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Power ranking the 15 best sports films available to watch on Netflix Ireland

Do you agree with our choices?

15. The Waterboy (1998)

YouTube credit: HollywoodPresents1st

Premise: A waterboy for a local college football team turns out to be a talented player in his own right.

What the critics say: The Waterboy is arguably Sandler’s most enjoyable motion picture to date, but it’s still far from a masterpiece” – Reel Views.

14. Dragonslayer (2011)

YouTube credit: First Run Features – Trailers, Free Content, and More!

Premise: A documentary that follows the path of a feckless and enigmatic semi-professional skateboarder.

What the critics say: “Patterson’s one-of-a-kind hybrid captures a socio-historical moment with the kind of charged authenticity that only comes from a willingness to embrace contradictions: It’s discursive and hypnotic, laconic and urgent” — Village Voice.

13. Nacho Libre (2006)

YouTube credit: Luis Eduardo Ferreyra Audisio

Premise: A cook who works in a monsastery must save it from financial ruin by participating in the local Lucha Libre tournament.

What the critics say: Nacho Libre strikes a delicate balance of whimsy and absurdity that may surprise auds primed to expect wall-to-wall slapstick – Variety.”

12. Leatherheads (2008)

YouTube credit: CinemaRV

Premise: A 1920s American football side on the brink of collapse attempt to persuade a war hero who is a former footballer to play for the team in order to give them a much-needed boost.

What the critics say:Leatherheads is a romp with some great chemistry between the leads and enough laughs and surprises to keep you entertained” — Richard Roper.

11. Bull Runners of Pamplona (2012)

YouTube credit: JourneymanVOD

Premise: A detailed look at the famous bull run in Pamplona, and all the danger and controversy that goes with it.

What the critics say: “The inner workings of Spain’s most famous and dangerous fiesta are revealed in an efficiently-made, unashamedly partisan documentary which is distinguished by its breathtaking 3D visuals” — The Hollywood Reporter.

10. Bones Brigade (2011)

YouTube credit: MOVIES Coming Soon

Premise: A look at the improbable rise of the eponymous Bones Brigade, as they came to dominate skateboarding in the 1980s.

What the critics say: “Like a high school reunion, filled with affectionate memories of an earlier, more innocent, time” — Los Angeles Times.

9. The Short Game (2013)

YouTube credit: Film Festivals and Indie Films

Premise: A look at the lives of child stars who compete in a tournament to determine the best seven-year-old golfer in the world.

What the critics say: “Like its half-pint stars, The Short Game stands on the cusp of brilliance” — USA Today.

8. Seabiscuit (2003)

YouTube credit: paramountmovies

Premise: The legendary story of a 1930s racehorse whose series of unlikely victories helped inspire Depression-era America.

What the critics say: “A faithful, loving piece of work” – San Francisco Chronicle.

7. Everest (1998)

YouTube credit: JackSmackus

Premise: A documentary that looks at a notorious 1996 expedition up the famous mountain.

What the critics say: “Compelling and unforgettable” — Aisle Seat.

6. Shaolin Soccer (2001)

YouTube credit: D. Art Kang

Premise: A Shaolin Monk and skilled fighter is transformed into an accomplished footballer.

What the critics say: “It’s the sort of movie that leaves you smiling like an idiot” — Slate.

5. The Hurricane (1999)

YouTube credit: ryy79

Premise: The true story of a highly promising black boxer who is imprisoned under suspicious circumstances after allegedly committing a murder.

What the critics say: The Hurricane delivers a mighty emotional load, most of it borne on the broad shoulders of a great actor hitting his prime” – Salon.

4. The Color of Money (1986)

YouTube credit: ryy79

Premise: A veteran pool hustler begins to mentor a young protege, but grows jealous of him once he begins to acquire considerable skill and success.

What the critics say: “Scorsese’s direction at its most downmarket and upbeat — never have pool tables, balls and cues looked so rich and strange” – Time Out.

3. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2002)

YouTube credit: TrailersTeasersClips

Premise: A documentary looking at a group of teenagers who revolutionised skating in the 1970s by incorporating the influence of surfing into the sport.

What the critics say: “Few sports films catch their time, place and sport so well” — Chicago Tribune.

2. Jerry Maguire (1996)

YouTube credit: zhukaiww

Premise: A successful agent from a high-profile sports firm suffers a crisis of conscience that prompts him to leave his job and establish an alternative agency.

What the critics say: “Disarming acting, colorful writing and true generosity of spirit keep it right on track” — New York Times.

1. Hoop Dreams (1994)

YouTube credit: DocuChick

Premise: A documentary that follows talented high-school basketball players as they bid for stardom in the NBA.

What the critics say: “A heady dose of the American dream and the American nightmare combined — a numbing investigation of how one point on an exam or one basket or turnover in a game can make all the difference in a family’s fortunes.”

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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