Fleder

#147

Rocky III (1982)
66%

#147
Adjusted Score: 68442%
Critics Consensus: It's noticeably subject to the law of diminishing returns, but Rocky III still has enough brawny spectacle to stand in the ring with the franchise's better entries.
Synopsis: Having become the world heavyweight champion, former working-class boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is rich and famous beyond his wildest... [More]
Directed By: Sylvester Stallone

#146

Cobb (1994)
65%

#146
Adjusted Score: 66800%
Critics Consensus: Tommy Lee Jones's searing performance helps to elevate Cobb above your typical sports biopic; he's so effective, in fact, that some may find the film unpleasant.
Synopsis: Baseball legend Ty Cobb (Tommy Lee Jones) pressures biographer Al Stump (Robert Wuhl) to whitewash the sordid details of his... [More]
Directed By: Ron Shelton

#145

Bring It On (2000)
64%

#145
Adjusted Score: 67627%
Critics Consensus: Despite the formulaic, fluffy storyline, this movie is surprisingly fun to watch, mostly due to its high energy and how it humorously spoofs cheerleading instead of taking itself too seriously.
Synopsis: The Toro cheerleading squad from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego has got spirit, spunk, sass and a killer... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

#144
Adjusted Score: 68229%
Critics Consensus: Though formulaic, this horse story's saving grace is its strong performances.
Synopsis: Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) is a horse trainer who is struggling to connect with his precocious daughter, Cale (Dakota Fanning).... [More]
Directed By: John Gatins

#143

Secretariat (2010)
64%

#143
Adjusted Score: 68704%
Critics Consensus: Rousing, heartwarming, and squarely traditional, Secretariat offers exactly what you'd expect from an inspirational Disney drama -- no more, and no less.
Synopsis: Despite her lack of experience, housewife and mother Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) agrees to take over management of the family... [More]
Directed By: Randall Wallace

#142

The Sandlot (1993)
64%

#142
Adjusted Score: 69221%
Critics Consensus: It may be shamelessly derivative and overly nostalgic, but The Sandlot is nevertheless a genuinely sweet and funny coming-of-age adventure.
Synopsis: When Scottie Smalls (Thomas Guiry) moves to a new neighborhood, he manages to make friends with a group of kids... [More]
Directed By: David Mickey Evans

#141

Race (2016)
63%

#141
Adjusted Score: 71788%
Critics Consensus: Race is nowhere near as thrillingly fleet or agile as its subject, but the story -- and a winning central performance from Stephan James -- are enough to carry it over the finish line.
Synopsis: Young Jesse Owens (Stephan James) becomes a track and field sensation while attending the Ohio State University in the early... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Hopkins

#140

Coach Carter (2005)
64%

#140
Adjusted Score: 69773%
Critics Consensus: Even though it's based on a true story, Coach Carter is pretty formulaic stuff, but it's effective and energetic, thanks to a strong central performance from Samuel L. Jackson.
Synopsis: In 1999, Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) returns to his old high school in Richmond, California, to get the basketball... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Carter

#139

Rollerball (1975)
68%

#139
Adjusted Score: 69682%
Critics Consensus: In Rollerball, social commentary collides with high-speed action -- and the audience is the winner.
Synopsis: The year is 2018 in a futuristic society where corporations have replaced countries. A violent futuristic game known as Rollerball... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#138
#138
Adjusted Score: 70004%
Critics Consensus: Pleasant to a fault, Million Dollar Arm is a middle-of-the-plate pitch that coasts on Jon Hamm's considerable charm without adding any truly original curves to Disney's inspirational sports formula.
Synopsis: In a last-ditch effort to save his career, sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) plans to find baseball's next star... [More]
Directed By: Craig Gillespie

#137

More Than a Game (2008)
71%

#137
Adjusted Score: 71484%
Critics Consensus: Though the film may not delve as deep as some would prefer, More Than a Game is an inspiring documentary featuring likable youngsters, a positive message, and some exciting in-game footage.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Kristopher Belman chronicles the early career of basketball superstar LeBron James. James and four other talented teammates were a... [More]
Directed By: Kristopher Belman

#136

Fever Pitch (2005)
65%

#136
Adjusted Score: 71760%
Critics Consensus: While not a home run, Fever Pitch has enough charm and on-screen chemistry between the two leads to make it a solid hit.
Synopsis: When Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon), a young teacher, begins dating pretty businesswoman Lindsey Meeks (Drew Barrymore), the two don't seem... [More]

#135

Olympic Dreams (2019)
70%

#135
Adjusted Score: 72489%
Critics Consensus: Even if it's mainly distinguished by its unique setting, Olympic Dreams remains a romcom with a heartfelt story and likable leads.
Synopsis: A young cross-country skier bonds with a volunteer doctor in the Olympic athletes village.... [More]
Directed By: Jeremy Teicher

#134

Rocky II (1979)
71%

#134
Adjusted Score: 72496%
Critics Consensus: Rocky II is a movie that dares you to root again for the ultimate underdog -- and succeeds due to an infectiously powerful climax.
Synopsis: Although working-class Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) lost his high-profile bout with the cocky world champion Apollo Creed (Carl... [More]
Directed By: Sylvester Stallone

#133

Ali (2001)
68%

#133
Adjusted Score: 72998%
Critics Consensus: Though perhaps no film could fully do justice to the fascinating life and personality of Muhammad Ali, Mann's direction and Smith's performance combine to pack a solid punch.
Synopsis: With wit and athletic genius, with defiant rage and inner grace, Muhammad Ali forever changed the American landscape. Fighting all... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#132
#132
Adjusted Score: 73217%
Critics Consensus: Beastie Boy Adam Yauch proves his worth as a director with Gunnin' for That #1 Spot, a fun-filled chronicle of the top high school hoopsters of 2006.
Synopsis: Rucker Park in New York City's Harlem has been host to many legends, such as Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.... [More]
Directed By: Adam Yauch

#131

The Blind Side (2009)
66%

#131
Adjusted Score: 75521%
Critics Consensus: It might strike some viewers as a little too pat, but The Blind Side has the benefit of strong source material and a strong performance from Sandra Bullock.
Synopsis: Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless black teen, has drifted in and out of the school system for years. Then... [More]
Directed By: John Lee Hancock

#130

The Karate Kid (2010)
66%

#130
Adjusted Score: 73953%
Critics Consensus: It may not be as powerful as the 1984 edition, but the 2010 Karate Kid delivers a surprisingly satisfying update on the original.
Synopsis: When his mother's career results in a move to China, 12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) finds that he is a... [More]
Directed By: Harald Zwart

#129

Tin Cup (1996)
72%

#129
Adjusted Score: 73794%
Critics Consensus: Breezy and predictable, Tin Cup is a likeable sports comedy that benefits greatly from Kevin Costner's amiable lead performance.
Synopsis: Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner) was a golf pro with a bright future, but his rebellious nature and bad attitude cost... [More]
Directed By: Ron Shelton

#128
Adjusted Score: 75035%
Critics Consensus: Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable is far more risk-averse than its thrill-seeking subject, but still provides a reasonably inspiring introduction to her story.
Synopsis: One of the most accomplished athletes of her generation, Bethany Hamilton, became a surfing wunderkind when she returned to the... [More]
Starring: Bethany Hamilton
Directed By: Aaron Lieber

#127
#127
Adjusted Score: 74781%
Critics Consensus: Taking full advantage of the large IMAX screen, Ultimate X is a thrill ride for extreme sports junkies and novices alike.
Synopsis: Bruce Hendricks highlights events of the 2001 Summer X Games, including skateboarding, BMX biking and the street luge.... [More]
Directed By: Bruce Hendricks

#126
Adjusted Score: 76524%
Critics Consensus: Proudly profane and splendidly silly, Dodgeball is a worthy spiritual successor to the goofball comedies of the 1980s.
Synopsis: Average Joe's Gym and its owner, Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn), are both down on their luck. A fancy competing... [More]

#125

Personal Best (1982)
73%

#125
Adjusted Score: 74684%
Critics Consensus: Mariel Hemingway has a career-making star turn in this highly physical drama about two Olympic athletes who find each other during competitive training.
Synopsis: Young sprinter Chris Cahill (Mariel Hemingway) is having difficulty reaching her potential as an athlete, until she meets established track... [More]
Directed By: Robert Towne

#124

Jungleland (2019)
73%

#124
Adjusted Score: 76159%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to muscular work from director/co-writer Max Winkler and his stars, Jungleland punches above its weight in a crowded genre.
Synopsis: When a devastating loss in the ring leaves Lion and his manager/brother Stan in debt to a local crime boss,... [More]
Directed By: Max Winkler

#123

Invincible (2006)
72%

#123
Adjusted Score: 78038%
Critics Consensus: As simple and authentic as the gritty South Philly invirons in which it's set in, Invincible sends a uplifting and heartfelt message packed with an athletic enthusiasm that shouldn't be missed.
Synopsis: Lifelong football fan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) sees his wildest dreams come true when he becomes a member of the... [More]
Directed By: Ericson Core

#122

Blades of Glory (2007)
70%

#122
Adjusted Score: 77995%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the spirited performances of a talented cast - particularly Will Ferrell and Jon Heder as rivals-turned-teammates -- Blades of Glory successfully spoofs inspirational sports dramas with inspired abandon.
Synopsis: Figure skaters Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) take their intense rivalry too far during the... [More]
Directed By: Will Speck, Josh Gordon

#121
#121
Adjusted Score: 77786%
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas,... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#120
Adjusted Score: 78461%
Critics Consensus: Though it occasionally stalls, Talladega Nights' mix of satire, clever gags, and excellent ensemble performances put it squarely in the winner's circle.
Synopsis: NASCAR superstar Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is at the top of his game; adored by fans, a trophy wife by... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#119

Caddyshack (1980)
73%

#119
Adjusted Score: 77287%
Critics Consensus: Though unabashedly crude and juvenile, Caddyshack nevertheless scores with its classic slapstick, unforgettable characters, and endlessly quotable dialogue.
Synopsis: Danny Noonan (Michael O'Keefe), a teen down on his luck, works as a caddy at the snob-infested Bushwood Country Club... [More]
Directed By: Harold Ramis

#118

The Phenom (2016)
79%

#118
Adjusted Score: 80125%
Critics Consensus: Powerfully acted and emotionally affecting, The Phenom proves a baseball movie can step away from the mound and still deliver a heater down the middle.
Synopsis: A sports therapist (Paul Giamatti) tries to help a troubled rookie pitcher (Johnny Simmons) who grew up with an abusive... [More]
Directed By: Noah Buschel

#117

Cool Runnings (1993)
76%

#117
Adjusted Score: 79066%
Critics Consensus: Cool Runnings rises above its formulaic sports-movie themes with charming performances, light humor, and uplifting tone.
Synopsis: Four Jamaican bobsledders dream of competing in the Winter Olympics, despite never having seen snow. With the help of a... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#116

The Hammer (2007)
80%

#116
Adjusted Score: 80931%
Critics Consensus: The Hammer perseveres as both an above-average sports comedy and a perfect starring vehicle for Carolla.
Synopsis: On his 40th birthday, chronic underachiever Jerry Ferro (Adam Carolla) loses his carpentry job and his girlfriend. However, all is... [More]

#115
Adjusted Score: 80845%
Critics Consensus: The harder they come, the harder they fall -- this film shows, in raw, gripping detail, that even skater dudes can't resist the life of the rich and famous. It's more poignant than hard-core, and gives us a portrait of a life run over by the whims of the entertainment industry.
Synopsis: This documentary film explores the life of former skateboarding pro Mark "Gator" Rogowski, who, in 1991, was sentenced to 31... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Helen Stickler

