The dramatic nature of sport lends itself perfectly to the big screen, providing filmmakers with the perfect platform to work their magic.
Some of the best sports movies ever made intertwine a backstory that has the power to transcend the subject they cover, thus making them appeal to a much wider audience.
Deciding which films are the best of all-time is a difficult task, but we have come up with ten that we believe stand head and shoulders above the rest.
1. Slap Shot
Slap Shot received plenty of criticism when it was first released more than 40 years ago, but it has since been recognized as being well ahead of its time.
Paul Newman stars as Reggie Dunlop, the player/coach of the Charlestown Chiefs who are in danger of going out of business.
Desperate to save the team from folding, Dunlop hatches a plan to raise the profile of the team with a view to securing new ownership.
He gets the locals onside by signing the Hanson Brothers – a trio of ‘hockey goons’ who spark an upturn in the team’s fortunes in brutal fashion.
2. Raging Bull
Martin Scorsese has never hidden his dislike for sports, but he managed to put that aside to direct this magnificent biopic about Jake LaMotta.
The film perfectly encapsulates the brutality of boxing and the toxic masculinity that often impacts its protagonists outside of the ring.
Robert De Niro’s performance won him the only Best Actor Oscar of his career to date, highlighting just what a masterpiece Scorsese created.
Raging Bull didn’t fare too well at the box office, but it has since become acclaimed as one of the greatest sports movies ever made.
Gene Hackman is at his brilliant best as coach Norman Dale in Hoosiers – a film that delivers redemption for many of its main characters.
Based on the true story of a small-town Indiana team that made the state basketball finals in 1954, the film is the perfect vehicle for Hackman to showcase his formidable acting skills.
Dale is a down-on-his-luck basketball coach who ignores outside interference from the local community to lead the Hickory Huskers to glory.
Hoosiers co-stars Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper, whose role as the basketball-loving town drunk earned him a well-deserved Oscar nomination.
4. Remember the Titans
Based on actual events that took place in 1971, Remember the Titans, is based on the true story of African-American coach Herman Boone.
Starring Denzel Washington, the film focuses on Boone’s attempts to integrate the T. C. Williams High School football team in Alexandria, Virginia.
It details the initial clashes between black and white players and shows how Boone’s coaching methods help the group achieve racial harmony.
The Titans face numerous racially motivated hurdles throughout the season as they strive to win the state championship against all the odds.
5. The Longest Yard
Much like Slap Shot was the definitive movie for ice hockey during the 1970s, The Longest Yard was the standout movie about American Football.
The film follows the fortunes of disgraced former NFL player Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds), who is tasked with recruiting a group of prisoners to play a game against their guards.
The convicts distrust Crewe because he was dismissed from the NFL for cheating, but he eventually manages to get them onside.
Crewe ends up facing a huge moral dilemma, leaving his ‘Mean Machine’ teammates to doubt once again where his loyalties lie.
Invictus details the true story of how rugby united a divided nation as South Africa stormed to an unlikely success at the 1995 World Cup.
Starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, the film focuses on his efforts to remove the stain of apartheid from the country.
Mandela enlists the help of team captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) and sets about using rugby as the vehicle to smash racial barriers.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, Invictus earned Academy Award nominations for both Freeman (Best Actor) and Damon (Best Supporting Actor).
7. Field of Dreams
There have been numerous successful films made about baseball including Bull Durham and A League of Their Own.
However, the undisputed best of the bunch is Field of Dreams, a 1989 sports fantasy movie that is an adaption of W. P. Kinsella’s 1982 novel Shoeless Joe.
The film stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, and Ray Liotta, while Burt Lancaster also appears in his final movie role.
Field of Dream takes viewers on an emotional roller-coaster journey that tugs on your heartstrings from start to finish and should have you in tears at the end.
8. Coach Carter
Samuel L Jackson is entirely believable as Ken Carter – a basketball coach tasked with changing the culture at his old high school in Richmond, California.
Coach Carter is dismayed by the team’s bad attitude both academically and on the court and sets about teaching the players some valuable life lessons.
His methods soon start working, but when the team starts to lapse into their old ways Carter is forced to take severe action.
The resulting battle between Carter, the team, and the local community is gripping, helping to lift the film way above standard sports movie fare.
9. The Damned United
Soccer movies don’t always do well on the big screen, but it is certainly not the case where The Damned United is concerned.
Michael Sheen is magnificent as Brian Clough – a manager widely viewed as the greatest never to manage the English national team.
He enjoyed massive success with Derby County and Nottingham Forest but infamously failed to work his magic during a disastrous 44-day spell in charge of Leeds United.
The film details how the club’s players did their best to undermine Clough at every turn with behavior that should have got them fired.
The United States took on the unusual mantle of underdogs as they battled to compete with the might of the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Miracle tells the true story of coach Herb Brooks, who assembled a team of college kids to represent their country at ice hockey in Lake Placid.
The film is set against the backdrop of the Cold War between the two countries, with the Soviets pulling out all the stops to pummel their big enemy into submission.
Kurt Russell delivers the performance of a lifetime as Brooks in a film that perfectly showcases what sport is all about.