With the big game coming up this Sunday, some cinephiles may find themselves with little to watch if they’re not sports fans. Here are five great films spanning genres and decades, all about football (in alphabetical order):
Brian’s Song (1971, Kulik). Based on a true story, Brian’s Song focuses on the friendship between two professional football players, Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gayle Sayers (Billy Dee Williams), particularly when Brian discovers he has terminal cancer. It’s a story about friendship which transcends competition, social norms, or human mortality.
The Freshman (1925, Newmeyer, Taylor). Harold Lloyd is the third member of the silent era comedic trinity; the other two are Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. The Freshman is his madcap depiction of a nerdy college student with aspirations for popularity, leading him onto the football field. It’s a college spoof and a coming-of-age romance in a timeless, hilarious film. Streaming via Hulu.
Remember the Titans (2000, Yakin). It’s Denzel Washington lovingly yelling at a young Ryan Gosling and the Sons of Anarchy and Scrubs guys to stop being racist and come together to win football games. This is one of those movies when you see it on TV while flipping through channels, you sorta have to stop and watch it. Family friendly, and lots of great inspirational scenes.
Rudy (1993, Anspaugh). This is the ultimate underdog story–an undersized, nonathletic young man named Rudy just wants to play college football for Notre Dame. Over and over, he’s told he can’t achieve this dream. Over and over, he continues to pursue it. Sean Astin gives an iconic performance as Rudy, and this is truly one of the best football films ever made.
Undefeated (2011, Lindsay, Martin). An Oscar winner for the Best Feature Documentary in 2012, this is the story of an underdog high school team attempting the impossible–winning the state championship. Despite lack of funding and support due to being in an impoverished neighborhood, the team begins to come together and win games under coach Bill Courtney. If you’re looking for an inspirational comeback story, or you really loved the first season of Friday Night Lights, this will have you cheering.
What other football movies are your favorites? Share your recommendations in the comments!