Best Sports Biopics of All Time, Ranked

Just as there have been movies about musicians and, similarly, movies about real-life writers, there have also been movies about athletes, whether fictional or based on true events. Indeed, the biographical sports film – or sports biopic – have been a staple genre in the film industry. Whether they’s movies about the Olympics, in which stories of struggle, determination, and triumph pull at the heartstrings, or movies about an athlete’s journey towards a certain type of victory, what’s fundamentally appealing about sports biopics is the underlying theme of hope, hard work, and perseverance.

There are countless films that anyone would consider a classic of the sports biopics. In fact, 2021s King Richardstarring Oscar nominee Will Smith, could very well, with time, become a classic, especially considering how Smith is GoldDerby‘s frontrunner for Best Actor at the 2022 Academy Awards. Here’s our list of the best sports biopics of all time, ranked.

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7 Chariots of Fire

Warner Bros.

Chariots of Fire is a classic of the sports biopic genre, and for good reason. Two British runners competing in the 1924 Olympics are at the heart of this film, one who races for the glory of God as a devout Christian, and one who is a Jewish man, running to overcome prejudice. In their time before the competition, the two face hurdles to their dreams. Eric Lidell, the Christian runner, faces judgment from his own family, who thinks he should be focusing more on his religion. Harold Abrahams meanwhile faces prejudice from the staff at his university, but still he goes on to become an excellent runner. When the two compete in the Olympics, they face a rocky start. Despite being clear underdogs in the competition, the two go on to win gold medals and bring glory to the British team. All things considered, this film is a must-watch for any sports biopic fans.

6 Raging Bull

United Artists

Adapted from the memoir Raging Bull: My Story, Raging Bull is about the career of Jake LaMotta and the people around him. Often considered one of the greatest American films ever, Jake shows his aggression frequently throughout the movie, and ends up losing the greatest things about his life because of it. Through a fight with his brother, he loses his wife and brother all at once, despite both of them trying to support him in his career. He even ends up in jail. However, all is not lost: Jake goes on to make something of himself despite the adversity he faced and learns to cut himself some slack. This is not a traditional success story, but that’s what makes this film so great – the idea that, even if you lose, you can still come out on top.

5 Ford v Ferrari

20th Century Studios

Ford v Ferrari is about the 1966 Le Mans 24 hour race, and a team who wanted to outdo Italian Scuderia Ferrari. American and British engineers race to build the Ford GT40, now one of the greats of rally sports, after facing insults from the Scuderia Ferrari team. They go on to end the winning streak of the Italian team, and make the Ford name go down in racing history. As one of the most tense Le Mans races of all time, this film is a fantastic representation of that. This movie captures the tension of the 1960s motor sports scene and shows the making of a legend, as well as the success of an underdog.

4 The Blind Side

Alcon Entertainment

Based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, The Blind Side tells the story of Michael Oliver, an NFL star who had to battle an impoverished background to achieve his dreams. His foster parents help him get to university, ultimately leading to him being drafted, despite not receiving much in the way of thanks from Michael. Still, they see Michael’s success as a huge family success, and eventually he comes around to their way of thinking. With a star-studded cast and a heart-warming story of how a loving home can help someone achieve anything they wish, The Blind Side is one of the greatest sports biopics of all time.

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3 Eddie The Eagle

20th Century Studios

Eddie The Eagle is a film that tells the story of Great British Olympic ski jump competitor, Michael David Edwards (better known as Eddie the Eagle). Showcasing the massive hurdles Eddie had to overcome to become an Olympic star, this is an inspiring watch for anyone, and is motivational to the extreme: Eddie self-trained to compete in the 1988 Olympics. Despite his own parents not supporting his dream, he goes on to do it anyway, and achieves success in his own right. While not a typical success story, this is definitely one for the downtrodden.

2 I, Tonya

LuckyChap Entertainment

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 black comedy, the film is refreshing to watch, while also being captivating. Viewers must decide for themselves if what Tonya is telling them is true or not. The comedic style mixed with the unreliable narrators that are telling the story is not the usual way for a biopic to be presented, but I, Tonya is anything but conventional. Making use of the mockumentary style, this film is a hilarious watch, and should be on your watch list.

1 Rush

Universal Pictures

Before we had Netflix’s documentary series, Drive to Survive, there was Rush. Formula 1 is one of the world’s great Motorsports, and in 2013’s Rush fans got closer to one of the greatest feuds in the sport’s history. Rush tells the story of two drivers: Niki Lauda and James Hunt, two drivers with extremely different styles, both on and off the racetrack. With tensions rising throughout the movie, it is perhaps no surprise when the tragic ending occurs, but despite this, it is still a fantastic watch. This epic sports biopic captures both the glamor and high stakes of Formula 1 in the 1970s and is a must-watch for any sports fan.

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