The top 10 best sports movies on Netflix: Here is our collection

Pele is one of the top recommended movies on Netflix for Sports fans. (Image credit: Twitter)
By Siddharth vishwanathan | Sep 25, 2021 | 7 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

In every decade or century, there have been developments in technology that have helped films and documentaries. Television was the primary medium through which we could watch our favorite shows and channels. Now, with the development of Over the Top (OTT) platforms on mobiles and laptops, the amount of content that is available for all genres and sports is no different.

In the last couple of years, there have been some magnificent sports films, dramas, and documentaries that have come out on OTT platforms. Here are our top 10 best sports movies on Netflix.

Diego Maradona (2019)

Diego Maradona was one of the greatest footballers to have ever lived, second perhaps only to Pele. His brilliance helped Argentina to two World titles in 1978 and 1986. Most notably, Maradona and his ‘Hand of God’ goal is still talked upon as one of the best in the business. But, the Netflix series ‘Maradona’, directed by Oscar-winner Asif Kapadia focuses on the action outside the football field. Maradona’s drug addictions and his meeting with a drug cartel have an in-depth look at it. A definite watch for anyone who wants to know more about Maradona.

Pele (2021)

The greatest footballer of all time, this series on Netflix highlights the spectacular arrival of Pele on the world stage. His rise from poverty, his part-time job of working as a servant in tea shops as well as honing his skills by using a sock filled with newspapers, Pele’s rise is emotional. It also coincides with the time Brazil’s socio-political landscape was changing. This documentary looks back at the extraordinary 12-year period. Here, Pele went from young superstar in 1958 to national hero in 1970. This was a radical yet turbulent era in Brazil’s history. Pele remains the only player to have won three World Cups in 1958, 1962, and 1970.

Moneyball (2011)

In a long time, perhaps the best sporting movie to have come out after a long time. Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman and other ensemble cast members, Moneyball is is based on the 2003 nonfiction book by Michael Lewis. This is an account of the Oakland Athletics baseball team’s 2002 season and their general manager Billy Beane’s attempts to assemble a competitive team. The new-look Athletics, despite a comparative lack of star power, surprised the baseball world by besting the 2001 team’s regular-season record. The team is most famous, however, for winning 20 consecutive games between August 13 and September 4, 2002.

Oakland’s streak came to an end with a 6–0 loss to the Minnesota Twins on September 6. The A’s continued to play well down the stretch, as evidenced by their final record of 103–59. The club’s late-season surge allowed it to hold off the Anaheim Angels, who finished four games behind them at 99–63.

The epilogue reveals that Beane declines the Red Sox offer to remain with the A’s. Two years later, the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series using the model the Athletics pioneered,. This broke the team’s 86-year drought. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards. This included Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Pitt, and Best Supporting Actor for Hill.

Coach Carter (2005)

Yet another biography, this time from the world of basketball. Samuel L Jackson essayed the role of Coach Carter brilliantly. The film is based on the true story of Richmond High School basketball coach Ken Carter (played by Jackson). He had made headlines in 1999 for suspending his undefeated high school basketball team due to poor academic results. The story follows the trials and tribulations of how coach Carter goes about bringing discipline, focus, and a goal for every individual.

It is far from an ideal ending. If one thought that the movie would have a happy ending for the team, it is bittersweet. The team plays in the State quarterfinals match against St. Francis but loses by two points. Though they did not win, Carter expresses his pride that the team came together to persevere. They give themselves options and achieve the “ever-elusive victory within.” The film ends with the team celebrating with the community. Graphics explain how six players went on to attend college. The film grossed USD 76 million globally.

Dangal (2016)

Now, if you are an Indian Bollywood fan, then this sports movie cum part biography is right up there. In India, there is a tendency to hype up certain aspects and cloud facts when it came to sporting movies. But, Dangal is something totally different. This a film on the Phogat family, the film stars Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat, a pehlwani amateur wrestler who trains his daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari to become India’s first world-class female wrestlers.

Geeta and Babita Phogat indeed did well for India in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010. The film is a brilliant chronicler on how women have to fight the odds to gain recognition in a patriarchal and conservative society like Haryana. The film was the highest-grossing movie ever made, managing a total of over Rs 2000 crore worldwide.

