The 36 greatest sports movies

Remember the Titans
(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

The stadium lights are on, the crowd is on their feet, and the world watches holding its breath. There is truly nothing more dramatic than the wild world of sports. With some of the greatest movies ever made centered around athletic competition and the chaotic pressures of athletes (both physical and mental), it begs the question: What are some of the greatest sports movies ever made?

Since almost the dawn of cinema, Hollywood filmmakers have regularly fixated their cameras on sports and athletes, whether they live on squeaky basketball courts or between the ropes of bloodstained boxing rings. (Some bar trivia for you: The first documented sports film is the 1914 film The Knockout, a boxing comedy starring Charlie Chaplin. Boxing and cinema have quite the history together.)

Movies and sports have much in common, with the art of storytelling naturally affording the dramatic stakes in the climax - a critical point when all the blood, sweat, and tears culminate and either pay off or reward nothing in return. In celebration of athletes everywhere, here are 36 of the greatest sports movies of all time.

36. Fearless (2006)


(Image credit: Rogue Pictures)

Many martial arts movies double as sports films: Bloodsport (1988), Kickboxer (1989), Never Back Down (2008), and of course, The Karate Kid (1984). But all of them must bow to Ronny Yuan’s opulent rendition of the grandmaster: Fearless, the Huo Yuanjia biopic starring Jet Li. Released in 2006 and billed as Li’s last wushu epic, Fearless chronicles the life of the 19th century Chinese martial arts master who claimed victories over foreign competitors. In Fearless, Li leaves it all on the floor with some of the most elegant and balletic martial arts scenes ever put to screen. The extended director’s cut includes Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh in a cameo, with scenes set in the present day where her character advocates for the inclusion of wushu as a sport before the International Olympic Committee. 

35. Days of Thunder (1990)

Days of Thunder

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Tom Cruise and Tony Scott hoped lightning would strike twice with Days of Thunder, an action sports drama that swaps the fighter jets from their ‘86 summer blockbuster Top Gun for the stock cars of NASCAR. It didn’t, but that doesn’t stop Days of Thunder from being a total thrill. Cruise is in peak form as hotshot rookie Cole Trickle who aligns with veteran rival Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker) to outrace conniving racer Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes). Days of Thunder was a box office and critical bomb, but among its most ardent fans is director Quentin Tarantino, who once raved about the movie in a 2013 interview.

34. Major League (1989)

Major League

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

What do you get when you take the plot of Ted Lasso, swap Premier League football for Major League Baseball, and throw in Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger? You get Major League. Directed by David S. Ward, this classic ‘80s sports comedy is about a fictional version of the Cleveland Indians who fall under the new ownership of a billionaire widow (Margaret Whitton) who tries to sabotage the team to force a sale to Miami. When the players get wind of it, they rebel and begin playing like true all-stars. Hysterical and uplifting with its spirit de corps story, Major League steps up to the plate with heart and humor.

33. Happy Gilmore (1996)

Happy Gilmore

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Hockey pucks become golf balls in this mid-‘90s classic starring the one and only Adam Sandler. Sandler stars in the title role of Happy Gilmore, a high-strung hockey player with a mean slapshot who discovers a talent for golf. Happy winds up a working class hero in the upper class sport - as well as mentorship from a veteran player, played by Carl Weathers - all while playing to save his grandmother’s home. Happy Gilmore was just one of many movies in Adam Sandler’s hot streak in the ‘90s that catapulted him to mainstream fame, but the movie stands alone as one of the best underdog sports comedies of all time.

32. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Bend It Like Beckham

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

At first glance on the pitch, Bend It Like Beckham looks like a goofy movie about an 18-year-old girl with football dreams. But this lively British early-aughts comedy from Gurinder Chadha is so much more. Parminder Nagra stars as a young woman from a traditional Punjabi Sikh family in London who secretly pursues her passion for football, encouraged by her new best friend Jules (Keira Knightley). (The movie’s title references pro footballer David Beckham and his unique style of curling the ball, or “bending.”) Themes of family, heritage, and dreams all collide in this kaleidoscopic feel-good comedy that hilariously explores the highs and lows of second-generation immigrant upbringings. Fun fact: For its U.S. release, distributors nearly titled the movie Move It Like Mia, in reference to American star Mia Hamm.

