The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics will leave a lasting legacy. Not only will they have inspired a generation, but they also reminded us how much we like films about sport. We help you relive the fun of the games as well as getting your athlete fix with our top ten sports movies…
BASEketball is more about ridiculous comedy than sport but the sentiment behind the story means this movie, from the makers of South Park, just scrapes into the top ten. Lifelong slackers Joe Cooper (Trey Parker) and Doug Remer (Matt Stone) invent their own game, based on basketball and baseball, to win a bet. It gains popularity and, as well as trying to win the league cup, and the heart of love interest Jenna Reed (Yasmine Bleeth), they must also fight off the advances of greedy businessman (Robert Vaughan) who wants to destroy their sport.
9. Escape to Victory
Part World War II movie, part football film, this story sounds ridiculous on paper. English Army Captain and West Ham Football player (Michael Caine) agrees to coach a football team of POWs who will play a propaganda match against a German side, while also secretly planning their escape. Sounds crazy (and it is), but where else can you see Hollywood greats like Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone and Max Von Sydow appear on the same screen as football legends Pele, Bobby Moore and Ossie Ardiles?
8. Major League
While most sporting movies are based on true inspirational events, there are a few comedy offerings that also have the feel good factor. This 80’s baseball movie has an all-star cast; Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Rene Russo, Wesley Snipes, Corbin Bernsen and James Gammon, and sees the players turn on their club’s new owner (Margaret Whitton) to thwart her plans of selling the club. It’s stupid but hilarious and a true underdog success story in every sense.
7. A League of Their Own
Back in WWII when soldiers were playing football with Nazis and escaping to victory (see what we did there?) baseball team owners signed up women players to keep the game going and home morale up. Sisters Dottie (Geena Davies) and Kit (Lorri Petty) agree to join the same team to help each other escape their boring small town lives. With a drunken coach (Tom Hanks) and trouble-making team mate (Madonna), the girls must face pressure from all sides to prove themselves.
It’s the most recent film in the list and a true story that is a sign of the times. Nominated for six Oscars, the movie follows General Manager (Brad Pitt) and Assistant General Manager (Jonah Hill) of baseball team Oakland A’s. Faced with a financial crisis they decide to use players’ stats to develop a sabermetric approach to scouting. Putting together a team they then battle the team’s head manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in an attempt to win some much needed games.
5. Cool Runnings
Derice Bannock (Leon), who’s desperate to run for Jamaica in the Olympics, crashes out of the 100m sprint qualifiers, but his dream of being an Olympic champion isn’t over when he hears about a disgraced coach (John Candy) who has the crazy idea that sprinters would make a great bobsled team. Taking a team of, ahem, athletes (including Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba and Doug E. Doug) from a tropical beach to the frozen mountains of Calgary ends up with hilarious and heart-warming moments that make this one excellent family sports film. What’s more it’s based on a true story so don’t be surprised if you see Usain Bolt in a Jamaican bobsled soon.
4. Million Dollar Baby
With critical acclaim and Oscars for Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Actress (Hilary Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman), Million Dollar Baby ended up hitting the mainstream in a way that most sports films don’t. A heart-wrenching tale of a determined female boxer and the gruff coach she persuades to train her. Despite his resistance his protégé gets under his and the audience’s skin and knocks everyone out.
The film that made boxing, erm, well just as brutal as it’s always been, but this time we got to see the heart, passion and struggle of small time boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and his family, as he takes on the heavy weight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Despite producers’ concerns over Stallone in the lead role, Rocky won three Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director (John G. Avildsen).
2. Raging Bull
Adapted from boxer Jake LaMotta’s memoirs Raging Bull: My Story, Robert De Niro gives a sterling performance as Jake, a man who is as well known for his fighting in the ring as he was out of it. Director Martin Scorsese gives us ringside seats to the emotion as we watch the volatile Jake destroy his career and family life. Nominated for eight Oscars and winning two, including Best Actor for De Niro, some regard this to be amongst the greatest films ever made.
1. Chariots of Fire
It went to a photo finish, but with four Oscars, two awards at Cannes, a BAFTA, Olympic fever and a Vangelis them tune that’s been in our heads for months, Chariots of Fire gets to the finish line first. Based on the true story of British athletes preparing for and competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics and starring Ben Cross, Nigel havers, Ian Holm, Ian Charelson and Alice Krige this movie is all about overcoming prejudice without losing faith, sportsmanship and a bromance that burns brighter than any Olympic flame. True Olympic spirit stuff and guaranteed to keep those shivers and goose bumps going until your next Team GB fix.