2023’s big sports biopic is here, and it’s a great time to put on your sports cap and spend some energy feeling motivated by the film. Now, we all know it’s not going to last, so have fun while it does. Nyad tells the inspiring story of long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad (as you may have guessed) on her big adventure of swimming the 110-mile course from Cuba to Key West, Florida. The film is mostly lighthearted and focuses on the teamwork that is required to achieve such a feat. As is common in the biopic world, the sports film stars an ensemble lead cast, with Annette Bening playing the role of relentless swimmer, Diana Nyad while Jodie Foster gets into the skin of her life-long best friend and coach, Bonnie Stoll. It’s rare to see a film that is solely focused on the activities of a woman over 60 (I can barely think of two, and this film is a gem for that fact alone. The motivational film brings tears of joy by the end, but never do you feel like joining her in the ocean, thanks to all the dangerous things she faces on the way. Without further ado, let’s get into some other films that are just as enjoyable.
Will Smith may have done some cancellable things after doing an incredible job in this film, but it doesn’t stop King Richard from being a great sports film. More than anything, it tells the mind-blowing story of Venus and Serena Williams, two black girls who made it big in the white world of tennis. For most people today, we cannot talk about tennis without bringing up these two household names, but the struggle for them to get there is what we learn through this film. Similar to Nyad, this film is inspiring and motivational for anyone who wants to achieve something big in their lifetime. It’s a story of hard work and perseverance that we’ve seen many times but through the lens of a simple family that gave it all, and got it.
Bend It Like Beckham
This is one of those movies that gets more enjoyable every time you rewatch it. While this is a fictional story, the social commentary and the light it shines on the prejudice of the sports world are very real. Apart from being a feel-good movie that makes you want to do sports, specifically play soccer, this film is full of laughs. Jess’s story is about her rebellious nature and how she tries really hard to prove to her traditional parents that she has the talent to be a superstar at what she loves. It’s about how she wins over her unsupportive parents and works hard to achieve her own goals. Two best friends and a dream to play their favorite sport—this movie covers the relationship between the two lead characters and also their own connection with traditional parents.
If Adam Sandler chose to do only movies like Hustle for the rest of his career, we would respect his decision because he is a force to be reckoned with here. A beat-down scout and a player with a shady past—this film is all about their dream to go to the NBA despite all odds. The film isn’t based on a true story, unlike most on this list; it’s simply made like one that feels too real. It’s the story of a scout who wants desperately to become a coach and finds his calling with this phenomenal player who is discriminated against because of his history. It seems duos are the only way to go when it comes to sports films, and we see the coach-player relationship grow between these two characters into almost a parent-child situation. While the story itself is a delight to watch, you’ll be picking out the many real-life basketball players on your screen while watching, making it especially exciting.
Fighting With My Family
Before Florence Pugh started playing the more feminine characters like Amy in Little Women or even Dani in Midsommar (yes, it came out the same year), she played wrestling champion Saraya Paige Bevis in Fighting With My Family. Even for someone who is completely uninterested in the wrestling world, this is a highly entertaining film about an English wrestler. This film is going to have you questioning your taste because of how easily it makes you invested in the story. Paige is from a family of wrestlers, and her older brother and she get the opportunity of a lifetime to try out for the WWE. It’s only Paige who gets selected for the training program, and she’s left to choose between her family and herself. Florence Pugh is memorable, and if for no other reason, watch it for her performance.
Baseball players from India? JB Bernstein surely got asked this more than once when he planned to find a pitcher in the country as a last-ditch effort to save his career. This is as cliche as it gets when it comes to a feel-good sports movie, and that’s what makes it so endearing to watch. John Hamm’s naive and vulnerable performance is an added benefit, for sure. Rather than focusing on the players, this film is focused on JB’s journey to learn some important life lessons at quite a late stage. Of course, late-blooming isn’t a new subject, and similar to Nyad it simply gives the message “never too late”. There’s no way you will not be left hopeful after watching this. The film also stars Suraj Sharma of Life of Pi fame, along with Madhur Mittal, who was also in Slumdog Millionaire.
There are too many sports films that follow the same patterns and formulas to choose from, but these films all have a similar feel-good outcome that leaves you with hope and determination. What movie would you add to this particular list?