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Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams

1994
Drama
Documentary
2h 50m
A film following the lives of two African American boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional. (imdb)
Your probable score
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Hoop Dreams

1994
Drama
Documentary
2h 50m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 78.01% from 1569 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(1569)
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Rated 19 Dec 2006
96
98th
Even at almost 3 hours, you wish it would never end, continuing to follow these boys through all their triumphs and defeats. The drama on the court is exciting enough, but the film goes much further than that, revealing their academic, personal, economic and family lives. A really astonishing and riveting movie.
Rated 18 Jan 2010
100
98th
This was just as amazing as I hoped it would be, and expected it to be. I love stories and fairy tales and whatnot, but there's nothing like a real tale from the real world. This isn't a big redemptive story where everything fades to white and they all live on in eternal happiness at the end, nor is it some sort of overdone tragedy. It's a slice of life. A pretty big slice, mind you -- maybe a whole cake of life. And it's so much more universal than just being about basketball.
Rated 17 Sep 2008
95
99th
It presents the drama in regular peoples' lives without scripting a world we can't touch. Vérité is the true documentary style and this is essentially the best I've seen.
Rated 30 Oct 2008
10
98th
Wow. Just wow. Probably one of the four or five best documentary i've ever seen moving beyond, far beyond, basketball (even though the basketball footage in itself is amazing) giving a clear, critical and personal perspective on the cultural, racial and socioeconomical realities growing up in a rough neighborhood trying to reach an impossible goal.
Rated 10 Jun 2008
5
91st
Originally conceived as a made-for-television feature, Hoop Dreams lacks the stylistic flair that might've been present in a documentary by a more cinematic-minded director like Werner Herzog. But it doesn't matter - the narrative is so captivating, revealing and detailed that my interest was locked in every step of the way. You couldn't write fiction more effective than the reality present here. It's rewarding in a way that a fictional sports movie never could be.
Rated 09 Jun 2008
97
98th
Epic in scope, this film covers a lot of ground. Scenes of basketball final games will have you on the edge of your seat, while the families and communities the two protagonists come from will leave you drained. Growing up alongside these characters makes you feel like a close friend (as I'd imagine the filmmakers were).
Rated 22 Aug 2008
4
74th
What can you say that hasn't already been said? This movie is about so much more than basketball. It covers hope, triumph, race and the economic and social dividers that come with it. A beautiful and frank film about the inner city condition. You're affected not only by Arthur and William, but by their respective families' ups and downs. This really is a wonderful movie.
Rated 03 Feb 2021
77
83rd
It actually gets better the more I let it dribble around in my brain.
Rated 15 Jul 2010
91
95th
Wonderful documentary that reveals an awful lot not just about inner city dreams, but also about the families and coaches that help create a system where child athletes are a commodity. Filled with bittersweet moments and compelling subjects the 3 hour runtime flies by.
Rated 06 Dec 2006
95
98th
Beyond perfect. And, every scene is true. Lovely, lovely, lovely stuff.
Rated 13 Mar 2009
83
82nd
Exceptional. This intimate and engrossing film plays like drama, not documentary, except that it takes unexpected twists and turns no writer could invent. A searing commentary on our social system, the indomitable strength of the family unit, and the unpredictability of life. Overlong, perhaps, but fascinating most of the way.
Rated 19 Nov 2009
10
98th
Serves as a cautionary tale. Meaning, don't put all your eggs in one basket. It's important to chase your dreams but Curtis was the culmination of a washed up, pathetic loser who did just that and failed then had nothing to show for it. School is important! Fascinating stuff. My only complaint is poor narration, otherwise this is almost perfect.
Rated 21 Jul 2009
99
95th
Not only does James prospect, scrutinize and analyse the two boy's courageous perseverance and adherence, but also their economical and academic import. It takes an enormous quantity of desire and hope to reach the status these two boys did, but they have confirmed right here that anything is possible. The best documentary I've ever seen and also one of the best single movies I've ever sat through. Remarkable in every regard.
Rated 04 Nov 2011
93
96th
As a documentary, it truly has everything. The story is personal and intimate, but it speaks to whole systems and institutions: education, inner-city life, commercial sports. The drama is real and effective -- the film never stoops to dishonesty or manipulation. The greatest quality the film has is its emotional resonance as we follow the two players through young life, providing a universal thread to grab. All in all it's just a powerful bit of real-life drama with an impressive scope.
Rated 03 Mar 2010
90
99th
It took years to finally get hold of a copy but the wait was worth every minute. Ostensibly a sports movie, it explores all of the influences around the boys and gives time to the many characters, from crackhead dads to unsympathetic coaches, who both help to create and hinder the titular dreams. A great editing job means there's real drama and tension throughout, with the viewer never certain about what's going to happen next. Documentary making doesn't get much better than this.
