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56 Best Basketball Movies, Ranked by Tomatometer

Our starting lineup for the best basketball movies of all time includes inspiring documentaries (Hoop Dreams), legendary underdog tales (Hoosiers), 1990s streetball classics (He Got Game, White Men Can’t Jump), and behind-the-scenes stories (High-Flying Bird) that reveal the business beyond the ball. The top 10 basketball movies are all Certified Fresh, meaning they were all slam dunks with critics.

Hoop Dreams and The Heart of the Game are both documentaries, following high schoolers (the former set in Chicago, the latter featuring an all-girls team in Seattle) as they pursue their ambition on the court. Hustle and The Way Back are comeback stories both on and off screen: Adam Sandler and Ben Affleck get to show off their dramatic chops as coaches after releasing a string of movies not taken seriously by critics. Affleck has a particular affection for basketball, as he released the crowd-pleasing Air in 2023. Air is similar to High-Flying Bird in that they both delve into some of the most legendary business deals in professional basketball.

Love & Basketball, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, blends romance and sports together, tracking a young athlete’s growth across high school, college and beyond. From the same year as Love & Basketball, 2000’s Finding Forrester sees director Gus Van Sant working the same gameplan that made Good Will Hunting a success. And He Got Game and White Men Can’t Jump hook in that ’90s edge, with Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, and Woody Harrelson all performing at the height of their powers.

Recent additions: The Ben Affleck-directed and starrer Air (we call this one a shoe-in), Disney family drama Chang Can Dunk, that White Men Can’t Jump remake, the anime The First Slam Dunk, and Apple documentary Stephen Curry: Underrated. Alex Vo

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 101464%
Critics Consensus: A heart-pumping, breathtaking, wonderfully crafted manga adaptation, The First Slam Dunk shoots and scores.
Synopsis: Shohoku's "speedster" and point guard, Ryota Miyagi, always plays with brains and lightning speed, running circles around his opponents while... [More]
Directed By: Takehiko Inoue

#2

Hoop Dreams (1994)
98%

#2
Adjusted Score: 102025%
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St.... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

#3

Hustle (2022)
93%

#3
Adjusted Score: 101796%
Critics Consensus: Hustle doesn't have any fancy moves, but it doesn't need them -- Adam Sandler's everyman charm makes this easy layup fun to watch.
Synopsis: Stanley Sugerman's (Adam Sandler) love for basketball is unparalleled, but the travel weary Philadelphia 76ers scout who has higher ambitions... [More]
Directed By: Jeremiah Zagar

#4

Air (2023)
93%

#4
Adjusted Score: 111420%
Critics Consensus: A fact-based drama that no one will dunk on, Air aims to dramatize events that changed the sports world forever -- and hits almost nothing but net.
Synopsis: From award-winning director Ben Affleck, AIR reveals the unbelievable game-changing partnership between a then-rookie Michael Jordan and Nike's fledgling basketball... [More]
Directed By: Ben Affleck

#5

Hoosiers (1986)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 95265%
Critics Consensus: It may adhere to the sports underdog formula, but Hoosiers has been made with such loving craft, and features such excellent performances, that it's hard to resist.
Synopsis: Failed college coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) gets a chance at redemption when he is hired to direct the basketball... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#6

High Flying Bird (2019)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 97659%
Critics Consensus: High Flying Bird takes a thoughtful and engrossing look at professional sports that sees Steven Soderbergh continuing to test the limits of new filmmaking technology.
Synopsis: A sports agent pitches a controversial business opportunity to a rookie basketball player during a lockout.... [More]
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 90161%
Critics Consensus: This group of high school girls and their eccentric basketball coach easily win your heart with their unusual humanity and dynamism.
Synopsis: Filmed over a period of seven years, director Ward Serrill profiles Bill Resler, a university professor who coaches a basketball... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Ward Serrill

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 89138%
Critics Consensus: Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes.
Synopsis: Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are two childhood friends who both aspire to be professional basketball players. Quincy,... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince-Bythewood

#9

The Way Back (2020)
84%

#9
Adjusted Score: 96191%
Critics Consensus: The Way Back's occasionally frustrating treatment of a formulaic story is often outweighed by Ben Affleck's outstanding work in the central role.
Synopsis: Jack Cunningham was a high school basketball superstar who suddenly walked away from the game for unknown reasons. Years later,... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#10

He Got Game (1998)
80%

#10
Adjusted Score: 83553%
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee near the top of his game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: Jake Shuttleworth (Denzel Washington) has spent the last six years in prison after accidentally killing his wife during a violent... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 84763%
Critics Consensus: White Men Can't Jump provides a fresh take on the sports comedy genre, with a clever script and a charismatic trio of leads.
Synopsis: Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) is a white basketball hustler who banks on black players underestimating his skills on the court.... [More]
Directed By: Ron Shelton

