There’s nothing like a great sports movie: the characters, the overcoming of adversity, the (nearly always) eventual triumph. They’re a universal pleasure, and no matter what your favorite sport is (or what season we’re in), these 16 best of the best sports films, all available to stream from your living room, are here to inspire you on any given day.
The Natural (1984)
If you've seen this adaptation of Bernard Malamud's literary masterpiece inspired by a mad fan's 1949 shooting of Phillies player Eddie Waitkus, it's even better the second time around. And if you haven't, what are you waiting for? Robert Redford is at the peak of his blonde, matinee-idol prime as Roy Hobbs, a baseball phenom whose career is cut short by a shooter (Barbara Hershey) and a femme fatale (Kim Basinger). But he loves the game too much to give it up, and returns for one last shot at glory. This is a magical movie in every sense of the word. Glenn Close, Robert Duvall and Wilford Brimley seal the deal.
Gene Hackman plays a basketball coach who gets the last chance of his endangered career, trying to take a small-town high school team to the Indiana state championship. The newcomer coach angers the locals, and shocks them by hiring the town drunk (Dennis Hopper) as his assistant. Of course, the drunk knows basketball, and the team — based on the 1954 Indiana team that played one of the most miraculous games in sports history — knows basketball. Except for Rocky, there are practically no sports movies as inspiring as this one.
Bull Durham (1988)
In a movie that's an elegant, eloquent love letter to baseball, Annie (Susan Sarandon) supports her beloved team by having an affair with a player each season. Should it be Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), a down-on-his-luck one-time major league player now forced to play in the low minor leagues? Or should she become the lover and life coach of the talented, untrained rookie pitcher, Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins)? How about both? Funny and original, with a backspin of lovely melancholy, this may be the great American movie about the great American game.
A League of Their Own (1992)
Tom Hanks is hard-drinking Jimmy Dugan, manager of the all-female baseball team the Rockford Peaches (Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell and brilliant Geena Davis) — who prove one can cry and still hit it out of the park. Inspired by the actual All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, started in 1943 when male players were off at war, it's written by the authors of Parenthood and Splash and directed by Penny Marshall (Big), with all the smart comic spirit of their previous smash hits. It's a lighthearted romp with affecting moments, some great catches and one of Hanks’ most famous lines: “There's no crying in baseball."
High on any sports junkie's list of the greatest sports movies ever made, Rudy is the kind of film that wears its heart unabashedly on its sleeve. And if you find that sort of emotional arm-twisting to be manipulative, you may want to look elsewhere. But if it's a lump in your throat the size of a beach ball you're after, then this is the football flick for you. Sean Astin (now 49) stars as Rudy Ruettiger, a runty blue-collar dreamer whose only aspiration in life is to play football for his beloved Notre Dame. He gets his wish … well, sort of … when he's chosen to basically be the team's tackling dummy at practice. Eventually, all of his teammates grow so fond of Rudy that he gets a chance to take the field. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have something in my eye.