Rated 28 Jun 2013
79
89th
"Another one walks out the door, and another one comes in the door. that's what it's all about."
Rated 26 Oct 2011
90
92nd
Impressive and ambitiously epic documentary. The sporting journey is compelling enough, but the family dynamics fill this out wonderfully. Paying close attention to the cut points is especially rewarding -- the parallel stories offering such a rich contrast, as do the jumps between raucous sporting events to the muted triumphs/tragedies of everyday life.
Rated 12 Oct 2010
40
9th
OK, well meaning, but its actually boring. No idea of pace, not much beyond these two kids' own, bigger maybe, version of the struggles everyone goes through trying to come out of being a teenager with something defined for your life.
Rated 08 Jun 2009
97
93rd
A fascinating look inside the worlds of big-time basketball and big-time ghetto living. These two disparate worlds are played through the lives of two young men and we get to see their journey. It is an amazing piece of film.
Rated 26 Sep 2019
71
39th
Heartfelt documentary is at its best when focusing on entrenched racial and social standards in American society, but this simple and specific tale could have been shorn an hour without losing anything of substance; given the intimate and close quarters in which it is filmed, it sometimes feels like the participants are playing to the camera, which creates a remove from the drama. Still worthwhile, but its flaws prevent it from being the dramatic powerhouse it should have been.
Rated 12 Aug 2013
10
97th
Sprawling, dynamic, sincere, a riveting documentary that will bring you down just as much as it will lift you up -- and not necessarily in that order.
Rated 18 Nov 2010
69
35th
Not an inspiring documentary, but a documentary that looks at inspiration. There seemed to be a whole lot of missing content here about the 'dream' in modern society and this could've taken a more vitriolic insight on that. And this DEFINITELY did not need to be three hours long. I definitely started to get bored two hours in.
Rated 27 Nov 2012
94
87th
Every child deserves a movie like this one.
Rated 10 Jul 2020
70
30th
Here we are over 25 years later and organized sports at every level are still about as exploitative and racist as they were here. I still feel this could have been shorter.
Rated 23 May 2011
73
89th
Simple, straight forward, and insightful truth. This is what a documentary should be. I can't imagine that the film-makers knew when they started how perfectly William and Arthur would compare and contrast. Despite starting in the same place, the only real similarity in their stories the pursuit of the same unreachable dream as the realities of life tried to wake them up.
Rated 09 Sep 2015
85
96th
How can a three hour documentary about kids playing basketball be so compelling? Well, mainly because we get to see a unique and tremendously thorough portrayal of the struggle to get out of the ghetto. Due to the long running time and likeable protagonists the result is a documentary that is often more suspenseful than any thriller. Drama is abundant and the ups and downs hit you even harder because reality is simply much more fucked up than any form of fiction.
Rated 02 Apr 2015
89
95th
I finally watched this. True Americana. Digging up one of the Westinghouse time capsules from NY's Flushing Meadows World's Fair site and adding this as a gift to archaeologists/Americanologists 5,000 years from now wouldn't be such a bad idea. P.S. Ha! I see you Jalen "Crackhouse" Rose and Juwan Howard!
Rated 11 Jul 2010
95
98th
So good at showing us the lives of these people that every minor victory excites us and every defeat wrecks us. Genius in how it manages to cover so much ground on inner-city life, the flawed sports scholarship system, and the human spirit. Sheila Agee is one of those incredibly inspiring people who never gives up, and her personal victories are the most moving parts of the whole film. Recommended for absolutely everyone.
Rated 11 Nov 2016
91
96th
This documentary is simple yet intricately brilliant. Without needing explicit discussion, we take a roller coaster ride amidst questions about race, role models, the vicarious expectations of family and school programs, inequality, fatherhood, and much more. This was Boyhood 20 years ahead of its time. You couldn't write a better story than this.
Rated 30 Jun 2015
86
86th
Holistic picture of this scene, from the scout who reminisces with some regret over farming street players, to the politics behind a private school drop out, the family surviving crack induced poverty, injury, parenthood & the reverse funnel styled pro-basketball machine..and that's not even half of it. Shot over 4 years, you get big scope & a bleak aftertaste. Especially after reading the about how life panned out for a few of the main subjects in the years following Hoop Dreams..
Rated 06 May 2010
11
99th
I could watch this for 24 hours and not get bored or lose interest. Immensely absorbing story where not just the NBA hopefuls but the supporting acts (Curtis especially), play a crucial role in the documentary's overall message. A must see.
