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10 Sports Movies Inspired By Real Events

Most movies purporting to be based on a true story are usually taking massive liberties with that story; real life is rarely as wrapped-up and neat as Hollywood


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Inspiring Runners in Movies


When you see the phrase “based on a true story” in a movie’s marketing, you shouldtake it with a pinch of salt. Most movies purporting to be based on a true story areusually taking massive liberties with that story; real life is rarely as wrapped-up and neatas Hollywood narratives are. Some movies hew closer to the real events than others, butby and large, movies that are based on a true story should be regarded with skepticismas to their veracity. Their quality, however, is rarely in dispute. Here are 10 sportsmovies inspired by real events that you should check out. We’re not listing these in anyparticular order, so feel free to take a look at whichever movies tickle your fancy!

Cool Runnings (dir. Jon Turteltaub, 1993)

As a strong example of “based on a true story” often being something of anembellishment, look no further than affable 1993 comedy sports drama Cool Runnings.As Devon Harris said to Betway Insider, the Jamaican bobsled team didn’t have muchexperience in bobsledding before the main event in 1988; they were underdogs in everysense of the word. Their story ended in a failure of sorts, but it was a very different oneto the movie. With that said, Cool Runnings remains eminently watchable today.

Seabiscuit (dir. Gary Ross, 2003)

Tobey Maguire was fresh from Sam Raimi’s influential Spider-Man when he starred inSeabiscuit, a tale inspired by the real-life Depression-era racehorse of the same name.Seabiscuit is, to put it simply, not built for the races into which he is being entered; he’sundersized, and many bookies and jockeys alike write him off as a result of his size.However, he begins to pick up steam, and quickly, Seabiscuit becomes something of ametaphor for the ability of underdogs and the marginalised to succeed in difficult times.

Miracle (dir. Gavin O’Connor, 2004)

If you’re looking for the archetypical inspirational American sports movie, then look nofurther than the nonetheless extremely solid Miracle. Kurt Russell plays Herb Brooks, acantankerous coach looking to take his ice hockey side to victory in the 1980 OlympicGames. What follows is fairly straightforward fare, but Russell gives it his all, and theresulting movie is somehow more than the sum of its parts. It hits all the right emotionalbeats, even if it does take a few liberties with the truth.

Moneyball (dir. Bennett Miller, 2011)

Somehow, Moneyball manages to make its largely true story interesting, despite the factthat it mostly revolves around statistics. Jonah Hill is Peter Brand, a recent graduate ineconomics who thinks he’s figured out how Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane can coach a team tovictory. Brand uses stats and numbers where Beane relied largely on experience andtradition; using Brand’s methodology, Beane’s team, despite being composed largely ofunproven players, is a hit.

Rush (dir. Ron Howard, 2013)

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl star in this Formula One drama about the rivalrybetween the impossibly handsome James Hunt and the dark horse Niki Lauda. Bothmen are expert drivers, but where Hunt is a showman, all good looks and charm, Laudaprefers to get on with the driving. Lauda himself described Rush as “80% accurate”, andgiven that he was there at the time, we’re willing to go with his gut on this one. Plus, it’san excellent film with great writing and pacing.

Raging Bull (dir. Martin Scorsese, 1980)

If you’ve seen Raging Bull, you’ll probably be horrified to know it’s based on a true story.Jake LaMotta is an Italian-American boxer who fights in the middleweight category, andhis memoir, Raging Bull: My Story, tells of how his toxic masculinity and addictionsdestroyed what he had with his family and his wife. Robert De Niro plays him withcharacteristic aplomb in Scorsese’s movie, which doesn’t pull any punches (no punintended) with the source material.

Brian’s Song (dir. Buzz Kulik, 1971)

Brian’s Song


Rather unusually, Brian’s Song is an ABC TV movie rather than a fully-fledged cinematicouting. However, it stars James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, so it’s certainly got starpower behind it. This movie tells the story of the titular Brian Piccolo, who played for theChicago Bears until cancer unfairly struck him down at the young age of 26. Williamsplays his foil, Gale Sayers, who was aiming for the same position. Their friendshiptranscends their rivalry, and the final moments of this movie are heartbreaking.

Cinderella Man (dir. Ron Howard, 2005)



Once again, Ron Howard proves himself a sensitive, appreciative craftsman of sportsbiopics. This one revolves around James J. Braddock, a heavyweight boxing championin the Great Depression era. He’s played here by Russell Crowe, who imbues him with aloveable everyman schtick that’s compelling to watch. Braddock’s tribulations, hisattempt to navigate Depression-era economics, and his incredible comeback are alllargely true, making this movie even more poignant today.

Hoosiers (dir. David Anspaugh, 1986)

Remarkably, Hoosiers is David Anspaugh’s directorial debut, which makes its quality allthe more astonishing. It’s the story of the 1954 Milan High School basketball team, herefictionalised as a team from Hickory in Indiana. Gene Hackman plays Norman Dale, theteam’s coach, who’s trying to get them to believe they can win the competition they’reabout to enter. Again, it’s largely generic inspirational fare, but it’s elevated by Hackmanand the cast’s excellent performances.

Chariots of Fire (dir. Hugh Hudson, 1981)

No, this movie doesn’t have any actual chariots in it. What it does have is Ben Cross andIan Charleson, who star in the movie as runners Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddellrespectively. Abrahams, as a Jewish man, is running in the 1924 Olympics in order todefeat prejudice against the Jewish people, while Liddell is a Christian who runs to exaltin the glory of his God. You might know the famous theme by Vangelis, but the movie isgreat too, showing the absurdity of prejudice in the face of pure athletics.




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