#114

Without Limits (1998)
79%

#114
Adjusted Score: 80502%
Critics Consensus: This drama about American track star and hero Steve Prefontaine intelligently looks at the character of this oft mythologized athlete and features a fantastic performance by Donald Sutherland as Prefontaine's trainer.
Synopsis: Before Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup) makes it to the 1972 Olympics in Munich, he is an unlikely track star at... [More]
Directed By: Robert Towne

#113
#113
Adjusted Score: 80814%
Critics Consensus: White Men Can't Jump provides a fresh take on the sports comedy genre, with a clever script and a charismatic trio of leads.
Synopsis: Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) is a white basketball hustler who banks on black players underestimating his skills on the court.... [More]
Directed By: Ron Shelton

#112

Safety (2020)
80%

#112
Adjusted Score: 82035%
Critics Consensus: Fans of uplifting sports dramas will find Safety in this skillfully told fact-based story about an athlete overcoming adversity.
Synopsis: “Safety” is a drama inspired by the empowering story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey (Jay Reeves), a... [More]
Directed By: Reginald Hudlin

#111

Breath (2017)
80%

#111
Adjusted Score: 82277%
Critics Consensus: A coming of age drama with a surfing twist, Breath navigates seemingly familiar waters -- but has surprising depth below the surface.
Synopsis: In the 1970s, in a remote corner of the Western Australian coast, two teenage boys, Pikelet and Loonie, are hungry... [More]
Directed By: Simon Baker

#110

Rudy (1993)
78%

#110
Adjusted Score: 81469%
Critics Consensus: Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination.
Synopsis: Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) wants to play football at the University of Notre Dame, but has neither the money for... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#109

The Short Game (2013)
84%

#109
Adjusted Score: 74898%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The world's best 7-year-old golfers travel to Pinehurst, N.C., to compete in the World Championships of Junior Golf.... [More]
Directed By: Josh Greenbaum

#108
Adjusted Score: 83045%
Critics Consensus: You don't have to be a soccer fan to enjoy this stylish, breezy slice of 1970s sports history.
Synopsis: This documentary looks back on a time when soccer briefly captured America's attention. The film profiles the North American Soccer... [More]
Starring: Matt Dillon
Directed By: Paul Crowder, John Dower

#107

The Longest Yard (1974)
79%

#107
Adjusted Score: 81937%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts tough and funny, and led by a perfectly cast Burt Reynolds, The Longest Yard has an interesting political subtext and an excellent climax -- even if it takes too long to get there.
Synopsis: An ex-football star doing time is forced by the warden to organize a team of inmates to play against his... [More]
Directed By: Robert Aldrich

#106

Step Into Liquid (2003)
81%

#106
Adjusted Score: 83141%
Critics Consensus: A perfect companion piece to The Endless Summer.
Synopsis: In a documentary shot in waters all over the globe, director Dana Brown takes on tall waves and surfers who... [More]
Starring: Dana Brown
Directed By: Dana Brown

#105

He Got Game (1998)
81%

#105
Adjusted Score: 83041%
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee near the top of his game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: Jake Shuttleworth (Denzel Washington) has spent the last six years in prison after accidentally killing his wife during a violent... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#104

Seabiscuit (2003)
77%

#104
Adjusted Score: 85489%
Critics Consensus: A life-affirming, if saccharine, epic treatment of a spirit-lifting figure in sports history.
Synopsis: In the midst of the Great Depression, a businessman (Jeff Bridges) coping with the tragic death of his son, a... [More]
Directed By: Gary Ross

#103

Rocky Balboa (2006)
77%

#103
Adjusted Score: 84387%
Critics Consensus: Implausible but entertaining and poignant, Rocky Balboa finds the champ in fighting form for the first time in years.
Synopsis: Now long-retired, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) runs a Philadelphia eatery and mourns the loss of his beloved wife, Adrian. Yearning to... [More]
Directed By: Sylvester Stallone

#102

The Boxer (1997)
80%

#102
Adjusted Score: 84674%
Critics Consensus: The Boxer is a standard drama that packs a true emotional wallop thanks to the highly tuned central performances.
Synopsis: Rising teen boxer and Belfast native Danny Flynn (Daniel Day-Lewis) was imprisoned for 14 years after getting involved with the... [More]
Directed By: Jim Sheridan

#101

Beyond the Mat (1999)
82%

#101
Adjusted Score: 84721%
Critics Consensus: Even if you aren't a fan, Beyond the Mat provides a riveting, perceptive look into the world of professional wrestling by taking a closer look at the people beneath the personas.
Synopsis: "Beyond the Mat," Barry Blaustein's honest, intimate, revealing, highly entertaining, and critically acclaimed behind-the-scenes look at wrestling, takes viewers beyond... [More]
Directed By: Barry W. Blaustein

#100

Miracle (2004)
81%

#100
Adjusted Score: 85821%
Critics Consensus: Kurt Russell's performance guides this cliche-ridden tale into the realm of inspirational, nostalgic goodness.
Synopsis: When college coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is hired to helm the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team, he brings... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#99

Invictus (2009)
76%

#99
Adjusted Score: 84405%
Critics Consensus: Delivered with typically stately precision by director Clint Eastwood, Invictus may not be rousing enough for some viewers, but Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman inhabit their real-life characters with admirable conviction.
Synopsis: Following the fall of apartheid, newly elected President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) faces a South Africa that is racially and... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#98

Major League (1989)
83%

#98
Adjusted Score: 84879%
Critics Consensus: Major League may be predictable and formulaic, but buoyed by the script's light, silly humor -- not to mention the well-built sports action sequences and funny performances.
Synopsis: The new owner of the Cleveland Indians, former showgirl Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton), has a sweetheart deal to move the... [More]
Directed By: David S. Ward

#97

Goon (2011)
81%

#97
Adjusted Score: 85208%
Critics Consensus: Goon is a crude slapstick comedy with well-formed characters and a surprising amount of heart.
Synopsis: Though a misfit among his brainy family members, Massachusetts bouncer Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) has a knockout punch that... [More]
Directed By: Michael Dowse

#96

Pelotero (2011)
86%

#96
Adjusted Score: 85318%
Critics Consensus: Gripping and surprisingly nuanced, Ballplayer: Pelotero is a frank exploration of the nature of corruption in baseball recruitment.
Synopsis: Two Dominican baseball players face challenges as they try to make it to the Major Leagues.... [More]

#95

McFarland, USA (2015)
80%

#95
Adjusted Score: 84960%
Critics Consensus: Disney's inspirational sports drama formula might be old hat, but McFarland, USA proves it still works -- especially with a talented director and eminently likable star in the mix.
Synopsis: Track coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) is a newcomer to a predominantly Latino high-school in California's Central Valley. Coach White... [More]
Directed By: Niki Caro

#94
#94
Adjusted Score: 85383%
Critics Consensus: Sentimental and light, but still thoroughly charming, A League of Their Own is buoyed by solid performances from a wonderful cast.
Synopsis: As America's stock of athletic young men is depleted during World War II, a professional all-female baseball league springs up... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#93
#93
Adjusted Score: 85820%
Critics Consensus: Muddled overall, but perceptive and brutally realistic, North Dallas Forty also benefits from strong performances by Nick Nolte and Charles Durning. Football fans will likely find it fascinating.
Synopsis: A brutal satire of American professional football in which a veteran pass-catcher's individuality and refusal to become part of the... [More]
Directed By: Ted Kotcheff

#92

The Natural (1984)
82%

#92
Adjusted Score: 85275%
Critics Consensus: Though heavy with sentiment, The Natural is an irresistible classic, and a sincere testament to America's national pastime.
Synopsis: On the way to a tryout with the Chicago Cubs, young baseball phenom Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is shot by... [More]
Directed By: Barry Levinson

#91
Adjusted Score: 86436%
Critics Consensus: Overcomes its formulaic storyline thanks to Anthony Hopkins' warm and endearing portrayal of an age-defying thrill seeker.
Synopsis: New Zealander Burt Munro spent years perfecting his classic Indian motorcycle. The year is 1967, and Burt takes his machine... [More]
Directed By: Roger Donaldson

#90
#90
Adjusted Score: 85734%
Critics Consensus: Smartly constructed and scathingly sharp, The Armstrong Lie presents an effective indictment of its unscrupulous subject -- as well as the sports culture that spawned him.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Alex Gibney chronicles Lance Armstrong's attempt to return to cycling, his admission of doping and subsequent fall from grace.... [More]
Directed By: Alex Gibney

#89
#89
Adjusted Score: 87152%
Critics Consensus: An acute survey of the football-obsessed heartland that succeeds as both a stirring drama and a rousing sports movie.
Synopsis: A small, turbulent town in Texas obsesses over their high school football team to an unhealthy degree. When the star... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#88
#88
Adjusted Score: 86404%
Critics Consensus: Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes.
Synopsis: Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are two childhood friends who both aspire to be professional basketball players. Quincy,... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince

#87

Cinderella Man (2005)
80%

#87
Adjusted Score: 87609%
Critics Consensus: With grittiness and an evocative sense of time and place, Cinderella Man is a powerful underdog story. And Ron Howard and Russell Crowe prove to be a solid combination.
Synopsis: During the Great Depression, ex-boxer James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) works as a day laborer until his former manager Joe... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#86
#86
Adjusted Score: 87507%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The story of Lithuania's 1992 Olympic basketball team whose athletes won the bronze medal.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Marius A. Markevicius

#85

Looking for Eric (2009)
85%

#85
Adjusted Score: 88245%
Critics Consensus: Ken Loach's latest is an uplifting, entertaining and amusing socio-drama featuring a match-winning performance from Eric Cantona.
Synopsis: Ever since his wife (Stephanie Bishop) left him, Eric Bishop's (Steve Evets) life has fallen apart. His two teen sons... [More]
Directed By: Ken Loach

#84

The Rookie (2002)
84%

#84
Adjusted Score: 87877%
Critics Consensus: A heart-warming sports flick, The Rookie greatly benefits from understated direction and the emotional honesty Dennis Quaid brings to the role of Jim Morris.
Synopsis: A true story about a coach who discovers that it's never too late for dreams to come true. Jim Morris... [More]
Directed By: John Lee Hancock

#83

Slap Shot (1977)
83%

#83
Adjusted Score: 84904%
Critics Consensus: Raunchy, violent, and very funny, Slap Shot is ultimately set apart by a wonderful comic performance by Paul Newman.
Synopsis: In the small New England town of Charlestown, the local mill is about to lay off 10,000 workers. The town's... [More]
Directed By: George Roy Hill

#82

Downhill Racer (1969)
85%

#82
Adjusted Score: 85236%
Critics Consensus: Downhill Racer plunges the viewer thrillingly into the action of the sport -- and continues to hold the attention as a thoughtful drama.
Synopsis: A smug and overly self-assured downhill skier, David Chappellet (Robert Redford), joins the American ski team and quickly makes waves... [More]
Directed By: Michael Ritchie

#81

The Hurricane (1999)
83%

#81
Adjusted Score: 87815%
Critics Consensus: Thanks in large part to one of Denzel Washington's most powerful on-screen performances, The Hurricane is a moving, inspirational sports drama, even if it takes few risks in telling its story.
Synopsis: Denzel Washington is Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a man whose dreams of winning the middleweight boxing title were destroyed when he... [More]
Directed By: Norman Jewison

