Sports and movies are two great outlets to escape from everyday life for a bit. Who doesn't love sitting on the couch in the morning, flipping on ESPN, and absorbing all the latest sports news with a big bowl of cereal? And who doesn't get a kick out of dropping everything, getting a smorgasbord of popcorn, nachos and soda, and enjoying a great story told through film for a few hours? It was a no-brainer for sports to spill over into Hollywood, and the pairing has resulted in some of the best entertainment of the past few decades.
The height of the sports movie seemed to come in the 80s and 90s with all of the Rocky sequels in full swing, Field of Dreams inspiring millions and Jerry Maguire having everyone shouting "show me the money!"
Over the past decade, sports flicks have shifted from the somewhat overdone and cliché underdog story to either gritty, very real athlete profiles or all-out laugh riots. With all of the absolute classics from previous decades out of the way, here's a look at the 10 best sports movies made in the past 10 years.
10. The Longest Yard (2005)
With gems like Happy Gilmore and Waterboy, Adam Sandler was the king of the sports comedy in the 90s. He tried his hand once again in 2005 with The Longest Yard, a remake of the beloved classic by the same name. Sandler paid homage to the original by giving its old star, Burt Reynolds, a relatively major role in the new film, but it still wasn't met with much warmth from fans or critics.
9. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
I wasn't quite old enough to grasp the plot of this now-classic movie, but I remember my mom and aunt crying for days over the heartbreaking ending. Million Dollar Baby is a tough one to swallow, but it boasts three of the best performances of the decade from Clint Eastwood as a tough, firm boxing trainer with a heart of gold, Hilary Swank as a passionate female boxer ready to prove herself and Morgan Freeman as a half-blind trainer with a boxing career in his hindsight.
8. Blades of Glory (2007)
Many may consider Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby to be Will Ferrell's sports comedy standout, but I like his portrayal of Chazz Michael Michaels in Blades of Glory much more. How could you not find this movie hilarious just from the concept itself?
7. The Blind Side (2009)
The Blind Side follows the "white savior" trope a little too closely and makes real-life NFL offensive tackle Michael Oher seem a bit too much like a big, bumbling oaf for my taste, but there's no disputing that Sandra Bullock gave a heck of a performance in this heartwarming drama.
6. The Fighter (2010)
5. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
Realizing this movie came out 10 years ago makes me feel very old because I still remember watching it over and over again as a grade-schooler and laughing more and more with each viewing.
4. Moneyball (2011)
Sports movies never fail to follow the athlete's climb to the top of the mountain, but rarely do viewers get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes action like they did from the Academy award-nominated Moneyball.
3. Coach Carter (2005)
Coach Carter is guilty of following a bunch of sports movie norms and clichés, but for some reason this movie just sticks with people. Maybe it's because it has all the factors of a "white savior" type movie, but that white savior is replaced by motherf***ing Samuel L. Jackson.
2. Green Street Hooligans (2005)
For my second best sports movie of the decade, we have to go across the pond to our good pal, England. The premise of this film is a bit strange at its face. Adorable, little Elijah Wood drops out of Harvard and moves to England where he finds himself joining a tough soccer gang that loves getting into bloody brawls almost as much as they love a good football match.
1. Warrior (2011)
Rounding out my list is the 2011 MMA drama film, Warrior. It's really a fantastic story of two estranged brothers separated by their completely different lifestyles who are united by their affinity for mixed martial arts and must eventually face each other in a tournament they both entered.
It's the perfect mix of human emotional drama, as both brothers cope with their troubled relationships with their father and each other, and hard-hitting action, as the MMA fight scenes are as thrilling as can be. Tom Hardy is a scene stealer, and his performance established his status as a Hollywood heavyweight. Literally.