TAGGED AS:

58 Best Football Movies

So you want to do what JaMarcus Russell and Johnny Manziel never did: study football film. You’ve got the drive to learn from the decisive plays, watch those game-clinching throws, and witness them beastly runs that can get a roaring stadium crowd up on their feet and register on the Richter scale.

It’s a good thing we got the best football movies right here that’ll make you a pro, and you won’t even need a sports agent or that distracting multi-million dollar contract.

First, throw away your scout reports, QB ratings, and ELOs (we’re not talking about Jeff Lynne LPs). To create our list of the best football movies, we use just one metric: the Tomatometer. We start with Certified Fresh films like Friday Night Lights, Jerry Maguire, and ultimate underdog story Rudy, all majorly approved by the critics.

Then we follow those up with Fresh movies, which include enduring favorites like crowd-pleasing Remember the Titans, tearjerker Brian’s Song, and Academy Award-winning The Blind Side.

Then come the Rotten movies, which plenty of RT users have given the go-ahead with positive Audience Scores. (Alright, we’ll come out and say it: A majority of critics may not have played ball at the collegiate level.) The include popular picks like Any Given Sunday, We Are Marshall, The Waterboy, and Varsity Blues.

So if you want to know from your Xs and Os and Y.A. Tittles, open up the playbook to the best football movies of all time, ranked by Tomatometer. And soon you’ll get to the Hall of Fame without ever having to step foot in Canton. Alex Vo

#1

Undefeated (2011)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 99445%
Critics Consensus: It covers familiar sports documentary territory, but Undefeated proves there are still powerful stories to be told on the high school gridiron.
Synopsis: Since its founding in 1899, Manassas High School in North Memphis has never had a football team win a playoff... [More]
Starring: Bill Courtney
Directed By: Dan Lindsay, T.J. Martin

#2

Heaven Can Wait (1978)
86%

#2
Adjusted Score: 90872%
Critics Consensus: A throwback to the high-gloss screwball comedies of the 1940s, Heaven Can Wait beguiles with seamless production values and great comic relief from Charles Grodin and Dianne Cannon.
Synopsis: Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty), quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, is killed in an auto accident. In the afterlife, Joe... [More]
Directed By: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry

#3

Go Tigers! (2001)
85%

#3
Adjusted Score: 85640%
Critics Consensus: Go Tigers! is an absorbing and evenhanded documentary that takes a perceptive look at the world of high school sports and its impact on a community.
Synopsis: "Go Tigers!" is a rare behind-the-scenes chronicling of a remarkable season for the Massillon Tiger's high school football team, played... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Kenneth A. Carlson

#4

Jerry Maguire (1996)
84%

#4
Adjusted Score: 90113%
Critics Consensus: Anchored by dazzling performances from Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renée Zellweger, as well as Cameron Crowe's tender direction, Jerry Maguire meshes romance and sports with panache.
Synopsis: When slick sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) has a crisis of conscience, he pens a heartfelt company-wide memo that... [More]
Directed By: Cameron Crowe

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 87517%
Critics Consensus: An acute survey of the football-obsessed heartland that succeeds as both a stirring drama and a rousing sports movie.
Synopsis: A small, turbulent town in Texas obsesses over their high school football team to an unhealthy degree. When the star... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#6

Safety (2020)
78%

#6
Adjusted Score: 79505%
Critics Consensus: Fans of uplifting sports dramas will find Safety in this skillfully told fact-based story about an athlete overcoming adversity.
Synopsis: “Safety” is a drama inspired by the empowering story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey (Jay Reeves), a... [More]
Directed By: Reginald Hudlin

#7

Rudy (1993)
77%

#7
Adjusted Score: 81103%
Critics Consensus: Though undeniably sentimental and predictable, Rudy succeeds with an uplifting spirit and determination.
Synopsis: Rudy Ruettiger (Sean Astin) wants to play football at the University of Notre Dame, but has neither the money for... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 78770%
Critics Consensus: American Underdog sticks to the standard inspirational sports drama playbook -- and proves once again that it can be very effective in the right hands.
Synopsis: American Underdog tells the inspirational true story of Kurt Warner (Zachary Levi), who went from a stockboy at a grocery... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin