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 78799%
Critics Consensus: Despite the predictability of its plot and its similarity to Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester has an honest, solid feel to it and good rapport between Connery and Brown.
Synopsis: A unique relationship develops between an eccentric, reclusive novelist and a young, amazingly gifted scholar-athlete. After the novelist discovers that... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#13

Chang Can Dunk (2023)
96%

#13
Adjusted Score: 96325%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: "Chang Can Dunk" follows Chang, a 16-year-old, Asian American high school student in the marching band, who bets the school... [More]
Directed By: Jingyi Shao

#14

Rise (2022)
91%

#14
Adjusted Score: 91260%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Audiences have never seen a story like that of the Antetokounmpos. After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, Charles and Vera... [More]
Directed By: Akin Omotoso

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 88643%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The story of Lithuania's 1992 Olympic basketball team whose athletes won the bronze medal.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Marius A. Markevicius

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 85960%
Critics Consensus: Shoots and scores, dunking us into the underdog life of Stephen Curry with a smooth swish.
Synopsis: "Stephen Curry: Underrated" is the remarkable coming-of-age story of one of the most influential, dynamic and unexpected players in the... [More]
Starring: Steph Curry
Directed By: Peter Nicks

#17
Adjusted Score: 85050%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Disney comedy about a professor who invents a revolutionary flying rubber, which he dubs "flubber". Not only does the professor's... [More]
Directed By: Robert Stevenson

#18

Quantum Hoops (2007)
81%

#18
Adjusted Score: 74904%
Critics Consensus: Dry and upbeat, this story of overachieving academics struggling as underdog athletes is a winner (even if their basketball team isn't).
Synopsis: The men's basketball team at Caltech attempts to break a 21-year losing streak in the final game.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Rick Greenwald

#19

More Than a Game (2008)
71%

#19
Adjusted Score: 72277%
Critics Consensus: Though the film may not delve as deep as some would prefer, More Than a Game is an inspiring documentary featuring likable youngsters, a positive message, and some exciting in-game footage.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Kristopher Belman chronicles the early career of basketball superstar LeBron James. James and four other talented teammates were a... [More]
Directed By: Kristopher Belman

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 67236%
Critics Consensus: This sports bio documentary is given a few fresh angles, including culture clash issues, and the friendship that develops between Yao and his interpreter.
Synopsis: This documentary chronicles Yao Ming's first year of playing in the National Basketball Association. When Ming signs with the Houston... [More]

#21

Linsanity (2013)
65%

#21
Adjusted Score: 65302%
Critics Consensus: Linsanity offers a compelling enough look at its basketball star subject for fans and curious viewers, even if it never really delves below the surface.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Evan Jackson Leong chronicles the rise of basketball star Jeremy Lin, the first man of Chinese/Taiwanese descent to play... [More]
Directed By: Evan Jackson Leong

#22

Coach Carter (2005)
64%

#22
Adjusted Score: 69200%
Critics Consensus: Even though it's based on a true story, Coach Carter is pretty formulaic stuff, but it's effective and energetic, thanks to a strong central performance from Samuel L. Jackson.
Synopsis: In 1999, Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) returns to his old high school in Richmond, California, to get the basketball... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Carter

#23

O (2001)
65%

#23
Adjusted Score: 69091%
Critics Consensus: Though well-intentioned and serious in its exploration of teen violence, O is an uneven experiment that doesn't quite succeed.
Synopsis: Moving the classic tale of "Othello" onto the basketball courts of a high school, the story focuses on a young... [More]
Directed By: Tim Blake Nelson

#24
Adjusted Score: 68896%
Critics Consensus: It won't win many converts, but High School Musical 3 is bright, energetic, and well-crafted.
Synopsis: Amid preparations for a basketball championship, prom, and graduation, sweethearts Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) vow... [More]
Directed By: Kenny Ortega

#25

Uncle Drew (2018)
61%

#25
Adjusted Score: 65903%
Critics Consensus: Kyrie Irving's crossover to comedy is amiable enough to score with basketball fans, but Uncle Drew is held back by formulaic plotting and too much product placement.
Synopsis: After draining his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, Dax is... [More]
Directed By: Charles Stone III

#26

Amateur (2018)
60%

#26
Adjusted Score: 17468%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A gifted basketball player struggles to fit in with his new team at an elite prep school.... [More]
Directed By: Ryan Koo

#27

Champions (2023)
59%

#27
Adjusted Score: 65376%
Critics Consensus: Although its apparent attempts to be uplifting can often come across as patronizing, Champions is an amiable enough comedy with some seriously talented stars.
Synopsis: Woody Harrelson stars in the hilarious and heartwarming story of a former minor-league basketball coach who, after a series of... [More]
Directed By: Robert Farrelly

