Ten must-watch sports films and where to watch them

Kaya Kaynak April 9, 2020
Ten must-watch sports films and where to watch them

The postponement of the vast majority of sport around the globe has left fans searching desperately for something to fill the void.

Many people have been watching films to try to plug the gap. Surely the ‘sports movie’ is the best of both worlds – but which ones should you watch?

Although we suddenly have all the time in the world, time is still precious and deciding which sporting movies to take a punt on can be stressful.

That’s why we’ve decided to deal with the hassle for you by compiling our top ten must-see sports films during the lock-down.

The Fighter (15)

The gritty nature of stories that surround boxing means the sport lends itself perfectly to the big screen.

In the wide-ranging canon of spectacular boxing movies, David O Russell’s The Fighter is one of the best.

The film focuses on struggling boxer Micky Ward and his troubled relationship with an overbearing and dysfunctional family.

Oscar-winning performances from Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are merely two things to watch out for in this classic film.

Available on: Netflix, YouTube, Google Play

Cool Runnings (PG)

If you need a pick-me-up film – and Lord knows most of us do right now – Cool Runnings is perfect.

Sport fans love an underdog story and they don’t come much underdog-er than the charming ‘true’ tale of the Jamaican bobsleigh team’s journey to the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988.

This film has laughs and memorable quotes galore, while the underlying message of staying true to yourself will always be relevant. Then there’s the much-missed comedy giant John Candy.

If this tale of the Calgary cold and Jamaican sun doesn’t warm your heart, the lock-down is the least of your worries.

Available on: Disney+, YouTube, Google Play

Creed (12A)

Despite not technically a Rocky film, the story of Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis, and his attempts to follow in his father’s footsteps is arguably the best of the lot.

Director Ryan Cooler, who went on to make Black Panther, strikes the perfect balance between honouring the legacy of the original series and dodging the chest-thumping, flag-waving cliché the other Rocky movies are often guilty of.

The film also arguably features Sylvester Stallone’s greatest performance in the role that made him a household name.

His Oscar-nominated turn as a more vulnerable Balboa is probably the most sympathy-evoking performance you’re likely to get from the man behind all three Expendables movies.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

Blades of Glory (12)

From the sublime to the ridiculous – this parody of the hilariously over-exuberant world of figure skating is bound to have you in stitches.

Will Ferrell and Jon Heder star as chalk and cheese skating outcasts who put aside their differences to form the world’s first men’s pairs team.

With more quotable lines and outrageous laughs than you can shake a skate at, this pips Talladega Nights as Ferrell’s greatest sports comedy.

However, don’t try to recreate the Flying Lotus in your garden, our hospitals are busy enough as it is.

Available on: Netflix, YouTube, Google Play

Diego Maradona (12A)

Asif Kapadia’s documentary Senna could just as easily have made this list but the amazing story of Diego Maradona is something else.

The film is part-thriller, part-mob movie, part-car chase, part-drama and part-tragedy as we learn about the Argentine’s turbulent seven years in Naples.

The film paints a fascinating picture of one of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game and uses footage rather than the talking heads so common in documentaries.

You’re left to decide for yourself whether you should be sympathetic towards a man who is so much more than just a footballer.

Available on: All 4, YouTube, Google Play

Escape To Victory (PG)

Yes, Sylvester Stallone is an American who doesn’t understand the game but is playing in goal.

Yes, Michael Caine is coaching Pele how to play football.

Yes, for some reason they recruited players from Ipswich Town to star alongside Hollywood royalty.

But if you suspend belief and go with it, we promise you this film will be one of the most enjoyable two hours you’ll spend during the quarantine.

Available on: Sky, Amazon Prime

Goal: The Dream Begins (PG)

How many of us have played Sunday League football with our mates dreaming of being scouted by a former professional who just happens to be watching his grandson on the next pitch?

For Santiago Munez that dream comes reality as he leaves behind his tough life in California to hit the bright Premier League lights of… Newcastle.

There are footballing cameos aplenty as Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Alan Shearer all have speaking parts.

Kuno Becker’s pronunciation of the word ‘Ful-ham’ is bound to lift your spirits. The two sequels to this movie, however, definitely won’t. Best to stick with the original.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

Space Jam (U)

This year Kevin Garnett received deserved plaudits for playing a fictionalised version of himself in the Oscar-nominated Uncut Gems.

When Michael Jordan did the same thing in the 1996 movie Space Jam, it’s fair to say he didn’t.

Jordan is abducted by Bugs Bunny so he can team up with the rest of the Looney Tunes to defeat the Nerdlucks – a criminal alien group led by Mister Swackhammer.

It’s as stupid as it sounds but, if you’re willing to accept that, Space Jam has the perfect amount of 90s nostalgia for all the family.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

Moneyball (12A)

This 2011 film recounts the fascinating story behind Oakland Athletics’ efforts to create a competitive baseball team despite a significant financial disadvantage. It was nominated for six Oscars and somehow didn’t win any.

The movie perfectly encapsulates the struggle between the old-school ‘eyeballing’ approach to scouting players and the more data-driven analysis that’s common today.

Far from being relevant to baseball alone, the scientific approach Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane tries to introduce is still being debated in almost every sport in the modern era.

Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Chris Pratt also star in what is a fascinating watch.

Available on: Netflix, Google Play, YouTube

The Damned United (15)

If you’re looking to convince non-sports fans you’re in lock-down with to watch a sports movie, The Damned United is the one to go for.

The film recounts Brian Clough’s doomed 44-day spell in charge of Leeds United following his time at rivals Derby County.

This film is about much more than football, though. Instead, it focuses on the relationship between Clough (played by Michael Sheen) and his assistant Peter Taylor (played by Timothy Spall), and Clough’s obsessive rivalry with former Leeds manager Don Revie.

Amazingly, it’s directed by the same person who went on to make Cats. We definitely recommend you watch this instead.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

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Kaya is a sports journalist who is desperately missing football. He has worked with talkSPORT, 90min.com, GiveMeSport and CBC. He has a first class master's degree in international journalism from City University of London. He is also a fluent Turkish speaker and is proficient in French. Follow him on twitter @kayakaynak97 for all his latest articles.