#80

Big Fan (2009)
86%

#80
Adjusted Score: 89496%
Critics Consensus: Featuring Patton Oswalt's sympathetic portrayal, Big Fan humorously and effectively captures the dark and lonely world of a sports fanatic.
Synopsis: Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt), a parking-garage employee, is a huge fan of the New York Giants. He lives at home... [More]
Directed By: Robert D. Siegel

#79

Happy Valley (2014)
89%

#79
Adjusted Score: 88569%
Critics Consensus: Sober, even-handed, and quietly devastating, Happy Valley illuminates the wreckage of a tragedy while leaving viewers room to draw their own conclusions.
Synopsis: In 2011, longtime Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is charged with multiple counts of child sex abuse, rocking... [More]
Starring: Joe Posnanski
Directed By: Amir Bar-Lev

#78

Jerry Maguire (1996)
84%

#78
Adjusted Score: 89676%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by dazzling performances from Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renée Zellweger, as well as Cameron Crowe's tender direction, Jerry Maguire meshes romance and sports with panache.
Synopsis: When slick sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) has a crisis of conscience, he pens a heartfelt company-wide memo that... [More]
Directed By: Cameron Crowe

#77

Early Man (2018)
80%

#77
Adjusted Score: 90372%
Critics Consensus: Early Man isn't quite as evolved as Aardman's best work, but still retains the unique visuals and sweet humor that have made the studio a favorite among animation enthusiasts.
Synopsis: A plucky cave man named Dug, his sidekick Hognob and the rest of their tribe face a grave threat to... [More]
Directed By: Nick Park

#76

42 (2013)
81%

#76
Adjusted Score: 87765%
Critics Consensus: 42 is an earnest, inspirational, and respectfully told biography of an influential American sports icon, though it might be a little too safe and old-fashioned for some.
Synopsis: In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, defies major league baseball's notorious color barrier by... [More]
Directed By: Brian Helgeland

#75

Fire in Babylon (2010)
91%

#75
Adjusted Score: 90169%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Capt. Clive Lloyd transforms his 1970s-era West Indies cricket team into champions who dominate the sport for many years afterward.... [More]
Directed By: Stevan Riley

#74

Chariots of Fire (1981)
82%

#74
Adjusted Score: 88215%
Critics Consensus: Decidedly slower and less limber than the Olympic runners at the center of its story, the film nevertheless manages to make effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.
Synopsis: In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924... [More]
Directed By: Hugh Hudson

#73

Tyson (2008)
85%

#73
Adjusted Score: 91524%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating, emotional, and frank confessional from Iron Mike that sheds a sympathetic light on one of boxing's most controversial icons.
Synopsis: Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson reflects on his tumultuous life both in and out of the ring. Filmmaker James... [More]
Starring: Mike Tyson
Directed By: James Toback

#72
#72
Adjusted Score: 90499%
Critics Consensus: Inspiring, compassionate, and with a sly undercurrent of social commentary, Bend It Like Beckham is a lively feel-good movie that genuinely charms.
Synopsis: Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), the daughter of a strict Indian couple (Anupam Kher, Shaheen Khan) in London, is not permitted... [More]
Directed By: Gurinder Chadha

#71
#71
Adjusted Score: 90765%
Critics Consensus: This group of high school girls and their eccentric basketball coach easily win your heart with their unusual humanity and dynamism.
Synopsis: Filmed over a period of seven years, director Ward Serrill profiles Bill Resler, a university professor who coaches a basketball... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Ward Serrill

#70

Warrior (2011)
83%

#70
Adjusted Score: 90344%
Critics Consensus: Warrior relies on many of the clichés that critics of the genre love to mock -- and it transcends them with gripping action, powerful acting, and heart.
Synopsis: An estranged family finds redemption in the unlikeliest of places: the MMA ring. Tommy (Tom Hardy), an ex-Marine with a... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#69

Eight Men Out (1988)
86%

#69
Adjusted Score: 89618%
Critics Consensus: Perhaps less than absorbing for non-baseball fans, but nevertheless underpinned by strong performances from the cast and John Sayles' solid direction.
Synopsis: The Chicago White Sox, who are set to play the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series of 1919, are at... [More]
Directed By: John Sayles

#68

Eddie the Eagle (2016)
81%

#68
Adjusted Score: 93643%
Critics Consensus: Eddie the Eagle's amiable sweetness can't disguise its story's many inspirational clichés -- but for many viewers, it will be more than enough to make up for them.
Synopsis: Cut from the Olympic ski team, British athlete Michael "Eddie" Edwards travels to Germany to test his skills at ski... [More]
Directed By: Dexter Fletcher

#67

Whip It (2009)
84%

#67
Adjusted Score: 91770%
Critics Consensus: While made from overly familiar ingredients, Drew Barrymore's directorial debut has enough charm, energy, and good-natured humor to transcend its many cliches.
Synopsis: Bliss Cavendar lives in small-town Texas and yearns to break free of her mother's world of beauty pageants and conformity.... [More]
Directed By: Drew Barrymore

#66

Meru (2015)
88%

#66
Adjusted Score: 90451%
Critics Consensus: Gripping visually as well as narratively, Meru is the rare documentary that proves thought-provoking while offering thrilling wide-screen vistas.
Synopsis: Three elite climbers fight through obsession and loss as they struggle to climb Mount Meru.... [More]

#65
Adjusted Score: 92277%
Critics Consensus: John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection offers a compelling analysis of what made its subject special - and gives audiences a courtside seat to a pivotal match.
Synopsis: Archival footage showcases top-ranked tennis player John McEnroe competing in the 1984 French Open at Roland Garros Stadium in France.... [More]
Directed By: Julien Faraut

#64

The Karate Kid (1984)
89%

#64
Adjusted Score: 91180%
Critics Consensus: Utterly predictable and wholly of its time, but warm, sincere, and difficult to resist, due in large part to Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio's relaxed chemistry.
Synopsis: Daniel (Ralph Macchio) moves to Southern California with his mother, Lucille (Randee Heller), but quickly finds himself the target of... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#63

Up for Grabs (2004)
92%

#63
Adjusted Score: 92160%
Critics Consensus: You don't have to be a baseball fan to be entertained by the absurdities, obsessions, and greed on display in this documentary.
Synopsis: During the final leg of Major League Baseball's 2001 season, Giants batter Barry Bonds scores a historic 73rd home run... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Michael Wranovics

#62

Girlfight (2000)
88%

#62
Adjusted Score: 91989%
Critics Consensus: Michelle Rodriguez gives a compelling performance, despite lack of a boxing background; Karyn Kusama packs a punch with this directorial debut.
Synopsis: Newcomer Michelle Rodriguez in an astounding performance alongside Jaime Tirelli, Paul Calderon and Santiago Douglas. Nothing comes easy for Diana... [More]
Directed By: Karyn Kusama

#61

Shaolin Soccer (2001)
90%

#61
Adjusted Score: 93194%
Critics Consensus: The plot is utterly ridiculous, and the soccer in the movie is unlike any ever played anywhere on Earth, but watching Shaolin Soccer, you will probably find it impossible to care.
Synopsis: All his life, an ordinary young man (Stephen Chow) has been treated like dirt. Still, he's never given up believing... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Chow, Lik-Chi Lee

#60

Field of Dreams (1989)
87%

#60
Adjusted Score: 92532%
Critics Consensus: Field of Dreams is sentimental, but in the best way; it's a mix of fairy tale, baseball, and family togetherness.
Synopsis: When Iowa farmer Ray (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield saying "If you build it,... [More]
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson

#59
#59
Adjusted Score: 92706%
Critics Consensus: Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is compelling viewing even though it spoils the score of the titular college football matchup - and even if you aren't a fan of the sport.
Synopsis: In November 1968, undefeated Ivy League football teams from Harvard and Yale square off in a historic game in which... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Kevin Rafferty

#58

Heaven Can Wait (1978)
89%

#58
Adjusted Score: 93491%
Critics Consensus: A throwback to the high-gloss screwball comedies of the 1940s, Heaven Can Wait beguiles with seamless production values and great comic relief from Charles Grodin and Dianne Cannon.
Synopsis: Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty), quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, is killed in an auto accident. In the afterlife, Joe... [More]
Directed By: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry

#57

Diego Maradona (2019)
90%

#57
Adjusted Score: 94317%
Critics Consensus: Diego Maradona traces the arc of a standard sports documentary, but illuminates its subject with uncommon clarity and depth.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Asif Kapadia

#56

The Way Back (2020)
84%

#56
Adjusted Score: 97941%
Critics Consensus: The Way Back's occasionally frustrating treatment of a formulaic story is often outweighed by Ben Affleck's outstanding work in the central role.
Synopsis: Jack Cunningham was a high school basketball superstar who suddenly walked away from the game for unknown reasons. Years later,... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#55

The Way Back (2020)
84%

#55
Adjusted Score: 97941%
Critics Consensus: The Way Back's occasionally frustrating treatment of a formulaic story is often outweighed by Ben Affleck's outstanding work in the central role.
Synopsis: Jack Cunningham was a high school basketball superstar who suddenly walked away from the game for unknown reasons. Years later,... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#54

Dream Horse (2020)
88%

#54
Adjusted Score: 94494%
Critics Consensus: Spurred on by an excellent Toni Collette, Dream Horse has a comfortably crowd-pleasing gait that makes the most of the story's familiar formula.
Synopsis: The film tells the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by small town bartender, Jan... [More]
Directed By: Euros Lyn

#53
#53
Adjusted Score: 93422%
Critics Consensus: That it's inferior to the original goes without saying, but Paul Newman and Tom Cruise are a joy to watch, and Martin Scorsese's direction is typically superb.
Synopsis: Former pool hustler "Fast Eddie" Felson (Paul Newman) decides he wants to return to the game by taking a pupil.... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 94081%
Critics Consensus: Dogtown and Z-Boys is a colorful, exhilarating look at the skateboarding subculture.
Synopsis: "Dogtown and Z-Boys," directed and co-written by skateboard legend-turned-filmmaker Stacy Peralta, is the story of a group of accidental revolutionaries,... [More]
Directed By: Stacy Peralta

#51

Riding Giants (2004)
93%

#51
Adjusted Score: 94969%
Critics Consensus: A great addition to the existing surfing documentaries.
Synopsis: Part sports history, part thrill ride, skateboarder Stacy Peralta's documentary pays homage to the brave, foolish surfers who dare ride... [More]
Directed By: Stacy Peralta

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 95112%
Critics Consensus: A Prayer Before Dawn is far from an easy watch, but this harrowing prison odyssey delivers rich rewards -- led by an outstanding central performance from Joe Cole.
Synopsis: The amazing true story of Billy Moore, an English boxer incarcerated in Thailand's most notorious prison. Thrown into a world... [More]

#49

Pumping Iron (1977)
91%

#49
Adjusted Score: 93867%
Critics Consensus: In addition to offering an enlightening early look into the world of future star/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pumping Iron provides a witty and insightful overview of competitive bodybuilding.
Synopsis: This partly real and partly scripted film documents what many consider to be the golden age of bodybuilding that occurred... [More]

#48

Hoosiers (1986)
91%

#48
Adjusted Score: 94988%
Critics Consensus: It may adhere to the sports underdog formula, but Hoosiers has been made with such loving craft, and features such excellent performances, that it's hard to resist.
Synopsis: Failed college coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) gets a chance at redemption when he is hired to direct the basketball... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 95212%
Critics Consensus: Bang the Drum Slowly is a touching melodrama that explores the inner workings of a baseball club and its players' personalities with remarkable depth.
Synopsis: When hotshot pitcher Henry Wiggen (Michael Moriarty) is signed to the New York Mammoths, his confident ways quickly win over... [More]
Directed By: John D. Hancock

