Best Football Movies of All Time
Moviefone has put together a list of best football movies to tide you over until next season.
Another Super Bowl Sunday is here, and America is about to enjoy its favorite pastime ... eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching football. But, thanks to the magic of movies, you can enjoy football films all year long.
While The Los Angeles Rams vs. the Cincinnati Bengals promises to be an exciting game, if its a blowout, and you still need your football fix, try watching one of these football movies on Sunday afternoon.
These football movies cover what happens both on and off the field, and both the modern game and the way it was played almost a century ago. Best of all, every movie here is streaming right now, so you can get started watching any of them immediately.
Here is a list of some of the greatest football movies ever made!
As Philadelphia suffered industrial job losses in the 70s, morale wasn't helped by the Eagles' losing every season since 1967. Enter Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg), a fairly unusual football prospect who became symbolic of the city's resilience.
Papale hadn't played football in college (although he had played some semi-pro ball), and was much older than the average rookie. But in 1976, new coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) is hamstrung by a lack of draft picks, so he opens Eagles tryouts, and a Philadelphia legend is born.
Wahlberg lends a gritty determination to his portrayal of Papale, a Philly local encouraged by his friends to try out for the Eagles. And Kinnear's Vermiel is a talented, confident coach, but one that's driven to extreme measure to build a team. In the end, this hits all the notes of a classic underdog sports story, but it does that so well that even though you know what's going to happen, you're still happy to see it.
Where most sports movies make sure to include as much gameplay as possible, ‘Draft Day’ does something different. The film instead focuses on a day in the life of the fictional general manager, Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) of the Cleveland Browns. Weaver is under pressure on the day of the NFL Draft because the team owner (Frank Langella) wants Weaver to “make a splash,” but Weaver has his doubts about a highly-rated prospect who may be on the table.
Meanwhile, his personal life is taking up some of his headspace; his girlfriend/co-worker Ali (Jennifer Garner) is pregnant, and Weaver has been arguing with his mother (Ellen Burstyn). Weaver spends a chaotic day navigating through the demands of the team owner, the needs of the team and the coaching staff, and his fraught personal life while he embarks on some complicated horse trading of current and future draft picks. There’s a satisfaction in watching someone that’s good at their job doing that job well, and ‘Draft Day’ delivers that in spades.
This 2007 documentary film from director Don Argott is about four players preparing for the 2006 NFL draft. There's plenty of appearances from NFL veteran players and coaches, but the real drama is with the players on the emotional day of the draft. The tension behind the scenes was just as high as what was filmed, leading to a delayed release and the doc getting less attention than it should have. But this fascinating, clear-eyed look at the draft process from the players' point of view shouldn't be overlooked.
Director George Clooney takes on the chaotic early days of professional football in this story (very) loosely based on Harold “Red” Grange’s signing by the Chicago Bears in 1925. Clooney stars as Jimmy “Dodge” Connelly, the captain of the struggling Duluth Bulldogs. In an effort to turn the team around, Dodge signs Carter “The Bullet” Rutherford (John Krasinski) a star player and decorated WWI veteran.
The movie is as loopy as the brawling, trick play-filled style we see on the field, with Renee Zellweger as the sports reporter that’s caught the eye of both Connelly and Rutherford. Clooney’s direction combines screwball romantic comedy with chaotic, free-for-all football, giving us a light look at how the game was played way back when.
Loosely (very loosely) based on the Dallas Cowboys of the 70s, 'North Dallas Forty' is a story of a pair of football stars, wide receiver Phil Elliot (Nick Nolte), a jaded veteran, and quarterback Seth Maxwell (Mac Davis) who hasn't yet tired of the hard partying off the field.
Since this is the 70s, sex, alcohol, and painkillers are standard elements of the ubiquitous parties off the field, but Nolte's world-weary Elliot may have finally had enough. 'North Dallas Forty' gives us a glimpse of the freewheeling past of pro football, far before every aspect of players and teams were examined by social media and the 24-hour news cycle.
Writer/director Peter Landseman takes a serious look at the physical toll professional football takes on players in this 2015 drama. Will Smith stars as neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, the man who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease affecting NFL players and other athletes.
Smith’s Omalu is soft-spoken but fiercely persistent as he tries to get the NFL to acknowledge and address the health crisis he's unearthed. The discovery of CTE leads to a Congressional investigation and lawsuits from hundreds of players against the NFL, and the film gives us a sobering look at Omalu’s work and the league’s unwillingness to accept his findings.
'Brian's Song' tells the true story of the deep friendship between Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams), both rookie wide receivers for the Chicago Bears. Although they eventually get the chance to play at the same time, with Piccolo now at fullback, Piccolo's cancer diagnosis keeps him off the field, cutting short their time together.
Williams' Sayers isn't afraid to be emotional with his teammates about the loss of his friend, making this film one of the iconic portrayals of male friendship. Like 'Rudy,' this football film is all but guaranteed to get tears out of even the most stoic of men.
Rudy (Sean Austin) grew up in a steel mill town where most people ended up working, but wanted to play football at Notre Dame instead. There were only a couple of problems. His grades were a little low, his athletic skills were poor, and he was only half the size of the other players. But he had the drive and the spirit of five people and has set his sights upon joining the team.
'Rudy' is the ultimate underdog story and a quintessential football movie. Based on a true story, the film features a career-best performance from Sean Austin in the title role, and early performances from future 'Swingers' stars Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn.
Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) is a quarterback preparing to lead his team to the Super Bowl when he is almost killed in an accident. An overanxious angel plucks him to heaven only to discover that he wasn't ready to die, and that his body has been cremated. A new body must be found, and that of a recently-murdered millionaire is chosen. His wife and accountant—the murderers—are confused by this development, as he buys the L.A. Rams in order to once again quarterback them into the Super Bowl.