31. Slap Shot (1977)

Slap Shot

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

It will just never stop being funny that Paul Newman is in a movie like this. Released in 1977, Slap Shot is a raunchy, brazenly offensive hockey comedy about a minor league team from a depressed city. Facing money woes and even shutdown, the team's enlistment of three new players, the Hanson brothers, unleash a thuggish style of violent play that invigorates a once lethargic fanbase. Directed by George Roy Hill and written by Oscar-winner Nancy Dowd - who based the script on her own brother's experiences as a hockey player - the aggressively hilarious Slap Shot predates the raunchy sports comedies of the '90s and 2000s, with Paul Newman (as player-coach Reggie Dunlop) looking fly off the ice in an enviable wardrobe.

30. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

In 2006, the world of Fast & Furious shifted gears away from Vin Diesel and Paul Walker to place focus on teenager Sean Boswell (played by Lucas Black), whose recklessness at home forces him to live with his deadbeat dad in Tokyo. There, Sean discovers the attractive world of illegal, competitive drift racing, where victory isn't won through speed but control. Although Tokyo Drift is quite unlike its tent pole action and crime-oriented predecessors, it has become one of the most consequential in the entire Fast Saga, being the first movie from recurring director Justin Lin and the debut of franchise favorite Han (Sung Kang) who mentors Sean in the finer points of drift racing. 

29. Goon (2011)


(Image credit: Magnolia Pictures)

Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber throw down on the ice in this cult hockey comedy from 2011. Polite dimwit with a surprisingly violent mean streak, Doug Glatt (Scott) finds himself thrust into the role of enforcer for a minor league hockey team, which puts him in the direct path of a legendary veteran (Schrieber). While sports comedy aficionados may feel that Adam Sandler did that same story years earlier, in The Waterboy, Goon - which is actually an adaptation of a memoir by real-life minor league hockey legend Doug Smith - dares you not to laugh and cheer along.

28. Invictus (2009)


(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

A few short years after Clint Eastwood won Oscars for his sports drama Million Dollar Baby, the cinema legend again focused his cameras on the world of sports. The result is Invictus, a courtly period drama set in post-Apartheid South Africa and the 1995 rise of its national rugby team led by Francois Pienaar (played by Matt Damon). Morgan Freeman stars as real-life political figure Nelson Mandela, who joins forces with Francois to rally the still-divided country behind the Springboks for the sake of national unity. Though Invictus doesn’t color outside the lines creatively, it is nevertheless a sweeping and majestic movie about the global language of sports.

27. Rudy (1993)


(Image credit: TriStar Pictures)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a movie more inspirational than Rudy. Based on the life of Notre Dame Fighting Irish player Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, Rudy stars Sean Astin in the title role, a young man with learning disabilities and meager means who harbors dreams of playing football for the University of Notre Dame. Through patience and perseverance, Rudy eventually lives out his wildest dreams. While its sentimentality can be overpowering for some, Rudy is a remarkable movie about how our greatest dreams can come true with lots of work and just a little luck.

26. The Mighty Ducks (1992)

The Mighty Ducks

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

It's a family sports movie so good that it not only launched an entire media franchise, but a real NHL team too. But sequels and cartoons aside, the original The Mighty Ducks from 1992 stands out as a grounded underdog sports movie about a Minneapolis attorney, Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) whose court-mandated community service forces him to coach a floundering pee-wee hockey team. Over time, Bombay learns to be a proper coach - and rediscover his lost passion for the sport - while his team shapes up into true players. The Mighty Ducks is such a good movie that it's no wonder Disney actually founded the Mighty Ducks in the National Hockey League shortly after its release. The team was renamed Anaheim Ducks in 2005, and won the coveted Stanley Cup in 2007.

25. Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Ford v Ferrari

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

On the surface, James Mangold's Ford v Ferrari is a handsome motorsports epic about a lumbering American Goliath taking on the leaner, meaner, more prestigious David that is Ferrari at Le Mans in the mid-1960s. But what Ford v Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, is actually about is all the ways pursuing art under the suffocating pressures of commerce can lead to danger. With breakneck racing sequences and sterling performances from both Damon and Bale, Ford v Ferrari is a modern classic that dares to push the needle to its breaking point.

24. The Longest Yard (1974)

The Longest Yard

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Although the faithful 2005 Adam Sandler remake has its merits, it simply can't touch the grass-stained jersey of Burt Reynolds' 1974 original. Reynolds leads the movie as Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, a faded professional football quarterback who winds up in prison and is challenged by the warden to coach a team of inmates to play against the guards in an exhibition game. While both movies are excellent comedies with an ironic sentimental atmosphere - truly nothing glues the bond of men like sports - the '74 original has ample grit and grime that make it so much more worthwhile than Sandler's version. 

23. The Iron Claw (2023)

The Iron Claw

(Image credit: A24)

Steel chairs and body slams don’t hit as hard as family. From studio A24 and director Sean Durkin, The Iron Claw depicts the tragic lives of Texas folklore figures the Von Erichs, a family of professional wrestlers who in the 1980s rose and fell hard while performing in their family-owned, Texas-based promotion World Class Championship Wrestling. While The Iron Claw is chiefly about the end of wrestling’s territories to centralized, corporate WWF (now WWE), The Iron Claw’s real vise grip lies in its condemnation of toxic masculinity, in how a father’s overprotective and domineering nature spells doom for his own sons. Emotionally devastating with a coda that feels like salvation from the abyss, The Iron Claw is an instant classic that shows even those in a “fake” sport cannot escape real consequences. 

22. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Dodgeball: The true sport for true champions. A sport of violence, exclusion, and degradation. Vince Vaughn and a comically over-the-top Ben Stiller dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge balls in this outrageous 2000s classic that affectionately lampoons sports and sports movies. Rawson Marshall Thurber helms this R-rated riot about the average Joe owner of a cruddy gym, played by Vince Vaughn, who enters a dodgeball tournament to save his business from takeover against the better-equipped, far wealthier White Goodman (Stiller) and his Globo-Gym. If you’ve ever tuned into ESPN on April Fool’s Day and saw ridiculously niche sports on ESPN 8: The Ocho, that’s Dodgeball’s true legacy at work.

21. I, Tonya (2017)

I, Tonya

(Image credit: NEON)

The rise of a skating superstar ends in controversy, and it's all laid out in I, Tonya. A biographical drama, I, Tonya chronicles the life of ambitious figure skater Tonya Harding - brought to life by a tour de force Margot Robbie - whose physical assault on rival Nancy Kerrigan remains one of the most infamous true crime cases in American sports. On top of unique storytelling devices like mockumentary interviews and unreliable narrators, I, Tonya deftly skates on thin ice in its framing of Harding as the true victim, her competitive drive coming from an unhappy upbringing and personal hardship. I, Tonya goes for the gold and nails a perfect score as a film about sky high ambitions precluding steep falls.

20. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Clint Eastwood performs triple duty as director, star, and musical composer for this pitch-black Oscars heavyweight Million Dollar Baby, a gritty boxing film about a tenacious female competitor (Hilary Swank) who fights her way out of poverty and into the spotlight under the tutelage of a cranky trainer played by Eastwood. Morgan Freeman co-stars as Eddie, an assistant gym owner who narrates the story, which takes a harrowing turn in the third act. The film’s roots lie in a novella by Jerry Boyd, a real-life boxing cutman turned author; in concert with Eastwood’s stately and assured direction, Million Dollar Baby drips emotion like sweat off Swank's brow. It’s no mystery how the movie knocked out the competition at the 77th Academy Awards, with Eastwood, Swank, and Morgan all taking home trophies.