#9

The Freshman (1925)
95%

#9
Adjusted Score: 97330%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In hopes of making some friends, Harold Lamb (Harold Lloyd) attends college at Tate University. But when the students notice... [More]
Directed By: Sam Taylor, Fred Newmeyer

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 92697%
Critics Consensus: Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is compelling viewing even though it spoils the score of the titular college football matchup - and even if you aren't a fan of the sport.
Synopsis: In November 1968, undefeated Ivy League football teams from Harvard and Yale square off in a historic game in which... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Kevin Rafferty

#11

Brian's Song (1971)
92%

#11
Adjusted Score: 92568%
Critics Consensus: Buoyed by standout performances from James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, Brian's Song is a touching tale of friendship whose central relationship transcends its standard sports movie moments.
Synopsis: Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) are teammates on the mid-1960s Chicago Bears. At a time... [More]
Directed By: Buzz Kulik

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 87042%
Critics Consensus: Muddled overall, but perceptive and brutally realistic, North Dallas Forty also benefits from strong performances by Nick Nolte and Charles Durning. Football fans will likely find it fascinating.
Synopsis: A brutal satire of American professional football in which a veteran pass-catcher's individuality and refusal to become part of the... [More]
Directed By: Ted Kotcheff

#13

The Longest Yard (1974)
76%

#13
Adjusted Score: 79720%
Critics Consensus: Equal parts tough and funny, and led by a perfectly cast Burt Reynolds, The Longest Yard has an interesting political subtext and an excellent climax -- even if it takes too long to get there.
Synopsis: An ex-football star doing time is forced by the warden to organize a team of inmates to play against his... [More]
Directed By: Robert Aldrich

#14

Lucas (1986)
73%

#14
Adjusted Score: 74516%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Lucas (Corey Haim) is an unusually bright teenager whose nerdy looks and meek demeanor make him a favorite target for... [More]
Directed By: David Seltzer

#15

Woodlawn (2015)
73%

#15
Adjusted Score: 57132%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Following government-mandated desegregation in 1973, Tony Nathan (Caleb Castille) joins fellow African-American students at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Ala.... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 76319%
Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it's also well-crafted and features terrific performances.
Synopsis: In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas,... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#17

Invincible (2006)
72%

#17
Adjusted Score: 77307%
Critics Consensus: As simple and authentic as the gritty South Philly invirons in which it's set in, Invincible sends a uplifting and heartfelt message packed with an athletic enthusiasm that shouldn't be missed.
Synopsis: Lifelong football fan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) sees his wildest dreams come true when he becomes a member of the... [More]
Directed By: Ericson Core

#18

Paterno (2018)
71%

#18
Adjusted Score: 72404%
Critics Consensus: Paterno, elevated by deft direction from Barry Levinson and a strong Al Pacino performance, presents a hard-hitting dramatization of a gut-wrenching real-life story.
Synopsis: Penn State football coach Joe Paterno becomes embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal.... [More]
Directed By: Barry Levinson

#19

Greater (2016)
69%

#19
Adjusted Score: 56298%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Told he wasn't good enough to play Division I football, Brandon Burlsworth took a risk and walked on in 1994,... [More]
Directed By: David Hunt

#20

The Blind Side (2009)
66%

#20
Adjusted Score: 74095%
Critics Consensus: It might strike some viewers as a little too pat, but The Blind Side has the benefit of strong source material and a strong performance from Sandra Bullock.
Synopsis: Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless black teen, has drifted in and out of the school system for years. Then... [More]
Directed By: John Lee Hancock