#28

Like Mike (2002)
57%

#28
Adjusted Score: 59742%
Critics Consensus: A pleasant and innocuous diversion for kids, but adults may have trouble sitting through the movie's predictable plotlines and schmaltz.
Synopsis: Fourteen year old, hoops-loving Calvin Cambridge (Lil' Bow Wow) has a dream: to be a famous basketball player -- to... [More]
Directed By: John Schultz

#29

17 Again (2009)
57%

#29
Adjusted Score: 62527%
Critics Consensus: Though it uses a well-worn formula, 17 Again has just enough Zac Efron charm to result in a harmless, pleasurable teen comedy.
Synopsis: Mike O'Donnell (Matthew Perry) was a high-school basketball star with a bright future, but he threw it all away to... [More]
Directed By: Burr Steers

#30

Glory Road (2006)
55%

#30
Adjusted Score: 60896%
Critics Consensus: As formulaic as sports movies get, this underdog story still triumphs on the strength of its inspiring story.
Synopsis: After being appointed the new coach of the 1966 Texas Miners, Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) decides to build a team... [More]
Directed By: James Gartner

#31

Shooting Stars (2023)
54%

#31
Adjusted Score: 55019%
Critics Consensus: Although Shooting Stars isn't without its engaging moments, this dramatized look back at LeBron James' early years is less entertaining than simply watching him play.
Synopsis: Shooting Stars is set in the 1990s, where a young LeBron James (Marquis "Mookie" Cook) and his three best friends... [More]
Directed By: Chris Robinson

#32

Above the Rim (1994)
50%

#32
Adjusted Score: 50808%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A high-school basketball star (Duane Martin) is torn by loyalties to a drug dealer (Tupac Shakur) and an ex-player (Leon).... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Pollack

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 52014%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Increasingly estranged from his own daughter, a boozy busboy (Sam Rockwell) gets a shot at redemption when an old friend... [More]
Directed By: James C. Strouse

#34

Just Wright (2010)
47%

#34
Adjusted Score: 50989%
Critics Consensus: Well-intentioned but formulaic, Just Wright has winning leads but can't overcome its preponderance of cliches.
Synopsis: Physical therapist Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) lands the dream job of working with basketball superstar Scott McKnight (Common). All goes... [More]
Directed By: Sanaa Hamri

#35

The Mighty Macs (2009)
47%

#35
Adjusted Score: 48249%
Critics Consensus: Its heart is obviously in the right place, but The Mighty Macs is too blandly formulaic to transcend the genre's many clichés.
Synopsis: In 1971, Immaculata College finds a new coach, Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino), to head its women's basketball team. Right from... [More]
Directed By: Tim Chambers

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 49595%
Critics Consensus: In spite of its young leading man's heroic efforts to hold it all together, a muddled message prevents The Basketball Diaries from compelling as a cautionary tale.
Synopsis: Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio) is consumed by his life as a high school basketball star. Pressured by a wicked coach... [More]
Directed By: Scott Kalvert

#37

Air Bud (1997)
48%

#37
Adjusted Score: 49388%
Critics Consensus: Air Bud's wacky concept isn't entirely enough to fill a feature-length film, but this rather silly family-friendly outing is partly redeemed by its extremely charming title character.
Synopsis: Diffident in the wake of his father's death, high schooler Josh (Kevin Zegers) struggles to adapt to his new home... [More]
Directed By: Charles Martin Smith

#38

Space Jam (1996)
43%

#38
Adjusted Score: 48815%
Critics Consensus: While it's no slam dunk, Space Jam's silly, Looney Toons-laden slapstick and vivid animation will leave younger viewers satisfied -- though accompanying adults may be more annoyed than entertained.
Synopsis: Swackhammer (Danny DeVito), an evil alien theme park owner, needs a new attraction at Moron Mountain. When his gang, the... [More]
Directed By: Joe Pytka

#39

Boogie (2021)
42%

#39
Adjusted Score: 45353%
Critics Consensus: Boogie misses its shot with a contrived plot and uneven tone.
Synopsis: From acclaimed writer, producer and restaurateur Eddie Huang comes his directorial debut BOOGIE, the coming-of-age story of Alfred "Boogie" Chin,... [More]
Directed By: Eddie Huang

#40

Teen Wolf (1985)
46%

#40
Adjusted Score: 48719%
Critics Consensus: Though Michael J. Fox is as charismatic as ever, Teen Wolf's coming-of-age themes can't help but feel a little stale and formulaic.
Synopsis: When high school nerd Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) learns from his father, Harold (James Hampton), that being a werewolf... [More]
Directed By: Rod Daniel

#41

Blue Chips (1994)
38%

#41
Adjusted Score: 39389%
Critics Consensus: Director William Friedkin is working with a strong cast, but an excess of sentimentality renders this basketball drama more than a little flat.
Synopsis: Pete Bell (Nick Nolte) is a college basketball coach who has to improve his team's standing -- by any means... [More]
Directed By: William Friedkin

