Whether they are about triumph over adversity or rags to riches tales, football movies speak to all of us. They pitch a bunch of (lovable) rogues against almost insurmountable odds and tug on our heartstrings. This is a list of the 30 greatest football movies you can dip into anytime, and they still affect you.
Remember the Titans
Denzel Washington chews up the scenery with his performance in this box office hit. It’s based on the true story of coach Herman Boone (Denzel) and his attempts to coach a racially diverse team in a 1971 Virginia high school.
Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights was a popular movie turned into a hugely popular TV show. Directed by Peter Berg, and starring Billy Bob Thornton, FNL is one of the finest sports dramas ever made, and that’s no mean feat.
Cameron Crowe’s classic movie about sports agent Tom Cruise has to rank among the pantheon of great football movies. Who could forget Cuba Gooding Jr. in his Oscar-winning role, or the phrase ‘show me the money’?!
The Blind Side
Sandra Bullock picked up an Oscar for her role as a mother adopting a homeless teen who becomes a pro ball player. It’s a feel-good movie, based on the life of Baltimore Ravens player Michael Oher.
This is an awesome little gem of a movie about The Rock coaching kids at a juvenile detention center. The movie is hard-hitting and has some pretty important moral themes. It shows the power of football to unite and heal.
Little Giants is a childhood classic. It features Rick Moranis as coach of a peewee football team of misfits. It’s about triumphing against the odds and how teamwork and determination are so important.
The Last Boy Scout
Okay, technically it’s more of an action movie, but The Last Boy Scout kicks butt! It sees Bruce Willis at his best reluctantly buddying up with quarterback Damon Wayans. With a screenplay by Shane Black, this is a must-see!
Tearjerkers don’t come much bigger than this. James Caan and Billy Dee Williams are players who develop a strong friendship during the civil rights movement. Then one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The movie follows a pro football strike that leads the Washington Sentinels to hire replacement players. This is a light-hearted Gene Hackman vehicle, with Keanu Reeves playing quarterback Shane Falco.
All the Right Moves
The film where Tom Cruise hit the big time. This coming-of-age drama sees him play arrogant quarterback Stefan Djordjevic. It’s as much about chasing your dreams as about football and made Cruise a household name.
The Waterboy is a dumb but fun comedy about a water boy who happens to be a great player. The movie is downright silly, but it’s a fun way to kill 90 minutes.
Any Given Sunday
Perhaps the greatest football movie ever. Al Pacino is the grizzled coach who must take his team to the playoffs and teach emerging talent Willie Beamen that there’s no ‘I’ in team.
This coming-of-age flick sees James Van Der Beek and Paul Walker in early roles. The movie chronicles the pressures of high school football and adolescence that the players face.
Two For the Money
You may not have heard of Two For the Money, which seems odd considering it star Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey. It’s more about the gambling side of the game, and as such gives an interesting perspective.
This is a feel-good movie based on a true story. Mark Wahlberg plays a 30-year-old bartender who goes on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s fun, exciting, and full of moments that will make you want to punch the air.
Kevin Costner’s Draft Day is unusual because it is about the inner machinations of ‘draft day’ as opposed to the game itself. This makes for a fascinating study into how players are drafted, and the tactics teams employ.
Check out a young Corey Haim in the title role of this 1986 comedy. He plays a bullied kid who joins his school football team to impress a girl. Needless to say, it doesn’t go well, but the film explores important social issues.
The Longest Yard
This Burt Reynolds classic was remade in 2005. Both see an ex-quarterback sent to prison and having to organize a team of inmates vs. prison guards. It’s a funny and infinitely watchable sports comedy.
Goldie Hawn becomes coach of a football team at an inner-city high school. Wildcats is a clever movie, dealing with issues of racial and gender prejudice. It has a great moral message at its heart.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
This Jim Carrey movie is more about a missing dolphin than football, but it’s a great watch. It’s based around the Miami Dolphins, has laugh-out-loud moments, and features a cameo from Dan Marino!
Not all football movies are comedies, and 2015’s Concussion is a good example. This addresses one of the big problems in the game. Will Smith stars as the doctor who discovers the dangers of concussion.
Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook is only nominally about football, but it’s still a great movie. It shows the effect the game can have on its fans. It showed Bradley Cooper could act and won Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar.
North Dallas Forty
North Dallas Forty
Football’s answer to Bill Durham is the 1979 satire North Dallas Forty. The film is controversial in its depictions of player power and the seedy side of the game.
The Program is a favorite among actual players. It’s a film about a troubled college team and a coach who will do anything to win. This is a movie that will get you pumped and inspire you!
The Game Plan
An amusing movie with an important and relevant message. The game plan follows The Rock as a quarterback who discovers he has an 8-year-old daughter he never knew about.
A moving and inspirational flick, Rudy is one of the greatest football films. It’s all about a diminutive young man who overcomes adversity to accomplish his dreams of playing football.
Paper Lion is one of those intriguing ‘what if’ stories. Alan Alda stars as George Plimpton, a sports journalist who goes ‘undercover’ with the Detroit Lions. It’s silly, but the film has a big appeal.
We Are Marshall
We Are Marshall is about the real-life tragedy of Marshall University and the plane crash that killed their team. Matthew McConaughey is the coach who has to unite a broken team and town.
Facing the Giants
Facing the Giants may be clichéd, but that doesn’t it stop it being great. An underdog team must unite to face fear, failure, and insecurity. This Christian sports drama is certainly a powerful and uplifting movie.
This inspirational biopic of Ernie Davis is sure to tug at the heartstrings. He was the first African-American player to win the Heisman Trophy, ushering in a new era for the game.