19. Hoosiers (1986)


(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

It’s the definitive underdog sports movie from which all others have studied the playbook. Hoosiers, from director Angelo Pizzo, throws audiences back to small-town America in 1950s to follow a struggling high school basketball team who brings in a new coach (Gene Hackman) after his predecessor dies and their best player leaves the team. With an exemplary demonstration about the virtues of community pride and belief in oneself, Hoosiers - with its story loosely inspired by the 1954 Milan High School basketball team from Indiana - shows that not all who are lost are out of bounds, and it’s never too late to shoot your shot at redemption. 

18. Rocky III (1982)

Rocky III

(Image credit: MGM)

Rocky III is more than just "Eye of the Tiger." In 1982, Sylvester Stallone returned to the ring for the third Rocky movie and arguably the second-best in the series after the original. With Philadelphia's own Rocky Balboa sitting pretty at the top of the boxing world, he gets a rude wake-up call after his trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) suffers a fatal heart attack and he loses to arrogant up-and-comer Clubber Lang (Mr. T). Teaming up with his old rival Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), Rocky finally becomes the refined pugilist he's meant to be in a sports classic that subverts underdog stories. Sometimes, even champions need to remember the basics.

17. White Men Can't Jump (1992)

White Men Can't Jump

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson blur the lines separating black and white all in the pursuit of green in Ron Shelton’s cult classic comedy. Set in Los Angeles, Harrelson plays a former college basketball star who uses perceptions that he’s white - and thus incapable of out-dribbling Black players - to bet on himself and make a small living. He teams up with charismatic Black player Sidney (Snipes), and together they scheme streetball courts across L.A. while evading a mob boss seeking to collect debt. Crackling with vibrancy and candid socio-cultural commentary, White Men Can’t Jump lives up to the adage: Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

16. Moneyball (2011)


(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

You can never replace your star players - but you can recreate them in the aggregate. From screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Bennett Miller, the riveting 2011 drama Moneyball pivots away from the dugout and into the equally competitive head offices of Major League Baseball. Moneyball finds its hero among the Oakland As, with general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and assistant GM Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) weaponizing math and statistics in the sport of baseball - also called sabermetrics - to beat unfavorable odds. Based on Michael Lewis' nonfiction book that chronicled the Oakland As' remarkable 2002 season, Moneyball is understated but not unexceptional, refusing to swing for the fences but always gets on first.

15. Ali (2001)


(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

While Michael Mann's Ali failed to beat the box office, this biographical drama about the life and career of Muhammad Ali - and his view of the Civil Rights movement in America - features a heavyweight Will Smith who breathes life into the larger-than-life sports icon. Set over an approximate 10-year span from Ali's first bout with Sonny Liston in 1964 to the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman in 1974, the film chronicles Ali's close friendship with Malcolm X, his conversion to Islam, and his refusal to be drafted into Vietnam. As epic and hard-hitting as the legend himself, Ali is an exceptional demonstration of both Mann as a director and Smith as a contender for the Academy Award. (He was nominated for Best Actor.)

14. The Wrestler (2009)

The Wrestler

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures)

We know what you're thinking: Pro wrestling isn't a sport. But Darren Aronofsky still exposes the broken hearts and bruised souls of professional wrestlers in The Wrestler, with a revelatory Mickey Rourke as a faded star from the 1980s whose many years of brutality now weigh heavy. Amid a richly textured New Jersey, Rourke plays his part like a sympathetic bull, a brute who just wants to know if he still means something to someone, be it vulnerable strippers (Marisa Tomei) or a faceless, bloodthirsty crowd. The Wrestler shuts down any misconceptions that pro wrestling isn't a sport, because of course it isn't. It's a way of life.

13. Cool Runnings (1993)

Cool Runnings

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

The debut of the Jamaican national bobsledding team at the 1988 Winter Olympics took the world for a ride, their journey epitomizing the spirit of underdogs everywhere. Their formation was retold in the heartwarming comedy Cool Runnings, directed by Jon Turteltaub and released by Disney in 1993. John Candy stars as the coach of spirited Jamaican athletes - played by Leon Robinson, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, and Malik Yoba - who unite as a troupe from the tropics determined to make their mark in a sport that no one, not even their own climate, thought they’d compete. Today, Cool Runnings keeps its spot on the winner’s podium as a cult classic for its celebration of friendship, optimism, and resilience overcoming all possible odds. In 2014, the Jamaican team took to crowdfunding platforms to raise money for training and equipment; the sustained popularity of Cool Runnings certainly seems to have played a huge part in their endeavor being successful.