#46

Red Army (2014)
92%

#46
Adjusted Score: 95523%
Critics Consensus: Fun and fascinating, Red Army delivers absorbing documentary drama for hockey fans and sports novices alike.
Synopsis: Hockey captain Slava Fetisov and four other players form a nearly unbeatable unit known as the "Russian Five," but their... [More]
Directed By: Gabe Polsky

#45

Senna (2010)
93%

#45
Adjusted Score: 96746%
Critics Consensus: Even for filmgoers who aren't racing fans, Senna offers heart-pounding thrills -- and heartbreaking emotion.
Synopsis: Ayrton Senna becomes a three-time Formula One racing champion and Brazil's national hero before his untimely death at age 34.... [More]
Directed By: Asif Kapadia

#44

The Crash Reel (2013)
96%

#44
Adjusted Score: 96174%
Critics Consensus: Smart, compassionate, and moving, The Crash Reel uses the familiar sport-doc formula to subvert expectations and ask challenging questions about ambition and achievement.
Synopsis: Snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffers a traumatic brain injury while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics. His family stands by his... [More]
Directed By: Lucy Walker

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 98210%
Critics Consensus: Better than your average football pic, Damned United is carried by another star turn from Michael Sheen as Brian Clough.
Synopsis: The story of Brian Clough's 44 day stint as manager of Leeds United Football Club takes place in 1974 England.... [More]
Directed By: Tom Hooper

#42

Offside (2006)
94%

#42
Adjusted Score: 97084%
Critics Consensus: A spirited film that explores gender politics with comedy, intelligence, and a variety of interesting characters.
Synopsis: Since women are banned from soccer matches, Iranian females masquerade as males so they can slip into Tehran's stadium to... [More]
Directed By: Jafar Panahi

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 96434%
Critics Consensus: While taking full advantage of its subject's colorful baseball career, No No: A Dockumentary also imparts broader, thought-provoking messages that should resonate with viewers who aren't sports fans.
Synopsis: Baseball pitcher Dock Ellis had a controversial life and career, once pitching a no-hitter while high on LSD.... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Radice

#40
Adjusted Score: 96314%
Critics Consensus: Lagaan is lavish, rousing entertainment in the old-fashioned tradition of Hollywood musicals.
Synopsis: The year is 1893 and India is under British occupation. In a small village, the tyrannical Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne)... [More]
Directed By: Ashutosh Gowariker

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 96365%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: "One Day in September" is a new kind of thriller - one where real lives are at stake and every... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#38
#38
Adjusted Score: 97497%
Critics Consensus: Gripping even though the outcome is known.
Synopsis: In 1985, two young climbers, Joe Simpson (Brendan Mackey) and Simon Yates (Nicholas Aaron), set out to be the first... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald

#37

Deep Water (2006)
96%

#37
Adjusted Score: 97632%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts mystery and biography, Deep Water is both an engrossing documentary and an affecting treatise on human folly and obsession.
Synopsis: In 1968, Donald Crowhurst, an inexperienced British sailor, puts up his home as collateral, gains financial backing and enters the... [More]
Starring: Tilda Swinton

#36

Sugar (2008)
92%

#36
Adjusted Score: 97648%
Critics Consensus: Sugar is an exceptionally-crafted film -- part sports flick, part immigrant tale -- with touching and poignant drama highlighted by splendid performances.
Synopsis: Like many young men in the Dominican Republic, 19-year-old Miguel "Sugar" Santos (Algenis Perez Soto) dreams of winning a slot... [More]
Directed By: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 96296%
Critics Consensus: The equally tragic and heroic story of Yankee's first baseman Lou Gehrig is eloquently told here with an iconic star turn by Gary Cooper.
Synopsis: This moving biographical drama follows the life of revered baseball player Lou Gehrig (Gary Cooper). Championed by sportswriter Sam Blake... [More]
Directed By: Sam Wood

#34
Adjusted Score: 98342%
Critics Consensus: The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is an affectionate, often very funny portrait of a baseball pioneer.
Synopsis: "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" is a humorous and nostalgic documentary about an extraordinary baseball player who transcended... [More]
Directed By: Aviva Kempner

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 98408%
Critics Consensus: Bigger, Stronger, Faster* is a fascinating, informative, entertaining and especially introspective account of the American 'enhancement' culture.
Synopsis: This documentary presents the pervasive use of steroids in sports as an indication of the American obsession with winning at... [More]
Starring: Christopher Bell
Directed By: Christopher Bell

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 102345%
Critics Consensus: Clint Eastwood's assured direction - combined with knockout performances from Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman - help Million Dollar Baby to transcend its clichés, and the result is deeply heartfelt and moving.
Synopsis: Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran Los Angeles boxing trainer who keeps almost everyone at arm's length, except his... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#31

Breaking Away (1979)
95%

#31
Adjusted Score: 98173%
Critics Consensus: At once a touching, funny coming-of-age story and a compelling sports film, Breaking Away is a delightful treat.
Synopsis: Dave (Dennis Christopher) and his working-class friends Cyril (Daniel Stern), Moocher (Jackie Earle Haley) and Mike (Dennis Quaid) spend their... [More]
Directed By: Peter Yates

#30

Rush (2013)
89%

#30
Adjusted Score: 97509%
Critics Consensus: A sleek, slick, well-oiled machine, Rush is a finely crafted sports drama with exhilarating race sequences and strong performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl.
Synopsis: In the mid-1970s, charismatic English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) share an intense... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#29

The Fighter (2010)
91%

#29
Adjusted Score: 101976%
Critics Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
Synopsis: For Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), boxing is a family affair. His tough-as-nails mother is his manager. His half-brother, Dicky (Christian... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#28

Foxcatcher (2014)
87%

#28
Adjusted Score: 97114%
Critics Consensus: A chilling true crime drama, Foxcatcher offers Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum a chance to shine -- and all three of them rise to the challenge.
Synopsis: When wealthy John du Pont (Steve Carell) invites Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) to move to his estate and... [More]
Directed By: Bennett Miller

#27

Creed II (2018)
83%

#27
Adjusted Score: 101839%
Critics Consensus: Creed II's adherence to franchise formula adds up to a sequel with few true surprises, but its time-tested generational themes still pack a solid punch.
Synopsis: In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Caple Jr.

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 98696%
Critics Consensus: The Bad News Bears is rude, profane, and cynical, but shot through with honest, unforced humor, and held together by a deft, understated performance from Walter Matthau.
Synopsis: Hard-drinking, ex-minor-league hopeful Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) grumpily agrees to coach a Little League team at the behest of lawyer-councilman... [More]
Directed By: Michael Ritchie

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 99493%
Critics Consensus: An engrossing documentary that's as much about a time and a place as it is about a fight.
Synopsis: On October 30, 1974, perhaps the most famous heavyweight championship boxing match of all time took place in Kinshasa, Zaire:... [More]
Directed By: Leon Gast

#24
Adjusted Score: 101475%
Critics Consensus: The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki sidesteps sports biopic clichés with a beautifully filmed, well-acted look at the balance between career fulfillment and personal happiness.
Synopsis: Olli Mäki loses a fight for the world championship in the second round by knockout in front of a packed... [More]
Directed By: Juho Kuosmanen

#23

Racing Dreams (2009)
100%

#23
Adjusted Score: 100146%
Critics Consensus: Racing Dreams offers an absorbing peek at the lives of young NASCAR hopefuls that should resonate with racing enthusiasts as well as viewers with no connection to the sport.
Synopsis: Marshall Curry goes behind the scenes of the World Karting Association, a youth racing league that often serves as a... [More]
Starring: Annabeth Barnes
Directed By: Marshall Curry

#22

The Hustler (1961)
96%

#22
Adjusted Score: 99388%
Critics Consensus: Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason give iconic performances in this dark, morally complex tale of redemption.
Synopsis: Story Fast Eddie Felsen (Paul Newman) and his adventures in the world of professional pool. Fast Eddie is a young... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rossen

#21

Undefeated (2011)
96%

#21
Adjusted Score: 99784%
Critics Consensus: It covers familiar sports documentary territory, but Undefeated proves there are still powerful stories to be told on the high school gridiron.
Synopsis: Since its founding in 1899, Manassas High School in North Memphis has never had a football team win a playoff... [More]
Starring: Bill Courtney
Directed By: Dan Lindsay, T.J. Martin

#20
Adjusted Score: 101266%
Critics Consensus: The King of Kong is funny and compelling with more than a few poignant insights into human behavior. Director Seth Gordon presents the dueling King Kong players in all their obsessive complexity and with perfectly al dente observations.
Synopsis: Named "Video Game Player of the Century" in 1999, Billy Mitchell sets a record score in "Donkey Kong" that many... [More]
Directed By: Seth Gordon

#19

Win Win (2011)
94%

#19
Adjusted Score: 101229%
Critics Consensus: Rich, wonderful characters and strong performances populate Win Win, with writer/director Thomas McCarthy continuing to emerge as a great American humanist.
Synopsis: Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) is a struggling, though not overly ambitious, lawyer. As the court-appointed attorney of Leo Poplar (Burt... [More]
Directed By: Tom McCarthy

#18

Next Goal Wins (2014)
100%

#18
Adjusted Score: 100410%
Critics Consensus: Finding beauty in sports beyond the mere satisfaction of winning, Next Goal Wins is a moving documentary filled with a lovable array of underdogs.
Synopsis: Dutch coach Thomas Rongen attempts the nearly impossible task of turning the American Samoa soccer team from perennial losers into... [More]
Directed By: Mike Brett, Steve Jamison

#17

Rocky (1976)
91%

#17
Adjusted Score: 98970%
Critics Consensus: This story of a down-on-his-luck boxer is thoroughly predictable, but Sylvester Stallone's script and stunning performance in the title role brush aside complaints.
Synopsis: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia, is arbitrarily chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#16

Horse Feathers (1932)
97%

#16
Adjusted Score: 99863%
Critics Consensus: Horse Feathers finds the Marx Brothers in fine madcap form, taking aim at an array of timely targets while serving up classic set pieces.
Synopsis: The Marx Brothers take on higher education and football in this riotous comedy. The newly minted president of Huxley University,... [More]
Directed By: Norman Z. McLeod

#15

Changing the Game (2019)
100%

#15
Adjusted Score: 101420%
Critics Consensus: Urgent and empathetic, Changing the Game takes an affecting and admirably nuanced look at young transgender athletes.
Synopsis: This intimate story takes us into the lives of three high school athletes from across the US -- all at... [More]
Directed By: Michael Barnett

#14

Murderball (2005)
98%

#14
Adjusted Score: 102302%
Critics Consensus: An entertaining and gripping documentary that shows being confined to a wheelchair doesn't mean the fun has to end.
Synopsis: This documentary introduces the U.S. quad rugby team -- a team composed entirely of young paraplegic men. Using special wheelchairs... [More]
Starring:

#13

Raging Bull (1980)
94%

#13
Adjusted Score: 100205%
Critics Consensus: Arguably Martin Scorsese's and Robert De Niro's finest film, Raging Bull is often painful to watch, but it's a searing, powerful work about an unsympathetic hero.
Synopsis: The story of a middleweight boxer as he rises through ranks to earn his first shot at the middleweight crown.... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#12

Hoop Dreams (1994)
98%

#12
Adjusted Score: 101750%
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St.... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

#11

The Endless Summer (1966)
100%

#11
Adjusted Score: 102349%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Documentary filmmaker Bruce Brown, himself a competition-level surfer, follows surfers Michael Hynson and Robert August on an around-the-world surfing adventure.... [More]
Starring: Bruce Brown
Directed By: Bruce Brown

