20 Best Sports Movies to Watch Right Now

20 Best Sports Movies to Watch Right Now

February 19, 2024

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Whether you’re a die-hard sports fan or simply appreciate the thrill of competition, these sports movies are a surefire way to get your adrenaline pumping. From underdog tales of triumph to gripping stories of determination and teamwork, these films capture the essence of what makes sports so captivating. These cinematic masterpieces bring the thrill, emotion, and indomitable spirit of sports. So grab your popcorn, settle into your favorite armchair, and get ready for a front-row seat to the best sports movies!

11. Foxcatcher (2014)

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Bennett Miller

Actors

Alan Oppenheimer, Anthony Michael Hall, Brett Rice, Brian Baumgartner

Moods

Dramatic, Slow, Suspenseful

From the director of Moneyball, Foxcatcher is a true-story-based thriller centered around Olympic wrestlers and brothers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and multimillionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell). When the latter invites both brothers to move to his estate and train there, with seemingly patriotic motives, only Mark accepts. As training for the 1988 Olympic Games starts, and Du Pont’s motives become clearer, tragedy hits. This film is a slow-burning celebration of the exceptional talent it features, both Ruffalo and Carell received Oscar nominations for their roles.

12. Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story (2020)

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Adam Carolla, Nate Adams

Actors

Adam Carolla, Al Unser Jr., Bernie Ecclestone, Bobby Unser

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Inspiring, Instructive

“They called me uppity. Uppity n*****. And I loved it”. That’s how this excellent documentary, about the first professional black racing driver Willy T. Ribbs, starts. It summarizes the strong personality of a champion who excelled in tracks that were filled with confederate flags.

The documentary explains the details of the difficulties that Ribbs went through in the 70s and 80s, but also the people who supported him and recognized his talent. It’s by no way a sad movie, on the contrary, even when Ribbs is talking about people spitting wherever he walks or about the death threats escalating, his unharmed determination is at the center of the story.

This is an inspiring documentary about a character who never got his worth in the history books. I was full of shivers by the first half-hour mark.

13. Maidentrip (2013)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Jillian Schlesinger

Actors

Laura Dekker

Moods

Inspiring, Uplifting, Warm

In 2010, Dutch 15-year old Laura Dekker set out on a mission to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Maidentrip is the beautiful and inspiring documentary film that tells her story as she took on this behemoth task.

The film lets you experience this adventure of a lifetime along with Laura, share at first in her loneliness at sea, and later in her desire to be left alone when surrounded by people. Documenting her thoughts and feelings during this voyage, Laura reveals herself to be wise beyond her years. Yet despite the magnitude of the task Laura has taken in, her teenager self still glows clearly with its distinct child-like quality – simply wanting to do what makes her happy – sailing and seeing the world. The sheer honesty in Laura’s narrative is what makes this story so extraordinary. You will accompany the young skipper against all odds as she follows her dream and in the process, lose and once again find her identity and sense of belonging. Maidentrip will leave you with an itch – an itch to travel, but more importantly, an itch to follow your dreams.

14. Rust and Bone (2012)

best

8.1

Country

Belgium, France, Singapore

Director

Jacques Audiard

Actors

Armand Verdure, Bouli Lanners, Celine Sallette, Corinne Masiero

Moods

A-list actors, Challenging, Depressing

This is the type of movie I completely fell in love with but cannot articulate exactly why. Maybe it’s the mixture of beauty and pain portrayed, maybe it’s the intricate sounds and beautiful imagery, maybe it’s the story, maybe it’s all of the above. A woman is hit with sudden disability after an accident and calls on an unlikely companion, a night club bouncer by the name of Ali. Together they explore her new predicament and its implications, while forming a special bond. This is a movie that will call upon your internal strength, while portraying how us humans can become strong together. Most of all it provides an immensely powerful, ultimately simple story that is both touching and will stay with you for a very long time. Directed by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet).

15. Nyad (2023)

7.7

Country

Switzerland, United States of America

Director

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Female director

Actors

Anna Harriette Pittman, Anne Marie Kempf, Annette Bening, Belle Darling

Moods

A-list actors, Character-driven, Dramatic

After winning Oscars for their documentary work, filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin make their narrative feature debut with Nyad. The move to narrative fiction isn’t a monumental jump for the director duo, whose cinematic documentaries (among them Free Solo and The Rescue) play like nerve-shredding action thrillers and intense human dramas. Nor does Nyad’s subject — another extreme feat of human daring and endurance — make this feel a million miles away from their most famous works.