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 68123%
Critics Consensus: National Champions is well-acted and timely, even if it undercuts its own effectiveness with cheesy dialogue and gimmicky plot twists.
Synopsis: Three days before the college football national championship game, star quarterback LeMarcus James (Stephan James) and teammate Emmett Sunday (Alexander... [More]
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 66793%
Critics Consensus: 12 Mighty Orphans will rouse faithful fans of old-fashioned inspirational sports dramas, but the target audience has seen this sort of thing done more effectively before.
Synopsis: 12 MIGHTY ORPHANS tells the true story of the Mighty Mites, the football team of a Fort Worth orphanage who,... [More]
Directed By: Ty Roberts

#23

Brian Banks (2018)
63%

#23
Adjusted Score: 66280%
Critics Consensus: While it remains a reasonably inspiring drama, Brian Banks might have presented a more complex or fully realized version of the real-life story it dramatizes.
Synopsis: The inspirational true story of Brian Banks, an all-American high school football star who finds his life upended when he's... [More]
Directed By: Tom Shadyac

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 62648%
Critics Consensus: All the Right Moves is an uncommonly grim coming-of-age drama that overcomes numerous clichés with its realistic approach to its characters and setting.
Synopsis: Stefan Djordjevic (Tom Cruise), the star player of his high school football team, is desperately hoping that his football talents... [More]
Directed By: Michael Chapman

#25

The Express (2008)
62%

#25
Adjusted Score: 66448%
Critics Consensus: The Express crosses the goal line as an inspirational sports drama, although fans of the genre will recognize many -- if not most -- of its clichés.
Synopsis: Born into poverty, Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) overcomes many obstacles to get into Syracuse University's football program. Under the guidance... [More]
Directed By: Gary Fleder

#26

Draft Day (2014)
60%

#26
Adjusted Score: 67361%
Critics Consensus: It's perfectly pleasant for sports buffs and Costner fans, but overall, Draft Day lives down to its title by relying too heavily on the sort of by-the-numbers storytelling that only a statistician could love.
Synopsis: Sonny Weaver Jr. is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. One of pro football's most important days, NFL draft... [More]
Directed By: Ivan Reitman

#27

School Ties (1992)
60%

#27
Adjusted Score: 63024%
Critics Consensus: Led by an A+ cast, the road to School Ties is paved with good intentions that are somewhat marred by the honorable yet heavy-handed message against intolerance.
Synopsis: When David Greene (Brendan Fraser) receives a football scholarship to a prestigious prep school in the 1950s, he feels pressure... [More]
Directed By: Robert Mandel

#28

Concussion (2015)
58%

#28
Adjusted Score: 67748%
Critics Consensus: Concussion lands a solid, well-acted hit on its impressively timely subject matter, even if its traditional sports drama structure is a little too safe to deserve a full-on dance in the end zone.
Synopsis: While conducting an autopsy on former NFL football player Mike Webster (David Morse), forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith)... [More]
Directed By: Peter Landesman

#29

80 for Brady (2023)
58%

#29
Adjusted Score: 64861%
Critics Consensus: The titular QB may have been tough to beat on the gridiron, but on the big screen, it's 80 for Brady's veteran leading ladies who make this lightweight comedy a fitfully winsome watch.
Synopsis: 80 FOR BRADY is inspired by the true story of four best friends living life to the fullest when they... [More]
Directed By: Kyle Marvin

#30

The 5th Quarter (2010)
57%

#30
Adjusted Score: 17785%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Jon Abbate helps lead Wake Forest to its most-successful season in school history, in memory of his younger brother, Luke.... [More]
Directed By: Rick Bieber

#31

Any Given Sunday (1999)
52%

#31
Adjusted Score: 58166%
Critics Consensus: Sometimes entertaining, but overall Any Given Sunday is a disappointment coming from Oliver Stone.
Synopsis: Four years ago, DAmato's (Al Pacino) Miami Sharks were at the top. Now, his team is struggling with three consecutive... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Stone

