From the nonstop chatter about which team is better (“I love the Saints!” “No, the Colts are gonna win!”) to the party menu preparations, Americans from east to west have one thing on their minds: the Super Bowl.
Take a break from the trash talking and party planning and get back to what you love about the game — those awe-inspiring, nail-biting moments (you know, the ones that could only happen in the movies) that make you want to lace up a pair of cleats and throw on some shoulder pads. If The Blind Side wasn’t enough to satisfy your inspirational sports movie craving, post up on the couch with one of our favorite all-time football movies, below.
1. Rudy (pictured above)
We love a great underdog story, and Rudys is hands-down the best on our list. An inspirational, feel-good movie, this triumphant tale follows the pursuit of a five-foot nothin, 100 and nothin kid with barely a speck of athletic ability as he journeys to the Mecca of college football: Notre Dame. The result? 115 minutes of pure entertainment…and the most epic slow clap of all time.
2. Little GiantsWell gentlemen, theres a new OShea in town. After years of living in his shadow, heavy-hearted Danny OShea (Rick Moranis) challenges his cocky older brother Kevin (Ed ONeill) to a gridiron duel, transforming a team of misfits into local champs. This rags-to-riches football comedy, where football is 80 percent mental and 40 percent physical, is bolstered by cameos from some of the games greats: John Madden, Bruce Smith, and Emmitt Smith.
3. Any Given SundayFrom its stacked cast (Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, and Charlton Heston) to inspiring locker room speeches, Oliver Stone scores big with Any Given Sunday. No other film captures the gametime adrenaline rush quite like this one.
4. Friday Night LightsFriday Night Lights gives us a little dose of what its like to practice the religion that is Texas high school football. In a town tested by economic disparity and plagued by fallen spirits, the Permian Panthers give locals something to live for every Friday night, and when it’s all said and done, Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) shows us that theres more to winning than the final score. Relive the magic of Friday Night Lights every week with the movies TV spin-off on NBC.
5. Remember the TitansSure it has a few sappy scenes and is full of Disney clichs, but at the end of the day, we just cant forget Remember the Titans. In a world where racial tensions are mounting, a group of high school kids learn to look past one anothers skin colors as they eat, sleep, and breathe football — theres yelling, fighting, uniting, and of course, game-saving plays.
6. The Replacements
In the wake of an NFL players strike, Coach McGinty (Gene Hackman) calls in the scabs in this slapstick football flick. Theres no complicated story line here — just a mismatched bunch of guys looking for a shot to play pro football.
7. Varsity BluesWeve all heard the story before: standout QB suffers a game-ending injury, instantly catapulting the second string nobody to hometown-hero fame. MTV takes its spin on the quintessential football movie plot in Varsity Blues, and the results are awesome. James Van Der Beek drifts from the Creek to play Mox, the team’s backup quarterback, and Jon Voight revels in his evil coach role. The bawdy high school humor makes this make your own rules drama a must-see.
8. The WaterboyAdam Sandler emerges from the swampy backwoods of Louisiana as a clumsy, stuttering mamas boy turned clumsy, stuttering hard-hitting lineman in The Waterboy. Its physical, its funny — its classic Sandler (well, pre- You Dont Mess with the Zohan and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry).
9. Jerry Maguire Tom Cruise had us at hello in this smart portrayal of a hotshot sports agent who, after losing it all, is forced to go back to the basics. Its a boy-meets-girl story rooted in the sport of football, where an egotistical Cuba Gooding, Jr. is Cruises only meal ticket. Jerry Maguire spawned some major catchphrases of the 90s, and well, how else would we have learned that the human brain weighs eight pounds?
10. The Longest YardOnly in the movies would a pack of angry inmates be allowed to battle it out against their superiors on a football field. Led by a washed-up NFL quarterback (Burt Reynolds), this squad seeks to get even with the guys who make their lives hell. The Longest Yard is definitely every prison guards worst nightmare.
11. Necessary RoughnessJason Bateman, Kathy Ireland, Scott Bakula, and Sinbad team up to revamp the football program over at Texas State in Necessary Roughness. Lets be honest, anytime you attempt to throw a 34-year-old back into college football, youre bound to get a few laughs.
12. The ExpressErnie Davis transcended the race barrier during the 1960s civil rights movement while playing football at Syracuse University. This exciting biopic follows Davis legendary accomplishments and offers a stellar performance from sports movie veteran Dennis Quaid.