Mary Kom (2014)

Mary Kom is one of the most accomplished boxers to have ever come out of India. She is a six-time world champion, has won the gold in the Commonwealth and Asian Games and medals even in the Olympics. But, that has not stopped her from becoming an iconic sportsperson.

The story is of Mary Kom’s journey of becoming a boxer to her victory at the 2008 World Boxing Championships in Ningbo. The director had met Mary Kom to ask her permission for the film. This was before her bronze medal victory at the 2012 Olympics. That medal had brought her recognition. Actress Priyanka Chopra underwent extensive physical training for four months to attain a muscular physique and learned the sport and Mary Kom’s distinct boxing style. Mary Kom received several accolades at award ceremonies across India. The film won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. It was nominated for Filmfare Award for Best Film and Best Actress for Priyanka Chopra. Additionally, Chopra won the Screen Award and the Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Drive to Survive (2019)

For many years, the world of F1 was very intriguing. The technology and the cars were all in front of viewers but no one had gotten a behind-the-scenes activity of the teams. If people are interested in the backroom functionings of the F1 teams, the technology, and the strategy, then the Drive to Survive documentary is just for you.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive is a documentary series produced in a collaboration between Netflix and Formula One to give a behind-the-scenes look at the drivers and races of the Formula One World Championship.

The first season covering the 2018 World Championship premiered on 8 March 2019, the second season covering the 2019 World Championship premiered on 28 February 2020. The third season covering the 2020 World Championship premiered on 19 March 2021. A fourth season covering the 2021 World Championship was announced, set to be released in 2022.

Sunderland Till I Die (2018)

Another behind-the-scenes TV series, this time for the Sunderland Football Club in the English Premier League. The first series documented Sunderland’s 2017–18 season which saw the club playing in the EFL Championship having been relegated from the Premier League the season prior.

As a result of the first series success, a second series was produced documenting the following season in 2018-19. This coincided with the club’s first season under the ownership of Stewart Donald; this was released on 1 April 2020. Sunderland had already been the focus of previous fly on the wall documentaries, including the 1998 Premier Passions (which also documented a relegation season) and its 1999 follow-up Premier Pressures. One critic summed the documentary as, “encapsulates the cultural significance of the city’s relationship with its proud, working-class supporters. As a result, Sunderland ‘Til I Die, despite the club’s plight, is a cut above the rest.

The Last Dance (2020)

Michael Jordan was a legendary personality, both in sports and in American popular culture. His influence and style of play ensured that the NBA was one of the most sought-after sporting properties in the world. His exploits for the Chicago Bulls in the mid-90s made Jordan one of the greatest entities in the world of sport. This latest docuseries is just that.

The Last Dance is a 2020 American sports documentary miniseries co-produced by ESPN Films and Netflix. Directed by Jason Hehir, the series revolves around the career of Michael Jordan, with particular focus on his final season with the Chicago Bulls. The series features exclusive footage from a film crew that had an all-access pass to the Bulls, as well as interviews of many NBA personalities including Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, and Phil Jackson.

The footage from the 1997/98 season, which is behind the scenes, is something that will make all basketball fans nostalgic. It won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards.

Schumacher (2021)

The Netflix documentary ‘Schumacher’, chronicling the life and times of seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher, hit the streaming service on September 15 (Wednesday). When the movie was announced, it understandably generated excitement among F1 fans old and new. After all, the Schumacher family are notoriously private – and this has been especially true after his 2013 skiing accident. But this movie was made not only with their blessing but would also feature them talking.

The movie begins with some videos of the Schumacher family enjoying some deep-sea diving. It then cuts to a dash-camera shot of Schumacher driving his Ferrari through the street circuit of Monaco. From there, after the title introduction, we head straight to the Belgian Grand Prix in 1991 – Schumacher’s debut in the sport. From this point onwards, fans are treated to a linear story of the legend’s career. His debut race for Jordan at Spa-Francorchamps is well covered, as are his two world championships at Benetton. The struggle to transform Ferrari from a historic team struggling for a world championship to a side that went on to clinch five on the trot is also well told.

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