In the vast abyss that is Netflix's streaming options, it's easy to lose track of what's available for immediate watching and what is The Rock starring Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery (Why isn't this movie available for streaming? Please make this movie available for streaming). To save sports fans some searching, I've put together a list of the best sports movies that are currently available on the streaming service. The list includes several movies you've heard of, maybe a few good ones you haven't and, as a whole, a pretty good excuse to cancel any plans you have this weekend.
Be on the lookout for a future post which will highlight the best sports documentaries currently streaming on Netflix. I can assure you that that one will be a doozy.
Please be warned that some of the clips below contain foul language.
Perhaps the best made for TV movie ever, Brian's Song chronicles the relationship between Chicago Bears players Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. The classic film is definitely worth a second (or third) viewing for those who have seen it before, but for those who haven't, be sure to have some tissues handy.
Best Time to Watch It: When you're due for a good cry.
Tomatometer rating: 91 %
North Dallas Forty
The diametric opposite of your classic "feel good" sports movie, North Dallas Forty, which was based on a book by former Dallas Cowboy Peter Gent, is an unflinching, foul-mouthed account of what it's like to play in the NFL. As a complete work, the film is somewhat lacking, but it's worth a watch just to see Nick Nolte's portrayal of wide receiver Phillip Elliott.
Best Time to Watch It: Wait until your longing for the NFL to return has reached its peak.
Tomatometer rating: 85%
Slap Shot is a complete mess of a movie containing a combination of foul language, violence and nudity that makes you feel somewhat dirty for watching it, regardless of age. But for all of its imperfections, it's simply impossible to look away.
Best Time to Watch It: If you're going to have a guys night at your place, there really isn't a better movie choice.
Tomatometer rating: 85%
This eminently rewatchable baseball flick chronicles the antics of Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), 'Nuke' LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) and Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) in the hilarious and often thankless realm of minor league baseball.
Best Time to Watch It: Baseball season hasn't officially started until you've watched this movie.
Tomatometer rating: 97%
Best Time to Watch It: Tonight. Seriously, I'm watching this movie tonight.
Tomatometer rating: 60%
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings
This massively underrated fictional account of Negro league baseball stars Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor among others. The film was well-reviewed upon its release, but for one reason or another it hasn't held up to the test of time and now seems mostly forgotten. Bingo Long would be the perfect choice for any fan of baseball movies who doesn't feel like rewatching Bull Durham.
Best Time to Watch It: Saturday evening after you get back from the stadium.
Tomatometer rating: 87%
(Some NSFW language in the clip below)
Ranked as the fourth best movie of all-time by the American Film Institute, Raging Bull is, at least based on critical acclaim, the greatest sports movie of all-time. Of course it's debatable whether this truly qualifies as a sports movie, given that the most memorable scenes take place outside of the ring, it's still a worthwhile watch for any person who considers themselves a movie fan.
Best Time to Watch It: The perfect movie for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Tomatometer rating: 98%
The Bad News Bears (1976)
For all its charm and humor, the original Bad News Bears was perhaps most notable for its realistic and sobering portrayal of hyper-competitive adults and how their behavior can sap the fun out of Little League. Walter Matthau gives one of the defining performances of his career as foul-mouthed coach Morris Buttermaker, and he's well-countered by Vic Morrow's Roy Turner.
Best Time to Watch It: Although a bit racy at times, this is probably the most family friendly movie on the list.
Tomatometer rating: 96%
Looking for Eric
This somewhat under the radar independent British film deals with a depressed, down on his luck postman who has hallucinations of his favorite professional soccer player. Okay, granted that doesn't sound too uplifting, but I can assure that the movie will ultimately leave you with the warm and fuzzies.
Best Time to Watch It: A good choice for fans of Silver Linings Playbook, I'd recommend Looking for Eric for your next couples night in.
Tomatometer rating: 84%
The Longest Yard (1974)
Come for the classic sports comedy, stay for the classically handsome Burt Reynolds.
Best Time to Watch It: Thursday night after a long day at work.
Tomatometer rating: 81%
Although its initial release in 2011 was underwhelming, Goon has since picked up somewhat of a cult following, mostly because of the hard-hitting action and hilarious script (penned by Apatow apostles Evan Goldberg and Jay Baruchel). The main character played by Seann William Scott, is a good-natured bouncer named Doug Glatt who is recruited to serve as a goon on a minor league hockey team. Some might call this film a modern-day Slap Shot but such a comparison is misguided; Goon is a much better movie than Slap Shot.
Best Time to Watch It: Makes for a great pick me up after a tough loss in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Tomatometer rating: 82%
A League of Their Own
I think this movie is slightly underrated given its great production value and entertaining stand alone scenes. A fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, A League of Their Own is carried along by very strong performances by a talented cast that includes Tom Hanks, Gina Davis, Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell.
Best Time to Watch It: Your parents are visiting you from out of town and you don't feel like taking them to the natural history museum again.
Tomatometer rating: 77%
All of the Rocky movies are currently streaming on Netflix, but I mostly just wanted an excuse to post the amazing montage above.
Best Time to Watch It: Always. It's Rocky IV.
Tomatometer rating: 44%
Like the boxer himself, many hoped that this biopic would be considered "The Greatest." But while it does have its moments, most were in agreement that the longwinded two and a half hour film doesn't quite do Muhammad Ali justice. That being said it is a movie worth watching if you haven't seen it before, if only to just learn a little more about the most enigmatic character in sports history.
Best Time to Watch It: You have a lot of time to burn, which is probably the reason you're on Netflix in the first place.
Tomatometer rating: 67%