Go for the Gold: The Best Winter Olympics Movies, Ranked by IMDb
On February 4, athletes from around the world gathered in Beijing to compete in the 24th Winter Olympics. With skaters spinning and dancing on the ice, skiers leaping from unimaginable heights and curlers of – well – curling, this euphoric celebration of sporting achievement in freezing temperatures still manages to captivate a global audience at a time when the audiences are increasingly fractured and focused on niche offerings.
With the sporting event in full swing and currently airing on NBC and Peacock, there’s no better time to search your DVD library or browse various streaming channels in search of a good movie that captures that Olympic spirit. cool. From parodies to romantic comedies to true-to-life dramas, films that feature the Winter Olympics each focus on a particular element that makes these films so watchable.
Blades of Glory (2007) – 6.3
Usually, the Olympics are tense affairs that contain very little humor. To ease the real anxiety of a tense competition while enjoying the pomp and festive nature of the event, there’s no better movie to watch than Blade of Glory. The 2007 comedy stars Will Ferrell (in his prime) and Jon Heder (still on this Napoleon Dynamite top) as disgraced ice skaters who, through some obscure loophole, can compete in the World Winter Sports Games (a thinly veiled substitute for the Olympics) if they enter as a duo. The comedy lovingly pokes fun at ice skating conventions — the bombastic music, the old-fashioned hairstyles, the neon-colored spandex uniforms — without judging it too harshly. The all-star supporting cast, which stars Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as incestuous ice-skating twins, is top-notch, and the ice-skating scenes are surprisingly compelling in an absurd way.
Downhill Runner (1969) – 6.4
For Olympic fans who want a film that takes the heat of competition seriously, look no further than downhill runner. Considered by Roger Ebert as the “best movie made about sports”, Michael Ritchie’s film was made at a time when Hollywood was experimenting with different styles of filmmaking to tell raw, honest stories that usually had pessimistic endings. With a terrific lead performance by Robert Redford, who was at his peak in 1969 with this film and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, downhill runner excels at depicting both the excitement of skiing and the personal tribulations of athletes as they train and compete for years to earn a shot at Olympic glory. It’s the rare sports movie that eschews clichés and appeals to both sports movie fans and average moviegoers who just want to watch a gripping film.
The Vanguard (1992) – 6.9
It was only a matter of time before the rom-com genre, in full force in 1992 thanks to the earlier successes of When Harry met Sally… and A pretty woman, would find his way to the rink. And On the razor wire, a film that focuses on the unlikely professional and romantic couple of a stuck-up ice skater and a former blue-collar hockey player, would use all the cliches the genre is known (and often ridiculed) for. Two protagonists who initially hate each other but end up loving each other? To verify. An unlikely finale that depends on a suspension of belief in time, logic and the laws of physics? To verify. Yet somehow it all works out, and a lot of that is down to Moira Kelly and DB Sweeney’s chemistry as an unlikely couple, whose hatred for each other has never matched only by their budding mutual attraction. Tiptoe!
Cool Races (1993) – 7.0
This catchy film, a staple of the underdog sports genre, tells the true story of a Jamaican bobsled team, who overcame multiple obstacles to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. The film’s charm lies in the scenes featuring the team preparing for games with their coach, played by John Candy in one of his last performances before his untimely death in 1994. The rare sports film where the heroes don’t win in the end, Cool races emphasizes the importance of teamwork on success. It doesn’t matter if they won a gold medal or not; what matters is that they pulled together and were able to compete in the first place.
Molly’s Game (2017) – 7.4
The only film that deals with life after the Winter Olympics, Molly’s Game opens with the titular heroine Molly Bloom, an expert mogul skier, losing in a qualifying event for the 2002 Games. The film then focuses on Bloom’s attempts to succeed as a poker manager at high stakes, which she organizes with the help of professional poker players and a movie star who only plays “to destroy people’s lives”. While Molly’s Game largely drops any mention of the Olympics after the opening scene, it still embodies all the hallmarks of a typical sports movie: the underdog overcoming adversity, the tough parent pushing his child to succeed, and the decisive final match, or in this case, a game of poker that will decide whether Bloom will go to jail or not. Molly may not have made it to the Winter Olympics, but as the film gradually reveals, she contains the spirit and drive to succeed on the ski slopes and at a seedy poker table.
Eddie the Eagle (2015) – 7.4
Another film featuring an underdog who fails to win an Olympic medal, Eddie the eagle focuses on Michael David Edwards’ real-life efforts to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics as a ski jumper. Played by Taron Edgerton, Michael, nicknamed Eddie by his peers, is eventually coached by Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), who helps Eddie qualify for the Games despite impossible odds. While Eddie the eagle falls prey to the gritty stereotypes commonly found in sports films, what makes the film so winning is the charm of the two leads and the easy banter they share throughout the story. Jackman, in particular, shines as a demanding trainer who keeps Eddie at a level he didn’t even know he could reach.
Me, Tonya (2017) – 7.5
A rare biopic that’s both wicked and funny, Me Tonya portrays a notorious figure, Tonya Harding, in a raw and unwavering light, inciting judgment in favor of empathy. The film depicts Harding’s difficult working-class childhood and his antagonistic relationship with his mother LaVona, played by Allison Janney in a bravura and chilling performance that won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The infamous assault on Nancy Kerrigan is shown as well as Harding’s disastrous performance at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, where she came in eighth place.
More than just a sports movie, Me Tonya is an unflinching look at the American class system, which favors competitors like Kerrigan over blue-collar workers like Harding and her husband, Jeff Gillooly. It’s also a hilarious movie, with a razor-sharp screenplay by Steven Rogers that provides Janney and star Margot Robbie (in a career-best performance) with plenty of barbed insults you’ll quote long after watching the film. .
Miracle (2004) – 7.5
A well-told traditional sports film with expert direction from Gavin O’ Connor and engaging performances from Kurt Russell and Patricia Clarkson, Miracle represents what some have called the “the greatest sporting moment of the 20th century.” At the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, the USA hockey team defeated the favored Soviet Union team in a semi-final game, allowing them to advance and ultimately win the gold medal. ‘gold. Since the story is so compelling to begin with, O’ Connor doesn’t embellish or indulge too much in genre convention. Instead, he focuses on characterization, making Russell’s Coach Brooks a relatable figure who has his own backstory that he briefly explores. The highlight of the film, however, is the exceptional recreation of the decisive match between the Americans and the Russians, which manages to draw the suspense from a match with a well-known denouement. It’s no surprise that the film is highly rated by IMDB users, as it’s a fantastic movie that deserves more than its feel-good ending.