Missing sports? Here are the best movies to stream while leagues are shut down
Ordinarily, March is one of the great sports months every year. The NBA is kicking into high gear before the playoffs, the MLB is preparing for opening day, and college basketball is filling us all with school spirit, only to break our hearts one buzzer beater at a time with March Madness. But this March will be one we always remember for all the wrong reasons, as the coronavirus has brought the world to a halt, including sports. The NBA, MLB, and NHL seasons are suspended, March Madness is canceled, and events like the Masters are indefinitely postponed.
It's a tough time to be a sports fan. Granted, there are many more pressing issues to worry about right now, but with everyone hopefully staying safe and practicing social distancing, people are looking for ways to pass the time while remaining in good spirits. EW is here for you, having put together 15 sports movies you can quaran-stream in these trying times.
Space Jam (available on Netflix)
There's a reason this 23-year-old movie is currently sitting in Netflix's daily top 10. Okay, maybe it's partly because Space Jam also saw the NBA being shut down over fears of a virus (blame the aliens for that one), but it's mainly because it still serves as the ultimate piece of nostalgia for a certain generation. Watching as an adult, Space Jam's flaws are noticeable (the Monstars could have drafted better, and the Toon Squad could have run some actual plays), but Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny, and Bill Murray are still our favorite Big Three.
White Men Can't Jump (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
If you miss both basketball and Jeopardy, then director Ron Shelton has the movie for you. White Men Can't Jump still scores today thanks to the winning chemistry of then-rising stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, as well as the fiery performance of Rosie Perez. While Snipes previously admitted to EW that he's not the best basketball player, his confidence in the film will make you a believer. “Every time I shot it, even if it didn’t go in, I talked like it did," Snipes said of his on-court audition. "I made you believe that you were lucky it didn’t go in.” And you'll be the lucky one when you give it a watch.
Blue Chips (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
With no March Madness, Blue Chips is your perfect dose of college basketball. Now, the NCAA would probably disagree since Blue Chips (written by White Men Can't Jump's Shelton) centers on the dark side on amateur athletics and aging college coach Pete Bell's (Nick Nolte) decision to start paying top players to come to his school. Either way, the basketball credentials are strong with this one, as NBA legend Bob Cousy appears as Bell's athletic director and future stars Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway portray his new recruits.
Any Given Sunday (available on Netflix)
If you want a true representation of what it's like to be a professional athlete, look no further than Oliver Stone's gritty football film. "They wanted to make it as realistic as possible," NFL Hall of Famer and AGS actor Terrell Owens recently told EW. "These things happen. Guys risk their lives and bodies for the sake of a win. It’s a great representation of what happens behind closed doors." Tune in to watch the A-list cast of Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and Dennis Quaid chew scenery, and then read EW's oral history, which includes the tales of partying, fighting, and battling with the NFL.
Happy Gilmore (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
Adam Sandler might not be the first person who comes to mind when you think of sports movies, but he's secretly a sports movie MVP. The Sandman's résumé includes Uncut Gems, The Waterboy, Grown Ups (basketball games start and end the movie), and the timeless Happy Gilmore. With Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson not getting to play Augusta anytime soon, we'll settle for the epic showdown between Happy (Sandler) and Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald). Bonus: Whatever the hell Ben Stiller is doing here as a sadistic nursing home employee.
A League of Their Own (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
One of the highest-profile cases of coronavirus so far is Tom Hanks, who in his recent health update reminded us that "there is no crying in baseball." That line is of course a reference to his 1992 baseball classic A League of Their Own, and a reminder of how delightful a film it is. Even if the MLB was starting on time, it would be hard to find a team you'd want to root for more than Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna.
Major League (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
Hopefully baseball fans will soon get to start following their favorite club through the season, but in the meantime we can all get on the Indians' bandwagon through Major League. Wesley Snipes, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert, and company prove to be the ultimate underdogs, and will have us all rooting for them like we're from Cleveland.
Moneyball (available on Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes)
Brad Pitt just won an Oscar for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but you could make the case that he's never been better than he was in Moneyball. Adapted from Michael Lewis' popular book, director Bennett Miller's film (co-written by Aaron Sorkin) stars Pitt as Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane, who helped revolutionize how teams are built and players are viewed. There's more statistics than actual baseball, but Pitt's understated performance and Jonah Hill's dramatic fist-pumps make this a home run (or a clutch walk, which is probably just as valuable in Beane's eyes).
