Gathering with friends to watch the big game is great, but before the Panthers and Broncos take the field, there’s not much to get you in the mood for football besides slapping on some face pant and digging into a plate of wings. Luckily, Hollywood is known for their love of sports films, and there are enough empowering football movies to last you the whole weekend before the big game. To get you pumped for Super Bowl Sunday, binge on these classic football films.
1. “The Blind Side”
Watching “The Blind Side,” the biopic about Carolina Panthers’ offensive tackle Michael Oher, before Super Bowl 50 is a must. Sure, Oher may be just another player on Sunday, but the story of his rise from poverty to college football superstar will move you to tears. Quinton Aaron plays the towering Oher in the movie, which follows the star athlete’s time as a high school football star adopted by a wealthy family, the Touheys. Aaron’s heartwrenching portrayal of Oher — also his film debut — led to critical acclaim that helped land the film an Academy Award nomination for Best Film. Plus, Sandra Bullock’s Academy-Award winning performance as Oher’s spunky and compassionate mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy, is enough to keep you interested, even if football isn’t your thing.
2. “Remember the Titans”
“Remember the Titans” follows the story of Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), a black man hired to coach football at a recently desegregated high school. The movie centers around the racial tensions between the formally all-white team and the new black players, as well as between Boone and former coach Bill Yoast — portrayed by Will Patton. When Boone replaces Yoast, the white players on the team threaten not to play, but as in all great football movies, the team eventually forms a bond, and the film culminates with a championship game that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
3. “Friday Night Lights”
“Friday Night Lights,” based on the book “Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream” by journalist H. G. Bissinger, follows the Permian High School Panthers as they vie for the Texas state championship. As the team slotted to take the title, the students face the pressure of letting down their town, their school and most importantly, themselves. The movie takes on heavy topics like alcoholism, abuse and racism, and is packed with so much drama from start to finish that it’s hard to believe it’s based on a true story. Plus, if you like the movie, you can binge on the critically acclaimed television show of the same name after the big game.
4. “Varsity Blues”
If you’re looking for a football film with a few laughs, “Varsity Blues” delivers. The story follows a Texas high school football team, led by captain Jonathan “Mox” Moxon — portrayed by former teen heartthrob James Van Der Beek. The team comes together out of spite for legendary but abusive coach Bud Kilmer — played by Jon Voight — who tries to force the players to push past safe limits in the quest for a championship. From serious injuries to whipped-cream bikinis, the film is a perfect balance of cut-throat Texas high school football and a lovable movie.
Who doesn’t love a true underdog story? “Rudy” follows the most famous walk-on in history, Rudy Ruettiger as he grows from a Notre Dame super fan with a dream to a student and practice player at Notre Dame and finally, in his last game, an actual member of the team. If the final scene of the movie doesn’t have you standing on your feet chanting “Rudy,” you’ll might as well not watch the Super Bowl. This movie will have you ready to go out and play on Sunday — and by play we mean sit on your couch, indulge in food and watch the big game — or your favorite commercials, either one.