The 25 Greatest Football Movies of All Time
Who doesn’t love football movies? They’re packed with real action and genuine inspiration. They’re filled with raw emotions and extended montages. Football movies can change your life. They can teach you about love, teach you about success and they can even teach you a thing or two about yourself. Here are the top 25 football movies of all time, in order of awesomeness:
25. The Blind Side
To be honest, this movie sucked. Yea, I said it. The film portrayed Michael Oher as a jumbo moron whose super-sweet, inner-city innocence was matched only by his inability to comprehend the purpose of blocking. The whole thing just felt so exploitative on too many levels. But hey, Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award for that accent, and that should count for something.
24. Heaven Can Wait
It’s hard for this generation to remember what a badass Warren Beatty used to be (it’s also hard to remember that the Rams once hailed from Los Angeles). This movie has to be one of Kurt Warner’s favorites – it’s got the Rams, the romance, an injured QB, a dude who uses his millions to do the right things and lots of angels and heaven and other Christian stuff.
Yea, Radio made the list. But why not, right? Ed Harris is a coach who really cares about football and making a difference. Cuba Gooding Jr. is a special person who loves listening to his radio and overcoming adversity. Spoiler alert: Ed Harris retires from coaching in the end, thus showing he cares more about making a difference than he does about football.
Lucas is Corey Haim’s hit flick about geekiness, romance and how it all ties together with football. Haim is the weakling who can’t defend himself. Charlie Sheen is the standup captain of the football team who protects Haim. Everything changes when new girl Kerri Green arrives at school and the nerd and the jock battle for her affections.
21. Jerry Maguire
This movie seems kinda dated now. Although it’s starting to be okay to like Tom Cruise movies again, it’s hard to think back to a time when Renee Zellweger was attractive and Drew Beldose was the biggest thing in the NFL. Gushy love story and annoying spiky-haired kid aside, this film is still a worthy addition to the list.
20. The Waterboy
May not have much rewatchability, but this movie served its purpose. It was the gridiron Happy Gilmore, and it accomplished what it set out to do. Before The Blind Side melted people’s hearts, this film was the highest grossing sports movie of all time. Seriously.
19. Johnny Be Good
This 80s classic stars AMH (Anthony Michael Hall), RDJ (Robert Downey Jr), a very young Uma Thurman and that hall monitor guy from the Breakfast Club. AMH is Johnny Walker, the most highly coveted high school football player in the country. When his high school playing days are over, Walker has to decide whether we wants to pursue his dream or give up everything to go to some crappy local college to be with his chick.
18. Brian’s Song
This is the kinda film you watch when you need a good cry, but you just can’t stand to see Demi Moore with that ridiculous haircut in Ghost. Billy Dee plays Gale Sayers and James Caan is Brian Piccolo. The two guys get along swimmingly until Piccolo finds out he’s dying, and it’s just one big, true-story downer from there.
17. Friday Night Lights
It’s not quite as good as Varsity Blues and not as memorable as Remember the Titans, but Friday Night Lights (or as it’s known in Germany, Touchdown am Freitag) is a serviceable teenage football flick that makes use of Billy Bob Thornton and a bunch of teenage actors I can’t remember to showcase the local obsession/expectations of a Texas High School football team in the late 80s.
16. Gridiron Gang
The Rock takes a bunch of prison punks and uses football to teach them about self-respect and responsibility. True story premise makes the stale formula a bit more inspiring.
15. The Longest Yard
Yea, I know they made two of ‘em. Maybe they shouldn’t be lumped together, but Burt Reynolds appears heavily in both, so to me they’re like the same movie. The first one doesn’t have Chris Rock or Terry Crews stuffin’ burgers down his pants, so I think the edge goes to the remake. And good gad damn, Courtney Cox looks way too hot in this movie.
14. All the Right Moves
We’ve all faced the difficult choice of pursuing our football dreams or working in the local steel mill. Well, Tom Cruise ain’t about to work in no steel mill. So instead, he uses all the right moves to show Coach Craig T. Nelson what’s what.
13. We Are Marshall
Super-inspirational movie that would have been way better without McConaughey (who – spoiler alert – plays Coach Matthew McConaughey in the film). Still a crazy true story that scores pretty high on the inspirmotional meter.