Rated 22 Mar 2007
20
19th
Yes, yes, I know, very low budget, good intentions, etc. For one thing, after an adolescence of various people trying to force me to play team sports, I will probably disdain them forever. For another, let us not forget that movies are a visual art form, and most of the ones shot on videotape look like shit, especially this one
Rated 03 Aug 2021
82
74th
I don't want to sound nostalgic for someone else's poverty but I can't help but love the urban 90's time-capsule quality. As a documentary I suspect the Seinfeld effect softens some of the impact. Knowing the kids' futures, this becomes less about the will they/won't they and more about the commodification of student athletes and the conditions that turn it into exploitation.
Rated 20 Jul 2007
90
99th
One of the best films ever. Seriously.
Rated 14 Dec 2006
91
97th
Absolutely engrossing and heartwrenching. My girlfriend, whohates b-ball, mocked me when this showed up in the mail from NetFlix, sat silently rapt for the entire 3 hour duration of this movie.
Rated 27 Feb 2008
75
54th
Pretty good documentary. No matter how good you might be in highschool, its a huge hill you have to climb to make it all the way to the NBA, and basketball isn't the only obstacle in your way.
Rated 05 Mar 2015
84
90th
Truly a heartbreaking film at almost every way you look at it -- as a basketball, family, boyhood or urban drama.
Rated 28 Mar 2013
90
97th
Initially, I wondered how a documentary about kids wanting to play basketball could have all these ridiculously high scores. Well, now I know. What a gripping, touching, fascinating and sobering look at the American Dream for kids whose only way out of the ghetto is by being good at a sport, and all the issues that flow from that. The game footage was more intense than most thrillers I watched recently. I think I should rate every sports movie I watched about 10 points lower after this.
Rated 04 Jun 2019
89
93rd
I loved this documentary. You want the boys to succeed so badly, and want the best for them too. Their lives are so completely different, while wanting the same thing. The running time of almost 3 hours just flew by. Loved the matches too, they were so tense.
Rated 29 Nov 2015
85
84th
Reading about the future lives of these people after watching this was seriously depressing. An excellent documentation of the disillusion of American dreaming and the beauty of appreciating the moment instead.
Rated 30 Mar 2011
95
89th
An unforgettable rich, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that shattered the nonsenseical illusion that factual films can't be as entertaining as fictional ones. Hoop Dreams is undoubtedly the greatest sports documentary of all time, but it is more than just a sports movie. It is a film that conveys the fabric of inner-city American life and manages to exemplify the spirit of it's time, a unique movie with all the properties that make film such a unique and special medium.
Rated 01 Mar 2014
93
94th
I read the book as a kid and loved it & the film is even better. This is a fine example of documentary work as human expression and an effective examination of family dynamics in urban America. Beyond its roots as a sports biopic, it serves as an inside look at the 'student athlete' culture and provides a rare perspective on how kids are scouted from an early age. Arthur and William are likable & you'll find yourself cheering at their victories and feeling heartbroken over their defeats.
Rated 23 Jun 2011
85
92nd
3 hours sums up an anthropological journey through two young American teenagers who struggle for success despite their crumbling origin - parents on welfare, dad on crack, teenage pregnancy, indifferent school system - by doing what they love; Basketball. The riveting basketball sequences actually made me want to watch basketball.
Rated 07 Oct 2014
9
96th
A truly unique film-- nothing similar has ever been or will ever be made. Though its subject matter is decidedly simple, Hoop Dreams questions a number of aspects of American life and, in an even broader sense, the condition of aspiration.
Rated 11 Feb 2008
93
97th
I fully understand why Ebert named this his film of the '90s. While I won't go that far, it's still one of the most thorough and lovingly crafted slices of American life that has ever been committed to film. You do NOT have to be a basketball fan to enjoy this. If the sports scenes and hoops chatter don't get to you, the pain and struggles experienced by the extended families of Will and Arthur will. The filmmakers place you directly in their homes...their setbacks and triumphs become your own.
Rated 15 Dec 2006
78
73rd
People's hopes and dreams are always interesting, because they are not your own. While the movie was engrossing, and did a good job of pulling me into the story, the fact that neither of these two men went on to follow that dream saddens me, and cheapens the movie's appeal in hindsight.
Rated 16 Aug 2012
90
96th
A very entertaining yet profound and exhaustive document.
Rated 13 Jan 2010
91
90th
A truly fascinating picture of what it means to follow a dream. Does a great job of building a compelling storyline for each of the two kids and their separate paths.
Rated 30 Jun 2011
98
97th
Gives us everything you could possibly ask from a sports film.
