Best sports biopics of all time, ranked

Just as there have been films about musicians, and likewise films about real-life writers, there have also been films about athletes, whether fictional or based on real events. Indeed, the sports biopic – or sports biopic – has long been a staple genre in the film industry.

Whether it’s films about the Olympics, where stories of struggle, determination and triumph touch the heart, or films about an athlete’s journey towards a certain kind of victory, what is fundamentally attractive about sports biopics is the underlying theme of hope. , hard work and perseverance.

Updated March 19, 2023: If you’re interested in real-life stories of great athletes, we’ve updated this article on the best sports biographies of all time with additional content and even higher quality.

There are countless films that anyone would consider a classic of sports biopics. In fact, 2021 is King Richardstarring Academy Award nominee Will Smith, it could very well become a classic in time, just like last year’s film. adam sandler movie Toil and the documentary Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off. Here is our list of the best sports biopics of all time, ranked.

11 All

columbia pictures

Will Smith delivers his best version of “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!” in the 2001 Michael Mann biopic about the self-proclaimed Louisville Lip, All. A name that transcended boxing, Muhammad Ali was a man of the people, and during his pageantry, he was never far from controversy or the media spotlight.

All presents the story of arguably the greatest boxer who ever lived from the day of his first heavyweight title challenge against Sonny Liston, to his refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Army for the Vietnam War, and his dignified return to Hollywood. . Not only was he a Sports Illustrated star, but his activism in the civil rights movement was incredibly influential.

10 chariots of fire

chariots of fire
Warner Bros.

chariots of fire is a classic of the sports biographical genre, and for good reason. Two British runners competing in the 1924 Olympics are at the center of this film, one who runs for the glory of God as a devout Christian, and the other who is a Jew, running to overcome prejudice. In the period before the competition, the two face obstacles to fulfill their dreams.

Eric Lidell, the Christian runner, faces judgment from his own family, who think he should focus more on his religion. Meanwhile, Harold Abrahams faces prejudice from his university team, but still becomes an excellent runner. When the two compete in the Olympics, they are off to a rocky start. Despite being clear underdogs in the competition, the two win gold medals and bring glory to the British team. All things considered, this movie is a must for any sports biopic fan.

9 Ford x Ferrari

Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Ford v Ferrari (2019)
20th century fox

Ford x Ferrari it’s about the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hour race and a team that wanted to outdo Italy’s Scuderia Ferrari. American and British engineers race to build the Ford GT40, now one of the greats in rally sports, after facing taunts from the Scuderia Ferrari team. They end the Italian team’s winning streak and make Ford’s name go down in motorsport history.

As one of the most tense Le Mans races of all time, this film is a fantastic representation of that. This film captures the tension of the 1960s motorsports scene and shows the creation of a legend as well as the success of an underdog.

8 the blind side

The Blind Side of the Film
Warner Bros.

Based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: The Evolution of a Game, the blind side tells the story of Michael Oliver, an NFL star who has had to fight a poor past to make his dreams come true. His adoptive parents help him get to university, leading to him getting drafted, despite not getting many thanks from Michael.

Related: Best biopics about black music icons, ranked

Still, they see Michael’s success as a great family success, and ultimately he agrees with their way of thinking. With a star-studded cast and a heartwarming story of how a loving home can help anyone achieve anything they want, the blind side is one of the greatest sports biopics of all time.

7 Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle
20th century studios

Eddie the Eagle is a film that tells the story of the great British Olympic ski jumping competitor, Michael David Edwards (better known as Eddie the Eagle). Featuring the enormous obstacles Eddie had to overcome to become an Olympic star, this is an inspiring watch for anyone and motivational in the extreme: Eddie trained alone to compete in the 1988 Olympics.

Despite his own parents not supporting his dream, he continues to do it anyway and achieves success on his own merits. While not your typical success story, this is definitely a story for the underdog.

6 The fighter

The fighter
paramount movies

Filmmaker David O. Russell is probably frantically searching for his former cinematic glory after the flop that was amsterdam. He need look no further than 2010 The fightera gritty, enigmatic and powerful biopic about boxer Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg).

With his career stalled after a losing streak, Ward enlists the help of his addicted half-brother and retired professional boxer, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), as Ward tries to get his career back on track. This is a grittier, tougher, and more believable picture than the likes of the Rocky franchise, and is equally inspiring.

5 cinderella man

cinderella man
Touchstone Images

Ron Howard pulls the directing strings for this movement, a lighthearted film about boxer James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe). As the Great Depression takes its toll, former boxer Braddock goes from job to job as he tries and fails to make ends meet, leaving his young family in a perpetual state of poverty.

Against his wife’s pleas, the former heavyweight journalist takes on the only job he knows will pay off: boxing. And so, cinderella man chronicles his rise to boxing acclaim and financial security.

4 I, Tonya

I Tonya
20 West

I, Tonya is based on the career of figure skater Tonya Harding, with a specific focus on her involvement in an attack on her rival. As a dark comedy, the film is a refreshing exception on this list, while also being equally endearing. Viewers must decide for themselves if what Tonya is saying is true or not.

Related: These are the best female sports movies

The comic style mixed with the unreliable narrators who are telling the story is not the usual way for a biographical film to be presented, but I, Tonya it is anything but conventional. Making use of mockumentary style, this film is a hilarious watch, features an amazing performance by Margot Robbie and one of the most interesting biographies of any kind.

3 King Richard

King Richard
Warner Bros.

A film made most famous by Will Smith throwing his hands up at the 2022 Oscars, where he won Best Actor for his performance as Richard Williams, the domineering father of the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, American tennis sensations. King Richard depicts the monumental origin story of a father who lives vicariously through his daughters as he tries to coach them to tennis stardom.

His strict, uncompromising and disciplinarian approach invariably shaped his two daughters into the sporting greats they became. The biopic examines his upbringing, where emphasis was placed on academia and sporting excellence, as Richard Williams and his wife, Oracene, led their young family through the troubled streets of Compton.

two Run

Universal Pictures

Before we have the Netflix documentary series, Drive to Survivethere was Run. Formula 1 is one of the world’s great motorsports, and in 2013, Run fans closed in on one of the biggest brawls in sports history. Rush tells the story of two riders: Niki Lauda and James Hunt, two riders with extremely different styles, on and off the track.

With tensions building throughout the film, it’s perhaps no surprise when the tragic ending takes place, but despite that, it’s still a fantastic watch. This epic sports biopic captures the glamor and high stakes of Formula 1 in the 1970s and is a must watch for any sports fan.

1 raging bull

raging bull
United Artists

Adapted from the memoir Raging Bull: My Story, raging bull it’s about Jake LaMotta’s career and the people around him. Often considered one of the greatest American films of all time, Jake shows his aggression frequently throughout the film and ends up missing out on the best things in his life because of it.

In a fight with his brother, he loses his wife and brother at once, despite both trying to support him in his career. He still ends up in prison. However, all is not lost: Jake continues to do something for himself despite the adversity he has faced and learns to cut himself some slack. This isn’t a traditional success story, but that’s what makes this movie so great – the idea that even if you lose, you can still come out on top.

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