#10

Bull Durham (1988)
97%

#10
Adjusted Score: 102352%
Critics Consensus: Kevin Costner is at his funniest and most charismatic in Bull Durham, a film that's as wise about relationships as it is about minor league baseball.
Synopsis: In Durham, N.C., the Bulls minor league baseball team has one asset no other can claim: a poetry-loving groupie named... [More]
Directed By: Ron Shelton

#9

Maiden (2018)
98%

#9
Adjusted Score: 104738%
Critics Consensus: Enthralling viewing even for audiences with little to no knowledge of or interest in sailing, Maiden pays powerful tribute to a true pioneer.
Synopsis: In 1989 Tracy Edwards leads the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race, a grueling yachting competition... [More]
Directed By: Alex Holmes

#8

National Velvet (1944)
100%

#8
Adjusted Score: 103403%
Critics Consensus: National Velvet makes the most of a breakout performance from Elizabeth Taylor, delivering a timeless family-friendly tearjerker that avoids straying into the sentimental.
Synopsis: When Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor), an equine-loving 12-year-old living in rural Sussex, becomes the owner of a rambunctious horse, she... [More]
Directed By: Clarence Brown

#7

Moneyball (2011)
94%

#7
Adjusted Score: 105074%
Critics Consensus: Director Bennett Miller, along with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, take a niche subject and turn it into a sharp, funny, and touching portrait worthy of baseball lore.
Synopsis: Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), general manager of the Oakland A's, one day has an epiphany: Baseball's conventional wisdom is all... [More]
Directed By: Bennett Miller

#6

Free Solo (2018)
97%

#6
Adjusted Score: 106080%
Critics Consensus: Free Solo depicts athletic feats that many viewers will find beyond reason - and grounds the attempts in passions that are all but universal.
Synopsis: Alex Honnold completes the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan's 3,000-foot vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park.... [More]

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 106871%
Critics Consensus: Much like the sport it celebrates, Fighting with My Family muscles past clichés with a potent blend of energy and committed acting that should leave audiences cheering.
Synopsis: Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Paige and her brother Zak are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Merchant

#4

The Wrestler (2008)
98%

#4
Adjusted Score: 108155%
Critics Consensus: Mickey Rourke gives a performance for the ages in The Wrestler, a richly affecting, heart-wrenching yet ultimately rewarding drama.
Synopsis: Aging wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is long past his prime but still ready and rarin' to go... [More]
Directed By: Darren Aronofsky

#3

I, Tonya (2017)
90%

#3
Adjusted Score: 118207%
Critics Consensus: Led by strong work from Margot Robbie and Alison Janney, I, Tonya finds the humor in its real-life story without losing sight of its more tragic -- and emotionally resonant -- elements.
Synopsis: In 1991, talented figure skater Tonya Harding becomes the first American woman to complete a triple axel during a competition.... [More]
Directed By: Craig Gillespie

#2

Creed (2015)
95%

#2
Adjusted Score: 106940%
Critics Consensus: Creed brings the Rocky franchise off the mat for a surprisingly effective seventh round that extends the boxer's saga in interesting new directions while staying true to its classic predecessors' roots.
Synopsis: Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died before Adonis was born.... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#1

Ford v Ferrari (2019)
92%

#1
Adjusted Score: 114307%
Critics Consensus: Ford v Ferrari delivers all the polished auto action audiences will expect -- and balances it with enough gripping human drama to satisfy non-racing enthusiasts.
Synopsis: American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

(Photo by Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox Film Corp, TriStar/Courtesy Everett Collection)

RT Recommends: 68 Inspiring Sports Movies

We’ve put together the ultimate starting lineup of inspiring sports movies! In no time, you’ll be riding horses, climbing rocks, driving powerful race cars, bolting cross-country, and coaching underdog teams to miraculous victory.

Or they’ll at least get you off the couch.

Some of the most esteemed Certified Fresh inspirational sports movies take on MMA (Warrior), boxing (Creed, Cinderella Man), auto-racing (Rush, Senna), basketball (Hoosiers, He Got Game), hockey (Miracle, Goon). Of course, not everything that glitters is strictly critics’ gold. Which is why we included movies like The Cutting Edge, Stick It, or Lords of Dogtown: They may be lower on the Tomatometer, but they’re high on electric inspiration.

Read on for our recommendations of the most inspiring sports movies of all time! (And you can find them all in Vudu’s inspiring sports movies collection, with most on sale!)

#68

42 (2013)
81%

#68
Adjusted Score: 87765%
Critics Consensus: 42 is an earnest, inspirational, and respectfully told biography of an influential American sports icon, though it might be a little too safe and old-fashioned for some.
Synopsis: In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, defies major league baseball's notorious color barrier by... [More]
Directed By: Brian Helgeland

#67
#67
Adjusted Score: 98696%
Critics Consensus: The Bad News Bears is rude, profane, and cynical, but shot through with honest, unforced humor, and held together by a deft, understated performance from Walter Matthau.
Synopsis: Hard-drinking, ex-minor-league hopeful Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) grumpily agrees to coach a Little League team at the behest of lawyer-councilman... [More]
Directed By: Michael Ritchie

#66
#66
Adjusted Score: 90499%
Critics Consensus: Inspiring, compassionate, and with a sly undercurrent of social commentary, Bend It Like Beckham is a lively feel-good movie that genuinely charms.
Synopsis: Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), the daughter of a strict Indian couple (Anupam Kher, Shaheen Khan) in London, is not permitted... [More]
Directed By: Gurinder Chadha

#65

Blades of Glory (2007)
70%

#65
Adjusted Score: 77995%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to the spirited performances of a talented cast - particularly Will Ferrell and Jon Heder as rivals-turned-teammates -- Blades of Glory successfully spoofs inspirational sports dramas with inspired abandon.
Synopsis: Figure skaters Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) take their intense rivalry too far during the... [More]
Directed By: Will Speck, Josh Gordon

#64

Brian's Song (1971)
92%

#64
Adjusted Score: 92567%
Critics Consensus: Buoyed by standout performances from James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, Brian's Song is a touching tale of friendship whose central relationship transcends its standard sports movie moments.
Synopsis: Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) are teammates on the mid-1960s Chicago Bears. At a time... [More]
Directed By: Buzz Kulik

#63

Bring It On (2000)
64%

#63
Adjusted Score: 67627%
Critics Consensus: Despite the formulaic, fluffy storyline, this movie is surprisingly fun to watch, mostly due to its high energy and how it humorously spoofs cheerleading instead of taking itself too seriously.
Synopsis: The Toro cheerleading squad from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego has got spirit, spunk, sass and a killer... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

#62

The Bronze (2015)
36%

#62
Adjusted Score: 41582%
Critics Consensus: Enthusiastically unpleasant and mostly unfunny, The Bronze fails to stick the landing -- or much else along the way.
Synopsis: A spoiled and largely forgotten Olympic medalist (Melissa Rauch) takes action when a promising young gymnast (Haley Lu Richardson) threatens... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Buckley

#61

Chariots of Fire (1981)
82%

#61
Adjusted Score: 88215%
Critics Consensus: Decidedly slower and less limber than the Olympic runners at the center of its story, the film nevertheless manages to make effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.
Synopsis: In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924... [More]
Directed By: Hugh Hudson

#60

Cinderella Man (2005)
80%

#60
Adjusted Score: 87609%
Critics Consensus: With grittiness and an evocative sense of time and place, Cinderella Man is a powerful underdog story. And Ron Howard and Russell Crowe prove to be a solid combination.
Synopsis: During the Great Depression, ex-boxer James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) works as a day laborer until his former manager Joe... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#59

Cool Runnings (1993)
76%

#59
Adjusted Score: 79066%
Critics Consensus: Cool Runnings rises above its formulaic sports-movie themes with charming performances, light humor, and uplifting tone.
Synopsis: Four Jamaican bobsledders dream of competing in the Winter Olympics, despite never having seen snow. With the help of a... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#58

Creed (2015)
95%

#58
Adjusted Score: 106940%
Critics Consensus: Creed brings the Rocky franchise off the mat for a surprisingly effective seventh round that extends the boxer's saga in interesting new directions while staying true to its classic predecessors' roots.
Synopsis: Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died before Adonis was born.... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Coogler

#57

The Cutting Edge (1992)
57%

#57
Adjusted Score: 59390%
Critics Consensus: Part contrived romance, part hackneyed sports drama, The Cutting Edge shows how difficult it can be to figure skate through cheese.
Synopsis: Stuck-up figure skating whiz Kate Moseley (Moira Kelly) is denied a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics after a fall.... [More]
Directed By: Paul Michael Glaser

#56
#56
Adjusted Score: 98210%
Critics Consensus: Better than your average football pic, Damned United is carried by another star turn from Michael Sheen as Brian Clough.
Synopsis: The story of Brian Clough's 44 day stint as manager of Leeds United Football Club takes place in 1974 England.... [More]
Directed By: Tom Hooper

#55

Downhill Racer (1969)
85%

#55
Adjusted Score: 85236%
Critics Consensus: Downhill Racer plunges the viewer thrillingly into the action of the sport -- and continues to hold the attention as a thoughtful drama.
Synopsis: A smug and overly self-assured downhill skier, David Chappellet (Robert Redford), joins the American ski team and quickly makes waves... [More]
Directed By: Michael Ritchie

#54

Eddie the Eagle (2016)
81%

#54
Adjusted Score: 93643%
Critics Consensus: Eddie the Eagle's amiable sweetness can't disguise its story's many inspirational clichés -- but for many viewers, it will be more than enough to make up for them.
Synopsis: Cut from the Olympic ski team, British athlete Michael "Eddie" Edwards travels to Germany to test his skills at ski... [More]
Directed By: Dexter Fletcher

#53

Endurance (1998)
50%

#53
Adjusted Score: 50337%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This docudrama focuses on the life and accomplishments of Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie, who won a gold medal at the... [More]

#52

Fair Play (2014)

#52
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the 1980s, Anna, a Czech sprinter, starts training for the Olympics. After she collapses during training, she learns she... [More]
Directed By: Andrea Sedlácková

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 106871%
Critics Consensus: Much like the sport it celebrates, Fighting with My Family muscles past clichés with a potent blend of energy and committed acting that should leave audiences cheering.
Synopsis: Born into a tight-knit wrestling family, Paige and her brother Zak are ecstatic when they get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Merchant

#50

Ford v Ferrari (2019)
92%

#50
Adjusted Score: 114307%
Critics Consensus: Ford v Ferrari delivers all the polished auto action audiences will expect -- and balances it with enough gripping human drama to satisfy non-racing enthusiasts.
Synopsis: American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#49

Free Solo (2018)
97%

#49
Adjusted Score: 106080%
Critics Consensus: Free Solo depicts athletic feats that many viewers will find beyond reason - and grounds the attempts in passions that are all but universal.
Synopsis: Alex Honnold completes the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan's 3,000-foot vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park.... [More]

#48

Girlfight (2000)
88%

#48
Adjusted Score: 91989%
Critics Consensus: Michelle Rodriguez gives a compelling performance, despite lack of a boxing background; Karyn Kusama packs a punch with this directorial debut.
Synopsis: Newcomer Michelle Rodriguez in an astounding performance alongside Jaime Tirelli, Paul Calderon and Santiago Douglas. Nothing comes easy for Diana... [More]
Directed By: Karyn Kusama

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell are thrown together in the double sculls just five weeks before the final of the... [More]
Directed By: David Blair

