Five of the best sporting movies of all time
With World Cup fever gripping the nation, it’s fair to say football – and sports in general – are a hot topic of conversation at the minute. Everywhere we go, we’re reminded of the power and the lure of the athletic triumphs that grip our hearts: there, in the hundred voices rising in celebration when England emerges victorious from another qualifier; there, in the waving flags and smiling faces of fans whose dreams have become their reality.
It’s little wonder, then, that sporting victories translate so well to the silver screen. Rousing us with emotions ranging from despair and desolation all the way through to unequivocal euphoria, they translate into stories that capture our souls and make us feel pure and unparalleled joy. So, want to celebrate by watching some of the very best sporting movies of all time? Here are five picture-perfect picks…
A true tale of triumph against the odds, Seabiscuit tells the story of an unlikely trio of heroes: a down-on-his-luck jockey, a cowboy trainer, and a little horse with a big attitude. Charting their rise from the deepest, darkest corners of Depression-era America to the very pinnacle of the racing world, it’s a story of heart, strength, and a friendship that trumps all. Once you’ve watched it, there’s one thing and one thing only that you’ll want to do: head to the nearest bookies to pit your fortunes against Lady Luck and see who comes out on top. As Seabiscuit teaches us, the greatest victors can sometimes be the most unlikely ones.
When a film is as widely renowned as Rocky, you know it has to be good. The movie that spawned a succession of sequels, this beautifully shot and acted story charts the humble beginnings of a boxing great – the inimitable Rocky Balboa. Starting out as a small-time star in working-class Philadelphia, it follows the rise of the titular character from rags to riches and takes us on one hell of an enjoyable ride along the way. Trust us, there’s a reason it managed to bag itself a Best Picture Oscar in 1976.
Chariots of Fire (Pictured. Source: Facebook via Chariots of Fire)
Rocky finds itself in good company, with the next pick on our list also bagging itself a Best Picture award. Blending a synth score by Vangelis with soul-stirring shots of athletes pounding their way down a picturesque beach, Chariots of Fire starts strong and stays that way. Set in post-World War One Britain, it’s a genuinely gripping story of two talented university runners pursuing the same goal, despite their very different backgrounds. We really could watch it over and over again.
Escape to Victory
It seems great sports movies and Sylvester Stallone go hand-in-hand, because he’s about to make his second appearance here, thanks to World War II flick Escape to Victory. Telling the story of British and American prisoners of war forced to play a match against the German national team in Nazi-occupied France, its impressive cast also includes Michael Caine, Pele, Bobby Moore, and Ossie Ardiles. If you were a sports betting fan, we imagine you’d head to a reliable source, put your money on the line, and have full confidence in guessing which team would emerge victoriously – we did say this list was all about triumph in the face of adversity, didn’t we? Seeing as you can’t do that, we guess there’s always the World Cup if you find yourself in need of a flutter!
Our last pick on this list takes us into the ring for the second time. The Fighter features a sterling cast – one headlined by Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. A biographic tale based on the life of Lowell fighter Micky Ward, it covers everything from sporting adversity through to drug addiction and the beautiful, powerful bond between brothers. If you’re considering giving it a watch, rest assured that the acting is superb and the action gripping.
The only question left is this: which of these films will you put on first?