Crisp air, Al Michaels on TV and men getting distant from their wives can all only mean one thing: football is back, baby! With NFL kick-off weekend here — and college football already in full swing — it’s a perfect time to take a look at the best gridiron films ever made. A solid football flick has plenty of action and a few goosebump-worthy scenes. Plus, it’s the only genre that can make a grown man cry.
The Waterboy is the lone movie that makes it possible for us to forgive Adam Sandler for making Grown Ups 2 (and the first Grown Ups, and Jack and Jill, and. . . well, most of his last decade of work). The movie isn't only hilarious, it also has a ton of heart and features winning performances by both Henry Winkler and Oscar-winner Kathy Bates. Notably, it's also the first instance of Sandler's buddy Rob Schneider shouting the classic line, "You can do it!"
Necessary Roughness has all the hallmarks of the '90s: namely, Sinbad. Remember when that guy was a movie star? Insane! While far from a masterpiece, its college-set story is certainly a fun. Maybe best of all, there's a cartoon of a football wearing glasses and a hat on it's poster.
We Are Marshall, which centers on the true story of the tragic plane crash that took the lives of the 1970 Marshall University football team, is beautifully shot, offers an inspiring story of never giving up and features a famous chant. What's not to love?
The only documentary on the list, Undefeated follows the trials of a high school team in Memphis, TN. Produced by P. Diddy, the film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and includes a ton of uplifting, real-life scenes. Touchdown, indeed.
Oliver Stone? Check. Al Pacino? Check. One of the most raw and realistic looks at life in pro football? You get the picture. Despite its bloated runtime (162 minutes!), Any Given Sunday follows the exploits of the fictional Miami Sharks. Based on NFL veteran Pat Toomay's novel On Any Given Sunday, the film doesn't celebrate the sport as much as highlight its darkness.
This Burt Reynolds offering is a look at both prison life and the sport, and offers two hallmarks of classic 70's cinema: gritty, no holds barred action – and Reynolds' chest hair.
It's the most melancholy flick on the list, and a former TV movie-of-the-week no less, but Brian's Song is one of the most well-made football films in existence. Starring the great James Caan, it chronicles the career of Brian Piccolo, who died while playing for the Chicago Bears. Touching and beautifully acted, it's a movie worth discovering again. Netflix it already!
Two years before Tim Riggins and Coach Taylor stole our hearts, Friday Night Lights was a movie starring Billy Bob Thornton. (Both were based on a book by Buzz Bissinger.) Dealing with many of the same themes the critically acclaimed series later covered, the film is one of the best portrayals of not only football, but high school life in general.
Every girl cries while watching The Notebook, and every guy gets the chills while watching Rudy. It's the classic story of an underdog (played a post-Goonies, pre-Lord of the Rings Sean Astin) and his lifelong dream of playing for the University of Notre Dame. Throw in Jon Favreau's movie debut, a shocking on-screen death and an inspiring ending and you've got yourself one incredible football film.