#46

Goon (2011)
81%

#46
Adjusted Score: 85208%
Critics Consensus: Goon is a crude slapstick comedy with well-formed characters and a surprising amount of heart.
Synopsis: Though a misfit among his brainy family members, Massachusetts bouncer Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) has a knockout punch that... [More]
Directed By: Michael Dowse

#45

Gracie (2007)
61%

#45
Adjusted Score: 64450%
Critics Consensus: Gracie can be rousing and touching in spots, but is ultimately undone by its predictable story arc and a lack of nuance.
Synopsis: Gracie Bowen (Carly Schroeder) is the only girl among her parents' four children. Her brothers and father (Dermot Mulroney) eat,... [More]
Directed By: Davis Guggenheim

#44
Adjusted Score: 66004%
Critics Consensus: Despite all the underdog sports movie conventions, the likable cast and lush production values make The Greatest Game Ever Played a solid and uplifting tale.
Synopsis: Blue-collar Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) fights class prejudice while mastering golf, a game guarded by the upper crust. Employed as... [More]
Directed By: Bill Paxton

#43

Happy Gilmore (1996)
61%

#43
Adjusted Score: 63865%
Critics Consensus: Those who enjoy Adam Sandler's schtick will find plenty to love in this gleefully juvenile take on professional golf; those who don't, however, will find it unfunny and forgettable.
Synopsis: All Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) has ever wanted is to be a professional hockey player. But he soon discovers he... [More]
Directed By: Dennis Dugan

#42

He Got Game (1998)
81%

#42
Adjusted Score: 83041%
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee near the top of his game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: Jake Shuttleworth (Denzel Washington) has spent the last six years in prison after accidentally killing his wife during a violent... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#41

Hoosiers (1986)
91%

#41
Adjusted Score: 94988%
Critics Consensus: It may adhere to the sports underdog formula, but Hoosiers has been made with such loving craft, and features such excellent performances, that it's hard to resist.
Synopsis: Failed college coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) gets a chance at redemption when he is hired to direct the basketball... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#40

I Am Bolt (2016)
86%

#40
Adjusted Score: 79138%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The career and the legacy of Jamaican runner Usain Bolt.... [More]

#39
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This sequel to "National Velvet" follows Sarah Brown (Tatum O'Neal), a young girl who is sent to England after her... [More]
Directed By: Bryan Forbes

#38

Invictus (2009)
76%

#38
Adjusted Score: 84405%
Critics Consensus: Delivered with typically stately precision by director Clint Eastwood, Invictus may not be rousing enough for some viewers, but Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman inhabit their real-life characters with admirable conviction.
Synopsis: Following the fall of apartheid, newly elected President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) faces a South Africa that is racially and... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#37
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this stirring biographical drama, young Native American Jim Thorpe (Burt Lancaster) pursues his dreams of athletic stardom. Mentored by... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#36

The Karate Kid (1984)
89%

#36
Adjusted Score: 91180%
Critics Consensus: Utterly predictable and wholly of its time, but warm, sincere, and difficult to resist, due in large part to Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio's relaxed chemistry.
Synopsis: Daniel (Ralph Macchio) moves to Southern California with his mother, Lucille (Randee Heller), but quickly finds himself the target of... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#35
Adjusted Score: 101266%
Critics Consensus: The King of Kong is funny and compelling with more than a few poignant insights into human behavior. Director Seth Gordon presents the dueling King Kong players in all their obsessive complexity and with perfectly al dente observations.
Synopsis: Named "Video Game Player of the Century" in 1999, Billy Mitchell sets a record score in "Donkey Kong" that many... [More]
Directed By: Seth Gordon

#34

Lords of Dogtown (2005)
55%

#34
Adjusted Score: 59525%
Critics Consensus: Lords of Dogtown, while slickly made and edited, lacks the depth and entertaining value of the far superior documentary on the same subject, Dogtown and Z-Boys.
Synopsis: A drought in 1970s Southern California has an unexpected side effect: as people empty their swimming pools, a group of... [More]
Directed By: Catherine Hardwicke

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 86404%
Critics Consensus: Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes.
Synopsis: Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are two childhood friends who both aspire to be professional basketball players. Quincy,... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince

#32

Maiden (2018)
98%

#32
Adjusted Score: 104738%
Critics Consensus: Enthralling viewing even for audiences with little to no knowledge of or interest in sailing, Maiden pays powerful tribute to a true pioneer.
Synopsis: In 1989 Tracy Edwards leads the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race, a grueling yachting competition... [More]
Directed By: Alex Holmes

#31

Major League (1989)
83%

#31
Adjusted Score: 84879%
Critics Consensus: Major League may be predictable and formulaic, but buoyed by the script's light, silly humor -- not to mention the well-built sports action sequences and funny performances.
Synopsis: The new owner of the Cleveland Indians, former showgirl Rachel Phelps (Margaret Whitton), has a sweetheart deal to move the... [More]
Directed By: David S. Ward

#30

Meru (2015)
88%

#30
Adjusted Score: 90451%
Critics Consensus: Gripping visually as well as narratively, Meru is the rare documentary that proves thought-provoking while offering thrilling wide-screen vistas.
Synopsis: Three elite climbers fight through obsession and loss as they struggle to climb Mount Meru.... [More]

#29

Miracle (2004)
81%

#29
Adjusted Score: 85821%
Critics Consensus: Kurt Russell's performance guides this cliche-ridden tale into the realm of inspirational, nostalgic goodness.
Synopsis: When college coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is hired to helm the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team, he brings... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#28

Nadia (1984)

#28
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci trains as a child (Leslie Weiner) and wins three gold medals as a teen (Johann Carlo)... [More]
Directed By: Alan Cooke

#27

The Natural (1984)
82%

#27
Adjusted Score: 85275%
Critics Consensus: Though heavy with sentiment, The Natural is an irresistible classic, and a sincere testament to America's national pastime.
Synopsis: On the way to a tryout with the Chicago Cubs, young baseball phenom Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) is shot by... [More]
Directed By: Barry Levinson

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 87507%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The story of Lithuania's 1992 Olympic basketball team whose athletes won the bronze medal.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Marius A. Markevicius

#25

Pacific Rim (2013)
72%

#25
Adjusted Score: 84303%
Critics Consensus: It may sport more style than substance, but Pacific Rim is a solid modern creature feature bolstered by fantastical imagery and an irresistible sense of fun.
Synopsis: Long ago, legions of monstrous creatures called Kaiju arose from the sea, bringing with them all-consuming war. To fight the... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#24

Personal Best (1982)
73%

#24
Adjusted Score: 74684%
Critics Consensus: Mariel Hemingway has a career-making star turn in this highly physical drama about two Olympic athletes who find each other during competitive training.
Synopsis: Young sprinter Chris Cahill (Mariel Hemingway) is having difficulty reaching her potential as an athlete, until she meets established track... [More]
Directed By: Robert Towne

#23

Prefontaine (1997)
56%

#23
Adjusted Score: 56673%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Olympic defeat matures a selfish distance runner (Jared Leto) into a sports activist before his 1975 death in a car... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

#22

Pride (2007)
47%

#22
Adjusted Score: 50311%
Critics Consensus: Pride features a typically stellar performance from Terrence Howard, but ultimately falls victim to its over usage of sports movie clichés.
Synopsis: In 1970s Philadelphia, Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard), who is driven by a love of competitive swimming, fixes up an abandoned... [More]
Directed By: Sunu Gonera

#21

Pumping Iron (1977)
91%

#21
Adjusted Score: 93867%
Critics Consensus: In addition to offering an enlightening early look into the world of future star/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pumping Iron provides a witty and insightful overview of competitive bodybuilding.
Synopsis: This partly real and partly scripted film documents what many consider to be the golden age of bodybuilding that occurred... [More]

#20

Race (2016)
63%

#20
Adjusted Score: 71788%
Critics Consensus: Race is nowhere near as thrillingly fleet or agile as its subject, but the story -- and a winning central performance from Stephan James -- are enough to carry it over the finish line.
Synopsis: Young Jesse Owens (Stephan James) becomes a track and field sensation while attending the Ohio State University in the early... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Hopkins

#19

Redbelt (2008)
67%

#19
Adjusted Score: 72692%
Critics Consensus: Mamet's mixed marital arts morality play weaves between action and intellect but doesn't always hit its target.
Synopsis: Martial artist Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) lives by a strict code of no competitions, for he feels that such contests... [More]
Directed By: David Mamet

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 77786%
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas,... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#17

Rocky (1976)
91%

#17
Adjusted Score: 98970%
Critics Consensus: This story of a down-on-his-luck boxer is thoroughly predictable, but Sylvester Stallone's script and stunning performance in the title role brush aside complaints.
Synopsis: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia, is arbitrarily chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#16

The Rookie (2002)
84%

#16
Adjusted Score: 87877%
Critics Consensus: A heart-warming sports flick, The Rookie greatly benefits from understated direction and the emotional honesty Dennis Quaid brings to the role of Jim Morris.
Synopsis: A true story about a coach who discovers that it's never too late for dreams to come true. Jim Morris... [More]
Directed By: John Lee Hancock

#15

Rudy (1993)
78%

#15
Adjusted Score: 81469%
Critics Consensus: Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination.
Synopsis: Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) wants to play football at the University of Notre Dame, but has neither the money for... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#14

Rush (2013)
89%

#14
Adjusted Score: 97509%
Critics Consensus: A sleek, slick, well-oiled machine, Rush is a finely crafted sports drama with exhilarating race sequences and strong performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl.
Synopsis: In the mid-1970s, charismatic English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) share an intense... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#13

The Sandlot (1993)
64%

#13
Adjusted Score: 69221%
Critics Consensus: It may be shamelessly derivative and overly nostalgic, but The Sandlot is nevertheless a genuinely sweet and funny coming-of-age adventure.
Synopsis: When Scottie Smalls (Thomas Guiry) moves to a new neighborhood, he manages to make friends with a group of kids... [More]
Directed By: David Mickey Evans

#12

Senna (2010)
93%

#12
Adjusted Score: 96746%
Critics Consensus: Even for filmgoers who aren't racing fans, Senna offers heart-pounding thrills -- and heartbreaking emotion.
Synopsis: Ayrton Senna becomes a three-time Formula One racing champion and Brazil's national hero before his untimely death at age 34.... [More]
Directed By: Asif Kapadia

#11

Shaolin Soccer (2001)
90%

#11
Adjusted Score: 93194%
Critics Consensus: The plot is utterly ridiculous, and the soccer in the movie is unlike any ever played anywhere on Earth, but watching Shaolin Soccer, you will probably find it impossible to care.
Synopsis: All his life, an ordinary young man (Stephen Chow) has been treated like dirt. Still, he's never given up believing... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Chow, Lik-Chi Lee

#10

Space Jam (1996)
45%

#10
Adjusted Score: 49119%
Critics Consensus: While it's no slam dunk, Space Jam's silly, Looney Toons-laden slapstick and vivid animation will leave younger viewers satisfied -- though accompanying adults may be more annoyed than entertained.
Synopsis: Swackhammer (Danny DeVito), an evil alien theme park owner, needs a new attraction at Moron Mountain. When his gang, the... [More]
Directed By: Joe Pytka

#9

Stick It (2006)
31%

#9
Adjusted Score: 34718%
Critics Consensus: Director Jessica Bendinger is unable to transfer her winning Bring It On formula to the world of gymnastics, despite Missy Peregrym's strong lead performance.
Synopsis: Haley (Missy Peregrym) is a naturally gifted athlete but, with her social behavior, the teen seems intent on squandering her... [More]
Directed By: Jessica Bendinger

