Ranking the 20 best football movies of all time
Football has been a frequent subject of, and backdrop for, Hollywood movies over the years - some of them misses, but many of them hits.
Here are our favorites:
20. The Waterboy (1998)
It's a goofy Adam Sandler movie, but at least it's from an era when Adam Sandler movies produced a few laughs.
19. Little Giants (1994)
It's a kids' movie, but it's a decent one. Rick Moranis and Ed O'Neill star as brothers and coaches of rival pee-wee football teams.
18. Big Fan (2009)
This little-seen independent movie stars comedian Patton Oswalt as a New York Giants obsessive struggling with his fandom after a player on the team assaults him in a bar.
17. Knute Rockne, All American (1940)
Starring Ronald Reagan, this film tells the story of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. The famous saying "Win one for the Gipper" comes from this movie.
16. The Replacements (2000)
This cookie-cutter comedy about a team of has-beens filling in during a player's strike is mildly amusing.
15. Draft Day (2014)
This Kevin Costner film isn't nearly as bad as it's made out to be, but it's still not very good. Recent real-life moves, like the Chicago Bears trading up one spot to draft Mitchell Trubisky, make the ridiculous series of deals pulled off by Costner's GM character seem a little less unrealistic.
14. The Express (2008)
Based on the life of Syracuse halfback Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman, this well-done film ended up a financial flop.
13. We Are Marshall (2006)
This historical drama is based on the 1970 plane crash that killed 37 players on Marshall University's football team. It is unevenly directed, but Matthew McConaughey's performance in the lead role is impressive.
12. Invincible (2006)
Mark Wahlberg stars in this true story of a bartender who tried out for and made the Philadelphia Eagles at age 30. It's your typical underdog story; it hits the right notes, even if they are predictable.
11. Varsity Blues (1999)
At the peak of his "Dawson's Creek" fame, James Van Der Beek stars as the quarterback of a high school football team dealing with an overbearing head coach and the pressures of growing up.
10. Any Given Sunday (1999)
A dramatic and highly stylized look at professional football from director Oliver Stone. Al Pacino makes a believable head coach and Jamie Foxx's third-string quarterback, "Steamin" Willie Beamen, is memorable.
9. The Longest Yard (1974)
This isn't the 2005 Adam Sandler remake, but the original starring Burt Reynolds as an incarcerated former pro who leads a team of convicts against the prison guards. Interestingly, this movie was also remade in Britain and Egypt, with the sport changed to soccer both times.
8. North Dallas Forty (1979)
If you think football players party hard now, check out this semi-satirical look at the debauchery of a late-1960s team modeled after the Dallas Cowboys. Though not based on actual facts, this movie is often cited as one of the more realistic football films.
7. Remember the Titans (2000)
The best film in a two-year run of sports movies at the turn of the century that included "Varsity Blues," "Any Given Sunday," and "The Replacements," "Remember the Titans" stars Denzel Washington as the head coach of a newly integrated high school football team.
6. The Blind Side (2009)
This true story of NFL offensive tackle Michael Oher was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and earned Sandra Bullock her first nomination and win for Best Actress.
5. Rudy (1993)
You probably expected this move to land higher on this list, but "Rudy" is a tad overrated. It's saccharine and Sean Astin's titular character is a bit of a whiner. Still, it includes some truly classic scenes and we can't bring ourselves to rank it any lower.
4. Jerry Maguire (1996)
You've memorized all its famous lines, but do you remember that it's also a pretty good movie that earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor (which Cuba Gooding Jr. won, allowing him to deliver one of the most memorable acceptance speeches of all time)?
3. Brian's Song (1971)
The only TV movie on this list, it's an emotional story about Gale Sayers and his friendship with Chicago Bears teammate Brian Piccolo, who was stricken with terminal cancer. Along with "Rudy," "Brian's Song" is frequently cited as one of the movies most likely to make grown men cry.
2. Friday Night Lights (2004)
Later adapted into a critically acclaimed TV show, this movie tells the story of an Odessa, Texas high school football team, the community that adores it, and the socioeconomic and racial struggles surrounding it.
1. Undefeated (2011)
Winner of an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, this film tracks an inner-city high school football team in Memphis aiming for its first winning season after more than a decade of losses despite several key players dealing with major life struggles. If you watch one football movie, make it this one.
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