1. Senna 2010
A brilliant study of what drives a sportman to achieve sporting perfection.
2 . Fire in Babylon 2010
Not everyone admired the West Indies of the 70s and 80s as they did not maintain a proper over rate, played without spinners and set out to maim batsmen but to go 15 years without losing a test is quite some achievement. The transposition from calypso cricket to a ruthless winning machine is well documented here.
3. The Miracle 0f Bern 2003
My favourite football film recommended by football writer Chris Davies. This German film not only depicts the extraordinary story of how West Germany beat the indomitable Hungarians in the 1954 World Cup after losing 8-3 to them in the qualifying round but a touching story of how a son reconnects with his father returning as a POW in 1954 and confused with the West Germany he sees. The World Cup victory kick started the West German economic miracle.
4 . The Arsenal Stadium Mystery 1939
A personal favourite of film historian Robin Cross. It features Leslie Banks in a variety of exotic headgear, in a clever atmospheric mystery in which a footballer is poisoned on the pitch. The whole of the Arsenal first team including Eddie Hapgood, Cliff Bastin, Ted Drake and George Male feature.
5 . The Damned United 2009
A strong cast of British actors in the biopic of Brian Clough at Leeds. Not a box office success as apparently of no appeal to female viewers but an engaging film nonetheless.
6 The Harder They Fall 1956.
Boxing is well served by the cinema Someone Up There Loves Me , a biopic of Rocky Graziani/Paul Newman , Raging Bull (Jake La Motta/Robert di Niro) , the Cindedella Man, James Braddock/ Russell Crowe, Rocky are all well made, well acted films. I’ve gone for the best film from the Budd Schulberg novel on the venality of boxing promoters starring Rod Steiger and Humphrey Bogart ( his last film) with a cameo from charismatic boxer Maxie Baer
7 The Sporting Life 1963
There were some gritty British realism films set inmthe north in the early 60s and this tale of a rugby league player Richard Harris with Rachel Roberts is one of the best.
8 Eight Men Out 1988
Dennis Turner recommended this movie strongly: the story of the 1919 World series in whch the Boston White Sox were bribed to lose. A fascinating account of the pressures imposed on sportsmen by gamblers which extends beyond the confines of baseball and excellent ensemble acting headed by John Cusack.
9 The Club 1980
An Australian move which depicts as well as any film the politics of a football club: the embittered egotistic ex player, the ruthlessly calculating administrator, the coach trying to do his job and cope with the interference of the former and the arrival of a new star that does not perform to expectation. Though its Aussie rules the scenario could apply to many a club.
10 Chariots of Fire 1981
The last time I saw this I found it too slick . However the score of Vangeis and some strong performances by Ben Cross, Ian Charleson and Ian Holm and cameos from John Gielgud and Nigel Davenport carry a strong athletic drama with interesting religious overtones.
I am sure I have omitted some films and others like Field of Dreams I have never seen Others like Invictus the Hollywoodisation of the South African World Cup victory I did not think good enough. Bobby Fischer Against the World was a superb documnetary but much as I love chess I cannot categorise it as sport. I hope my list generates happy viewing . Do feel free to comment or add if you wish.