A whopping 102 million people tuned in to see the Kansas City Chiefs end a 50-year wait for Super Bowl glory last year, and with the Chiefs looking to defend their title against Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night, expect those figures to rise even further. Even across the pond, where the term ‘football’ in American football baffles and irritates many of us in equal measure, the NFL showpiece is damn near impossible to avoid.
So why not get in the mood for it this year? The big screen has blessed us with a plethora of bona fide American football classics over the years and these are five of our favourites...
Remember The Titans (2000)
Based on the true story of Herman Boone, portrayed by Denzel Washington, and the coach’s attempt to integrate the T.C Williams High School football team in Virginia in 1971, Remember The Titans is one of the most beloved and financially successful American football films ever. The message of the film is a little on the nose sometimes, thanks to Hollywood’s tendency for cliched sentimentality, but its heart is in the right place and sport films don’t get more inspiring than this. Oh, and Denzel knocks it out of the park once again.
Hands down the most inspirational film on this list, Rudy is the story of Eugene ‘Rudy’ Ruetigger, played by the Lord of the Rings’ Sean Astin, a steel mill worker who dreams of playing college football despite lacking the grades and money to attend or the height and stature to play. Rudy is peak-Hollywood cheesiness, but it’s great and teaches us all a valuable lesson - nothing’s impossible.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Al Pacino is on form as football coach Tony D’Amato, a 30-year veteran of the game who finds himself at loggerheads with his team’s young team owner, played by Cameron Diaz. With the legendary Oliver Stone in the director’s chair and a jam-packed cast full of famous faces, Any Given Sunday looks at the sport it portrays from every angle and feels remarkably balanced for a film that runs for the best part of three hours. It’s worth watching for Pacino’s “inch by inch” speech alone.
The Blind Side (2009)
When The Blind Side was released in 2009 it was an immediate hit, transforming its $29m budget into a whopping $309m and garnering a Best Actress Academy Award for Sandra Bullock, who put in a career-best performance, and a Best Picture nomination. The story of Michael Oher, who overcame an impoverished upbringing to star in the NFL, is as heart-warming as they come.
The Waterboy (1998)
It’s been more than 20 years since Adam Sandler’s classic The Waterboy was released. Incredibly, despite only having a budget of $23m, it went on to gross more than $190m worldwide at the box office and it is considered the most financially successful sports film in the comedy-genre ever. Is it better than Happy Gilmore? We’ll leave that one for you to decide.