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16 Best Sports Movies On Hulu [October 2021]

The best sports stories, be they based on truth or made up by a writer, are by their very nature narrative. In fact, they can be downright cinematic. That means sports can make great building blocks for movies. Sports are all about heroes and villains, overcoming adversity, and emerging triumphant to the delight of cheering fans — not unlike a well-made film. It's a logical end then that some of the most beloved and memorable movies ever made are about athletes competing for glory, be they comedies, dramas, documentaries, action flicks, or pulled-from-the-headlines, based-on-a-true-story affairs.

Major streaming service Hulu offers an especially varied abundance of sports movies, available at a click to its millions of subscribers. Here then are the 16 best sports films currently available on Hulu.

Updated on October 4, 2021: As Hulu adds and drops different titles, we'll keep this list updated to reflect those changes in the digital catalog. Check back each month for the best movies about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat to grace the site.

Hoosiers

Probably the most beloved and acclaimed movie ever made about basketball, "Hoosiers" is a nostalgic look back at 1950s high school hoops, when the game was all about fundamentals. "Hoosiers" is about basketball, but it's also about the unique and passionate basketball culture endemic to Indiana, as well as the redemptive and uniting power of sports. 

Norman Dale couldn't cut it as a coach at the college level, so he takes a job teaching history and leading the boys team at tiny Hickory High School. He has a lot of work ahead of him getting the team up to speed when he loses his star player and faces opposition from the community because of his quick temper and appointing a known alcoholic, Shooter, to be his assistant. Nevertheless, basketball heals all, and Coach Dale just might take Hickory to the Indiana state championship.

The Last Race

Outside the NASCAR hotbed of the South, one of the earliest and longest-lasting stock car racing communities is situated on Long Island, just outside of Manhattan. In the mid-20th century, 40 busy racetracks populated the island, but by the 2010s, only the Riverhead Raceway remained. "The Last Race" looks at the small but tight-knit community of Long Island stock car enthusiasts, as well as Barbara and Jim Cromarty, the 80-something owners who bought the Riverhead Raceway in the 1970s and steadfastly refused to sell the land beneath it to aggressive, fortune-offering real estate developers. But due to many extenuating circumstances, they can't hold out much longer.

Knuckleball!

It's tough for even the best Major League pitcher to throw the perfect knuckleball, a pitch so slow, wily, and unpredictable that it's almost impossible to hit (and which a lot big-league hurlers write off as a cheap gimmick). Filmmakers Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg made this documentary of the same name to explain, demystify, and explore the lore surrounding the knuckleball. They focus mainly on two pitchers near the end of their careers, R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield, who adopted the knuckleball as a last resort to extend their baseball days.

Red Penguins

If real life can be stranger and funnier than fiction, then "Red Penguins" is proof in the form of a documentary film. It's a look at life in Russia in the early 1990s, just after the breakup of the Soviet Union — a crucial moment in American-Russian relations. It was at this time that American master marketer Steve Warshaw, with the assistance of storied NHL franchise the Pittsburgh Penguins, headed to Moscow to turn the men's national hockey team into a spectacle on ice. 

"Red Penguins" tells the tale of how Warshaw injected a whole lot of American-style showbiz into a formerly sedate and state-oriented operation. Along the way, you'll watch as organized crime and live bears working as beer servers get involved in this strange and unbelievable film about the intersection of politics, business, and hockey.

Bull

A film as no-frills and as matter-of-fact as rodeo itself, "Bull" is a movie about the dangerous, exciting, and competitive sport of bull riding. Abe is an aging bull fighter about to leave the sport he's tenuously existed on the fringes for years. Well, that is until he connects with Kris, a troubled and directionless teen who does chores for him to pay off a debt. Eventually, Abe becomes Kris' friend and mentor, and they bond over the joys and thrills of bull riding, something most everyone else in their orbit just doesn't understand. 

"Bull" has a small cast and very personal stakes, but it's an emotionally intimate and raw film, one that allows the audience to almost overwhelmingly empathize with the highs and lows experienced by the characters in their pursuit of sporting greatness and personal goodness.