The most obvious departures from the directors’ documentary strengths — Nyad’s flashbacks and hallucination scenes, for example — do sometimes highlight their newness to narrative filmmaking, however. These scenes feel shallow and therefore disconnected from the movie’s otherwise deeper treatment of its subject, just as the performances dip into outsized cliches at times. Mostly, though, Nyad manages to float above the trap of trying too hard to be an inspirational sports drama thanks to its confrontation of Diana’s prickly personality. This flips the film’s perspective onto that of Diana’s team (including her coach and former girlfriend, played by Jodie Foster), who ultimately suffer the consequences of her stubbornness. That refusal to submit to hagiographic impulses gives the film a documentary-like edge of truth, making the rousing moments here feel genuinely earned.

16. The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

7.4

Country

United States of America

Director

Michael Schwartz, Tyler Nilson

Actors

Ann Owens, Aurelian Smith Jr., Bruce Dern, Dakota Johnson

Moods

A-list actors, No-brainer, True-crime

This buddies-on-the-road drama was the highest-grossing independent film of 2019, which tells you everything you need to know about it: it’s familiar, but it’s not overblown.

A fisherman (Shia LaBeouf) has to flee after vandalizing the property of a rival fishing group who bully him. On the way, he meets a man with Down syndrome, who, unexpectedly, is on a journey to become a pro wrestler.

17. Love and Basketball (2000)

7.3

Country

United States, United States of America

Director

Female director, Gina Prince-Bythewood

Actors

Al Foster, Alfre Woodard, Boris Kodjoe, Chick Hearn

Moods

Lighthearted, Lovely, Sunday

The title says it all: this is a story of love and basketball, one where the two intertwine and excitedly inform one another. Two childhood friends with a passion for ball develop deep feelings for one another. They have ambitions to go pro, but as Monica discovers how uneven the playing field really is for female athletes, and as Quincy grapples with his own needs and career, they reconsider their relationship both to each other and to the game they so love. 

Love & Basketball is a beautiful and sensitive movie that breaks stereotypes about Black love, which exists here as soft and nuanced as any other expertly drawn pairings in movies, and about Black women; Monica gets angry, but also vulnerable, hardworking, and loving. The sports component of the movie is just as finely detailed, with the energy of the matches bouncing off the screen walls. Clearly ahead of its time, Love & Basketball gets at the core of the game without losing sight of its talented players. 

 

18. Giannis: The Marvelous Journey (2024)

7.3

Country

United States of America

Director

Female director, Kristen Lappas

Actors

Alex Antetokounmpo, Ernie Johnson, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jason Kidd

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Inspiring

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rags-to-riches life story is the stuff of movies, and indeed it’s been told many times on print and screen. But this is the first time he and his family are telling it themselves, which is a big deal since Antetokounmpo, as it turns out, is inseparable from his family. Their revealing interviews about how they struggled as undocumented immigrants from Nigeria in Greece add a new, moving depth to a well-known journey, which Director Kristen Lappas wisely divides into chapters named after Greek ideals Antetokounmpo represents. Despite Lappas’ background (she is Greek-American), she makes sure to balance Antetokounmpo’s heroic moments with the Greek government’s at-times unfair treatment of the athlete and other immigrants in the country. She also puts a spotlight on the pressures Antetokounmpo is going through as one of the youngest champs in NBA history. After all, at just 29 years old, he’s already a two-time MVP and playoff winner. This doc proves that the story of how he got there is no less remarkable.

19. Rudy (1993)

7.2

Country

Ireland, Japan, United Kingdom

Director

David Anspaugh, Neil Jordan

Actors

Amy Pietz, Charles S. Dutton, Chelcie Ross, Christopher Erwin

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Lighthearted

Based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Rettinger, this biographical movie follows young Rudy as he pursues his childhood dream of playing football for Notre Dame, despite significant obstacles and copious discouragement from those around him. The movie works not by hitching the action to any major sequences of ball play, but rather to the most remarkable feature of the story: the sheer determination of the title protagonist. The film’s success also largely comes down to a fantastically consistent and earnest performance by Sean Astin, who outshines a very talented supporting cast to the legendary, crowd-stirring end.

20. Hustle (2022)

7.2

Country

United States, United States of America

Director

Jeremiah Zagar

Actors

Adam Sandler, Ainhoa Pillet, Allen Iverson, Andrea Sooch

Moods

A-list actors, Character-driven, Dramatic

Adam Sandler rarely plays a role straight, but when he does, you know it’s good. In Hustle, Sandler is Stanley Sugarman, a basketball scout stuck in the long game, waiting for his chance to finally coach an NBA team. On a recruitment trip to Spain, Stan discovers a talented but unknown player named Bo Cruz. They fly to the US, where Stan and Bo fight against all odds and hustle for a spot in the NBA draft. 

Inspiring without being too cheesy and informative without being bogged down by too many details, Hustle is a slam dunk of a film; a gritty crowd-pleaser that’s sure to draw anyone in.

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