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Welcome to Player Affinity’s Sports Movie Madness! We figured that if March is the month of tournaments, PA should be no exception and what better way to start our first annual polling tournament than with the best sports movies of all time? Over the course of the next couple weeks, you will have the chance to vote for your favorite sports movies out of a field of 64. Now, we present our list of the best football movies.
In the Sports Movie Madness tournament, there are seven sports and one mega-category of miscellaneous sports, so eight regions total. This is the Football Region. Below are the eight football films we deemed most worthy of our tournament. There are four matchups based on these seedings and your job is to pick which movie you deem worthy of winning each matchup. Simply enter a comment by Saturday at 11:59 pm with the four movies you are picking to move on (once again, not any four movies, but one of the two movie going up against each other, so no voting for Rudy and The Waterboy, only one or the other) and your votes count! Each region will have three rounds and then the winner of each sport region will face off against the other sports until we have a winner!
Arguably the most popular American sport, football has also made for some of the most beloved sports movies ever. Even the Oscars have begun to take notice: 2009’s The Blind Side was nominated for Best Picture and won an Oscar for its leading actress, Sandra Bullock.
Football films tend to revolve around an underdog story of some kind—Rudy, The Replacements. And more often than not, there are race and cultural challenges to overcome—Remember the Titans, The Blind Side. But without fail, these films feature camaraderie in its highest form, as well as plenty of intense action on the field. Below are the first-round matchups. Read them through, choose your favorites, and leave us a comment with your picks to win each matchup.
2 Remember the Titans
3 Friday Night Lights
4 Any Given Sunday
5 The Longest Yard (1974)
6 The Replacements
7 The Blind Side
8 The Waterboy
1 Rudy vs. 8 The Waterboy
Until he became Samwise Gamgee, Sean Astin was Rudy, a scrappy kid with one dream—to play football for Notre Dame. He’s incredibly undersized, though, and his grades aren’t great either. Of course, he works very hard, goes through some tragedy, and is ultimately rewarded. It’s the ultimate sports film for any Notre Dame fan, and plenty of other fans as well.
The Waterboy is simply vintage Adam Sandler. The story of an athletically gifted, mentally shorthanded Southern boy, it’s full of your typical Sandler humor and plenty of hilarious cameos from the usual Sandler suspects. And if that type of humor is your thing, this underdog could cruise through the bracket.
4 Any Given Sunday vs. 5 The Longest Yard (1974)
Oliver Stone’s 1999 football opus Any Given Sunday has been criticized for being both overly long and stylized. But for real football fans, it’s an unflinching look at the sport they love, featuring another great performance by Al Pacino as an embattled pro football coach.
It’s hard to argue that Burt Reynolds ruled Hollywood in the 1970s, and one of his most iconic roles was in The Longest Yard. Equal parts entertaining football movie, hard-hitting prison drama, and surprisingly funny comedy, the film remains a classic to this day and was even remade in 2005 as a straight-up comedy starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.
3 Friday Night Lights vs. 6 The Replacements
Many consider Peter Berg’s Friday Night Lights to be the best sports movie ever — bar none. There’s no denying its importance (it gave us one of the best television series of the last decade), and Berg’s skill in getting us to care about his characters without resorting to much cheap manipulation is exceptional.
If there’s one common complaint about Friday Night Lights, however, is that it takes itself quite seriously. The same certainly can’t be said about The Replacements. Some have written it off as silly and clichéd, but at a time when an NFL lockout seems almost certain, this Keanu Reeves/Gene Hackman vehicle perhaps has taken on a new meaning.
2 Remember the Titans vs. 7 The Blind Side
Remember the Titans is one of those films that everyone watched a dozen times in high school. Who doesn’t love Denzel Washington’s Coach Boone? Or the unlikely partnership between Julius and Bertier? Or the funky way the team struts onto the field for every game? It might not be groundbreaking cinema, but there’s no denying its ability to uplift and entertain.
The same could be said for The Blind Side. The film has a somewhat bad reputation among cinephiles for sneaking into the Best Picture category a few years ago, but the general public loves this film, and it’s not hard to see why. It was a box office sensation (earning more than $200 million at the U.S. box office), and Sandra Bullock’s performance as a sassy Southern mother is quite captivating.
There you have it. To vote, simply leave a comment with your choices for each match. Remember, you can’t just vote for your favorite four films. You must choose the better among the two choices in each matchup. The results will be announced after the weekend, and the winners will move on to the next round.