Football is one of the top three sports in the United States. It also has been the subject of much cinema over the years. Whether it’s about the underdog, a team, or just family fun, the game is fun and shows how gritty and exciting it can be.
There have been many movies to pick for a wide range of audiences. This was a fun list to pick. There is a mixture of good, bad, and ugly that involves the sport. The list is made of actual events and just fictional masterpieces that convey the message of teamwork and beating the odds. Viewer discretion is advised.
Any Given Sunday
Ready to see a younger Jamie Foxx? Look no further. Meanwhile, Al Pacino even shines when he delivers his epic locker room speech.
The movie follows a seasoned coach trying to rally his team around a young quarterback after a seasoned veteran gets hurt. The movie features not only a seasoned and rising cast of stars but also some familiar faces of the NFL past and present at the time like Jim Brown and Lawrence Taylor.
Remember the Titans
Denzel Washington gives one of his underrated performances to kick off the new millennium. He portrays Herman Boone as the coach of T.C Williams High School and its winning record during the 1971 season. Not only did they have to win games they had to overcome racial tensions, particularly from his team.
This was one of the most well-done movies of Washington’s career. The movie also features a young Ryan Gosling in a minor role.
This James Caan movie chronicles the life of Brian Piccolo who would die while playing for the Chicago Bears. The movie is based on a memoir written by Gale Sayers that shares about being his roommate and the bond he formed with Piccolo until his death from cancer.
We Are Marshall
Matthew McConaughey gives the performance of his life as he rebuilds the football program at Marshall University after a tragic plane crash that kills all but three members of the team in 1970. The amazing cinematography of the film even features the school’s famous chant that is the namesake of the film.
Friday Night Lights
Based on the book of the same name written by Buzz Bissinger, the movie captures not just the true story behind, but it also portrays the authenticity of high school life. These same themes would be tackled in the five-season hit drama of the same name.
The movie follows Permian High School’s run for a state championship in 1988 and how the team overcame many adversities that stood in their way.
Knute Rochne, All-American
“Let’s win one for the Gipper”. That is the famous line of the movie that tells the story of Knute Rochne, a legendary head coach of Notre Dame football. It also features the 40th President of the United States. It was from this film that Reagan would be nicknamed “The Gipper” as he hit the campaign trail in 1980 and the rest was history.
The movie was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress in 1997.
A 30-year-old bartender was down on his luck. He gets divorced and loses his job as a schoolteacher. When Dick Vermeil hosts an open tryout ahead of the 1976 season, Vince Papale decides to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles.
This movie shows us what underdogs can do when the odds are beaten through hard work and determination. It is based on a real-life person that played three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Great performances by Mark Wahlberg and Greg Kinnear of this factual story of a real-life Cinderella Man in football.
The list ends with a beloved classic that features Sean Aston in a pre-Lord of the Rings role. Not to mention Jon Favreau’s acting debut (Yes, the man who saved Star Wars through baby Yoda/The Mandalorian) is what makes this remarkable underdog tale a touchdown.
The movie follows a young man’s dream to play for Notre Dame University. My colleague and friend wrote an amazing review of this movie in honor of its 25th anniversary. Hard to believe that it is now 30 years old.
This is just the first list. They’ll be more to come.