The Buzz

6 bone-crushing football films

Categories: Movies

Al Pacino, Jamie FoxxActors Al Pacino, left, and Jamie Foxx appear in a scene from Any Given Sunday. (Getty Images)

Gridiron athletes grappling with personal challenges, embattled coaches bellowing victory-inspiring speeches or blistering rebukes and behind-the-scenes depictions of backroom politics and hedonistic partying -- football films have definitely carved out a distinctive niche in the history of cinema.

As National Football League fans gear up for this weekend's Super Bowl, CBC News offers a quick look at 6 noteworthy films of the bone-crushing genre. (Note language in some clips).

The Longest Yard (1974)

A retro favourite among football aficionados, The Longest Yard is pure, politically incorrect fun (or ridiculousness, depending on who you ask), starring good 'ole boy Burt Reynolds in his heyday. Playing an incarcerated former pro quarterback, Reynolds leads the Mean Machine, a motley crew of prison inmates, in a match against the guards. The mustachioed one returned for a cameo role in the 2005 remake.

Friday Night Lights (2004)

For many in the southern U.S., attending the local high school football games on Friday evenings are as mandatory as going to church on Sunday morning. The acclaimed film Friday Night Lights (and the later TV series it spawned) spread the weekly tradition to a much wider audiences with its layered portrait of a Texan high school football team's players, coaches and fans during a run for the state championship.

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Oliver Stone's star-packed (Al Pacino! Cameron Diaz! Jamie Foxx! Charlton Heston! LL Cool J!) ensemble drama, Any Given Sunday depicts the clashing egos both on and off the field of a once-great, now struggling professional football team. Worth it for the incredible speechifying of Pacino's head coach character alone.

Undefeated (2011)

Like Friday Night Lights, the Oscar-winning documentary Undefeated follows a high school football team over the course of a key season. But where FNL's Panthers are much-loved, much-watched favourites, the Manassas Tigers of Undefeated are a largely unsupported, long-losing team that undergoes a shocking turnaround. Even non-football fans will be won over by the filmmakers' sensitive treatment of race, poverty, family discord and other tough issues facing the players and head coach, as well as the intimate access to their lives.

Rudy (1993)

Especially loved by fans of the Fighting Irish, the admittedly sappy but still inspirational Rudy dramatizes the true story of Daniel (Rudy) Ruettiger, a dyslexic aspiring footballer who achieves his unlikely dream of playing for the University of Notre Dame.

North Dallas Forty (1979)

Finally, we have a cult sports film many consider the granddaddy of gridiron flicks and which continues to inspire sports films made today. Based on former Dallas Cowboys player Peter Gent's semi-autobiographical novel, North Dallas Forty (incidentally directed by Canadian Ted Kotcheff) is a drama, satire and comedy all rolled into one. Starring Nick Nolte as a cynical professional football player at the end of his career, the film depicts the sex, drugs and all-around misbehaviour by players, coaches and team management between games.

Still hungry for more? Check these out for further viewing: Brian's Song, We Are Marshall, Remember the Titans, All The Right Moves, The Last Boy Scout, The Blind Side. Share your favourites in the comments below.

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