If there’s one movie genre that’s pretty much guaranteed to keep cinema-goers on the edge of their seats as they follow their hero’s escapades, it’s the sporting genre – take that recent success of Creed for example.

Over the years we’ve had a string of spectacular sporting titles from wrestling titles that get to grips with the struggles of fame, to horse-racing epics that come close to recreating the excitement that you’d find in the betting for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival event. So here’s a look at some of the best sporting movies of recent years.

 

Senna

 

They often say that truth is stranger than fiction and the critically-acclaimed Senna documentary about the famed racing driver Ayrton Senna was truly gripping as it follow the driver’s obsessive quest for racing glory.

Through the clever use of documentary footage and some rapid-fire editing it showed just how the Brazilian ace managed to overcome the odds and become world champion before his sudden and untimely end.

 

Seabiscuit

 

Racing of a different kind was given a more Hollywood treatment with the Seabiscuit movie that, although based on real events, provided an emotional weight to the story of an undersized thoroughbred horse that delivered many shock victories during the Depression years in the US.

Although such a legendary occurrence of rags-to-riches success would undoubtedly cause an upset at Coral’s Cheltenham accumulator for the upcoming UK horse racing event, it does prove that in the world of sport, just about anything is possible. This is especially so as Seabiscuit was renowned as being the common man’s betting favourite with many successful races run at short odds.

 

The Wrestler

 

However, anyone looking for a reason why not to bet on the underdog should definitely check out 2009’s The Wrestler. This saw Mickey Rourke in great form as an aged wrestler who decides to hit the pro-wrestling circuit just one more time with moving, but often hilarious results.

And what worked best about the film was the way that it revealed the heartbreak behind the sporting headlines that was expertly handled by Rourke who was in the betting odds to win the Oscars that year but ultimately lost out to Sean Penn.

 

Dodgeball: A True Underdog

 

Another movie that shows the comic potential of sports games was 2004’s hilarious Dodgeball: A True Underdog that put the comic duo of Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn centre-stage as a pair of slightly deluded health club owners seeking to make some big money by entering a woefully inept dodgeball team in the Las Vegas championships.

And with a sequel to this comedy classic still supposedly in the pipeline, the wise money would be on Dodgeball 2 being odds-on to become one of the biggest comedy hits this decade – if it made it to the screen.

 

Foxcatcher

 

And finally, just to illustrate that not all sporting drama takes place on the pitch was Foxcatcher. This 2014 hit saw Steve Carrell playing against type as a somewhat sinister coach aiming to take Channing Tatum’s wrestling character to Olympic glory. Obviously everything swiftly goes wrong, but again it proves that when it comes to providing gripping entertainment, a good sporting movie is a surefire bet.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.