Best Super Bowl Movies
We still have a couple of weeks to go before the Big Game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, so it’s a good time to begin the pre-game rituals. We like to immerse ourselves in all things football this time of year and that includes viewing content. Next time you find yourself wondering what to watch on TV, consider one of the following best Super Bowl movies. This is a mix of high school, college and pro football on the big screen.
North Dallas Forty (1979)
Based on the book by former NFL wide receiver Peter Gent, North Dallas Forty is a cutting satire on American football that follows the story of an aging pass-catcher, Phillip Elliott, who spends a lot of time on the bench. It’s a comedy drama that casts the NFL in an unflattering light with many scenes ringing true for players of that era, specifically with the Dallas Cowboys.
Utterly defiant to integrate into the team after sacrificing his body for several years, Elliott (played by Nick Nolte) is a constant irritation for the management and coaching staff that includes Charles Durning as Coach Johnson. The coaches expect the players to buy in to their system—something that Elliott, the antihero, is unwilling to do.
Despite his love for the game, Elliott struggles to cope with the fact that he’ll always be an outsider with the team, and his foil, fellow teammate Seth Maxwell (played by Mac Davis) provides him with some comradery but is indoctrinated with the coach’s system. Elliott must have the courage to close his chapter with the team and move on with his life.
Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1993, Rudy is a biographical movie that tells the story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger who dreams of playing football for Notre Dame. With a father who is a Notre Dame football fan, Rudy becomes fixated with the football dream despite lacking everything needed to make it a reality. For a while, he seems complacent to follow his father’s path and work in a steel mill; however, a dramatic experience causes Rudy to re-focus on his dreams of playing college ball at Notre Dame.
He overcomes many challenges in his pursuit to make the team and it’s a long uphill battle to simply convince people to let him play ball. Coaches bear witness to his unwavering determination and give some small opportunities, but a coaching change eradicates his tedious progress and almost causes him to quit the team.
In the final game of the season, Rudy gets to play, but only after the crowd chants his name and the tailback overrules the coach’s order. Rudy is celebrated by the team after he sacks the opposing quarterback and to this day, is the only Notre Dame player to be carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders.
Remember the Titans (2000)
Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Coach Herman Boone was particularly captivating in Remember the Titans—a biographical movie based on Boone’s experiences at T.C. Williams High School in 1971. Racial integration is at the heart of the story, as two head coaches that were previously hired to coach segregated groups of students must work together to build a team composed of players of different backgrounds. Boone is named head coach, and the former head coach, Bill Yoast (played by Will Patton) is relegated to defensive coordinator, which leads to much resistance from his group of players.
Boone must coach through racially-targeted team conflict to unite his players and is under intense scrutiny to make sure the team performs well. Early on, he’s threatened with immediate dismissal if his team loses a single game, and as the team progresses to the state championship, there’s a push to force the team to lose so that Boone can be fired and the defensive coordinator reinstated as coach. As the team pushes through adversity and finds success, the surrounding community is influenced and becomes supportive.
Friday Night Lights (2004)
Released in 2004, Friday Night Lights was based on the book by Buzz Bissinger that told the story of the economically depressed town of Odessa, Texas. The town is dependent on the high school’s football team, the Permian Panthers, to give them something to hope for and to uphold their reputation. For the most part, the team has been successful in that, but a major injury to a star player early in the 1988 season spells trouble for the team, with players dealing with various challenges of their own.
Billy Bob Thornton puts forth an incredible performance as Coach Gary Gaines, who is intertwined with the team and deeply impacted by everything they do. As the coach of a team that has the entire town’s morale riding on their shoulders, he must inspire them to rise from setbacks and take back their season. Their rise would easily feature in our biggest Super Bowl shocks list.
Directed by Peter Berg, Friday Night Lights won Movie of the Year (AFI Awards) and Best Sports Movie (ESPY Awards) for 2005 and continues to be a popular football film credited for accurately depicting the gritty and emotional underbelly of high school football in Texas.
Undefeated is the only documentary on this list. It follows the Manassas High School football team through a historic season with Coach Bill Courtney. Located in impoverished North Memphis, the Manassas Tigers have been an under-achieving team since inception and had never won a playoff game before. With an honest look at the poverty and social unrest that plagued the area, players are up against particularly challenging circumstances and seen dropping out of school and getting arrested for pretty serious infractions.
Coach Bill Courtney is hired and becomes committed to helping his players dedicate themselves to the sport as well as uphold their education. His coaching efforts inspire the players and they manage to put their struggles aside and achieve new heights as a team. Raw emotion on both sides of the spectrum is captured in captivating scenes that’s only possible with a documentary. This was the Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Feature in 2012 and should be on your must-watch list before Super Bowl.
You want our advice? Watch one of our best Super Bowl movies in the build up to the action on Sunday 12th February before strapping in for some Super Bowl betting.