Prep for the long-awaited 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics by streaming these inspiring Olympics sports films.
To gear you up for the highly anticipated 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, we sorted through our favorite sports movies to bring you the best movies about the Olympics. This year’s summer games have been making headlines since they were postponed a full year due to the pandemic.
As you gear up for the games, turn your gaze away from the news of the global event and instead revisit these iconic and thrilling Olympic stories through film. From true-life tales like Miracle to silly comedies like Blades of Glory, this list of Olympics movies is perfect for a sports fiend or an athletic detractor who wants in on the Olympic action.
12 Best Olympics Movies
In 2004, we were graced with arguably the best Olympics-related movie and often described as one of the most realistic and historically accurate films depicting real-life sports events. Miracle chronicles the American male hockey team’s race to gold during the 1980 Winter Olympics. The Cold War serves as the film’s backdrop, with the tension between the Americans and the Soviets turning a competitive hockey game into a political arena. Miracle’s got everything…Kurt Russell, sweaty hockey players, Midwest accents, Canadian accents, and a palpable amount of nationalism! It’s also voted Most Likely to Make You Sob Like a Baby by two KCM staff members, which says everything you need to know.
Chariots of Fire (1981)
The 1981 historical British drama Chariots of Fire follows the true story of two British athletes Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, who compete in the 1924 Olympics. Liddell (Ian Charleson) is a devout Scottish Christian determined to glorify God with competitive running before returning to his missionary work. Abrahams (Ben Cross) experiences antisemitism while at the University of Cambridge and runs competitively despite the prejudice he experiences from the university staff. The two British track athletes train to compete in the 1924 Paris Olympics representing Great Britain. Chariots of Fire was nominated for seven Oscars, winning four (including Best Picture).
The Cutting Edge (1992)
The Cutting Edge is a 1992 American romantic comedy centered around Kate (Moira Kelly), an affluent and arrogant figure skater, who teams up with Doug (D. B. Sweeney), an icy former hockey player, to compete in the 1992 Winter Olympics in France. Following Kate’s loss at the 1988 Winter Olympics and a falling out with her former skating partner, she’s desperate for a new teammate that will bring her gold. If you like romcoms and fierce competition, this is the film for you. As the couple learns to work and skate together, they find chemistry and common ground on and off the ice.
I, Tonya (2017)
It’s hard to believe that not only is the 2017 black comedy I, Tonya now four years old, but also that the scandal on which it’s based happened over 25 years ago. Margot Robbie portrays figure skater Tonya Harding before and after the infamous 1994 attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan leading up to that year’s United States Figure Skating Championships and the 1994 Winter Olympics. The film is in semi-mockumentary style as Robbie’s character takes us through how she landed in the fatal twist of events. Think The Office but darker. Watch for Janney’s incredibly unhinged performance as Harding’s bizarre mother, which landed her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Robbie also earned a nomination for Best Actress.
Blades of Glory (2007)
If you want a less serious Olympics film, might we recommend the 2007 Will Speck and Josh Gordon comedy Blades of Glory? It starred comedic duo Will Ferrell and Jon Heder as figure skaters, former rivals, competing for gold in the Winter Olympics. After both skaters were stripped of their gold medals in men’s single skating in the 2002 Winter Olympics, the pair is presented with a loophole qualifier to get them back into the games: competing as the first-ever male-male pairs team.
Steven Spielberg’s 2005 action thriller Munich is based on the 1984 book Vengeance by George Jonas, which recounts the Israeli government’s secret retaliation against the Palestine Liberation Organization after the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics. It’s certainly timely. The film was nominated for five Oscars and named the 16th “Best Film of the 21st Century So Far” by The New York Times in 2017.
If you’re a Steve Carrell fan, try this movie where he looks absolutely nothing like himself. The 2014 film stars Carrell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo, and is loosely based on the E.I. du Pont family’s heir and the U.S. Olympic wrestling champion brothers Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz’s strange rise to infamy. The Schultz brothers join “Team Foxcatcher,” led by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont, as they train for the 1988 Olympic Games in South Korea. The movie details John’s bizarre and toxic behavior that leads to a dark, twisted outcome. Bennett Miller won Best Director at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and the film was nominated for five Academy Awards.
Cool Runnings (1993)
This is a classic. The 1993 comedy Cool Runnings is based on the Jamaican bobsled team’s competitive debut during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada. The plot follows four Jamaican bobsledders’ dream of competing in the Winter Olympics, despite never having seen snow. When it was released, the film was described as “wholesome,” “hilarious,” and an “ultimately inspirational film.”
Race is a 2016 biographical sports drama about Black track athlete Jesse Owens (Stephen James) who won a record-breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. The film shows Owens’s journey to glory with a backdrop of Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy during the games. The film costars Jason Sudeikis (yes, Ted Lasso!) and Jeremy Irons, and was supported by the real-life Owens family and the Jesse Owens Foundation.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was inspired by The Race of My Life, an autobiography co-written by Milkha Singh and his daughter. It recounts Singh’s story of becoming an Olympian, a champion of the Commonwealth Games, and two-time 400m champion of the Asian Games during the India-Pakistan partition. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was the sixth highest-grossing 2013 Bollywood film worldwide.
The Weight of Gold (2020)
The Weight of Gold is a 2020 sports documentary exploring the mental health challenges that Olympic athletes often face in their journey to gold. It features interviews from Olympians Michael Phelps, Apolo Ohno, Shaun White, Lolo Jones, Gracie Gold, and more. It’s directed by Brett Rapkin, with Phelps serving as an executive producer on the project.
Without Limits (1998)
There were two movies made about epic 1970s runner Steve Prefontaine, but this one, starring Billy Crudup as the track star, reigns supreme to us. Watch Pre from his early sports experiences as he found his way to running and Oregon University, where he worked with legendary coach Bill Bowerman, and later to the Olympics in Munich and his early death at 24 in a car crash.