Even though the NFL remains tantalizingly out of the grasp of Canadian football fans, the sport has been brought to life on the silver screen numerous times over the past five decades or so.
Canadian actors have played a key role in many of the leading American football movies of all time too, so at least the country has been well represented on celluloid.
Listed below are some of the finest football movies you will find, from rib-tickling comedy and tear-inducing drama to bone-crunching action.
The Replacements (2000)
One of Canada’s favourite sons has been inextricably linked to football throughout his career.
Directed by Howard Deutch, Keanu Reeves starred in The Replacements as Shane Falco, and in 2020, social media was overtaken by an avalanche of GIFs of Falco in action. The reason? The Washington Football Team, who were seeking a new name to replace their former Redskins moniker, were rumoured to be considering ‘Sentinels’ as their new brand.
Reeves’ character was a quarterback in a team known as the Sentinels, hence the link, in the movie about a bunch of misfits and no-chancers cobbled together. Incidentally, Washington are priced at +5000 in the Super Bowl LVI NFL odds on bet365, so the similarities between the proposed Sentinels and their fictional namesakes are perhaps close to the mark.
Anyhow, Reeves charms his way through your classic high school romance with sports action flick, and while he doesn’t exactly showcase John Wick levels of intensity he’s still on engaging form.
The Blind Side (2009)
If weepy Oscar winners are your thing, the Blind Side might just be your football movie of choice.
Based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis, the man who also brought viewers the sports blockbuster, Moneyball, to the world, the Blind Side stars Sandra Bullock as the adoptive mother of Michael Oher, who would overcome his tough upbringing to become an NFL star. Bullock, who went blonde for the role, won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of a caring soul just trying to do the right thing.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Arguably the finest outing for football on the big screen, Any Given Sunday has Oliver Stone directing the likes of acclaimed Hollywood actors like Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid and Jamie Foxx.
There are lots of different plotlines and stories that intertwine with each other in this character-driven piece, but in the end, the most memorable performance is that given by Pacino, whose ageing football coach is taught some harsh lessons on and off the field.
Any Given Sunday also features Pacino’s famous ‘winning and losing’ motivational speech, which has been aped many times since but never bettered.
The tragic life and loss of one of Toronto’s most famous sons, Corey Haim, should not overshadow the outstanding body of work that he left behind.
While Lucas might not have had the cultural impact of The Lost Boys, it’s still a knockabout take on the high school heroes and losers trope with football at its core. Haim plays the loser that watches on as his crush is wooed by a hero (played with trademark aplomb by Charlie Sheen). And so he does the only thing that anyone can do to win over the girl of his dreams: he joins the school football team.
Fun and emotive without being mawkish, Lucas was the perfect springboard for Haim and his co-stars, including Winona Ryder in her debut performance.