  • Starring: Rob Morgan, Yolonda Ross, Amber Havard
  • Director: Annie Silverstein
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 109 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Skate Kitchen

HBO's two-season cult favorite "Betty" is a series-length expansion of "Skate Kitchen," a similarly low-key, hyper-realistic, and evocative look at a collective of young female skateboarders in New York City. Co-written and directed by Crystal Moselle, "Skate Kitchen" features many of the same actors playing their "Betty" characters, including skateboarders turned actors Rachelle Vinberg and Nina Moran. 

"Skate Kitchen" centers on Camille (Vinberg), a lonely Long Islander as she finds her de facto family of other skateboarding young women. Like "Betty," the best scenes in " Skate Kitchen" are about the characters doing whatever it takes to enjoy their favorite sport (fighting hostile forces as they do), as well as sumptuous, gorgeously shot sequences that make skateboarding in New York City look like the most enjoyable and beautiful thing on Earth.

  • Starring: Rachelle Vinberg, Dede Lovelace, Nina Moran
  • Director: Crystal Moselle
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

The Art of Self-Defense

For decades, suburban strip mall karate dojos have advertised their services as a way for kids to get some exercise and learn physical and mental discipline. In "The Art of Self-Defense," a weak, shy, and awkward adult named Casey joins a karate school to learn how to protect himself after he's attacked by a gang of masked motorcycle-wearing criminals. Taken with the dojo's charismatic but mysterious Sensei, Casey dives into karate and quickly advances through the program, becoming a more aggressive and violent man in the process and eventually coming to question Sensei's, uh, unique leadership style.

  • Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots, Alessandro Nivola
  • Director: Riley Stearns
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Chuck (aka The Bleeder)

There's already one terrific sports movie about boxer Chuck Wepner, and it's called "Rocky," Sylvester Stallone's filmmaking triumph about a down-on-his-luck pugilist striving for greatness in the ring. Stallone's screenplay was inspired by Wepner's fight against one of the greatest in the sport, and now, Wepner – more than 40 years later — gets his actual life story told via a loving, respectful, and at times straight-up crazy sports biopic. 

Liev Schreiber plays Wepner, aka the "Bayonne Bleeder," a hard-living boxer who could take a punch to the face even better than he could deliver them. Set in the mid-1970s when Wepner was pushing 40, "Chuck" (also marketed under the title "The Bleeder") charts the fighter's unlikely and baffling ups and downs in the boxing world and his even more unlikely fights against wrestler Andre the Giant, superstar Muhammad Ali ... and a bear.

Swimming with Men

Sports, and sports movies, can be about championship-winning athletes overcoming adversity to hoist a trophy. The pursuit of athletics on film can also be small stories about how a simple physical activity brings people together and helps them cope with the hardships of life. In the gentle and poignant British comedy "Swimming with Men," a timid accountant named Eric is left alone after his wife leaves him. Left flailing in his personal life, he finds an unlikely way to restore his confidence and possibly impress his spouse enough for her return: He joins Men who Swim, a synchronized swimming team made up entirely of older gentlemen. As they get themselves and their sweet underwater dance moves in shape for the upcoming world championships, Eric and the guys forge friendships and find themselves too.

  • Starring: Rupert Graves, Jim Carter, Rob Brydon
  • Director: Oliver Parker
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 97 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 54%

The Miracle Season

Movies about sports teams heading into the most important game or season of their lives are generally quite formulaic but still irresistible. We all love a tale about a motley crew of athletes coming together and achieving their previously unheard of goal of winning it all. On that note, "The Miracle Season" is a film about a team in turmoil and transition, but it's for a very sad reason, one that gives an air of melancholy to the action and, in turn, shows how sports' true value may be in their capacity to unite. 

"The Miracle Season" is a dramatic telling of the true story of the Iowa City West High School volleyball squad. Previously undefeated and a lock to repeat as state champions, their popular star player and captain is killed in a moped crash. Somehow, her mourning teammates and friends, under the guidance of their crusading coach, keep playing volleyball and vow to keep doing so as a way to honor their fallen captain and to process their grief.

  • Starring: Helen Hunt, William Hurt, Erin Moriarty
  • Director: Sean McNamara
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%

Kingpin

After making the ridiculous gross-out comedy classic "Dumb and Dumber" but before directing the Oscar-winning road drama "Green Book," Peter and Bobby Farrelly teamed up to make a film that takes place on the road but is silly, gross, and riotously funny. It also revolves around the proud sport of bowling. 

