So far, Hustle has been one of 2022’s most pleasant cinematic surprises.
The Adam Sandler-starring sports drama has been embraced by fans and critics alike, propelling Hustle to not just one, but two Rotten Tomatoes records for the actor.
Hustle sees Sandler play Stanley Sugerman, a basketball scout who finds a hidden gem in Spanish unknown Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez), whom he takes back to the US.
The film very nearly looked a lot different, with Netflix imposing one major change on the script before filming began.
While much of Sandler’s career has been spent making popular but critically rebuked comedies, such as The Waterboy or Billy Madisonhe has occasionally ventured into dramatic with considerable success.
If you enjoyed Sandler’s acclaimed turn in Hustle – or if you’re generally a fan of underdog sports movies – here are five similar films available to watch on Netflix.
See below for the full list …
One of the best sports films of the century, 2011’s Moneyball tells the story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), a failed former baseball pro who becomes general manager of the Oakland Athletics. Enlisting the help of a cunning statistician played by Jonah Hill, Beane reshapes the very fabric of the game, pushing for a seemingly counterintuitive stats-based approach. With a cracking script by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball is, like Hustle, a film as much about corporate wheelings and dealings as the sport itself. It’s pacey, heartfelt, funny: in other words, a home run.
Million Dollar Baby
This Oscar-winning drama is one of most critically loved sports films of all time – and it’s currently available to stream on Netflix in the UK and Ireland (and elsewhere). Hilary Swank plays an amateur boxer who is coached by a curmudgeonly trainer (Clint Eastwood, who also directs). Rocky this ain’t, however; Million Dollar Baby is pretty punishingly grim towards the end – something to bear in mind if you’re looking for some Hustle-esque uplift.
High Flying Bird
Filmed for Netflix entirely using an iPhone 8, this Steven Soderbergh-directed basketball film boasts an interesting cast (including Moonlight‘s André Holland, Zazie Beetz, The Wire‘s Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Glenn Fleshler and Kyle MacLachlan) as well as a compelling story. A sports agent (Holland) has 72 hours to save his company while pitching an inventive proposal to his client, a young rookie basketball player.
Pretty much the undisputed pinnacle of Adam Sandler’s acting career, the Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems is a film that has to be seen to be believed. Playing compulsive gambler and diamond dealer Howard Ratner, Sandler is a force of nature; he spends the film pinging between pawn shops and loan sharks, perenially in pursuit of the big win. There’s a sports angle here too – Celtics player Kevin Garnett stars as himself, and the film is structured around three real-life NBA matches – but the real spectacle is just Howard’s behavior, and the gut-clenching tension that doesn’t subside for a second.
On the lighter side of things, we have Home Team, a 2022 sports film produced by Sandler’s company Happy Madison. Sandler accolyte Kevin James stars as Sean Payton, the New Orleans Saints head coach who took over command of his 12-year-old son’s football team during a year-long suspension from the NFL. Unlike Hustle, Home Team was not blessed with glowing Rotten Tomatoes ratings – but for fans of sports films or fans of Sandler, this may just be worth a pop.