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Top 10 Movie Underdogs

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Paul Grover
Rooting for the underdog is what we Brits do best! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Movie Underdogs. For this list, we’re celebrating unexpected heroes and surprise package characters who score well-earned success and victory, against all the odds. And while the likes of Rocky Balboa remain an inspiration for underdogs everywhere, we are focussing on British films and characters today. Special thanks to our user Cameron French for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Movie Underdogs


Rooting for the underdog is what we Brits do best! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Movie Underdogs.

For this list, we’re celebrating unexpected heroes and surprise package characters who score well-earned success and victory, against all the odds. And while the likes of Rocky Balboa remain an inspiration for underdogs everywhere, we are focussing on British films and characters today.

#10: Harold Abrahams
“Chariots of Fire” (1981)


A true-to-life biopic based on the lives of British Athletes Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, “Chariots of Fire” charts their journeys to and eventual glory at the 1924 Paris Olympics. And while Liddell’s story of religious conviction is inspiring in itself, Abrahams is an even greater underdog story. Played by Ben Cross, the Jewish runner overcomes anti-Semitism as well as class bias en route to fulfilling his dream. There are some crushing defeats along the way, but it’s all worth it in the end.

#9: Gaz Schofield
“The Full Monty” (1997)


Move aside “Magic Mike”, “The Full Monty” is the quintessential male stripper movie! Robert Carlyle’s not exactly Channing Tatum, but this is an underdog list after all. And while male strippers may not be your usual source of inspiration, Carlyle’s Gaz clearly fits the bill. He has lost his job and he’s in hot water for missing child support payments; our protagonist is definitely down on his luck and desperate for cash. But male stripping’s a money-maker, with or without your ‘hat on’.

#8: Neville Longbottom
“Harry Potter” franchise (2001-11)


Sorted into Gryffindor in the same school year as Harry Potter, Neville might’ve become just another supporting character in the Wizarding World franchise. But Longbottom offers way more than just some occasional comic relief, establishing himself as one of Potter’s closest and most trusted allies. While flying lessons aren’t his forte, he proves a dab hand at Herbology, and earns a reputation for fierce loyalty and bravery. By the end of the saga he’s a stand-out role model and an undisputed hero. It’s quite the transformation.

#7: Mike Bassett
“Mike Bassett: England Manager” (2001)


Not to be confused with any of the real life England Managers - although some of their efforts have proven just as laughable - Ricky Tomlinson’s Mike Bassett masterminds a run to the World Cup semi final in this sporting spoof. But we first meet Mike when he’s managing in the lower leagues, so his rise to the top of the English game is truly unprecedented. Considered a laughing stock at first, Bassett eventually beats his critics by steering England to their most impressive showing in years - and by delivering a heartfelt rendition of Rudyard Kipling.

#6: Jess Bhamra
“Bend It Like Beckham” (2002)


From one footy-themed flick to another, “Bend It Like Beckham” tells the story of Jess Bhamra - whose strict parents forbid her from playing for an organised team. However, Jess’ natural ability shines through during a friendly kickabout, leading Keira Knightley’s Jules to persuade her to join the local semi-pro side. Overcoming turmoil in her personal life and eventually winning over her family, Jess ultimately leads the team to victory - with a Beckham-esque free kick proving a decisive moment.

#5: Rita O’Grady
“Made in Dagenham” (2010)


You might not immediately link groundbreaking legislative history to the humble town of Dagenham, but the 1970 Equal Pay Act can be traced back to East London. In this dramatisation of real events, Rita O’Grady is tired of sexual discrimination at her work place, so she leads the 1968 Ford Sewing Machinists Strike - with female workers walking out on the company in protest. A prime example of sticking it to the man, “Made in Dagenham” is a film with themes that are just as relevant today. “Made in Chelsea” it certainly isn’t!

#4: Michael “Eddie” Edwards
“Eddie the Eagle” (2016)


Michael Edwards was a real life sportsman who could be considered the very definition of an underdog. Discouraged to follow his Olympic dreams by his father and outcast by fellow athletes, this film recounts his time from getting cut from the Olympic ski team, to breaking British records as a ski jumper. Even if he did finish last in the competition! However, it’s Eddie’s big personality and tenacious effort that wins over the crowd, leaving him to return home a hero.

#3: Billy Elliot
“Billy Elliot” (2000)


Overcoming negative stereotypes, a controlling father and a bully older brother, eleven year old Billy Elliot trades in boxing for something he actually has a passion for - ballet. With some help from his dance instructor (expertly played by Julie Walters) and his local community, Elliot dances his way to greatness, and is eventually accepted into the Royal Ballet School. And once he sees Billy’s natural talent with his own eyes, even Billy’s dad can’t help but throw his full support behind him. A breakout role for Jamie Bell, it’s an inspiring story and a scintillating performance.

#2: Lesbains and Gays Support the Miners Campaign
“Pride” (2014)


Set amidst the unrest in Thatcher’s Britain, “Pride” is a historical comedy-drama that recounts an unlikely fund-raising partnership between a group of gay and lesbian activists and a Welsh mining village, which is affected by the British miners’ strike in ‘84. Despite their differences, the activists and miners realise that they share common enemies including the Government, the police and the tabloid press. Prevailing against homophobia and prejudice, this story breaks down walls and gets important voices heard.

#1: Jamal Malik
“Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)


The central star to Danny Boyle’s award-winning British drama film, Jamal Malik grows up in poverty on the streets of Mumbai, scraping by with small jobs and trying to avoid a life of violent crime. But, Jamal’s turbulent past proves pivotal when he appears on India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”. His life experiences give him all the answers he needs, as if by fate, to complete an uplifting tale of truly epic proportions. Slumdog turned underdog turned quiz show conqueror, it doesn’t get any better than this!
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