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Top 10 Sports Biopics

VO: Matt Campbell
Script Written by Elliot Baker. They're the true stories that never fail to hit a home run. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Sports Biopics. For this list, the films in question must be based on a real life story, but doesn’t solely have to be about one single person involved in sports and thus can include teams, multiple athletes and so on. Special thanks to our users Daniel John, Erik Zarins, JosephT and lilhammer3991 for submitting the idea on our Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Sports Biopics


They’re the true stories that never fail to hit a home run. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Sports Biopics.

For this list, the films in question must be based on a real life story, but doesn’t solely have to be about one single person involved in sports and thus can include teams, multiple athletes and so on. This means that any films that are mostly fiction won’t make it. We’re also excluding documentaries because those are worthy of a list on their own, so that’s a no for “Senna.”

#10: “The Hurricane” (1999)

To start, we have the impressive story of Rubin Carter, a top ranking middleweight boxer in the 1960s that was falsely imprisoned for murder for almost 2 decades. Starring Denzel Washington as ‘The Hurricane’ in a moving and complex feature about the horrors of racial profiling during the mid-20th century, the actor’s performance has been praised as being equal to his turn in “Malcolm X.” In fact, Washington’s performances in both were so powerful that he earned an Oscar nomination for each. The movie itself also earned critics’ praise and numerous accolades.

#9: “Moneyball” (2011)

The underdog team is probably the most famous trope in sports movies, but it’s always best when they’re true to life as well. General Manager Billy Beane and his assistant Peter Brand are tasked with the mounting pressure of rebuilding a financially screwed team using their wits and sophistication. Based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, the film featured a stellar cast with a breakout dramatic performance from Jonah Hill. Nominated for many Oscars, “Moneyball” is listed highly on many critics list for being one of the best films of 2011.

#8: “Seabiscuit” (2003)

When it comes to movie making, even a horse can be the underdog, or would it be ‘underhorse’ in this case? Starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper, this sports drama is based on the real life career of Seabiscuit, an undersized equine competitor in the horse racing game during the Great Depression. With the team dealing with their own personal pressures alongside the wild nature of the horse itself, this film tells a superb heart pounding and tear-jerking tale.

#7: “Cinderella Man” (2005)

This dramatic feature sees the real life of James J. Braddock and his boxing world brought to the big screen after he breaks his hand during a fight. After trying to support his wife as a manual laborer, he returns to the ring with a new southpaw style that reignites his dead career. And if you were unsure about “Cinderella Man” when it first came out, you didn’t have to worry about losing your cold hard-earned cash, as AMC Theatres promised refunds to anyone dissatisfied with the film. Out of hundreds upon thousands of audience members, only fifty asked for their money back. Now that’s quality you can’t argue with.

#6: “Remember the Titans” (2000)

Denzel Washington is back as Herman Boone, this time as an African American coach introducing a racially diverse football team to T. C. Williams High School in 1971. Striving for harmony between the students, Boone takes to harsh and rigorous training to try and keep the young boys working together. The stakes are high: if the team loses once, Boone will be fired. So it’s up to the Titans to battle for equality and their coach’s job in this heartfelt Disney feature.

#5: “Ali” (2001)

It’s time to get jiggy with it in the boxing ring as Will Smith takes on one of the world’s most famous boxing superstars. Telling the story of Cassius Clay, Jr. through his rise to the Rumble in the Jungle, the film details the events of Ali’s life, namely his conversion to Islam and his most famous bouts. Reaching its climax in 1974 with Muhammad Ali’s bout against George Foreman, Ali lets the Fresh Prince show off his fantastic acting range, but sadly there’s no theme song by Will Smith to accompany it.

#4: “Chariots of Fire” (1981)

Best known for its Vangelis-composed opening theme, this historical drama introduces us to the stories of two polarising Olympic runners in 1924. The film pits the Christian Eric Liddell against the Jewish Harold Abrahams as they race for the glories of their faiths. While the “Chariots of Fire” soundtrack won an Academy Award for Best Score, it’s the heart-warming and powerful nature of the story that gives the true classic its real take home value.

#3: “Rush” (2013)

The rivalry of real-life race car drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda heated up during the 1976 Formula one season. Starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl as the McLaren and Ferrari drivers respectively, the film mixes high paced action with moving drama as the two battle to keep their careers and their personal lives intact. Impressive acting and storytelling keep the emotions high with every lap of this car-based biopic.

#2: “The Fighter” (2010)

The real life tale of Micky Ward had many Oscar nods and many thumbs up head its way thanks to this David O. Russell film. Starring good old Marky Mark as the welterweight boxer with nowhere to go but down, this is a Cinderella story that’s more about the fight between brothers rather than the matches themselves. It also has Christian Bale in another career-making role as the harsh, drug-addicted brother whose actions can help or hinder his family’s success. It’s a truly moving film that deserves every bit of praise it has received.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Foxcatcher” (2014)
- “The Blind Side” (2009)
- “Invictus” (2009)
- “42” (2013)

#1: “Raging Bull” (1980)

This dark and depressing biopic by Martin Scorsese shook up the film industry alongside the genre of biopicsthemselves. After the booming success of the fictional story of Rocky Balboa in the mid-‘70s, Robert De Niro goes in the complete opposite direction with his portrayal of real-life middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta in thissports drama. Drowning in the vices of his own jealousy and pride, LaMotta’s story is one of highs and lows and the effects they have on him and his family. Regarded as being one of the best American films ever made, it’s no surprise that it’s also our favorite sports biopic. Now that’s entertainment.

Do you agree with our list? Which sports biopic is your favorite? For more sporty top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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