Everyone has their favorite movie genres, but there’s something about a good sports film that lets you bask in the glow of accomplishment through overcoming obstacles. Maybe it’s seeing the underdogs fight to have their day, but sports movies always seem to have the greatest feel-good plot lines.
If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, these are some of the best sports movies on Netflix right now, including a couple of comedies that may not be as focused on the sports themselves, but are still great.
‘Cool Runnings’ (1993)
Metacritic score: 60
Just in time for the John Candy as Irving “Irv” Blitzer, a former bobsledder who left the sport in scandal when he was caught cheating. After retiring in disgrace and moving to Jamaica, he’s discovered by Jamaican athletes played by Leon Robinson, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis and Malik Yoba, who convince him to be their coach for the 1998 Olympics Jamaican bobsled team. Filled with great one-liners and the late Candy’s incredible charm, this feel-good flick is great for getting you in the Olympic spirit., this comedy features
‘Field of Dreams’ (1989)
Metacritic score: 57
Arguably one of the greatest sports movies ever made, “Field of Dreams” stars Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, a corn farmer who one day finds his fields haunted by baseball players of the past. It’s a beautiful story for the whole family with great performances from Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta and Burt Lancaster playing Archibald “Moonlight” Graham.
‘Endless Summer’ (1966)
In this documentary, filmmaker and narrator Bruce Brown follows Mike Hynson and Robert August around the globe as they attempt to follow the warm weather and share the sport they love with the world. Complete with a surf rock soundtrack performed by the Sandals, it really brings you to the roots of carving up the waves. Other big names in surfing from the era, Butch Van Artsdalen, Miki Dora and Phil Edwards, also make appearances.
Metacritic score: 68
More of a behind-the-scenes type of sports documentary, Oscar-nominated “Icarus” follows Bryan Fogel as he researches “doping” in an amateur bike race and accidentally uncovers a major international scandal. Helped by Russian scientist Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the two uncover evidence of a Russian state-sponsored doping program dating back to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Excellent for getting background on the tone of the current Olympics, “Icarus” shows how deep the doping scandal actually went.
Metacritic score: 62
This biography tells the story of the legendary Jackie Robinson as racial integration was coming to professional baseball. It chronicles his start with the Kansas City Monarchs, follows his transition to Brooklyn farm affiliate the Montreal Royals, and finally his trip to the National League pennant as a part of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It features an excellent performance from Chadwick Bosemon as a fiery and intense Jackie Robinson struggling against racism from all angles — even his own team. Some strong racist language may leave you uncomfortable, but this movie is important for its candid look at racism and overcoming obstacles through unwavering determination.
Metacritic score: 57
“Southpaw” hits all the usual boxing movie plot points we’ve seen so many times before, but it really digs in when showing how much sacrifice goes on behind the scenes to bring you the sport to spectators. Jake Gyllenhaal tones down his acting somewhat (understandably) to fit the determined boxer role, and while “Southpaw” won’t make you rethink how boxing movies are made, it’s still an entertaining movie.
‘Pumping Iron’ (1977)
There’s nothing deep about this first look into the lives of competitive bodybuilding, but it paints a picture of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger back when nobody knew he’d be a famous action movie star. The film captures his wilder days as a young man in a sport that hadn’t yet gotten a lot of attention. It’s probably not for the whole family because of the language, but it’s still fun if you’re a Shwarzenegger fan and want to see how he got his start.
‘Bring it On’ (2000)
Metacritic score: 52
OK, I get it. You’re wondering why this silly cheerleading movie is even on the list. It’s certainly not going to win any awards, and it’s definitely not going to make you think when you get to the end. With that said, it’s high energy and fun to watch as a team of cheerleaders, led by Kirsten Dunst as Torrance Shipman, claw their way to try to win the national championship.
‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ (2006)
Metacritic score: 66
One of Will Ferrell‘s best comedies (though it’s perhaps not true to classic sports movies), “Taladega Nights” follows Ricky Bobby’s (Ferrell) absurd and hilarious rise to the top of the Nascar standings, bringing Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly) along for the ride. The biggest challenge comes when Formula One champion Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) joins Nascar and starts winning races, forcing Ricky Bobby to turn up the heat. Honestly, there are so many quotable moments, but “If you’re not first, you’re last!” has one of the best payoffs.
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