On the day of England’s first semi-final in 28 years, we thought we’d have a look at some our favorite sports films since 1966. Sports films create a romantic relatable storyline, featuring scenarios and situations that the audience have often experienced themselves within a sports arena. Sports films often include idyllic sports stars to blur the line between fiction and reality, ensuring that they stay popular for decades to come as they remain nostalgic.
Slapshot (1977) still holds its own when it comes to categorizing great sports films. One of the originals, Slapshot follows Paul Newman as the player-coach of the Charleston Chiefs as he recruits a trio of violent brothers to strike a spark in his team’s season. Like a lot great sports films, the crisis comes in the form of the team’s liquidation or collapse, allowing the narrative to drive towards an inevitable but equally rewarding finale.
Escape To Victory (1981) is one of the most iconic sports films, recruiting the likes of Pele, Bobby Moore and Osvaldo Ardiles to play alongside Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone for a team of prisoners against a German team during WW2. It’s the perfect blend or sport and drama without being too cheesy, yes there’s a last minute goal and a lot of jumping around but the entire backdrop of the movie shows that football really is more than just a game.
Space Jam (1997) was a staple of a lot of childhoods, and like Escape To Victory involves a mega-star in the form of Michael Jordan to drive the narrative forward and appeal to a wider audience. It’s arguably one of the only sports films that could do with a remake, with modern day basketball greats like Lebron James existing as leader of the sport and a face for basketball in the world, who would seamlessly slot into the iconic role should it be remade.
Remember The Titans (2000) is slightly different as it purely includes actors as sports stars. Denzel Washington plays the part of an African-American football coach in the 1970s. It comments on race relations within American Football and society itself and is a bit more generic in terms of storyline, with team against the odds and up against adversity to beat the ‘baddies’ – never the less, it’s still a cracking watch.
There’s plenty of other sports films out there too, with more contemporary films like Mean Machine, Longest Yard and Invictus all appealing to those crying out for a competitive spectacle. The film world is due another great sports film, perhaps when England win The World Cup on Sunday after winning tonight? We’ll see.