Great sporting feats and achievements are some of the most inspirational acts one can look towards, and they have spawned countless individuals who are devoted and dedicated to repeating success. Mix an inspirational sports story with Hollywood, and you have a medium to empower people to strive for their dreams. Here are 10 great sporting films we think will inspire you!
Coach Carter (2005)
When you think of the greatest sports films of all time, ‘Coach Carter’ is one that immediately comes to mind. Based on a true story of the 1999 Richmond High School basketball team, Samuel L. Jackson delivers a powerful performance as coach Ken Carter as he teaches his team the importance of juggling education and sports. The film captures raw emotion as Carter’s actions begin to shape his team in a multitude of ways, leaving a lasting and inspirational effect on viewers.
Remember The Titans (2000)
‘Remember The Titans’, another cult-favourite sports film, covered the 1971 T.C. Williams High School football team who were famous for their racial diversity. Denzel Washington has a memorable performance as coach Herman Boone as he battles to make his team of mixed races a fighting, unified cohort. The film also explores the relationships between teammates and coaches that extended beyond the playing field. To this day, ‘Remember The Titans’ remains one of the most powerful sporting movies because of its commentary and portrayal of racial issues at a time where America was in its most divisive years.
‘Rocky’ is one of the most beloved sports franchises across all of film, spanning eight movies currently over a period of 40 years. Why? It all started as a classic underdog story, which took the hearts of moviegoers worldwide. It was the film that would kickstart Sylvester Stallone’s storied film career, and not only did he star as Rocky but he wrote the entire script himself. With inspiring music, montages, and fight scenes, it is no surprise that Rocky succeeded. The story of an average joe taking a crack at the world title was inspirational and powerful, and the continued success of the franchise illustrated the mark it left on viewers.
Raging Bull (1980)
‘Raging Bull’ was the bibliographical movie about the life and career of Jake LaMotta, a famous American-Italian boxer who competed from the 1930s to the 1950s. It is widely considered to be not only one of the greatest sports films, but one of the greatest films period. It was one of many collaborations between director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert deNiro, and would prove to be a film which defined both of their careers and successes. The film itself is a wild rollercoaster of highs and lows, inspirational moments and periods of darkness, all of which ultimately contribute to a powerful viewing experience. After watching ‘Raging Bull’, it’s easy to understand why it is considered one of the greatest films of all time.
Friday Night Lights (2004)
Billy Bob Thornton’s role as a father-figure coach creates heartfelt and inspirational moments in ‘Friday Night Lights’. Loosely based on the Permian High School football team, the Panthers, the film juggles social and political issues alongside the sports-mad and obsessed population of Odessa, Texas, where the film is set. Inspiration is found both on and off the field in this film, and the Panthers struggle to overcome a tumultuous season to qualify for the playoffs. The film perfectly captures not only the struggles and emotions of the team, but the personality of a town which craves the success of its local team and want victory achieved at any cost.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
The all-star cast of Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman should send the message that this is a must-watch film by itself. Their Academy Award winning performances tell a mesmerising tale of guilt, redemption, and success. The fight scenes were also captured and choreographed brilliantly, with Swank training outside of the set specifically for the role. On top of the cast winning an Academy Award each for their acting performances, the film won Best Picture of 2004. ‘Million Dollar Baby’ is a confrontational and powerful film that goes beyond the boxing ring.
The Wrestler (2008)
While most sports films often focus on the big achievements and moments, ‘The Wrestler’ strays away from what some would consider a formulaic approach to the genre. Mickey Rourke plays a professional wrestler well beyond his prime, trying to adjust to a world where he can no longer compete. The rawness and gritty reality the movie portrays has been praised by multiple professional wrestlers, both still active and retired, as well as the chairman of the WWE, Vince McMahon. ‘The Wrestler’ captures the essence of the behind the scenes life of a professional athlete and the sacrifice and costs of fame, and in doing so creates a film experience that cannot be missed.
We Are Marshall (2006)
Matthew McConaughey gives a colourful performance in this football movie covering the rebuilding of the Marshall University ‘Thundering Herd’ team following the fatal 1970 plane crash that killed most of the team’s players and staff. McConaughey’s tenacity and motivation as head coach Jack Lengyel will have you inspired by the end of the movie. The film not only covers the rebuilding of the team, but the recovery of an entire community coming to grips with the tragedy that has shaken them. ‘We Are Marshall’ is a great feel-good sports film which will pick you up while you’re at your lowest.
The title and theme of this movie, mixed martial arts, might give off the impression that this film is just an action beat-em-up type of film with little substance. Early footage released of the film even suggested this, focusing exclusively on a fight scene very early in the film. ‘Warrior’ is so much deeper than what it might seem at first glance, however, being praised for its realism in fight scenes and compassion in plot. The story of forgiveness and overcoming personal adversity is one which will have you invested, and the fights will have you on the edge of your seat.
To close off our selection of sports films, we have ‘Miracle’: a film portrayal of the ‘Miracle on Ice’, a miraculous win by the USA ice hockey team over the USSR at the 1980 Winter Olympics. The feat that Team USA performed as significant underdogs is one of the most memorable victories in the history of sports, and today is still looked to as a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
Need more inspiration, even after these great films? Check out our list of Top 10 Sporting Documentaries here!
WORDS BY HAYDEN FITZGERALD
Feature Image: Common Sense Media