ByDaniel Portolan, writer at
Daniel Portolan

The team coming together. The underdog emerging victorious. The realisation of so much unrealised desire. There’s a reason sports movies are so popular - what could be a more dramatic climax than an epic showdown on the field or court?

Below is a video and list of Cinefix’s top 10 picks for the best sports showdowns in film. While the official list only includes 10, the clip at the end does cover other amazing films with memorable sports showdowns.

10. (Soccer) Escape to Victory - It's the story of Allied World War 2 POWs who face a Professional German team in an exhibition game meant to embarrass them, all the while planning to escape captivity during the excitement of the match.

9. (Extreme Sports) Chasing Mavericks – Due to the final sequence that sees 14 year old Jay Moriarty paddling out into Mavericks to ride monster waves, in a final showdown between boy and nature. The filmmakers don't hold back here. The cinematography and stunt work during the sequence are absolutely astonishing, and completely make up for the color-by-numbers storyline.

8. (Rowing) Social Network - Most people don't care about rowing unless they're up shit creek with or without a paddle, but Director David Fincher turns what must be one of the unlikeliest of movie sports into the tensest of battles.

7. (Boxing) When We Were Kings – The entire 83 minute documentary revolves around the single fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, But it pays just as much attention to the politics, the culture, the music, and the history as it does to the pugilism.

6. (Basketball) He’s Got Game –Instead of slightly less believable games like the Finals from Hoosiers, or Coach Carter, or Above the Rim, or Passing Glory, or Glory Road, number 6 goes to the smaller, quieter, one-on-one between Denzel Washington and Ray Allen as father and son.

5. (Running) Chariots of Fire - There's nothing quite like the 10 seconds of this 100 meter race stretched over a beautifully taut two minutes to glorify the beauty of running.

4. (Baseball) The Natural – Harkening back to an earlier time, the best showdown in baseball took place between the fictional New York Knights and the PIttsburgh Pirates.

3. (Hockey) Miracle - Pitting massive underdog team USA against heavy favourite USSR in this based-on-a-true-story movie, every minute in the film has been building up to the moment when the clock ticks down to zero and we all believe in miracles. The coverage is realistic, almost documentary like, not flashy or obnoxious.

2. (Football) Friday Night Lights - Sure, the best thing about the movie might be the TV series it spawned, but that doesn't mean we can't still love its heartbreaking final moments. So many sports films have given us the cathartic joy of the last minute clutch, and it's the kind of story every fan likes to hear. But the team can't always win, and Friday Night Lights shows us what happens when it doesn't.

1. (Boxing) Rocky – Possibly the most classic showdown in the most classic American sports movie in the most classic series. It's fun, brutal, memorable, and so easy to cheer for, and it is the perfect example of what sports showdowns are all about, which is why we think it's the number 1 of all time.


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