What would a list of Philadelphia sports movies be without the Rocky movies? Sylvester Stallone’s 1976 Best Picture winner about down-and-out boxer Rocky Balboa is a sports classic and is so beloved in Philly that Rocky himself is immortalized in statue form on the Art Museum steps, where he famously and furiously ran during his training montage. This movie has everything you’ll need to rev yourself up for the big game, from an underdog to root for to a soaring victory at the end. If you can’t get enough after the original, there are a whopping seven sequels to keep you occupied.
Mark Wahlberg’s 2006 drama focused on the true story of Vince Papale, a former wide receiver for the Eagles who was the oldest rookie in NFL history when he made the team at age 30. Though he only played for two years, he left a lasting impression on both the team and the city, enough so that Wahlberg and Greg Kinnear (playing his coach, Dick Vermeil) portrayed his life story. Filmed largely in Philadelphia itself, this movie is bursting with Eagles pride and is perfect for a pre-game rewatch, especially since it culminates in the Eagles’ appearance at Super Bowl XV.
Creed isn’t just any Rocky sequel. Directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) and starring Coogler’s frequent collaborator Michael B. Jordan, this 2015 sequel and spin-off about Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis Creed, was actually released on November 25, 2015, which is the 40th anniversary of the date in Rocky’s opening scene. Sylvester Stallone reappears in his signature role, helping to train the younger Creed in the ring, and with standout performances from Jordan and Tessa Thompson (among others), this film is the worthiest possible addition to the storied Rocky franchise.
Though some may want to characterize Silver Linings Playbook as a “romantic comedy,” the backbone of this multiple Oscar nominee is an Eagles victory. Whether or not you’re a sports buff, this movie has something for everyone. If you’re a huge Eagles fan, settle in for Robert DeNiro’s passionate pleas for the Birds to win big, and if you’re not, prepare to be wowed by Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar-winning performance as Tiffany, a young widow, and Philadelphia native Bradley Cooper’s Oscar-nominated performance as Pat, a recent divorcé.
This Terrence Howard-fronted biopic is loosely based on the true story of Philadelphia swim coach Jim Ellis and his up-and-down relationship with a janitor (played by Bernie Mac) throughout his career. Though it’s not strictly about football, this movie is still brimming with Philly sports pride as Elston, the janitor, and Ellis coach a team of talented young swimmers to become not just better athletes, but better people.