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Sport has long been a popular choice amongst filmmakers, with its dramatic nature providing a powerful backdrop on which to base a movie.

However, many film directors have steered clear of sport as the content can often feel stereotypical and cliched when compared with other genres.

Martin Scorsese was famously disinterested in sports movies until making Raging Bull, and he is not the only director who has felt that way about the subject.

Despite this, there have been a plethora of magnificent sports movies created. Read on as we look at some of the best films released during the 21st century.

The Damned United

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According to, The Damned United is ranked as one of the best soccer movies of all-time, and it is easy to see why.

Soccer has not always transferred well onto the big screen, but this 2009 film directed by Tom Hooper is undoubtedly a genuine classic.

It chronicles the tale of Brian Clough’s disastrous 44-day spell at Leeds United, where player power and fan unrest undermined one of the greatest managers England has ever produced.

Actor Michael Sheen is superb in the lead role, sensitively demonstrating the different levels of Clough’s personality throughout the film.


The United States rarely head into major events as underdogs, but that was certainly the case in ice hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Miracle is set against the backdrop of the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union, with the latter nation heading into the Games as the overwhelming favourites to win the gold medal.

Coached by the innovative Herb Brooks, the US took a team of college players to Lake Placid and knocked out the Soviets on their way to winning the tournament.

Al Michaels’ legendary ‘do you believe in miracles’ line as ABC’s commentator still sends shivers down your spine, even if you know the outcome of that game.

Remember the Titans

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Denzel Washington rarely features in bad movies, and he hit all the right notes as coach Herman Boone in Remember the Titans.

Based on real-life events that took place in 1971, the film tells the story of Boone’s attempts to integrate a high school football team in Alexandria, Virginia.

Boone has to deal with repeated clashes between black and white players, but his coaching methods help the group to successfully integrate with each other.

The team face numerous racially motivated challenges during the season as they try to deliver an unlikely victory in the state championships.


Another film with its roots set firmly in racial tension, Invictus details how a nation came together through sport at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Morgan Freeman shines as Nelson Mandela, delivering a performance that led to him receiving Best Actor nominations at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.

Matt Damon also turns in a strong performance as South Africa captain Francois Pienaar, who helps Mandela in his efforts to break down apartheid barriers.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film demonstrates how sport can unify people, delivering an uplifting message that genuinely tugs at your heartstrings.

Coach Carter

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Coach Carter is based on the true story of Richmond High School basketball coach Ken Carter, who controversially suspended his undefeated team in 1999 due to poor academic results.

Samuel L Jackson is compelling in the lead role, using his considerable on-screen presence to bring the backstory to life.

The film takes viewers on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, without ever falling into the trap of becoming too predictable.

The battle between Carter, the team and the local community is fascinating, and the film’s ending isn’t what you would necessarily expect from the sports genre.

Glory Road

Racial issues are once again the central premise in this excellent 2006 movie about university basketball in Texas during the 1960s.

Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) creates history by selecting seven disadvantaged African-American players in the Texas Western Miners squad.

Haskins inevitably comes under fire for the move, but sticks to his guns and ends up starting five of those players in the National Championship game.

The racial undertones in Glory Road remain particularly pertinent given some of the controversial events in the US over the past few years.


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This controversial 2011 movie lays bare the brutality of ice hockey and the role that enforcers play in the sport.

Seann William Scott plays Doug Glatt, a bouncer with a penchant for punching people who ends up signing for an ice hockey team.

Glatt is there to protect his teammates wherever possible but ends up on a collision course with the most formidable enforcer in the league – Ross ‘the Boss’ Rhea (Schreiber).

The fight between the pair is epic and gruesome in equal measure and is the catalyst for a thrilling end to the movie.


Moneyball is the inspiring story of the Oakland As, a baseball team that bounces back from near bankruptcy to become successful.

Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, the team’s general manager who is struggling to cope with the demands of turning around their fortunes.

He meets Pete Brand (Jonah Hill) an economics major from Yale, who devises a unique formula that allows them to identify undervalued players.

They use this strategy to beat the odds and lay down a template that many other sports organisations have since adopted.


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Ron Howard has come a long way since playing Richie Cunningham in Happy Days and Rush is one of his finest efforts as a director.

The film is based on the true story of the epic Formula 1 rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl).

The story follows their different styles both on and off the track during the thrilling 1976 season in which both drivers risked life and limb in pursuit of glory.

Although Rush is economical with the truth in places, it still manages to capture the grit and determination needed to succeed at the highest level of motor racing.