Bring It On (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
Bring It On, the film that spawned too many direct-to-DVD sequels to count. And that all stems from the popularity of Peyton Reed's (yes, Ant-Man director Peyton Reed) 2000 cheerleading hit. And while there's plenty of charm here with Kirsten Dunst, Gabrielle Union, and Eliza Dushku, Union points to a much bigger significance of the film: “At the time, I was struggling to learn choreography, I wasn’t thinking about the larger message," she previously told EW. “This was a very subversive film about cultural appropriation and white privilege — provided there is blond hair and blue eyes attached.”
Remember the Titans (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
A significant subsection of millennials grew up with this on heavy rotation in classroom movie screenings — and that’s because it’s both semi-educational and entertaining as hell. Denzel Washington stars as Coach Herman Boone, the man responsible for overseeing the racial integration of a Virginia high school football team. With initial reluctance, then respect, from Coach Yoast (Will Patton), they help a group of boys set aside their differences and learn to become true teammates and real men. It captures the truly inspirational, life-changing nature of football and team sports to a T, while also tackling serious subjects like racism and injecting genuine moments of humor. We dare you not to smile at the locker room “Ain’t No Mountain High” scene, or not to cry at Coach Boone’s iconic Gettysburg speech. —Maureen Lee Lenker
Field of Dreams (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
If you build it, he will come… With those immortal words, Field of Dreams launched one of the most moving, invigorating sports movies ever made (and the ultimate male weepie). Based on a W.P. Kinsella short story, it follows Iowa corn farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), who sets out to build a baseball field in his backyard after hearing a voice whispering to him. While the film is predominantly about familial connection (who among us has not sobbed at the finale’s iconic game of catch?), it also has something elemental to say about the great American pastime, as captured in Terence Mann’s (James Earl Jones) inimitable speech about baseball. —MLL
Bull Durham (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
Bull Durham, which made a full-fledged star out of Susan Sarandon, is really more about sex and relationships than it is about baseball — but the best sports movies are rarely just about sports. Annie Savoy (Sarandon) sets her sights on one minor-league player each season, purportedly improving their game through sleeping with them. When she meets experienced catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) and rookie pitcher “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), she finds herself torn between two men, entranced by Crash’s initial disdain for her. Bull Durham taught us how to worship at the Church of Baseball, and that mound meetings are most likely about what everyone’s getting another player for their wedding present. Bursting with humor and undeniable sexual chemistry, Bull Durham is an excellent testament to what we’ll do for the love of the game, and for love, full stop. —MLL
The Fighter (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
In The Fighter, boxing is a family business. Although Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is the only one in the ring when it counts, his brother Dicky (Christian Bale) is his trainer, and his mother (Melissa Leo) is his manager. And so when his career takes an unexpected turn for the better, they all have a shot at redemption. With great performances from the entire cast, and an Oscar-winning turn for Bale, The Fighter goes down as one of the best boxing movies ever. —Samantha Highfill
Warrior (available on Amazon Prime, iTunes)
It’s Tom Hardy vs. Joel Edgerton, with Nick Nolte playing their terrible father. What more do you need to know? This emotional film is set in the world of MMA, where two brothers who were torn apart by their parents’ divorce are forced to come together in the cage as they fight for the championship (and much-needed prize money). A truly underrated film, Warrior is as much about family and working through past resentments as it is about throwing punches, and Hardy and Edgerton are both phenomenal in it. —SH
Goon (available on Netflix)
For the bloodthirsty sports fan looking for laughs, 2011’s Goon has everything you need. Seann William Scott wins hockey fights and our hearts as mild-mannered Doug Glatt, a humble bouncer whose knockout punches land him a spot on a minor-league hockey team. Sure, he can’t skate, but it’s hockey — who needs skill? Line brawls, thick Canadian accents, and bloody noses abound in this surprisingly sweet film about a down-to-earth guy who just wants to do his best for his team and the girl he loves. Ultimately, while hockey may be the name of the game, it’s camaraderie and heart that make Goon the feel-good sports flick the world needs right now. —Meg Smitherman