Live sports provide a great escape. Sports movies take you behind the scenes by exploring the humanity behind the heroes and putting you right in the driver’s seat, the huddle or the batter’s box. And if they’re movies with great sound, the experience is enhanced further still.
Here are our picks for 10 unforgettable sports movies that bring the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat right to your home theater.
The original underdog, Rudy is a “five foot nothing, 100 and nothing” football player whose only dream is to play for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. It may not have been critically acclaimed, but this movie about how Rudy overcomes impossible odds through hard work and sheer determination is an enduring fan favorite. Don’t be embarrassed; everyone cries at the jersey scene. Available on YouTube™, Amazon Prime, Google Play™, iTunes® and Vudu®.
There are underdogs, and then there are underdogs. A relatively unknown actor at the time, Sylvester Stallone wrote the Oscar®-nominated script and fought to star in this story of a small-time boxer who is given the chance of a lifetime to fight the heavyweight champion of the world. This Best Director and Best Picture winner inspired many a run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art! Number 2 on the American Film Institute (AFI)’s list of Top 10 Sports Films and available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu. (Continue the story with Creed and Creed 2 on your favorite streaming services.)
This dramatization of Texas Western’s (now University of Texas at El Paso) legendary win over University of Kentucky in the 1966 NCAA® National Men’s Basketball Championship eloquently captures that moment when the game transcends the sport. TW’s coach Don Haskins boldly started an all-African American lineup and beat Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky dynasty, changing college basketball forever. Available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.
Here’s a movie with award-winning sound to rev the heart of every surround sound lover. In a classic David versus Goliath showdown, American car designer Carroll Shelby and British driver Ken Miles team up for Ford Motors to take on perennial Italian powerhouse Ferrari in the 1966 Le Mans sports car race. This 2020 Oscar winner for Best Sound Editing will give your speakers a workout! Available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play and Vudu.
Based on a true story, this classic about a small-town high school basketball team in Indiana (where basketball is king) earned Dennis Hopper both Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominations for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of an alcoholic assistant coach given a last-minute shot at redemption. Gene Hackman is the head coach trying to overcome his own controversial past and lead the team to the state title. Number 4 on the AFI’s Top 10 Sports Films and available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.
Writer, director and former minor league baseball player Ron Shelton’s tribute to baseball is a gritty, but often funny, portrayal of life in the minor leagues. Kevin Costner is Crash Davis, an aging catcher asked to school the latest rookie pitching sensation in a kind of A Star Is Born of sports. Amateur philosopher and unofficial team coach Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) sprinkles pearls of wisdom throughout and helps show that baseball is, indeed, life. Number 5 on the AFI’s Top 10 Sports Films and available on Tubi, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.
Sometimes you have to ignore the critics and listen to your inner fan. The Replacements is just plain fun to watch. With its catchy soundtrack and hard-hitting football action, the story of a ragtag gang of washed-up football misfits given one last chance at glory as replacement players during an NFL™ strike is an entertaining ride. It’s also eminently quotable: “Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever.” Available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.
OK, this may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking sports movie, but this film’s roster of comedy pros is definitely championship-level. Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Ted Knight bring their A-game to the hilarious antics of Bushwood Country Club’s golfing members and caddies. Number 7 on the AFI’s Top 10 Sports Films and available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.
This story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League® formed during World War II (when male professional players were off fighting the war) stands out as one of relatively few women’s sports movies. Tom Hanks plays Jimmy Dugan, an alcoholic ex-player asked to coach the hastily assembled team that includes two sisters — one beautiful and talented, the other doomed to live in her big sister’s shadow. After reprimanding one of his players, Hanks delivers the memorable line, “There’s no crying in baseball.” Available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play and Vudu.
Nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Brad Pitt) and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), this movie is based on the true story of how the Oakland Athletics™ baseball team’s general manager Billy Beane ignored traditional scouting methods and picked players almost entirely by their On-Base Percentage (OBP). Change is never easy, especially in a sport as deeply steeped in tradition as baseball, but Beane’s strategy is eventually shown to be a winner. Available on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.
And we’re only scratching the surface! Honorable mentions include Field of Dreams, Seabiscuit and Miracle, all available on major streaming services.
While the quality of the audio may vary by film (or the quality of the streaming service), with the right tweaks and gear, you can be immersed in the action — whether via Yamaha Clear Voice technology in a sound bar to enhance the dialogue, or via a full discrete 5.1-ch. surround sound setup to hear the action all around you.
Looking for more content to enjoy at home? Check out our blog article Stream These 2020 Oscar Nominees in the Comfort of Your Home.
Related articles about home theater:
Home Theater on a Budget, Part 1: Starter System
Home Theater on a Budget, Part 2: Intermediate System
Home Theater on a Budget, Part 3: Advanced System
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