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The 10 best sports movies of 2023 to binge over the holiday period

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Best sports movies of 2023

Let’s face it, we can be short of things to do over the Christmas period.

Bellies are full, heads are sore, and time moves slowly. So what better way to waste a pristine summer day than whacking on one of 2023’s best sports movies?

If you find yourself with a spare afternoon over the holiday period, free from family commitments and able to kick your feet up and unwind, here are 10 of the best sports movies released this year to feast your eyes on.

Just a small note, we aren’t arbiters of whether a movie is good or not, that’s typically down to personal preference.

So with that in mind, we’ve delegated to dear friend and the internet’s movie Mecca, IMDb, to compile our list based on each film’s ranking on the site.

damon, affleck, sports movies, 2023, Air
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck starred in Air, the story of Air Jordan’s origins | 2023’s best sports movies

The 10 best sports movies of 2023

1. Air 

IMDb rating: 7.4/10 

We begin our list with an all star cast telling the story of an all star athlete’s formative years, and the establishment of the most iconic brand-athlete partnership in sports history. Air, directed by Ben Affleck, who also stars as Nike founder, Phil Knight, follows the formative days of the Air Jordan brand.

Alongside Affleck, his great mate Matt Damon plays Sonny Vaccaro, the scout responsible for signing Michael Jordan to Nike back in 1984, when he was no more than a talented college baller. Jason Bateman, Viola Davis, Chris Tucker, and Marlon Wayans round out a stellar cast.

According to IMBd, this film was a slam dunk, hence its rating as 2023’s best sports movie.

2. Gran Turismo

IMDb rating: 7.2/10

“You really think you’re going to take a kid who plays video games in their bedroom and strap them to a 200 mile an hour rocket? It’ll tear them to pieces.”

Has anything ever summed up the high, high stakes of professional racing quite like that line, delivered by Stranger Things’ David Harbour’s character in this film, which chronicles the rise and tragic demise of Jann Mardenborough from video gamer to professional racer.

Alongside Harbour, Orlando Bloom and Djimon Hounsou star in what IMDb views as 2023’s second best sports movie. If you’re planning to watch this over the holidays, strap in for a wild ride.

3. Nyad 

IMDb rating: 7.1/10

Flying from Florida to Cuba takes just over an hour. In the eyes of world champion marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, that’s too quick. At 64, an age many begin winding down from professional life, Nyad attempted to swim from Florida and Cuba, without a shark cage. Eeek!

It’s a 60 hour journey which the film, starring Jodie Foster and Rhys Ifan, attempts to do justice. A true feel good story showcasing the beautifully indomitable human spirit, is there anything better to tune into over Christmas?

4. Champions

IMDb rating: 6.8/10

Another feel good movie here to inspire some Christmas cheer. Woody Harrelson does what only Woody Harrelson can do, expertly portraying a drunken, aggressive minor basketball coach’s journey of self discovery as he coaches a basketball team full of people with intellectual disabilities.

Of course, along the way Harrelson’s character learns countless invaluable personal and professional lessons. Not only is the tale heartwarming, but it is jam packed with laughs by a cast that arguably exceeds Harrelson’s performances. 

5. Creed III 

IMDb rating: 6.7/10

The third instalment in the Creed series, and a continuation of the beloved Rocky cinematic universe, Creed III pits Adonis Creed, son of Apollo, against a former childhood friend, Damian Anderson, played by Jonathan Majors.

As far as boxing movies are concerned, this one has everything; friends to enemies, a haunting past, a champion getting knocked down and thriving, and most importantly dubious training methods – did Adonis really pull a plane on his back? Come on now!

6. Ferrari 

IMDb rating: 6.6/10

Finally Adam Driver, who portrays Enzo Ferrari, lives up to his name. Is there a more recognisable and iconic global brand than Ferrari? Perhaps not. Everyone knows what the black horse and yellow badge symbolises: speed and luxury.

But in 1957, the brand nearly died before it had a chance to flourish. With Ferrari on the verge of financial ruin, Enzo Ferrari has one goal in mind – win a 1,000 mile race across Italy. This film tells that incredible tale.

7. Big George Foreman

IMDb rating: 6.6/10

Before his name became synonymous with grilling, George Foreman was a boxing stalwart, the personification of power who struck fear into anyone and everyone in his prime. We’ve seen some great biopics in recent years, and this looks like another to add to this list.

A story of unparalleled physical power, mixed with a mental toughness Navy seals would be proud of, it stars Khris Davis as Foreman and Forest Whittaker as Doc Broadus, Foreman’s trainer. 

8. Next Goal Wins

IMDb rating: 6.5/10

Taika Waititi tells the story of American Samoa, a football side famous for losing 31-0 to Australia more than anything. Need we say more? This film is a bucket of laughs. Michael Fassbender is great in it.

It’s a story about losing games, but winning hearts. All American Samoa wants is one goal. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? 

This feels like a return to the Taika Waititi of old, and we are here for it. 

9. The Iron Claw

Unreleased, hitting Australian cinemas 18 January, 2024

Yet to be released, but highly anticipated, it has Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White, who’s had a remarkable 2023. What more do you need for some holiday period viewing?

It depicts the life and times of the Von Erich family, one of the earliest wrestling dynasties, as they rise through the professional wrestling scene while combating a spate of family tragedies.

“Mum tried to protect us with God. Pop tried to protect us with wrestling.” Sums the film up, really. While it hits worldwide cinemas in late December, Aussies will need to wait until mid-January before catching this flick in theatres.

10. The Boys in the Boat

Unreleased, hitting Australian cinemas 4 January, 2024

Sandwiched between the Great Depression and the rise of Nazisim, this film is set against a complicated socio-political backdrop, George Clooney’s ninth film as director follows the University of Washington rowing crew representing America at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

An epic historical drama, this film is as much about sport as it is about perseverance in the face of significant adversity and the value of connection as they unite to knock over their rivals and send a message to the Nazis at once.

Australians can expect this film, which features their very own Joel Edgerton, in cinemas on 4 January, 2024.

Kyle Robbins
Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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