Rated 03 Aug 2012
80
60th
I don't get all the hype. Sure its a good movie but not the best documentary of all time. It might have been original back in 1994 but in the time since then there have been so many sports documentaries similar to this. In comparison this just seems overly long and drags in a few places. Still the overall story is compelling and for as low a budget as they had it turned out really well.
Rated 14 Oct 2007
100
99th
I watch this about once a year. It is my favourite documentary and one of my favourite films. I am not afraid to admit that one of the reasons why I love it is because it serves as an early 90s time capsule.
Rated 07 Mar 2013
100
99th
Probably the most moving film I've ever seen. Perfect documentary.
Rated 10 Sep 2007
100
99th
Best documentary ever made. One of the best films ever made. Hoop Dreams is as much about poverty, or family, or Chicago, as it is about basketball. Absolutely remarkable.
Rated 24 Sep 2019
50
10th
I can't explain, just look me up at letterbox
Rated 22 Jul 2019
84
77th
More than being about basketball, this is an in-depth look into the lives of people I know little about. In that sense this movie was fascinating and an eye-opener.
Rated 30 Dec 2007
100
98th
Simply the best documentary I've watched.
Rated 21 Jan 2011
85
86th
Overall this was a great doc which went way beyond the tenants of just basketball. This movie encompassed everything; race, class struggle, abuse, academics, how the system works, etc. Very big props to William and Arthur for showing us their struggle, but as a pretty big basketball fan I can tell you; to make it in the NBA you either have it or you don't. Neither of these kids did and it was obvious. Hence why the 3 hr run time sort of stretched my patience.
Rated 22 Mar 2008
94
99th
How society and sports reflect each other. Society moreso.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
97
98th
What all other documentaries aspire to be but fall well short of.
Rated 22 Jun 2020
80
68th
There are some great moments, compelling, intimate, hopeful, heartbreaking. That said the film did feel a bit flabby to me personally, perhaps because my disinterest in sports meant the scenes of them competing were much less engaging for me than the drama behind it all. On a note I don't see mentioned much but concerned me, I'm a bit off-put that the film was not directed by someone black considering how so much of what is shown ties into race on some level.
Rated 30 Aug 2010
95
72nd
Absorbing and Multi-layered. Where ever u r in ur life, its going to raise some serious questions and change perceptions - what a good documentary should be doing.
Rated 18 Dec 2012
70
64th
What's so special about this?
Rated 29 Apr 2009
95
97th
Almost perfect
Rated 09 Dec 2014
9
76th
Great adaptation of the book.
Rated 19 Sep 2016
96
97th
From what I understand of my little experience with documentaries is that they aim to create a portrait. Sometimes it's in the form of a historical figure, sometimes a social issue. Other times it is two black boys and their respective families growing up with dreams and aspirations of playing basketball at the highest level. It isn't just about basketball though. It's about what the sport means, how it ceases to be a sport and becomes what people live and breathe by.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
85th
Loved this movie! Engrossing, inspiring and heartbreaking.
Rated 19 Feb 2024
75
76th
Much more intimate than I exected, more of a look into the everyday reality of competitive sporting culture in the States, that speaks as well about opportunity and a range of sociological points. As a slice of America it works quite well.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
55
53rd
For me, this is not the masterpiece others clearly consider it to be. It is interesting, but my recollection is that I was not convinced that there was enough insight to justify its length.
Rated 25 Sep 2010
95
98th
Watching the struggles of these two high-school basketball players and their families is very captivating. Spending 3 hours following their growth is better than any fictional sports story.
Rated 06 Jul 2016
86
86th
The larger message is obviously a very moving one but the subtle message about how many POC with immense talent have been swept by/jailed b/c of the poverty/racism is one that really cuts deep.
Rated 02 Feb 2013
91
91st
Excclent documentary which eschews cinematic style for a grounded, realistic approach to filmmaking. Events are shown as they happen, with minimal interviews and narration. What we get is a brilliant and natural comparison between two boys whose lives diverge greatly as they strive to become basketball players. Highlights the horrendous conditions a lot of these kids come from, the terrible way a school team can treat them, and the hope these kids show trying to achieve their dreams. Fantastic.
Rated 03 Jul 2015
85
91st
One of the best documentaries I've ever seen. Incredibly heartbreaking, as you know from the very beginning neither of them will make it in the end and still having to watch them stumble and falter along the way. Makes you think twice about your own dreams.
Rated 08 Mar 2012
89
97th
Its incredibly long run time is justified by the scope of its subject matter. Although the description may make it seem like a small story, it really gets into so much. The individual kids, the importance of basketball, the dynamics of urban African American households, the American dream, etc. The praise it's received is well deserved, especially for its influence on the documentary genre.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
90
91st
See. This. Movie. It's an utterly engrossing tale of two boys, their dreams, their families and, above all, basketball, basketball, basketball. And, the amazing part? All true, every part. Watch it; you won't regret it.