12. Friday Night Lights (2004)

Friday Night Lights

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The hopes and dreams of Odessa, Texas are laid bare under the blinding white lights of high school football in Friday Night Lights. Based on the 1990 nonfiction book that detailed the 1988 season for Permian High School football team, Friday Night Lights tells of the young and ambitious student athletes who stormed the end zones carrying the weight of their community on their padded shoulders. The original true story, as first told by author H.G. Bissinger, remains the premier youth sports epic, illuminative of how struggling communities find a way forward in the thrill of victory. Friday Night Lights has not only been a feature film, but an equally riveting television series that made us all sing: “Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose.”

11. A League of Their Own (1992)

A League of Their Own

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

There's no crying in baseball. But it's hard not to hold back all the good feelings in this moving sports comedy classic. Released in 1992 from director Penny Marshall, A League of Their Own pays tribute to the real-life All American Girls Professional Baseball League with a story laser-focused on rival sisters from Oregeon - played by Geena Davis and Lori Petty - whose bond is tested when they become female professional baseball players during World War II. From a broader lens, A League of Their Own interrogates the slow but major changes in gender roles in the early 20th century, all while still giving audiences a grand old time in the dugout. 

10. Warrior (2011)


(Image credit: Lionsgate)

At the peak of the UFC's cultural chokehold circa 2011, Gavin O'Connor unleashed his hard-hitting drama about two brothers who leave it all in the octagon. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton star as siblings from a poor Irish-Catholic family in working class Pennsylvania, their issues stemming from abandonment and a childhood living under an abusive father. As adults, the two compete in a $5 million mixed martial arts tournament, each vying for the prize for their own reasons. Far more than its lunkheaded looks let on, Warrior is a beautiful and brutal picture about the lengths we go for the ones we love.

9. Creed (2015)


(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Almost a decade after Sylvester Stallone hung up his gloves for good in 2006's Rocky Balboa, the Rocky saga found new life in Adonis Creed, played by rising star Michael B. Jordan. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Creed expands the Rocky universe as Apollo's son grows up into a formidable boxing star in his own right and seeks the guidance of Rocky Balboa (a returning Stallone) to show him the way of a champion. With Coogler's sensational and immersive directing, Creed uppercuts expectations to realize that legacy isn't about imitating the past but learning from it in order to grow beyond. 

8. Love & Basketball (2000)

Love & Basketball

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The WNBA was less than five years old as an organization when director Gina Prince-Bythewood made her feature debut about a female baller with hoop dreams in Love & Basketball. Sanaa Lathan stars as Monica, a girl with a passion for basketball who grows up next door to Quincy (Omar Epps), himself the son of a mid-grade NBA player. The two spend their teenage years as close friends, and then enter University of Southern California as lovers, until their professional aspirations drive them apart. When they meet again in the "fourth quarter" of life, the clock begins to run out on whether they accept they are each other's one and only. Through taut direction from Prince-Bythewood, Love & Basketball is a soulful slam dunk.

7. The Color of Money (1986)

The Color of Money

(Image credit: Touchstone Pictures)

It looks like a movie about playing pool. But what The Color of Money is really about is the hustle. Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Color of Money stars Paul Newman as a veteran pool shark (which is also reprising his role from the 1961 movie The Hustler) who takes in a talented but inexperienced up-and-comer named Vincent (Tom Cruise) to make themselves cash in rinky dink pool halls as they travel to a major tournament in Atlantic City. Stylish and layered with enthralling character drama, The Color of Money is a gritty classic that shows us all how learning to lose means winning in the end.

6. Remember the Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

Your mileage varies if Remember the Titans is a softened portrait of post-Civil Rights America made by Disney or that it means something that Disney produced a genuinely moving film about the power of sports to erase color lines. Whatever the case, no one can ignore a mighty Denzel Washington as real-life high school football coach Herman Boone, who in 1971 oversaw the newly integrated T.C. Williams High School in Virginia to on-field dominance. Forgetting how many times Boaz Yakin's film swerves from historical fact - like how other Virginia schools the Titans played that season were also desegregated, and had been for years - Remember the Titans goes long for the touchdown, being still one of the finest sports dramas of all time. 

