Across every field, on every court, and inside every ring and track, here are the 10 most inspirational sports to motivate you in your physical pursuit!
To keep a wide spread of movies, we picked one for each sport, including Football (Remember the Titans and their rise against racism and tragedy), Baseball (where women find joy and camaraderie in A League of Their Own), Soccer (Bend It Like Beckham showed the sport to a young generation), Ice Hockey (patriotism and sports combine in the best way possible in Miracle), and Basketball (Hoosiers watch to discover one of the ultimate underdogs in movie history).
In one-to-one fighting sports like Boxing, we're including Warrior and Creed. The latter is part of the family of Rocky movies, arguably the most inspirational sports franchise ever. Original Rocky director John G. Avildsen worked his magic when he released The Karate Kid, which has continued into the Cobra Kai series. And on the track, whether you're running or gunning it, we have Chariots of Fire and Ford v Ferrari.
#1 Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Critics Consensus: Ford v Ferrari delivers all the polished auto action audiences will expect -- and balances it with enough gripping human drama to satisfy non-racing enthusiasts.
Synopsis: American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary vehicle for the Ford Motor Co. Together, they plan to compete against the race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.
Starring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe
Directed By: James Mangold
#2 Hoosiers (1986)
Critics Consensus: It may adhere to the sports underdog formula, but Hoosiers has been made with such loving craft, and features such excellent performances, that it's hard to resist.
Synopsis: Failed college coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) gets a chance at redemption when he is hired to direct the basketball program at a high school in a tiny Indiana town. After a teacher (Barbara Hershey) persuades star player Jimmy Chitwood to quit and focus on his long-neglected studies, Dale struggles to develop a winning team in the face of community criticism for his temper and his unconventional choice of assistant coach: Shooter (Dennis Hopper), a notorious alcoholic.
Starring: Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Hopper, Sheb Wooley
Directed By: David Anspaugh
#3 Remember the Titans (2000)
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas, each playoff distinguished more grandly than any national holiday. And with such recognition, comes powerful emotions. In 1971 high school football was everything to the people of Alexandria. But when the local school board was forced to integrate an all black school with an all white school, the very foundation of football's great tradition was put to the test.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Donald Faison, Wood Harris
Directed By: Boaz Yakin
#4 Warrior (2011)
Critics Consensus: Warrior relies on many of the clichés that critics of the genre love to mock -- and it transcends them with gripping action, powerful acting, and heart.
Synopsis: An estranged family finds redemption in the unlikeliest of places: the MMA ring. Tommy (Tom Hardy), an ex-Marine with a tragic past, returns home and enlists his father (Nick Nolte), a recovering alcoholic and former wrestling coach, to train him for "Sparta," the biggest MMA tournament ever held. But when Tommy's underdog brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), fights his way into the tournament, the two brothers must finally confront each other and the forces that pulled them apart.
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor
#5 Miracle (2004)
Critics Consensus: Kurt Russell's performance guides this cliche-ridden tale into the realm of inspirational, nostalgic goodness.
Synopsis: When college coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is hired to helm the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team, he brings a unique and brash style to the ice. After assembling a team of hot-headed college all-stars, who are humiliated in an early match, Brooks unites his squad against a common foe, the heavily-favored Soviet team. As the U.S. squad tries to overcome insurmountable odds and win the gold medal, the team becomes a microcosm for American patriotism during the Cold War.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich, Sean McCann
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor
#6 Creed (2015)
Critics Consensus: Creed brings the Rocky franchise off the mat for a surprisingly effective seventh round that extends the boxer's saga in interesting new directions while staying true to its classic predecessors' roots.
Synopsis: Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died before Adonis was born. However, boxing is in his blood, so he seeks out Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and asks the retired champ to be his trainer. Rocky sees much of Apollo in Adonis, and agrees to mentor him, even as he battles an opponent deadlier than any in the ring. With Rocky's help, Adonis soon gets a title shot, but whether he has the true heart of a fighter remains to be seen.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad
Directed By: Ryan Coogler
#7 A League of Their Own (1992)
Critics Consensus: Sentimental and light, but still thoroughly charming, A League of Their Own is buoyed by solid performances from a wonderful cast.
Synopsis: As America's stock of athletic young men is depleted during World War II, a professional all-female baseball league springs up in the Midwest, funded by publicity-hungry candy maker Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall). Competitive sisters Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petty) spar with each other, scout Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz) and grumpy has-been coach Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) on their way to fame. Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell co-star as two of the sisters' teammates.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, David Strathairn
Directed By: Penny Marshall
#8 The Karate Kid (1984)
Critics Consensus: Utterly predictable and wholly of its time, but warm, sincere, and difficult to resist, due in large part to Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio's relaxed chemistry.
Synopsis: Daniel (Ralph Macchio) moves to Southern California with his mother, Lucille (Randee Heller), but quickly finds himself the target of a group of bullies who study karate at the Cobra Kai dojo. Fortunately, Daniel befriends Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita), an unassuming repairman who just happens to be a martial arts master himself. Miyagi takes Daniel under his wing, training him in a more compassionate form of karate and preparing him to compete against the brutal Cobra Kai.
Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue, Randee Heller
Directed By: John G. Avildsen
#9 Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Critics Consensus: Inspiring, compassionate, and with a sly undercurrent of social commentary, Bend It Like Beckham is a lively feel-good movie that genuinely charms.
Synopsis: Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), the daughter of a strict Indian couple (Anupam Kher, Shaheen Khan) in London, is not permitted to play organized soccer, even though she is 18. When Jess is playing for fun one day, her impressive skills are seen by Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley), who then convinces Jess to play for her semi-pro team. Jess uses elaborate excuses to hide her matches from her family while also dealing with her romantic feelings for her coach, Joe.
Starring: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Anupam Kher, Archie Panjabi
Directed By: Gurinder Chadha
#10 Chariots of Fire (1981)
Critics Consensus: Decidedly slower and less limber than the Olympic runners at the center of its story, Chariots of Fire nevertheless makes effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.
Synopsis: In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Christian born to Scottish missionaries in China, sees running as part of his worship of God's glory and refuses to train or compete on the Sabbath. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) overcomes anti-Semitism and class bias, but neglects his beloved sweetheart Sybil (Alice Krige) in his single-minded quest.
Starring: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, John Gielgud, Nigel Havers
Directed By: Hugh Hudson