Rated 17 Jul 2015
73
73rd
near the end of the movie, one of the kids is asked what he'll do if basketball doesn't work out and he replies he'll go into "comedy or architecture".. just perfectly encapsulating the bitter-sweetness of the whole thing. all these people seem to have such a feeble grasp on reality, but then again who are we to tell them what reality is supposed to be?
Rated 05 Jan 2008
98
98th
The best basketball movie, ever. Heart-breaking and riveting.
Rated 02 Sep 2014
81
79th
More about the struggles and confusion of growing up in a bad neighborhood than about basketball.
Rated 01 Apr 2014
93
93rd
- 6/2/13
Rated 20 Sep 2016
80
71st
Eylul 2016, Ev
Rated 01 Mar 2010
80
81st
watched: 2010, 2014
Rated 24 Jul 2013
80
87th
This is a soul crushing movie, it's incredible to watch the story of people that have one chance to make it or losing it all, it talks about how bad the state of society is for poor people.
Rated 29 Mar 2020
97
95th
Powerful in how it examines big societal issues just by chronicling the lives of two high school basketball players through all of their ups and downs. Several of the family members have interesting stories as well.
Rated 13 Feb 2014
90
91st
Can't believe I didn't leave a review after watching this. The best documentary I've ever seen.
Rated 06 Feb 2008
80
86th
In the top-10 of the best documentaries I've seen.
Rated 14 Jan 2008
87
94th
I was shocked to find out that this movie was almost 3 hours long after I finished watching it. You'd think that a documentary about basketball being that long would drag, but the story pulls you in so hard that you don't even notice the run time. It's heartbreaking seeing all the situations the kids are forced into to follow a dream, and how the system just uses them in certain situations. It's melancholy, knowing the outcome all these years later, but still an eye opener.
Rated 11 Jan 2014
90
96th
This is about so much more than basketball.
Rated 03 Aug 2013
80
95th
Excellent documentary.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
94
91st
One of the most gratifying documentaries ever made, a perfect home run. Great story, dedicated filmmaking, moving drama.
Rated 14 Mar 2008
83
93rd
This is a documentary that was begging to be made and it's fortuitous that someone made it so well. The director doesn't cram any bullshit filler into this, and leaves out nothing that is real and important.
Rated 16 Oct 2013
83
85th
About humanity, and life, and this doc displays it far better than most. Though you don't really get much from the two main protags, it's everything going on around them that is most interesting, which only heightens the realism.
Rated 06 Jan 2013
60
6th
A three hour film about two kids who want to be NBA stars. Well told, but too much basketball. Did I say it was three hours?
Rated 26 Apr 2015
96
99th
-If you don't like this, you don't like NBA basketball- or you don't like any basketball or any sports or maybe you have hate in your hearts against humanity because this documentary is all about humanity.
Rated 07 Oct 2010
10
92nd
Uh, wow. Damn. That was pretty amazing. By about the thirty-minute mark I just couldn't take my eyes off the screen. By the time it ends you feel like you've been there with the Agee and Gates family for as long as the documentarians were. It's often heart-breaking and occasionally inspiring. It is one of the best looks at urban poverty, about life in the ghetto and the hope for a dream come true. It's so much more than just a basketball documentary.
Rated 02 May 2012
40
0th
Slow and did not like it
Rated 29 Dec 2022
91
95th
What an amazing documentary this is. Like OJ: Made In America, it elevates itself above a simple sports or trial documentary to comment insightfully on race, socioeconomics, inequality, family dynamics, and so much more by following two promising basketball prospects who are recruited by the same powerhouse high school. William's brother, Curtis, would be seen as a total cliché family member who is living vicariously through his brother if he wasn't a real person. Brilliant.
Rated 15 Sep 2013
91
91st
A truly human story, and one that is uniquely attentive to the waves of confidence and fear that lift us up and hold us back as we go through life.
Rated 09 Oct 2015
58
74th
A true documentary filmed over a period of years following its subject on a journey and simply capturing it all - the development, the emotions, the failures and successes, joy and struggle. The subject matter was not particularly interesting to me, so it was a struggle to watch. For anyone interested in urban youth, basketball or sports biographies this will be a gem.
Rated 13 Dec 2010
95
93rd
Hoop Dreams is both thoroughly engrossing and thematically complex in a way that resonates long after the film is over.
Rated 13 May 2013
100
99th
one of the greatest docs ever made

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