#32

We Are Marshall (2006)
49%

#32
Adjusted Score: 53763%
Critics Consensus: Matthew McConaughey almost runs We Are Marshall to the end zone, but can't stop it from taking the easy, feel-good route in memorializing this historic event in American sports.
Synopsis: In 1970, Marshall University and the small town of Huntington, W.Va., reel when a plane crash claims the lives of... [More]
Directed By: McG

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 49063%
Critics Consensus: The Last Boy Scout is as explosive, silly, and fun as it does represent the decline of the buddy-cop genre.
Synopsis: Once a first-rate Secret Service agent, Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) is now a gruff private investigator whose latest gig is... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#34

Varsity Blues (1999)
45%

#34
Adjusted Score: 47273%
Critics Consensus: This is a predictable football movie that lacks intensity.
Synopsis: In West Canaan, Texas, high school football reigns supreme. When starting quarterback Lance Harbor (Paul Walker) turns up injured, the... [More]
Directed By: Brian Robbins

#35

The Program (1993)
43%

#35
Adjusted Score: 44233%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A college football coach (James Caan) forfeits all but winning to get his troubled team to the big game.... [More]
Directed By: David S. Ward

#36

Gridiron Gang (2006)
43%

#36
Adjusted Score: 46628%
Critics Consensus: The role of probation officer Sean Porter fits Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson like a glove; however, the execution is so cliched, the youths' stories (based on real events), fail to inspire.
Synopsis: A counselor (The Rock) at a juvenile detention facility decides to turn the young inmates in his charge into a... [More]
Directed By: Phil Joanou

#37

The Longshots (2008)
41%

#37
Adjusted Score: 43171%
Critics Consensus: The Longshots means well, but it's a largely formulaic affair, rarely deviating from the inspirational sports movie playbook.
Synopsis: Curtis Plummer (Ice Cube), a down-on-his-luck former football player, becomes the new coach of the Minden, Illinois, Pop Warner football... [More]
Directed By: Fred Durst

#38

The Replacements (2000)
41%

#38
Adjusted Score: 44875%
Critics Consensus: The cliched characters and obvious outcome make all the fun and excitement amount to nothing.
Synopsis: It's late in the season; the playoffs are fast approaching; and the Washington Sentinels have just gone on strike. Scrambling... [More]
Directed By: Howard Deutch

#39

Run the Race (2018)
40%

#39
Adjusted Score: 23439%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: All-star athlete Zach Truett finds glory on the high school football field -- working to earn a college scholarship and... [More]
Directed By: Chris Dowling

#40

Touchback (2011)
38%

#40
Adjusted Score: 21740%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A man (Brian Presley) seeks counsel from his longtime mentor (Kurt Russell) when he gets a unique opportunity to revisit... [More]
Directed By: Don Handfield

#41

23 Blast (2014)
36%

#41
Adjusted Score: 36129%
Critics Consensus: The real life story that inspired 23 Blast is undeniably heartwarming -- but the movie itself is too predictable and amateurish to recommend.
Synopsis: As a typical teenager, Travis Freeman (Mark Hapka) is a local hero both on and off the high-school football field... [More]
Directed By: Dylan Baker

#42

Little Giants (1994)
36%

#42
Adjusted Score: 32624%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ever since childhood, nerdy Danny O'Shea (Rick Moranis) has felt inferior to his brother, Kevin (Ed O'Neill), a former college... [More]
Directed By: Duwayne Dunham

#43

Radio (2003)
35%

#43
Adjusted Score: 38809%
Critics Consensus: The story is heavy on syrupy uplift and turns Radio into a saint/cuddly pet.
Synopsis: In a racially divided town, coach Jones (Ed Harris) spots a mentally disabled African-American student named Radio (Cuba Gooding Jr.)... [More]
Directed By: Michael Tollin

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 37072%
Critics Consensus: This likeable, goofy football comedy has its moments, but it ultimately adheres too closely to the sports movie playbook to overcome the cliches in the script.
Synopsis: Tasked with overhauling a university football team that was dismantled for breaking collegiate rules, coaches Wally Riggendorf (Robert Loggia) and... [More]
Directed By: Stan Dragoti