5. Challengers (2024)


(Image credit: MGM)

In Luca Guadagnino's sweaty drama, sex is tennis and tennis is sex between two competitors and ex-best friends Patrick and Art (played by Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist) whose relationship is driven apart by the gorgeous and scheming Tashi Duncan (a laser-focused Zendaya). With a framing device structured around a lowly open challenge event that's beneath all of their skill levels, Challengers zig-zags from the present to the past, tracing Patrick and Art's first meeting with Tashi as horny college kids and the long serpentine paths their lives take until they meet again on opposite sides of the net. With a pulsating techno score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Challengers serves up one hell of a time that leaves audiences spinning.

4. Miracle (2004)


(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

At the 1980 Winter Olympics, the "Miracle on Ice" saw the U.S. men's hockey team achieve a gold medal victory over the seasoned, odds favorite Soviets. Gavin O'Connor captures the thrills of victory and the sweaty efforts to avoid defeat in Miracle, his rich 2004 dramatization of those events. Kurt Russell stars as Herb Brooks, the disciplined coach who rounds up amateur hockey players - all of whom harbor professional dreams - and whips them into athletes worthy of Olympic immortality. Miracle may be a quintessential sports drama, with distinct Cold War period set dressings, but that doesn't stop it from skating into glory. 

3. Field of Dreams (1989)

Field of Dreams

(Image credit: Univers)

Baseball is more than a sport in Phil Aiden Robinson’s American film classic Field of Dreams. It’s heritage. Kevin Costner takes center stage as an Iowa farmer compelled to build a baseball field on his property; in doing so, he attracts the ghosts of bygone baseball legends who return to play the beautiful game. A potentially ridiculous premise is played with grace and grave sincerity, making Field of Dreams authentically one of the most beautiful sports movies of all time. In 2021, with the world attempting to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MLB began hosting special games at the real Field of Dreams (a functional baseball field made for the movie’s production) in Dubuque County in Iowa. At the inaugural game between the Yankees and Red Sox, Costner was present to reprise his role.

2. Raging Bull (1980)

Raging Bull

(Image credit: MGM)

You would think a boxing movie starring Robert De Niro and directed by Martin Scorsese would be an instant knockout. But in 1980, their project Raging Bull was only a modest success that earned lukewarm reviews. The ensuing decades prove the virtues of going all twelve rounds, because now Raging Bull is popularly deemed one of the finest sports biographical dramas ever made. Based on the life and times of professional boxer Jake LaMotta, as documented in his 1970 memoir, Raging Bull depicts a middleweight with a short fuse (De Niro) whose reckless behavior and run-ins with the mob turn his life to ruin. Now, Raging Bull is rightfully a celebrated American epic that goes toe-to-toe with the rest of the best.

1. Rocky (1976)


(Image credit: MGM)

Is there a more influential sports movie than Rocky? Sylvester Stallone’s breakout movie follows a Philadelphia mob enforcer and amateur boxer who is plucked from obscurity to compete in an exhibition match against superstar athlete Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). This gritty classic about the fighting spirit within the everyday “little guy” is a timeless milestone in the history of cinema and American popular culture. Never mind that Rocky has spawned a multimedia franchise with numerous sequels and launched the careers of men like Stallone and Weathers. All that really matters is that in one movie, Rocky tells a complete story that is pound-for-pound one of the greatest sports dramas ever told.

Eric Francisco

Eric Francisco is a freelance entertainment journalist and graduate of Rutgers University. If a movie or TV show has superheroes, spaceships, kung fu, or John Cena, he's your guy to make sense of it. A former senior writer at Inverse, his byline has also appeared at Vulture, The Daily Beast, Observer, and The Mary Sue. You can find him screaming at Devils hockey games or dodging enemy fire in Call of Duty: Warzone.