Sports in media: top five football films

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A football lays on top of the grass. Pixabay

The pigskin on the big screen

With the NFL season officially over, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers becoming the new Super Bowl champions, I feel it’s the perfect time to write up another piece on sports in media. This time, instead of ice hockey or baseball, I’ll be taking a lot at the top five football films of all time and the impacts they’ve had in both cinema and life. Before we get started, I should mention that this list is in no way, shape or form an actual definitive ‘best of the best’ list and should be taken as such.

The films that I will be looking at are those that are equal parts entertaining and emotional. So, with that being said, hopefully you enjoy the following and don’t look too much into the lack of Any Given Sunday:

Honourable Mention: The Replacements

There’s so much about this film that hasn’t aged well. In what is basically just a more believable and less cringeworthy The Longest Yard, The Replacements is certainly a product of its time. At the same time though, it’s also a film about heart, the importance of bonding and what you can do when you trust in yourself. Keanu Reeves (back in his iffy acting days) plays down and out quarterback Shane Flaco, who perseveres through the face of adversity to overcome the obstacles in his way, therefore allowing him to see his true value as a player. So, you know, every underdog movie plotline ever. Still, it’s a film that really brings it home in the feel-good department. It’s goofy, it’s silly, and it’s just fun when all is said and done. The film also stars Gene Hackman and Brooke Langton in supporting/leading roles, as well as Jon Favreau pre-Marvel success (anyone else remember Daredevil? No, not that one) [Copy Editor’s Note: Hey – put some respect on Elf’s name].

5. Invincible

A dramatized biopic from Disney, Invincible is the story of Philadelphia Eagles player Vince Papable. Papable (played by Mark Walhberg) is an average joe who is just trying to make ends meet during a mass shutdown of job sites in the city. Due to his financial difficulties, as well as his friends’, Papable winds up trying out for the Philadelphia Eagles during an open-to-all practice. It is here where Papable impresses the coaching staff and begins his journey. Through trial and error, Vince eventually does become a member of the Eagles roster and ends up playing at the professional level. Honestly, this film is fantastic and is personally one of my favourites. The soundtrack (which features Jim Croce and Bachman-Turner Overdrive), the acting, the football – it’s all very well done.

4. Friday Night Lights

I was debating putting this at number three, but felt number four was more appropriate considering the other major juggernauts we have coming up. In what is probably my favourite of the films listed, Friday Night Lights does what few other sports movies have the moxie to do, be about journey, not the destination. If you haven’t seen Friday Night Lights, it is an absolutely heart-wrenching film. After everything that the team goes through to get to the championship game, they end up losing by being just short of the goal line (much like the Rams and Titans Super Bowl of 2000). However, like I mentioned earlier, it’s how they got to the championship that makes the film so engaging. It may be from 2004, but even to this day the movie isn’t worth spoiling. The film stars pre-A list status celebrities suchs as Garrett Hedlund, Lucas Black, and Derek Luke, as well as Billy Bob Thornton and Tim McGraw 

3. Rudy

Following the story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, Rudy looks into the world of college football and how those who aren’t meant for the game can still make it. Probably the most inspiring film on the list (maybe second most), your eyes are glued to the screen from start to finish. Sean Astin (who plays the titular role of Rudy)  just makes this film his own. I mean really, the guy is just a phenomenal actor and brings the character to the screen in such a dynamic fashion. On top of this, Charles S. Dutton has one of the best motivital speeches in a sports film I’ve ever heard (again, probably second best on this list). Long story short, Rudy raises to the occasion in this fantastic viewing experience.

2. The Blind Side

The thing that prevents this film from hitting number one is the controversy that surrounds it. While the film is empowering and inspirational, some have taken issue with the portrayal of Michael Oher’s character from the film and his lack of pull when it comes to the narrative moving forward. As a film free of controversy, The Blind Side is a must-watch that captures the feeling of pursuing your dreams. Sandra Bullock was truly deserving of her Oscar win for her role as Legih Anne Tuohy. However, as a film not free of controversy, there will always be a “what could have been” that surrounds the film.

1. Remember the Titans

Was there ever any doubt? Starring Denzel Washington, Remember the Titans may not be the best technically made, or best of all time, but it is the best in what it sets out to do. That being, telling a solid story through the game of football. The film deals with a lot and, for a football film, manages to do good work in bringing together different groups of characters that support and care for each other. Remember the Titans is a film about unity, which, even today, sets it apart as the best.

Well, there you have it, the top five football films. Coming back from reading week, I’ll have to try my hand at the top five basketball films. To that, enjoy Reading Week everyone (I’m sure that won’t date this article at all)

Ethan Butterfield

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