In 2008 The American Film Institute (AFI) unveiled its ten greatest US films in ten classic film genres. While the sports category could spark great debate I thought it would be worth rekindling the argument. Herewith are my (extremely subjective) best sports films of all-time. But first, let us look at those motion pictures that miss out on Super Pete’s Super Five.
The AFI nominated Raging Bull as its best sports movie ever. I am going to exclude it from my top five. While the film was fine the excessive swearing and violence was too much for my liking. Besides, what is the point of not being able to show the children the greatest film of all-time?
The American market is filled with a plethora of gridiron, ice hockey, basketball and baseball movies. While the likes of Field Of Dreams and Celtic Pride earn honourable mentions, they are not quite good enough for the elite list. Wimbledon disappointed as a tennis movie and Bodyline was more of a mini-series.
Soccer movies are also worthy of a mention but the likes of Escape To Victory and Goal do not make the final cut although the latter has sentimental value to me as a long suffering Newcastle United supporter.
The films that are unluckiest not to make the final five are Any Given Sunday, Jerry Maguire and The Karate Kid. Herewith the Super Five.
5. The Mighty Ducks
While this might be a sentimental choice from my childhood, how can you not love the underdog story of a bunch of loser kids who get it together and win the championship?
4. Facing The Giants
This is a Christian film and encompasses a bit more than just American football. It tells the tale of a down-and-out high school coach who turns his team’s fortunes around to win the State Championship. Along the way his personal life experiences prosperity too. Regardless of your religious beliefs, it is worth a watch.
As a South African this film about Nelson Mandela using rugby to unite a divided nation is pure magic. Matt Damon even manages a decent South African accent which Hollywood has proven is not the easiest to mimic.
2. Remember The Titans
This one is similar to Facing The Giants and Invictus. Denzel Washington plays the part of a high school coach who has to unify a racially divided town, let alone team. He ropes in the former white head coach as his assistant and is able to turn things around so well that the Titans are season-ending champions
You could have seen this one coming based on my love of the fictional underdog. Rocky Balboa is a genuine nobody who by a stroke of luck is afforded a shot at the heavyweight title of the world. He goes toe-to-toe with the undefeated champion and survives 15 rounds. The film was done an injustice by four sequels in which each one was gradually worse than the previous until the awful Rocky V. The franchise did end on a high note with the sixth edition, Rocky Balboa but the original and best goes down as my winner.
You could easily come up with a top five that does not include any of these films. So, what is your best ever sports movie?