Top 20 Football Movies

With each passing day, it looks less likely that we'll have the NFL this fall. So what can you do? Watch football movies! For this week's Ranked!, we ranked our twenty favorite football flicks. Did your favorite make the cut? Find out below!

20. All The Right Moves
19. Heaven Can Wait
18. North Dallas Forty
17. The Blind Side
16. We Are Marshall
15. Lucas
14. The Express
13. Friday Night Lights
12. Little Giants
11. The Replacements
10. The Program
9. Brian's Song
8. Invincible
7. Jerry Maguire
6. The Waterboy


5. Any Given Sunday

Any Given Sunday is a glorious mess. Is it
  1. A frantic, over-the-top, nearly three hour music video
  2. An accurate portrayal of professional football
  3. An engaging drama
  4. The last great thing either Al Pacino or Oliver Stone ever produced
  5. All of the above
The answer is e, of course.

Any Given Sunday is a great film that paints a gritty picture of professional football. We have the downtrodden coach on his last leg, needing to win the big one to avoid losing his job. We have the greedy owner, wanting to move the team to make a buck. We have the old quarterback who loses his job to injury and finds himself replaced by a rookie, who transforms from a scared, deer-in-the-headlights rookie to a brash and cocky pro. And we have players taking drugs, hoping to play one more season, one more game, one more play. Watch a week of SportsCenter, you'll probably run across all these storylines. Except with more penis pic emails.

Jamie Foxx was great as the brash rookie, and both Dennis Quaid and Cameron Diaz brought life to their somewhat clich├ęd characters. But Al Pacino steals the movie with his scene-chewing speeches and diatribes.

What makes Any Given Sunday great is also its biggest weakness: Oliver Stone. Any Given Sunday could've been a Truly Great Movie if it had a better editor, someone who would've trimmed the movie by twenty minutes and who would've not edited the football sequences so jarringly quick.--Chris

4. Remember The Titans

Not every movie-going event in my life has been one where I sprinted to the cinema, knocking down slower-moving patrons, trying to get to the ticket booth but I was mildly enthusiastic about my evening out to watch Remember The Titans.

There was a point in time where the mention of Denzel Washington's name in conjunction with a film compelled many of us to get to the theater to watch what would inevitably be a locomotive force character portrayal. Most times we were riveted to our seats watching him do his thing. The man is legend.

Anyway, my enthusiasm was slightly dampened by the fact that this was going to be two hours of football, but I sat down and was shocked to find this one of the most moving and real interpretations of a true event I've ever seen.

It was heartwarming, funny, gut wrenching, and bone crushingly real and it also included powerhouse supporting performances by Will Patton, Donald Faison, itty bitty Hayden Panettiere, and an almost unrecognizable Ethan Suplee.

It should be compulsory viewing for those who have a hard time believing that schools in suburban Virginia were still not fully desegregated by 1971 (when the actual events of the film took place). Although the movie deals with combustible subjects and tempers flare, Washington's Coach Herman Boone leads the team like a true visionary, making them a symbol of unity that inspires the entire school and community.

Needless to say, I left the movies that night with a big bag of wet hankies and the after effects of a feel good adrenaline rush.--Dufmanno

3. The Longest Yard (1974)

So, I Googled "football movies" just to get a sense of where The Longest Yard ranks among the best football movies out there. Want to know what I learned?
  1. Some people have a horrible taste in movies.
  2. These very same people have even worse taste in football movies.
How do you not have, say, Rudy on your list, but yet you have The Waterboy? Really? How much did Adam Sandler pay you? Seriously, it's times like this I question the Internet's sanity.

But I can't tell you how many Top Whatever Greatest Football Movies Evah! lists I surfed through that didn't include The Longest Yard. The original, not that remake with, you guessed it, Adam Sandler (I sense a conspiracy here). Honest to Burt's hirsuteness.

Now, I know, the movie is a tad cliche: rag-tag inmates go up against prison guards and d-bag warden. Inmates find heart, ensure guard will never again have any kids, and go on to win. You see it all the time. But it works and it's funny. And features some honest-to-goodness football players in Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke and former Vikings QB Joe Kapp, among others.

So do yourself a favor and ignore the 2005 version and its 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grab this one. If only for Burt's laugh.--Mr. Big Dubya

2. Varsity Blues

I first caught Varsity Blues on cable, way back in the day. It came on and I said, "Meh. Football. Dawson. Turn."

But my now-husband told me it was good, so we kept it on and I'm glad we did. It's never felt like a typical "sports" movie to me. It's funny, and kinda sarcastic. The main hero, Mox (played by James Van Der Beek), is a second-string Texas high school quarterback, but he'd rather be going to college on an academic scholarship than a football award. His little brother, Kyle, is like 8 years old and obsessed with the exploration of religion. The coach, played by Jon Voight, hits a lot of the stereotypical evil driven coach cliches, but for some reason is totally interesting to watch. And for the boys: Ali Larter, whip cream bikini. Enough said.

Unlike some sports films, the underlying theme here is really "winning isn't everything" and it maintains a nice balance between the struggle to maintain personal integrity and raunchy sports-obsessed high school boys who are the kings of their small world. It's a fun film that I now watch every time I run into it on the television.--Archphoenix

1. Rudy

For anyone who's ever been too short, too small, not talented enough, not smart enough, or has just heard the words "you can't do that," Rudy is the movie that makes us feel it's all OK. It's OK if you're not very good at something as long as you love doing it. It's alright to continue even when everyone is telling you "no". It's fine to not win the "big game," sometimes one small play is the bigger payoff. Rudy is the strength in our perseverance, the right in our stubbornness, the encouragement for fool-headed optimism and hope, and most importantly, living proof that hard work for its own sake is a saving grace.

Rudy is bigger, and smaller, than the usual football movie. The football team is not the underdog here, Notre Dame is in its heyday. One small person, heaped with so many disadvantages it's almost a parody, the underdog of underdogs, works his way into the heart of the giant. And his story is so deftly told it is impossible for any audience to not root for this scrawny kid who should know better. I charge anyone to try holding back the tears when Rudy not only gets to dress for the game but also runs a play. One single play, one single moment that turns all those "you can't do it" into shining respect.

That's why I'm not at all surprised Rudy is number one on our list today. Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy!--The Weirdgirl

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