I am not a huge football fan. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good football movie. They’re usually exciting, sometimes funny, but almost always inspiring. So to celebrate Super Bowl weekend and all of those cinematic traits, here are some of my favorite movies about football:
“The Blind Side” (2009) — Sandra Bullock goes broad and blond and won an Oscar for starring as real-life Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose affluent Texas family takes in a homeless, traumatized boy who would go on to become an All-American football player and first-round NFL draft pick.
“Friday Night Lights” (2004) — Also set in Texas (specifically, Odessa), Billy Bob Thornton stars as the coach of the Permian High Panthers, who must overcome great odds when their star player is injured in the first game of the season and the town’s dormant social problems begin to flare up. Among the cast you’ll spot a young Garrett Hedlund (“Tron: Legacy”), Jay Hernanez (“Suicide Squad”) and Derek Luke (“Antwone Fisher”).
“Heaven Can Wait” (1978) — Warren Beatty co-wrote, directed and stars as a Los Angeles Rams quarterback who is accidentally taken away from his body by an overanxious angel before he was meant to die and returns to life in the body of a recently murdered millionaire. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including best picture.
“Invincible” (2006) — When NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles holds an open tryout for the public, real-life 30-year-old “Average Joe” bartender Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg — like he’s an “Average Joe”) gets his shot to play for the Eagles in 1976.
“Jerry Maguire” (1996) — A successful sports agent (Tom Cruise, in one of his best roles) gets fired from his firm, enlists the help of his attractive secretary (Renee Zellweger), and starts his own agency with a wildly unpredictable football player (Cuba Gooding Jr, in his Oscar-winning role) as his only client. Show him the money!
“Remember the Titans” (2000) — An as-good-as-ever Denzel Washington stars in this real-life story as a newly appointed coach in 1970s Virginia who is tasked with leading his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit. Yep, that’s a very young Ryan Gosling (“La La Land,” “First Man”) among his players.
“The Replacements” (2000) — Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman and Jon Favreau stars in this comedy about ragtag wannabe football players who get their big shot when pro football players go on strike.
“Rudy” (1993) — You can’t have a list of good football movies and not include this classic tear-jerker starring a young Sean Astin (“The Lord of the RIngs” movies) as a kid who is told he’s too small to play college football, but is determined to overcome the odds and fulfill his dream of playing for Notre Dame.
“School Ties” (1992) — Set in the 1950s, a star quarterback (Brendan Fraser) is given an opportunity to attend an elite prep school but must conceal the fact that he is Jewish. Young stars this time around include Matt Damon, Chris O’Donnell and Ben Affleck.
“Varsity Blues” (1999) — James Van Der Beek (riding a wave of success at that time with TV’s “Dawson’s Creek”) stars as a back-up quarterback who is chosen to lead a Texas high school football team (what is it with football and Texas, anyway?) to victory after the star quarterback (a young Paul Walker, from the “Fast & Furious” movies) is injured. You’ll also spot a young Scott Caan (TV’s “Hawaii Five-O”) on the field.
The Waterboy” (1998) — Adam Sandler stars in this comedy as an odd waterboy for a college football team whose uncanny tackling ability makes him a full-fledged member of the team. Kathy Bate stars as his needy, disapproving mother who annoyingly keeps calling football “FOOS-ball”.
“We Are Marshall” (2006) — When a plane crash claims the lives of members of the Marshall University football team and some of its fans, the team’s new coach (Matthew McConaughey) and his surviving players try to keep the football program alive. There are moments that will have you soaring.