When discussing movies that channel an array of emotions, you find yourself with a few select genres. Add in an underdog, and you have yourself only one genre: sports. There are many different sports movies and approaches that directors and producers take to them, but some are just better than others. I asked for your opinions, and this is my un-definitive list of the top 5 sports movies of all time
1) “Remember the Titans” (2000)
“Remember the Titans” has to be one of the most inspirational movies ever, especially when you talk about sports movies. “Remember the Titans” is about a football team at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., in 1971. Within the team are racial disparities that have to be overcome in order for the team to succeed. Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) takes his new team to a camp at Gettysburg College. The team comes together and overcomes their differences to eventually win the state championship. What makes this movie number one is that it is based on a true story, which makes it even more special. Definitely worth a watch.
2) “Rocky” (1976-2018)
I could not decide whether to put “Rocky” or “Creed,” but then I realized that without a “Rocky,” there’s no “Creed.” The “Rocky” series is regarded as having some of the most influential boxing movies ever. The series focuses on the up-and-coming career of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Rocky was always the underdog – fighting opponents like Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and the Russian Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). The series shows that you need a lot of hard work, dedication and grit to be the best of the best. You could also throw “Creed” into the series as spin-offs, which adds more success to the already great series.
3) “He Got Game” (1998)
“He Got Game” has to be the best basketball movie ever made. This movie tells a story of Jesus Shuttleworth (Ray Allen), who is the No. 1 high school prospect in the country, and his strict father Jake (Denzel Washington). Jesus has to decide where to play college ball without any proper guidance. “He Got Game” also looks at the gray areas of recruiting and the tense relationship between a black father and his son. Jesus is also trying to make a decision without being swayed one way or another. This movie gives a look into the pressure of a top recruit in high school sports.
4) “42” (2013)
Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) is signed by Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) and the Dodgers in 1946. Robinson and Coach Rickey catch hell for the signing, due to the well-known color barrier at the time in the MLB. They both receive hate and threats from everyone, including teammates and the press. Robinson, with the help of Coach Rickey, remains composed and lets his game and talent do the talking. Jackie Robinson’s number, 42, was retired across the entire MLB in 1997. This movie shows the struggle Robinson had to overcome to be in Major League Baseball. The true definition of an underdog is when you’re the only one of your kind.
5) “Blind Side” (2009)
Michael (Quinton Aaron) grows up with a drug addict mother and gets taken away from her at the age of seven. Michael remains in the system and always runs away to his father’s friend’s house. A father’s friend uses his connections to get Michael into Wingate Christian School, where he eventually meets his new family, the Tuohys. With the help of the Tuohys, Michael gets better academically and learns of his natural talent. Michael goes on to Ole Miss, and from there goes on to be drafted by the Ravens in the first round. This movie tells a story beyond the sport, just like “He Got Game,” but more raw. This movie shows the reality of a lot of people from the hood: talented, but without the right connections, they go nowhere but into a broken system.
When selecting sports movies it’s hard to narrow it down to five. It would still be challenging to narrow it down to ten. But each of these stories inspire people that are not as fortunate as others and helps them realize that there’s a chance to succeed as a team or an individual athlete even if the odds are against you. Sometimes being the underdog is the biggest motivator for greatness.