#42

Wolves (2016)
36%

#42
Adjusted Score: 36429%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Anthony is a standout player on his Manhattan high school's basketball team with seemingly everything going for him: a killer... [More]
Directed By: Bart Freundlich

#43

The Hot Flashes (2013)
38%

#43
Adjusted Score: 38202%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A team of middle-aged Texas women, all former high-school basketball champions, challenges the current team of state champions to a... [More]
Directed By: Susan Seidelman

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 30129%
Critics Consensus: Never mind being able to get air -- the White Men Can't Jump remake struggles to come up with reasons for its own existence.
Synopsis: From 20th Century Studios, the all-new comedy "White Men Can't Jump" is a modern remix of the iconic 1992 film... [More]
Directed By: Calmatic

#45

Thunderstruck (2012)
27%

#45
Adjusted Score: 15250%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A teenage klutz (Taylor Gray) becomes the star of his high-school basketball team when he magically acquires the abilities of... [More]
Directed By: John Whitesell

#46
#46
Adjusted Score: 36305%
Critics Consensus: Despite LeBron James' best efforts to make a winning team out of the Tune Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy trades the zany, meta humor of its predecessor for a shameless, tired exercise in IP-driven branding.
Synopsis: When LeBron James and his young son Dom are trapped in a digital space by a rogue A.I., LeBron must... [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

#47

The 6th Man (1997)
23%

#47
Adjusted Score: 22977%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Brothers Kenny (Marlon Wayans) and Antoine Tyler (Kadeem Hardison) have always wanted to be basketball heroes, standing out as child... [More]
Directed By: Randall Miller

#48

Semi-Pro (2008)
23%

#48
Adjusted Score: 29236%
Critics Consensus: Semi-Pro is an intermittently funny, half-hearted attempt at sports satire, and one of Will Ferrell's weaker cinematic efforts.
Synopsis: In 1976, singer Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell) uses the profits from his only hit single to fulfill a longtime dream... [More]
Directed By: Kent Alterman

#49

Sweetwater (2023)
25%

#49
Adjusted Score: 25154%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Hall of Famer Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton makes history as the first African American to sign an NBA contract, forever changing... [More]
Directed By: Martin Guigui

#50

My Giant (1998)
21%

#50
Adjusted Score: 21932%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Billy Crystal stars as Sammy, an agitated agent lost in the forest of the modern world, who happens upon a... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lehmann

#51

The Air Up There (1994)
21%

#51
Adjusted Score: 22300%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An American basketball coach (Kevin Bacon) learns how to play the Kenya way as he scouts a tall African (Charles... [More]
Directed By: Paul Michael Glaser

#52

Eddie (1996)
16%

#52
Adjusted Score: 17928%
Critics Consensus: Whoopi Goldberg may demonstrate that she can coach a basketball team with the best of them, but not even she can whip this dreary script into shape.
Synopsis: Chauffeur Edwina "Eddie" Franklin (Whoopi Goldberg) is fanatical about the New York Knicks basketball team. After she wins a contest... [More]
Directed By: Steve Rash

#53

Rebound (2005)
14%

#53
Adjusted Score: 16745%
Critics Consensus: Rebound ought to entertain its target audience, but there's nothing here for those who've seen The Bad News Bears or its countless derivatives.
Synopsis: Roy McCormick (Martin Lawrence) is a college basketball coach more famous for his temper than for his coaching ability. After... [More]
Directed By: Steve Carr

#54

Juwanna Mann (2002)
10%

#54
Adjusted Score: 12240%
Critics Consensus: With its tired premise, Juwanna Mann's jokes fall flat.
Synopsis: When pro basketball star Jamal Jeffries (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.) gets booted from the big leagues after an outrageous on-court... [More]
Directed By: Jesse Vaughan

#55

Celtic Pride (1996)
12%

#55
Adjusted Score: 12978%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Mike (Daniel Stern) and Jimmy (Dan Aykroyd) are disconsolate after watching their favorite team, the Boston Celtics, lose a game... [More]
Directed By: Tom DeCerchio

#56

The Cookout (2004)
5%

#56
Adjusted Score: 5572%
Critics Consensus: Good-natured but prepared with an absence of craft, The Cookout is an unappetizing collection of warmed-over jokes.
Synopsis: College basketball player Todd Anderson (Storm P) signs a $30 million deal with the New Jersey Nets and promptly moves... [More]
Directed By: Lance Rivera

#57

Crossover (2006)
2%

#57
Adjusted Score: 3950%
Critics Consensus: This heartfelt but incompetent, cliche-ridden sports picture is the cinematic equivalent of an airball.
Synopsis: The lives of a gifted athlete (Wesley Jonathan) and his best friend (Anthony Mackie) change when they take a fateful... [More]