After hustling some amateurs, Roy Munson loses his hand after the angry marks stuff his arm into a ball return. Now fallen from grace, the former pro bowler — using a cheap prosthetic limb — sells bowling supplies and pays for his rent by, er, "physically servicing" his elderly landlady. Then he discovers Ismael, an Amish bowling phenom, and lies to his upstanding family in order to take him on a heavily debauched cross-country trip for a bowling tournament boasting a $1 million prize.

The Program

The early 1990s was a golden age of unabashedly violent action movies starring tough guys being violent and doing tough guy things. And in 1993, the filmmakers behind "The Program" took that aggressive, macho approach when telling a visceral, behind-the-scenes story of a major college football program. As "The Program" would have audiences believe, the culture surrounding football is even more brutal than the game on the gridiron, physically and psychologically. Succeeding, in the form of winning, puts the star players and coach of the ESU Timberwolves under unbelievable pressure, and they all turn to various coping methods, almost all of them wildly self-destructive, to keep themselves on the thin and narrow path to victory.

  • Starring: James Caan, Halle Berry, Omar Epps
  • Director: David S. Ward
  • Year: 1993
  • Runtime: 112 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%

Teen Wolf

A definitive '80s movie in that it's about the social lives of teenagers and paints its characters in broad strokes — kids are easily identifiable as "jock," "nerd," and "weirdo" — "Teen Wolf" is a sports movie too, in addition to being a quirky comedy about supernatural phenomenon. With lycanthropy serving as an allegory for adolescence, nerdy high schooler Scott finds out that werewolfism runs in his family just as he starts to notice himself turning into a super strong, super hairy monster-man. Scott also uses his physical transformation to turn around his social life — he becomes instantly popular because his werewolf abilities make him a dynamo and a champion on the high school basketball court.

Blue Chips

In the late '80s and early '90s, a series of high-profile scandals put the intense and highly competitive world of college athletics recruiting under public scrutiny, and Hollywood dramatized it in the frenetic, tough-talking, sports action-heavy drama "Blue Chips." 

Grizzled everyman Nick Nolte plays a basketball coach at a major university tasked with improving his team's fortunes as quickly as possible. The good news is that he's found three "blue chips" — in other words, superstars in the making (two of whom are played by real-life NBA stars Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal). But in order for the otherwise upstanding Coach Bell to secure these young players for his Western University Dolphins, he's probably going to have to violate all kinds of rules and pay them off — a practice freely and brazenly engaged in by his competitors.

  • Starring: Nick Nolte, Mary McDonnell, Shaquille O'Neal
  • Director: William Friedkin
  • Year: 1994
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%

Dealin' With Idiots

Jeff Garlin is one of comedy's all-time best sidemen, best known for playing easygoing talent manager (and the only person who can stand Larry David) on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or the quick-to-rage blustery dad Murray on "The Goldbergs." Also a standup comic, Garlin wrote, directed, and starred in the chatty, sports-adjacent, parenting-and-showbiz play-like comedy "Dealin' with Idiots." The film's jumping-off point is a common but seldom examined element of American sports — the parents of young athletes sitting in the stands, cheering on their kids, and forced to socialize with one another. Garlin plays Max, a comedian who decides to make a movie based on his interactions with the parents he encounters at his son's baseball games, most of them aggressive, obnoxious, and living vicariously through their kids.

  • Starring: Jeff Garlin, Gina Gershon, Nia Vardalos
  • Director: Jeff Garlin
  • Year: 2013
  • Runtime: 87 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%

My All-American

Sports are often about beating the odds to achieve both greatness and a certain kind of immortality, and the stories of that trajectory can inspire the audience in their own endeavors, if not move them deeply. For example, "My All-American" is the touching, true story of 1960s football star Freddie Steinmark. A star in high school, he's deemed too small to recruit at the college level. But thanks to University of Texas coach Darrell Royal believing in Steinmark's gifts, he takes a chance and brings the young athlete onto his team. College proves tough for Steinmark, as his brother ships off to fight in the Vietnam War and Steinmark experiences severe pain that isn't football-related but symptomatic of a serious illness. Despite all that, Steinmark helps put the Texas Longhorns on the track to a national championship.

  • Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Finn Wittrock, Robin Tunney
  • Director: Angelo Pizzo
  • Year: 2015
  • Runtime: 118 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 31%