There's something satisfying about watching a good sports movie, especially before a pro sports championship game. Be it an inspirational drama, a documentary or a guffaw-inducing spoof, that inner fan fire burns even brighter when stoked with a story of redemption and triumph. Here are 10 must-watch sports flicks sure to get you fired up and ready to come out swinging just in time for the big game.
Field of Dreams
If you build it, they will come...at least that's how it works for an Iowa farmer with enough land in the middle of his cornfield for a regulation-sized baseball diamond. And sure enough, once the crop is cut, the clay is spread and the bases are set, all manner of players show up for a turn at bat—including a handful of disgraced pros from the 1919 Chicago Black Sox team and a small-town family doctor whose major league chances came and went decades before. Part fairy tale, part baseball, and part family togetherness, this feel-good 1989 feature film stars Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta and James Earl Jones. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
Farm boy Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford, makes his mark on the world of baseball in a film that spans decades of his successes and suffering. Beginning with his tryout for the Chicago Cubs at the age of 19, through a near-death gunshot experience and finally a late-in-life comeback to the professional arena, the 1984 film is an adaptation of a 1952 baseball novel of the same name. Nominated for four Academy Awards, it's a heartwarming tale of an unknown from Nowheresville who becomes a legend. Supporting cast includes Glenn Close, Wilford Brimley and Kim Basinger. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
When a new owner inherits the Cleveland Indians baseball team from her deceased husband, she decides to move the team to Miami by way of an escape clause in the team's lease with the city of Cleveland. A doomed-from-the-start ragtag bunch is thrown together, and comedy high-jinks and crowd-pleasing fun ensue. There's a veteran catcher with a bad knee, a rookie incarcerated pitcher, and a power-hitting voodoo worshiper. There's a high-priced third-base prima donna, and a gruff manager moonlighting in the off-season as a tire salesman. With an all-star cast that includes Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes and Corbin Bernsen, this one's sure to keep you in stitches. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
Chronicling the Manassas Tigers' 2009 football season, this documentary follows the journey of an underfunded and underprivileged team from Memphis, Tennessee, as it works towards the first playoff win in school history. The story's told primarily from the perspective of the team's coach as he takes a program that can barely afford uniforms to one that wins the district title. The directors incorporated over 500 hours of footage in this inspirational piece that packs a powerfully emotional wallop. Just be sure to grab the tissues before settling in for a screening. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
With a dream to play football for Notre Dame, but standing at barely over five feet and lacking the grades and money necessary to get into the college, Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger—played by Sean Astin—has always been told he won't make it. That, of course, means he moves mountains to prove them wrong, devising ways to raise the money and his grades so he can fulfill his dreams. This classic underdog story reaches far beyond the realm of sports and will appeal to anyone who's ever dreamed of overcoming physical limitations...and it'll have you chanting "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy" long into the night. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
When salary disputes prompt a professional football players' strike, the team owners of the fictional Washington Sentinels decide to farm out the job to a ragtag bunch of substitute players. Enter a kicker who chain smokes on field, a quarterback who's getting a second chance at stardom after choking during the 1996 Sugar Bowl at Ohio State, and a linebacker with an anger management issue anytime he sees the color red. This slap-happy comedy of has-beens and never-weres, based on the 1987 NFL players' strike, stars Gene Hackman, Keanu Reeves and Jon Favreau. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
After losing his previous coaching position for hitting one of his players, a has-been college basketball coach and a local drunk inspire a team of young athletes all the way to the state championship. This heartwarming flick set in 1950s Indiana—where residents live and breathe basketball—is the story of a group of misfits who buck the system, prove they're winners and surpass everyone's expectations. Ranked 13 by the American Film Institute on its “100 Years...100 Cheers” list of most inspirational films, the movie stars Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
More Than a Game
This 2008 documentary follows five inner-city kids—one of whom is larger-than-life NBA star LeBron James—as they forge a friendship based on a love of basketball. Together, the "Akron Fab Five" endures the trials of playing in junior high and later on their high school basketball team, as they pursue—and James eventually achieves—big-time professional hoop dreams. This inspirational and true story follows the five players by way of interviews as well as rare home video footage, from their humble beginnings to national recognition. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
Produced by NBA Productions and featuring cameo appearances by a variety of NBA stars, this heartwarming family feature is the story of Calvin, a young orphan boy and pro basketball wannabe, and a pair of sneakers bearing the faded initials "MJ"—which he's sure belonged to Michael Jordan. When Calvin and the shoes get caught in a storm, he gets struck by lightning, suddenly acquires NBA-level basketball powers and gets invited to play for the pro team. Starring Lil' Bow Wow and Jonathan Lipnicki, this film is a great family feature that's sure to please kids of all ages. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
A League of Their Own
When the recruiting of soldiers during World War II results in a lack of players for the men's teams, two sisters try out, make and then fight to keep the first all-girl professional baseball league up and running. The star-studded cast of personalities includes Tom Hanks as a sarcastic ex-Cub coach with a dislike for crying in baseball, Geena Davis and Lori Petty as the two tomboy sisters, and even a few big names like Jon Lovitz, Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell. The film was officially preserved as part of the United States National Film Registry for its 20th anniversary in 2012. Watch now on Amazon Instant Video
Photo Credits: Chloe Millar/Demand Media
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