ByKristin Lai, writer at
MP Staff Writer, cinephile and resident Slytherclaw // UCLA Alumna // Follow me on Twitter: kristin_lai
Kristin Lai

Every four years, the world briefly puts aside their differences to come together and compete in the world's biggest athletic competition: the Olympics. And just because the closest I've ever come to competing in any kind of sporting event is an impressive Netflix marathon doesn't mean I love watching the events in Rio any less.

Whether you're a fan of swimming, skating or track and field, there are plenty of Olympic movies to awaken the sports fan in you.

From the hilarious Cool Runnings to the terrifying Foxcatcher, here are 13 movies to satiate your inner Olympic athlete:

1. Miracle (2004)

Directed by: Gavin O'Connor
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich, Eddie Cahill, Michael Mantenuto and Kenneth Welsh
Premise: For those who haven't seen the movie — and honestly, who hasn't seen this gem? — Miracle follows the inspiring true story of the United States hockey team who went on to win the 1980 Winter Olympics against the Soviet Union against all odds. Not only is it a great sports movie, but Kurt Russell (as famed hockey coach Herb Brooks) gives one of the most impassioned cinematic speeches of all time.

2. Cool Runnings (1993)

Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Starring: Leon Robinson, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba and John Candy
Premise: Despite failing to qualify for his national track and field team in the summer Olympics, Jamaican runner Derice won't let his Olympic dreams be dashed away so quickly. With the help of their coach Irv Blitzer (Candy) Derice and his best friend Sanka assemble a motley crew to compete as the first Jamaica national bobsleigh team.

3. Chariots Of Fire (1981)

Directed by: Hugh Hudson
Starring: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers and Ian Holm
Premise: When it comes to the Olympics and the silver screen, there are none more iconic or instantly recognizable than Chariots of Fire. The Academy Award-winning film tells the true story of two track and field athletes, one Christian and one Jewish, who run for God and against prejudice while representing Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics.

4. Eddie The Eagle (2016)

Directed by: Dexter Fletcher
Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken
Premise: Eddie The Eagle is about the real-life of Eddie Edwards — a young man whose sole ambition is to become an Olympic athlete. In spite of being discouraged by everyone from his dad to the Olympic officials, Eddie overcomes and becomes the first British Olympic ski jumper, inspiring a nation along the way.

5. Personal Best (1982)

Directed by: Robert Towne
Starring: Mariel Hemingway, Scott Glenn, Patrice Donnelly and Kenny Moore
Premise: A young track and field Olympic hopeful, Chris Cahill, is unsuccessful in qualifying for the 1976 U.S team. Soon after, she meets Tory Skinner, a more experienced athlete whom offers Chris guidance in their sport and their mentorship swiftly blossoms into a romance. Not only is Personal Best one of the few films on the list to feature female athletes, it was also lauded by critics for portraying a realistic LGBTQ relationship.

6. Without Limits (1998)

Directed by: Robert Towne
Starring: Billy Crudup, Donald Sutherland and Monica Potter
Premise: That's right, we've got another title from Chinatown director Robert Towne on the list! Without Limits is a biographical film about the relationship beween record-breaking long-distance runner — and future Nike founder — Steve Prefontaine and his coach Bill Bowerman. If Billy Crudup and Donald Sutherland don't do it for you, there's another biopic titled Prefontaine (1997) starring a lithe young Jared Leto as the titular character.

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7. Race (2016)

Directed by: Stephen Hopkins
Starring: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, Carice van Houten and William Hurt
Premise: This recently-released biographical sports drama features Stephan James as one of the world's greatest athletes: Jesse Owens. In the midst of rising racial tensions and on the brink of World War II, Jesse Owens competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and shocked the world with his unparalleled athletic abilities.

8. The Cutting Edge (1992)

Directed by: Paul Michael Glaser
Starring: D. B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly
Premise: Here's a romantic comedy for all you Olympic lovers out there. The Cutting Edge is about an out-of-work hockey player and a temperamental figure skater who are paired together to compete in the 1992 Winter Olympics. Despite being polar opposites, the skaters — unsurprisingly — fall in love.

9. Blades Of Glory (2007)

Directed by: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Starring: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jenna Fischer and Craig T. Nelson
Premise: Blades of Glory follows almost exactly the same plot as The Cutting Edge, but also cuts the romance right out of the rom-com equation. Will Ferrell and Jon Heder star as two hapless figure skaters who go for the gold against their ruthless competition, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett.

10. Downhill Racer (1969)

Directed by: Michael Ritchie
Starring: Robert Redford, Gene Hackman and Camilla Sparv
Premise: Based on the novel by Oakley Hall, Downhill Racer focuses on David Chappellet (Redford) who is called upon by U.S. Olympic ski team coach Eugene Claire (Hackman) to replace one of his injured team members. While immensely talented, Chappellet has a tough time working with others and is forced to alter his attitude in order to help lead his team to victory.

11. Foxcatcher (2014)

Directed by: Bennett Miller
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo
Premise: Foxcatcher is the terrifying true story of John E. du Pont, who recruited wrestlers Mark (Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Ruffalo) to help train Olympic hopefuls. What started out as an athletic endeavor turns into a dark and twisted murder case. The movie was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Director.

12. The Jericho Mile (1979)

Directed by: Michael Mann
Starring: Peter Strauss and Richard Lawson
Premise: Technically, The Jericho Mile is a TV movie, but that doesn't make it any less list-worthy. The film takes place in Folsom Prison where Larry Murphy, criminal with a talent for running, is held for the murder of his father. After being discovered racing in the prison yard, he is trained with the promise of possibly being eligible for the Olympic trials.

13. Unbroken (2014)

Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Starring: Jack O'Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund and Finn Wittrock
Premise: Angelina Jolie's Unbroken features Jack O'Connell as Louis "Louie" Zamperini, an Olympian and American solider during World War II. The film follows him through his childhood, athletic feats and after being held in prisoner of war camps when his plane went down. Amidst mixed reviews, Unbroken beautifully portrays the triumph of the human spirt.

Which Olympic movie is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section!


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