#8

Sugar (2008)
92%

#8
Adjusted Score: 97648%
Critics Consensus: Sugar is an exceptionally-crafted film -- part sports flick, part immigrant tale -- with touching and poignant drama highlighted by splendid performances.
Synopsis: Like many young men in the Dominican Republic, 19-year-old Miguel "Sugar" Santos (Algenis Perez Soto) dreams of winning a slot... [More]
Directed By: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

#7

Teen Wolf (1985)
42%

#7
Adjusted Score: 44216%
Critics Consensus: Though Michael J. Fox is as charismatic as ever, Teen Wolf's coming-of-age themes can't help but feel a little stale and formulaic.
Synopsis: When high school nerd Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) learns from his father, Harold (James Hampton), that being a werewolf... [More]
Directed By: Rod Daniel

#6

Unbroken (2014)
51%

#6
Adjusted Score: 60993%
Critics Consensus: Unbroken is undoubtedly well-intentioned, but it hits a few too many of the expected prestige-pic beats to register as strongly as it should.
Synopsis: As a boy, Louis "Louie" Zamperini is always in trouble, but with the help of his older brother, he turns... [More]
Directed By: Angelina Jolie

#5

Victory (1981)
63%

#5
Adjusted Score: 32187%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The head of a German POW camp, soccer enthusiast Karl von Steiner (Max von Sydow) organizes a match between Nazi... [More]
Directed By: John Huston

#4

Warrior (2011)
83%

#4
Adjusted Score: 90344%
Critics Consensus: Warrior relies on many of the clichés that critics of the genre love to mock -- and it transcends them with gripping action, powerful acting, and heart.
Synopsis: An estranged family finds redemption in the unlikeliest of places: the MMA ring. Tommy (Tom Hardy), an ex-Marine with a... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#3

The Way Back (2020)
84%

#3
Adjusted Score: 97941%
Critics Consensus: The Way Back's occasionally frustrating treatment of a formulaic story is often outweighed by Ben Affleck's outstanding work in the central role.
Synopsis: Jack Cunningham was a high school basketball superstar who suddenly walked away from the game for unknown reasons. Years later,... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#2

Whip It (2009)
84%

#2
Adjusted Score: 91770%
Critics Consensus: While made from overly familiar ingredients, Drew Barrymore's directorial debut has enough charm, energy, and good-natured humor to transcend its many cliches.
Synopsis: Bliss Cavendar lives in small-town Texas and yearns to break free of her mother's world of beauty pageants and conformity.... [More]
Directed By: Drew Barrymore

#1

Without Limits (1998)
79%

#1
Adjusted Score: 80502%
Critics Consensus: This drama about American track star and hero Steve Prefontaine intelligently looks at the character of this oft mythologized athlete and features a fantastic performance by Donald Sutherland as Prefontaine's trainer.
Synopsis: Before Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup) makes it to the 1972 Olympics in Munich, he is an unlikely track star at... [More]
Directed By: Robert Towne

It’s Friday, there’s a new raft of movies in the UK cinemas this week, but are any of them any good? This week the UK film hacks give us their opinions on Clint Eastwood‘s latest directorial film starring Angelina Jolie, Changeling. Also out this week is Hollywood satire What Just Happened, and an early Christmas present in the shape of a festive flick starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon in Four Christmases. So what did the critics think?

Based on a true story, Changeling stars Angelina Jolie as an overworked single mother who fights for the truth following the disappearance of her son, and is ably directed by veteran cowpoke Clint Eastwood. At a – just-below-Fresh – 59% on the Tomatometer, Changeling doesn’t have the pedigree of previous Eastwood outings, but most critics agree that Angelina Jolie’s assured performance has Oscar-bait written all over it. If we were just counting the UK critics responses the film would stand at a much healthier 83% on the Tomatometer, which just goes to show the difference in tastes on either side of the Atlantic.

What Just Happened is a Hollywood satire starring Robert De Niro as an outrageous movie producer, and is based on the real life memoirs of Art Linson, who also adapted his book for the big screen. Most critics agreed that De Niro is on fine form, following the disastrous Righteous Kill (21% on the Tomatometer), who puts in a classic performance as the back stabbing producer. But old Bobby can’t do enough to save What Just Happened from the ignominy of a Rotten 53% rating on the Tomatometer. Critics accuse the film of lacking the necessary satirical bite needed to do the source material justice, with many suggesting that the film has fallen prey to the Hollywood practices and foibles that the film itself seeks to criticise.

Vince Vaughn stars in his second festive holiday vehicle, after the dismal Fred Claus of Christmas 2007 (21% on the Tomatometer), alongside Reese Witherspoon in Four Christmases. Helmed by the director of the highly-praised but little-seen documentary King Of Kong (97%), Seth Gordon, hopes were high for Four Christmases, but unfortunately at 26% on the Tomatometer, it’s more of a Turkey than a Christmas pudding. The UK scribes have criticised the lack of Christmas cheer, the miscasting of the two principle actors and the horrific waste of a fine supporting cast. Christmas comes earlier every year, Four Christmases probably shouldn’t have come at all.

Quote Of The Week

” “Hang on lads, I’ve got a great idea…” said Michael Caine at the end of The Italian Job. Presumably he didn’t mean waiting 40 years before pulling off a caper that wouldn’t blow the bloody doors off a rabbit hutch.”

Flawless. Elliot Noble, Sky Movies.

Further Reading by Kim Newman

One documentary from the US last year spoke to avid videogamers more than any other, and in the process told a brilliantly human story about good, evil and Donkey Kong. In this week’s Further Reading, Kim Newman celebrates The King of Kong.

This is the most exciting, audience-involving film of any kind I’ve seen this year. At none of the previews of the summer’s blockbusters was I part of such a vocal, enthusiastic and wholly-gripped crowd as I was at a relatively small screening of a picture which has made its UK debut as a DVD retail item.

The King of Kong is an aptly ragged-looking documentary which takes a completely uninviting subject — a controversy in the world of retro-computer gaming about whether longtime Donkey Kong champion Billy Mitchell should cede his title to contender Steve Weibe — and makes it the stuff of legends. Donkey Kong, for those who don’t remember, is (or, rather, was) an early, fiendishly difficult game from the Super Mario Bros stable, in which the plumber tries to ascend various ladders to rescue a princess, while avoiding missiles tossed by a malign ape. From the DVD extras, I learned that the game was originally supposed to feature Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto, but the Japanese designers couldn’t get the rights to the characters and came up with their own.

The King of Kong

Billy Mitchell, hailed as ‘the gamer of the century’, is a reptilian, faux-cool smarm-bucket who invokes fanatical loyalty from longtime rivals and associates, including Brian Kuh (the third-highest DK scorer), who scuttles around with Renfield-like devotion to his master, and Walter Day, the bizarre Roberts Blossom lookalike who has taken on the mantle of definitive judge for the field (an accolade confirmed when he strikes an alliance with the Guinness Book of Records).

Though a patriot, a family man, a successful hot sauce tycoon and rated as ultra-cool by his circle, the goateed and distinctively coiffed Mitchell comes across onscreen as a classic villain. Even his closest friends call him devious, but he is also tragically puffed up in his idea of celebrity, flirting with the interviewer and referring to himself in the third person as if he were a world leader planning a counter-coup rather than a probable saddo whose highest achievement (a perfect Pac-Man score) means less and less with every passing minute.

The King of Kong

Wiebe, by contrast, is a classic underdog: following a run of near-miss careers in baseball and music, he took up the game after being laid off, then reinvented himself as a science teacher loved by his students. Crucially, in this showing at least, he doesn’t even seem to think that much of his knack for DK, though he is clearly as obsessively devoted to chasing the record as Mitchell is to keeping it.

Director Seth Gordon intended a more general inside-retro-gaming documentary but lucked into an astonishingly potent storyline and must have sorted through acres of footage to get stuff this good. So good, in fact, a dramatised remake is reportedly in the works. It has vivid supporting characters, including Roy Schild (aka ‘Mr Awesome’), a secondary ‘evil mastermind’ in Wiebe’s camp and Wiebe’s amazing children (a young son who shouts ‘stop playing Donkey Kong‘ as Dad is on his first record-breaking attempt, a tweenage daughter who wryly observes that a lot of people ruin their lives trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records).

Further Reading by Kim Newman

You also get as many ups and downs as a sports fiction film, with the added plus that since it’s a true story the outcome isn’t decreed by cliché — though there are triumphs and disasters near the end, the story goes on and you can’t stop yourself looking up on the internet to find out who reigns as the current King of Kong. Everyone, including the near-saintly but not sanctimonious Wiebe, reveals more about themselves than the average reality TV contestant would, with many jaw-dropping statements about epochal achievements and grand calamities that took place in a world of game-playing marginalised by the end of the 1980s.

The King of Kong

Mitchell and cohorts act in such a way that, even if it turned out Gordon manipulated and edited the hell out of the footage, it would be impossible for your conclusions about these people not to be — to some extent – horribly true. When Wiebe sends in a tape of his first record-breaking score, Day has agents talk their way into his house to assess his personal DK machine to see if it’s been tampered with, Mitchell claims only scores achieved in public count and the record doesn’t go into the books. When Wiebe does it again at a games convention, Mitchell has protégé Doris Self (an 80-year-old Q*Bert whizz) hand over a blurry, splicey tape in which he purportedly sets a higher record which Day and company accept within ten minutes.

I don’t see how this incident could be spun in a way which doesn’t suggest the tiny sub-culture was stacked against the outsider, though there’s a subtle thread later in the film, which I suspect comes from a dawning awareness of what they look like on the record, as Day and his crowd (except the loyal Kuh) begin to feel the long-time champion has been less than honest with them and respond to Wiebe’s essential decency even as they consistently mispronounce his name.

The King of Kong

There’s a stunning moment when the antagonists almost meet, for the only time in the film, as Wiebe is openly friendly to Mitchell, who cruises by ignoring him at a games machine while making a snide remark to his wife; it may be that when the cameras weren’t on them, these men have played each other or treated each other courteously, but the audience I saw it with hissed a pantomime villain and cheered for the decent contender. Even Mitchell’s obviously genuine decency towards Doris, a little old lady whose gaming career he enabled and championed, doesn’t take the sting out of his Dick Dastardly act elsewhere.

It makes good use of 1980s inspirational pop music, and — like the best of these ‘American weirdo’ documentaries (American Movie, Spellbound) — works up a vein of melancholy sympathy for folks who fanatically and unselfconsciously pursue goals that seem absurd. The middle-aged guy dressed like a teenager who wistfully remembers thinking that the guys who racked up big arcade scores would have hot babes clustering about them perfectly encapsulates the delusional, funny-sad heroism of the world of Kong.

Good documentaries can be made about significant subjects, like the recent Iraq/torture-themed Standard Operating Procedure and Taxi to the Dark Side, but sometimes outstanding true life films spin gold out of ostensibly ridiculous, trivial material.

There’s a veritable buffet of new releases for the discerning cinematic connoisseur this week, ranging from a highly acclaimed battle for joystick supremacy (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters) to a not-so-highly acclaimed science fiction return of body snatchers (The Invasion). Read on, because there’s so much more!


The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Tomatometer: 96%

One of last year’s best-reviewed films, The King of Kong — bought a year ago at the Slamdance Film Festival, soon to be adapted into a feature film by New Line — brings us up close and personal with the often hilarious real-life rivalry between two Donkey Kong champs. Hey, some people watch NASCAR; others watch grown men rack up record scores by jumping over barrels. Critics loved the film, full of humor and compelling drama, and the DVD release is chock-full of extras for fans of the Donkey Kong arcade game, its history, and the film’s stars themselves.