#45

The Waterboy (1998)
33%

#45
Adjusted Score: 37176%
Critics Consensus: This is an insult to its genre with low humor and cheap gags.
Synopsis: Raised by his overprotective mother, Helen (Kathy Bates), Bobby Boucher Jr. (Adam Sandler) is the water boy for a successful... [More]
Directed By: Frank Coraci

#46

Fantasy Football (2022)
33%

#46
Adjusted Score: 11412%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this hilarious and heartwarming father-daughter sports fantasy, everything changes when Callie A. Coleman (Marsai Martin) discovers she can magically... [More]
Directed By: Anton Cropper

#47

The Longest Yard (2005)
31%

#47
Adjusted Score: 37037%
Critics Consensus: This Yard has some laughs but missing from this remake is the edginess of the original.
Synopsis: Disgraced pro football quarterback Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler) lands in jail, where manipulative Warden Hazen (James Cromwell) recruits him to... [More]
Directed By: Peter Segal

#48

My All American (2015)
31%

#48
Adjusted Score: 32348%
Critics Consensus: My All American has a genuinely moving real-life story to tell, but writer-director Angelo Pizzo fumbles it into manipulative, melodramatic tearjerker territory.
Synopsis: Awarded a scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin, small but scrappy Freddie Steinmark gets a chance to play... [More]
Directed By: Angelo Pizzo

#49
#49
Adjusted Score: 29601%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Married banker Jack Dundee (Robin Williams) has lived his life regretting a botched play he made in a high school... [More]
Directed By: Roger Spottiswoode

#50

The Game Plan (2007)
30%

#50
Adjusted Score: 33591%
Critics Consensus: Despite The Rock's abundant charisma, The Game Plan is just another run-of-the-mill Disney comedy.
Synopsis: Bachelor football star Joe Kingman (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) seems to have it all. He is wealthy and carefree, and... [More]
Directed By: Andy Fickman

#51

Wildcats (1986)
26%

#51
Adjusted Score: 27173%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Molly McGrath (Goldie Hawn) is following her dreams when she quits her cushy girls track coaching position at Prescott High... [More]
Directed By: Michael Ritchie

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 22002%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Teenager Josh (Kevin Zegers) just became the legal owner of his basketball-playing dog, Buddy. But now Buddy is playing football,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Martin

#53

Home Team (2022)
21%

#53
Adjusted Score: 21613%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Two years after a Super Bowl win when NFL head coach Sean Payton is suspended, he goes back to his... [More]

#54
#54
Adjusted Score: 22592%
Critics Consensus: An uneasy blend of solid game sequences and threadbare inspirational sports drama clichés, When the Game Stands Tall is overshadowed by better players in a crowded field.
Synopsis: In 2003, high-school football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) and his De La Salle Spartans have just completed an incredible... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Carter

#55
#55
Adjusted Score: 16134%
Critics Consensus: The tropes of both football and evangelical movies are gracelessly on parade in this banal, insipid drama.
Synopsis: Grant Taylor, a Christian high-school football coach (Alex Kendrick), gets some very bad news. Besides his and his wife's (Shannen... [More]
Directed By: Alex Kendrick

#56
#56
Adjusted Score: 10659%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Milo Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge) and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix) star in this inspirational true story of a small town high... [More]
Directed By: Todd Randall

#57

The Comebacks (2007)
9%

#57
Adjusted Score: 9457%
Critics Consensus: Full of groin-centric humor and tired sports clichés, The Comebacks is poor even by parody movie standards.
Synopsis: Lambeau Fields (David Koechner), the worst coach in the history of college football, gets a final chance to redeem himself... [More]
Directed By: Tom Brady

#58

Johnny Be Good (1988)
0%

#58
Adjusted Score: 811%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: High-school quarterback Johnny Walker (Anthony Michael Hall) is being courted by elite colleges nationwide. To get the sports star to... [More]
Directed By: Bud S. Smith