While its not a straight-forward football movie, this 1979 romantic comedy certainly has a lot of football in it. The conclusion of the movie take place at the Super Bowl, and was actually filmed during halftime of a San Diego Chargers vs. Los Angeles Rams game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1977. Several real-life NFL players appear in the movie including Deacon Jones, Les Josephson, Jack T. Snow, Jim Boeke, and Charles Cowan, while sportscaster Dick Enberg also appears as himself.
Molly (Goldie Hawn) is a high school track coach who knows just as much about football as anyone else on the planet. When a football coach's position becomes vacant, she applies for the job, despite snickers from fellow staff members and her former husband.
Directed by 'Fletch's Michael Ritchie, 'Wildcats' is a must-see 80's movie and features one of Goldie Hawn's best performances. The movie also features early performances from 'White Men Can't Jump' stars Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, and future 'Forrest Gump' co-star Mykelti Willamson.
Maverick old-guard coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) is hired in the wake of a players' strike to help the Washington Sentinels advance to the playoffs. But that impossible dream hinges on whether his replacements can hunker down and do the job, including washed up Quarterback Shane Falco (Keanu Reeves). So, McGinty dusts off his secret dossier of ex-players who never got a chance (or screwed up the one they were given) and knits together a bad-dream team of guys who just may give the Sentinels their title shot.
The movie is loosely based on the actual 1987 NFL strike, where "scab" players replaced the professionals. While it was never going to win any awards, 'The Replacements' is a really fun football comedy that not only features a commanding performance from Keanu Reeves, but also one of Gene Hackman's final onscreen appearances.
When a plane crash claims the lives of members of the Marshall University football team and some of its fans, the team's new coach (Matthew McConaughey) and his surviving players try to keep the football program alive.
Based on a true story, 'We Are Marshall' is less about Football and more about how the game affects the people living in this small community. While it technically predates his "McConaissance" by a few years, the actor gives an excellent and energized performance. The movie also features future Marvel actors Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War), Kate Mara (Fantastic Four) and January Jones (X-Men: First Class) in early roles.
When the Texas Southern Armadillos football team is disqualified for cheating and poor grades, the University is forced to pick from a team that actually goes to school. Will they even win a single game?
This 1991 comedy is to football movies what 'Major League' is to Baseball movies. A ridiculous yet hilarious comedy, the movie has an eclectic cast that includes Scott Bakula, Hector Elizondo, Jason Bateman, Sinbad, and supermodel Kathy Ireland.
After leading his football team to 15 winning seasons, coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) is demoted and replaced by Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) – tough, opinionated and as different from the beloved Yoast as he could be. The two men learn to overcome their differences and turn a group of hostile young men into champions.
Based on a true story, the movie has become a modern classic, thanks in large part to Oscar-winner Denzel Washington's commanding performance. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Boaz Yakin, the movie also features Ryan Gosling, Kate Bosworth, and Hayden Panettiere in early roles.
A small, turbulent town in Texas obsesses over their high school football team to an unhealthy degree. When the star tailback, Boobie Miles (Derek Luke), is seriously injured during the first game of the season, all hope is lost, and the town's dormant social problems begin to flare up. It is left to the inspiring abilities of new coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) to instill in the other team members -- and, by proxy, the town itself -- a sense of self-respect and honor.
Directed by Peter Berg, this is the film that inspired the phenomenally successful TV series of the same name. Billy Bob Thornton is fantastic as Coach Gary Gains, and is surrounded by a supporting cast that includes Lucas Black, Garrett Hedlund, Amber Heard, and Connie Britton, who would also go on to appear in the TV adaption.
When the girl that detective Joe Hallenback (Bruce Willis) is protecting gets murdered, the boyfriend (Damon Wayans) of the murdered girl attempts to investigate and solve the case. What they discover is that there is deep seated corruption going on between a crooked politician and the owner of a pro football team.
While it's really a buddy cop comedy, 'The Last Boy Scout' does take place in the world of professional football. However, you won't recognize any of the teams featured in the movie as the NFL refused to work with the production due to the content of the film.
Willis gives a strong post-'Die Hard' performance, while Wayans is just coming off of his success on 'In Living Color.' The movie also features Halle Berry in an early role playing Wayans' girlfriend.
Oliver Stone's intensity as a filmmaker served him well as the director and co-writer of this story about a fictional professional football league. And considering how 'Any Given Sunday' takes on some of the uglier aspects of pro ball, it's not a surprise that the NFL wouldn't allow Stone to use any real-life team logos or stadiums.
Al Pacino plays a long-time, respected coach under pressure for missing the playoffs last season, and Dennis Quaid plays the veteran quarterback, determined to make a comeback (although his body may not be up for it). Soon we see Jamie Foxx as "Steamin" Willie Beaman, an unexpected replacement quarterback with a chip on his shoulder.
Sparks fly between these three and almost everyone else involved in the team, including the team owner and general manager (Cameron Diaz), the unethical team doctor (James Woods) that keeps players on the field at all costs, and a star running back (LL Cool J) more focused on his own incentive clauses than the team's successes.
Rounding out the cast are Lauren Holly, Ann-Margret, Aaron Eckhart, Matthew Modine, John C. McGinley, Elizabeth Berkeley and NFL veterans Lawrence Taylor and Jim Brown. Stone's approach is as much a commentary on professional football as 'Wall Street' had cynically addressed high finance and 'Natural Born Killers' riffed on media fascination with serial killers. Bone-crunching game sequences and fiery dialogue help 'Any Given Sunday' capture the increasing intensity of both the games and the business around professional football.