Five of the best sporting biopics from the 21st century

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Today saw the release of the first trailer for Sachin Tendulkar’s hotly-anticipated biopic Sachin: A Billion Dreams, telling the life story of the Little Master. And naturally that’s got us all reminiscing about the best sporting biopics around.

We’ve been treated to some epic tales over the years, from Raging Bull and the Jessie Owens story, to the Hurricane, heck, we can even include Cool Runnings here.

But for the sake of brevity, we’re recalling five of the best from the 21st century.

We know you’ll probably disagree with one or two on our list, but we reckon it’s a pretty solid five-some all the same.

Invincible (2006)

Perhaps overshadowed in recent years by the similarly-excellent The Blind Side, Invincible is a remarkable story of one man who followed his NFL dream.

Mark Wahlberg plays Vince Papale, a 30-year-old teacher and bartender who ends up playing for the Philadelphia Eagles during their woeful period in the mid-1970s.

A bit of editorial license was had with Papale’s football experience, but aside from kickers, he became the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL without any college football on his CV.

He was just a regular dude.

Invictus (2009)

Very much a political and racial tale as well as a sporting one.

Invictus – for those who have been living under a rock – replays South Africa’s famous and emotional 1995 Rugby World Cup victory on home soil.

Director Clint Eastwood doesn’t shirk the enormity of the story, and Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon were Oscar-nominated for their portrayals of Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar respectively.

The Damned United (2009)

Not so much a biopic of one man, but more a bio on one of the most hotly-tempered and doomed relationships between manager and football club ever seen (even in today’s climate).

Michael Sheen slips effortlessly into the role of Brian Clough, newly-appointed manager of Leeds United.

You don’t need us to tell you how it pans out, and though the infamous 44-day reign may be a small yet pivotal part of football folklore, thanks to Sheen, the dearly-missed Clough is brought to life once again over a super 97 minutes of film.

It’s a fantastic watch if only for the nostalgia. Pitches were muddy, shorts were short and men were men.

The Fighter (2010)

That guy Wahlberg is back again, perhaps even more impressively so here in his turn as welterweight boxer Micky Ward.

Essentially a classic against-the-odds tale, Wahlberg and scene-stealing Christian Bale – playing drug-addict brother Dicky – bring a superb hard-hitting reality to Ward’s battle to the top.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, Bale and Melissa Leo (as Ward’s mother) claimed the supporter categories, making The Fighter the first film in 24 years to claim a supporter double.

Moneyball (2011)

Statistics and Baseball. Two things many of us here on the European side of the pond may find a tad dull, but not in Moneyball.

Telling the story of the Oakland Athletics’ revolutionary 2002 season, Brad Pitt leads the way as the A’s General Manager Billy Beane, ably supported by Jonah Hill as they look to turnaround the financially-strapped side.

Moneyball sticks to the facts, and this is one rip-roaring adventure taken at a slightly slower, but no less enjoyable pace.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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