 


The Invasion

Tomatometer: 19%

Some say the classic science fiction chiller Invasion of the Body Snatchers needed no twenty-first century update; after watching Oliver Hirshbiegel‘s The Invasion, most critics agreed. The Nicole KidmanDaniel Craig vehicle, about a worldwide epidemic that turns people into creepily calm drones (who employ a disgusting means of inoculation-via-projectile vomit), seems to have gleaned no benefit from infamous story tweakings and reshoots by the Wachowski brothers and James McTeague. Besides a few standard featurettes, the bonus menu is acutely devoid of any presence by Hirshbiegel or his stars.

 

Hannah Montana: One in a Million

Tomatometer: N/A

Oh, that Miley Cyrus. The daughter of Billy Ray stepped confidently into the shoes of her teen queen predecessors — wholesome former power tweens like Mary Kate, Ashley, and Hilary — to assume complete and total power over the hearts and minds of the Disney set. As Miley Stewart, a pop princess who moonlights under the stage name Hannah Montana, Cyrus injects humor and real-life celebrity sensibility into her series; soon we’ll be treated to the Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds concert documentary in 3D. But for now, indulge in the week’s guiltiest pleasure.

 

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 5


Tomatometer: N/A

As a wise man once said, “[They] are the Aqua Teens, make the homeys say ho and the girlies want to scream” — and if you’re familiar with the Adult Swim fave about a trio of walking, talking snack food products living in Jersey, then you should already be out the door to pick up the latest collection of episodes from Season Four. With guest stars like Andrew W.K. and Tera Patrick, new characters like Meatwad’s dog Handbanana, and a predictably awesome set of DVD extras (including “Aqua Teen Respond to the Critics” and “Granny Takes Her Top Off”), this one is a must-buy for you sophisticated types.

Mr. Untouchable


Tomatometer: 74%

Rivalry ran deep in the seedy underbelly of 1970s New York City, but especially so with drug kingpin Nicky Barnes and his competitor, Frank Lucas. Curiously, the antagonism continued long after both went to prison and turned state’s evidence; Lucas’ story, adapted into Ridley Scott‘s American Gangster, and Mr. Untouchable, Marc Levin’s documentary based on Barnes’ own memoirs, opened in theaters only a week apart. And as hip-hop mogul Damon Dash produced the Barnes doc, his former Roc-A-Fella Records partner Jay-Z recorded an album of songs inspired by the Lucas biopic. But both films also garnered the praise of critics, so if you enjoyed the Hollywood treatment, now give the documentary a shot.

The Yacoubian Building


Tomatometer: 100%

A crumbling apartment complex in Cairo is the setting for this melodramatic, sprawling meditation on current socio-economic politics in the region, and is one of Egypt’s most expensive productions to date.

Rocket Science


Tomatometer: 85%

A high school stutterer joins the debate team for the affections of a girl in this festival favorite, from director Jeffrey Blitz (Spellbound).

The Nines


Tomatometer: 68%

Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis, and Melissa McCarthy triple up in three separate but intertwined tales from the writer of Go and Big Fish.


It’s All Downhill From Here…

Feel the Noise


Tomatometer: 14%

Hip-pop star Omarion Grandberry stars in yet another dancing teen movie — this time, set to the beat of Puerto Rico’s reggaeton scene — but, according to the scribes, this dance floor is overflowing with cliche after cliche.

Moving McAllister


Tomatometer: 14%

If we can thank the makers of this road comedy about a corporate suit tasked with driving his boss’ wild niece cross-country, it’s the bounty of delightfully pointed critic quotes it inspired. “Bad really is too delicate a word to describe this film” may sound harsh, but so is wasting your DVD dollars on such a critically-loathed release.

The Comebacks


Tomatometer: 7%

Though many inspirational sports movies deserve to be taken to task for the abuse of cliche and melodrama, the genre didn’t deserve this…behold, one of the year’s worst films, and a member of the elite single-digit Tomatometer club!

Daddy Day Camp


Tomatometer: 1%

And finally, the very worst release to hit shelves this week, the likes of which we quite possibly won’t see again for a while. What does it really take to get a one percent rating on the Tomatometer? Your guess is as good as ours, since we won’t be seeing this sequel. Cuba Gooding Jr., where did you go wrong??

Consider yourself warned. ‘Til next week, happy renting!

The parade of critics’ year-end best-of lists continued yesterday, with panels in Toronto, San Diego, and Austin weighing in on their favorite films of 2007.

In Toronto, the clear winner was No Country for Old Men, which nabbed four prizes, including best film. A complete list of winners follows, with Tomatometers in parentheses:

Best Film:
No Country for Old Men (95 percent)

Best Director:
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men

Best Screenplay:
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men

Best Actor:
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises (88 percent)

Best Actress:
Julie Christie, Away From Her (95 percent) / Ellen Page, Juno (94 percent) (tie)

Best Supporting Actor:
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Best Supporting Actress:
Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There (80 percent)

Best Animated Feature:
Ratatouille (97 percent)

Best Foreign-Language Film:
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (96 percent)

Best Documentary:
No End in Sight (95 percent)

Not to be outdone, the San Diego Film Critics Society heaped its own stack o’ praise on No Country, but saved plenty of love for other films along the way:

Best Film:
No Country for Old Men

Best Director:
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood (96 percent)

Best Actor:
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Best Actress:
Julie Christie, Away From Her

Best Supporting Actor:
Tommy Lee Jones, No Country for Old Men

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone (93 percent)

Best Original Screenplay:
Diablo Cody, Juno

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

Best Foreign Language Film:
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (94 percent)

Best Documentary:
(tie) No End in Sight and Deep Water (96 percent)

Best Animated Feature:
Ratatouille

Best Cinematography:
Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men

Best Production Design:
Dante Ferretti, Sweeney Todd (86 percent)

Best Editor:
Paul Tothill, Atonement (84 percent)

Best Score:
Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood

Best Ensemble Performance:
No Country for Old Men

And finally, last but not least, the Austin Film Critics Association gave big ups to There Will Be Blood, bestowing Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor honors upon the P.T. Anderson drama. Read on:

Best Film:
There Will Be Blood

Best Director:
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

Best Actor:
Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Best Actress:
Ellen Page, Juno

Best Supporting Actor:

Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men

Best Supporting Actress:
Allison Janney, Juno

Best Foreign Film:
Black Book (76 percent)

Best Documentary:

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (96 percent)

Best Animated Film:
Ratatouille

Best First Film:
Ben Affleck, Gone Baby Gone

Best Original Screenplay:
Diablo Cody, Juno

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Ethan & Joel Coen, No Country For Old Men

Best Cinematography:
Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood

Best Original Score:
Jonny Greenwood, There Will Be Blood

Breakthrough Artist:

Michael Cera, Superbad (87 percent), Juno

Source: Variety (Toronto)
Source: Variety (San Diego)
Source: Variety (Austin)

This week at RTIndie: IFC brings indies to the people; Seth Gordon capitalizes on the success of The King of Kong; anime classic Grave of the Fireflies gets the remake treatment; and a Certified Fresh Mumblecore touchstone is our DVD Pick of the Week.



IFC Beefs Up Theatrical/On-Demand Program

First, the bad news for IFC: The company’s attempts to distribute bigger-budget movies didn’t work. The good news for people who like indie movies: IFC will be giving more attention to its First Take program, in which smaller films will receive a theatrical and on-demand release on the same day.

The First Take films include indie movies with budgets under $3 million and foreign fare. So far, First Take has released This Is England (92 percent on the Tomatometer), The Wind That Shakes the Barley (88 percent), and Black Sheep (70 percent) simultaneously in theaters and on cable; Gus Van Sant‘s Paranoid Park and the Palme D’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days are some of the program’s upcoming highlights. Even if these films only play in a few cities during their theatrical runs, they can be seen in 40 million homes, increasing the availability for edgier first-run fare.

This week’s First Take release is Joe Swanberg‘s Hannah Takes the Stairs, which tells the story of a young woman’s romantic connections and disconnections over the course of a summer. Swanberg told RT he’s thrilled to have the added exposure of cable not only as a filmmaker, but as a movie buff as well.

“It’s really exciting,” Swanberg said. “I live in Chicago, where I have to wait a really long time for a lot of movies to come through, so that’s really cool.”

IFC’s attempt to go big(ger) time didn’t really pay off. Despite strong reviews (Certified Fresh at 77 percent on the Tomatometer) You Kill Me didn’t exactly kill at the box office, taking in around $2.4 million. The movie, starring Ben Kingsley, Téa Leoni, and Luke Wilson, was something of a test case for IFC’s plan for distributing indies with slightly larger budgets. Subsequently, IFC decided to scrap its release of Penelope, starring Christina Ricci and Reese Witherspoon, and has no bigger movies on its release slate.

(Check out our full interview with Swanberg here. Also, we caught Paranoid Park at Cannes; click here for our review.)


Like An Accomplished Gamer, Kong Helmer Gordon Moves Up A Level

Things are looking good for Seth Gordon, as his Slamdance-approved doc The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters continues to make waves. Not only is Kong winning near-universal praise from critics (it’s currently at 97 percent on the Tomatometer), it’s getting Gordon plenty of attention from Hollywood.

Gordon has signed on to direct Four Christmases, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon about a couple, each with divorced parents, who must find a way to attend four Christmas celebrations. The project, which will be distributed by New Line, previously had several directors attached, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In addition, Cinematical notes that Gordon is starting work on The Only Living Boy in New York, the tale of a down-on-his-luck post-collegiate who finds himself contemplating an affair with his dad’s mistress. Columbia Pictures will release the film in 2008.

And that’s not all. It appears Gordon is also in the early stages of a fictional remake of The King of Kong, and hopes to attract the services of such notables as Johnny Depp or Edward Norton to play one of the gamers. The documentary version tells the story of two archrivals who do battle in the realm of Donkey Kong.

Fireflies Rises From the Grave in Live-Action Remake

There have been a ton of cartoons and comics that have gotten live-action remakes; it appears the latest will be the classic 1988 animated feature Grave of the Fireflies. ScreenDaily is reporting that Taro Hyugaji will helm the remake, which tells the harrowing story of two children left homeless by bombings in the last days of WWII. The original (89 percent), directed by Isao Takahata, is one of the seminal masterpieces of anime, but that doesn’t mean filmmakers haven’t tried to give the story another go before. In 2005, another version of Fireflies was produced for Japanese television.



RTIndie DVD Pick of the Week: Mutual Appreciation

Movie critics are always on the lookout for a filmmaker who’s the “voice of their generation.” In the case of Andrew Bujalski, said voice is peppered with “ums,” “likes,” and “y’knows.” But don’t mistake his latest, Mutual Appreciation, as mere emo posturing. With Appreciation and his previous film, Funny Ha Ha, Bujalski has carved out a distinctive niche in the world of no-budget filmmaking; he has a wonderful ear for how twentysomethings express themselves — or, as the case may be, try to figure out how they feel as they talk. Mutual Appreciation is a few days in the live of Alan (Justin Rice), an Elvis Costello-esque indie rocker looking for a band — and finding himself in the midst of several romantic possibilities. Don’t be put off by the grainy black-and-white cinematography or the hipster trappings; Bujalski gets remarkable performances from his cast of unknowns, and post-collegians (or introspective-types of any age) will see a lot of themselves in Mutual Appreciation. And the music’s pretty good, too. Appreciation is at 88 percent on the Tomatometer; it, along with Funny Ha Ha and Swanberg’s Hannah Takes the Stairs, are playing in New York as part of The New Talkies: Generation D.I.Y., which runs through Sept. 4.)

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