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7 Movies About the Olympics To Get Excited About Tokyo
After getting postponed last year due to the pandemic, the Summer Olympics are returning this summer in Tokyo, Japan. The Opening Ceremony is July 23.
For those who enjoy experiencing the games through the eyes of Hollywood as well, here’s a list of seven not-to-miss Olympic-themed movies:
1. Miracle (2004)
This box office smash is based on the true story of the U.S. men’s hockey team, made up of amateurs, who pulled off the “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Winter Olympics, stunning heavily favored professionals from the former Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.
Kurt Russell stars as Herb Brooks, the coach given the Herculean task of assembling a team for the Lake Placid games to compete against not only the seemingly invincible Soviets, but other powerhouse countries that then ruled the sport, including Sweden and Finland. From team selection to exhibition games, the film especially excels tracking the team gaining momentum throughout the Olympics.
The win over the Soviets remains one of the biggest sports upsets ever—or as play-by-play announcer Al Michaels said in the final seconds: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
2. Chariots of Fire (1981)
Considered the most famous Olympic-themed movie of all time, the fact-based drama follows the path of two young runners from very different backgrounds training for the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) is a dedicated Christian who was born in China to Scottish missionaries and believes he’s running to secure God’s love, and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) is a British Jew trying to overcome prejudice.
The film tackles the issue of British class distinctions in the years following World War I in a religiously divided United Kingdom. It received seven Academy Award nominations and won four, including Best Movie and Best Original Score.
3. Munich (2005)
The film follows the true story of five men selected by Israel’s government to carry out a worldwide operation to secretly assassinate members of the terror group Black September, who were responsible for the hostage and massacre that killed 11 Israeli athletes and their coach during the 1972 Olympics.
The movie, which stars Eric Bana and Daniel Craig, was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Director (Steven Spielberg) and Best Picture.
4. Cool Runnings (1993)
The hit comedy follows four ambitious Jamaican bobsledders (Doug E. Doug, Leon Robinson, Malik Yoba and Rawle Lewis) who dream of competing in the Olympics. There’s just one small problem: They’re from Jamaica and have never even seen snow.
Besides the main cast, John Candy turns in a great performance as Irv Blitzer, a disgraced former U.S. bobsled champion. Now retired in Jamaica and working as a bookie, Blitzer reluctantly agrees to teach the crew the tricks of the trade—predominantly by training them on the barren fields of the tropical island where it obviously never snows.
The Disney flick is loosely based on Jamaica’s first national bobsled team, which debuted during the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Blitzer is a fictional character; the team’s real coach, Howard Siler, never won an Olympic medal, but was considered among the top bobsledders in the world during his career.
5. I, Tonya (2017)
This critically acclaimed dark comedy follows the life of disgraced former U.S. figure skater Tonya Harding and one the biggest scandals in the history of sports. Shortly before the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championship, Harding’s then-husband Jeff Gillooly convinced a “hit man” to whack the leg of Harding’s main rival, Nancy Kerrigan, forcing Kerrigan to withdraw from the competition. The “mockumentary” chronicles the story from the perspective of the leading players in Harding’s life.
Harding is brilliantly portrayed by Margot Robbie, and Allison Janney won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Harding’s abusive mother, LaVona Golden.
6. Blades of Glory (2007)
Need a laugh and an Olympic fix? Check out this comedy starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder and featuring plenty of spandex.
Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Heder) star as rival star men’s singles skaters forced to share the winners’ podium after tying for a gold medal. An ensuing fistfight between them leads to a mascot being set afire.
As a result, both are stripped of their medals and banned from competitive skating for life until they find a loophole: They’re banned only from men’s singles and are eligible to compete in pair skating. The disgraced duo join forces to become history’s first male-male pairs team.
7. The Cutting Edge (1992)
If you’re seeking a romcom with a sports through line, look no further.
The 1988 Winter Olympics has bleak outcomes for Kate Moseley (Moira Kelly) and Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney): Kate’s chance at the gold medal is dashed when she’s dropped on the ice by her skating partner. Doug, captain of the U.S. men’s ice hockey team, suffers a head injury during the game, which forces him into an early retirement.
As the stuck-up Kate continues to drive away potential skating partners while training for the 1992 Winter Olympics, her coach seeks a replacement who has no knowledge of how difficult working with Kate can be. Doug is recruited to fill the void. His disdain for figure skating is overshadowed by the desire to get another crack at Olympic glory, so he accepts. After some early animosity, the two decide to give pairing up a try, leading to sparks flying on and off the ice.
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