Yea, it’s a Disney movie, but it’s got a Wahlberg brother in it so you know it’s worth watching. Greg Kinear as a young Dick Vermeil was a nice touch, too.
11. The Express
Here’s another Disney movie that’s still worth your time. It’s the story of Ernie Davis, the first African American player to win the Heisman trophy. Dennis Quaid plays Syracuse coach Ben Schwartzwalder, and Saul Rubinek is good as Art Modell. Kind of ridiculous to think that the Cleveland Browns could’ve had Ernie Davis and Jim Brown in the same backfield…
10. School Ties
Antisemitism is best served… on a football field! Brendan Frasier is just one of the guys – going to an elite prep school, playin’ ball and singin’ with boys in his PJs. But what Cole Hauser, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck don’t know is that Brendan Frasier is a Jew. They find out. Maturity ensues.
9. The Last Boy Scout
Dude, the L.A. Stallions? Willis and Wayans (the good one) on the same screen? Halle Berry playing a stripper? Billy Blanks shooting people on the field? This movie has it all – solid banter and one-liners from Willis and Wayans, dramatic, tell-all villains and lots of ultra-violence. It’s like a lost Die Hard movie with extra football references. Well worth watching again if it’s been awhile. Best intro scene ever:
8. The Replacements
Don’t let anyone tell you this movie isn’t awesome. Johnny Utah plays Shane Falco, a washed up QB who lives on a boat, but can still fling it as a replacement player. Gene Hackman plays the coach with the straw hat who knows about heart. Massively underrated Brooke Langton is the hot cheerleader/bartendress who brings it all together. Hands down the best football movie with a choreographed Gloria Gaynor prison dance routine.
7. Knute Rockne All American
Before Rudy, this was the last film to be shot at Notre Dame. If you don’t enjoy this film, you don’t like America. Ronald Reagan, the human embodiment of freedom, really shows off his range in this movie. If for no other reason, watch this one for the Gipper!
6. Any Given Sunday
This film was made to showcase the real realness of the NFL, and it was made by Oliver Stone so it’s gotta be true. Pretty sure this was Al Pacino’s last good movie. Think about it. He did not-so-bad with that recent HBO Jack Kevorkian thing, but Al’s made some very trash films over the last decade or so. I think it’s the yelling. The older he got, the more he sounded like a Pacino impersonation. I think he gives a convincing Pacino in this speech:
5. Necessary Roughness
Remember when Sinbad and Rob Schneider were hilarious, Scott Bakula could carry a movie and Kathy Ireleand was a sex-symbol? Yea, it’s all kinda fuzzy for me too, but one thing’s for sure, back in 1991, we all learned exactly how to run the Fumblerooski!
4. Remember the Titans
Strong side! Weak side! Wasn’t Hayden Panettiere hot in this movie? Okay okay, just seeing if you’re paying attention. This movie is great for repeat viewing. Denzel and Will Patton coach togetherness, teens learn lessons and everyone learns more about themselves. Hey, if playing football, singing Motown and jogging to civil war sites isn’t enough to create racial harmony in this country, I don’t know what is.
3. Varsity Blues
I don’t want your liiife! Any movie that can take Dawson and turn him into Johnny “Mox” Moxon is a movie that needs to be recognized for greatness. This is like the Can’t Hardly Wait of football films.
This movie has it all: slow hand claps; a skinny Vince Vaughn; Roc; Jon Favreau staying on set to learn about making movies; post-Goonie/pre-hobbit Sean Astin; steel workers and of course, that ultra-emotional finish. How can you not watch this film like once every five years on principle? It’s enough to make anyone want to become a highly paid motivational speaker.
1. The Program
Yep, the best football movie of all time. You’ve got the Heisman hopeful who likes to live on the edge; the defensive superstar who busts his knee before getting’ paid; the juiced superfreak who doesn’t know when to chill out; Kristy friggin’ Swanson in her prime and a young Mike Tomlin Omar Epps who learns how to hold on to the ball. All this and James Caan is the coach. Just a brilliant film that holds up well even 17 years after it was made.
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