• Industry

Olympic Dreams

Olympic Champions Danell J. Leyva, Madison Kocian, Football Player Colton Underwood, Olympic Champions Aly Raisman, Guest, Conor Dwyer, Simone Biles, Nadia Comaneci, Bart Conner, Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Ashton Eaton at the Golden Globes (2017).

As staunch proponents of winning the gold, we are all in on the Olympics. And like everyone else we are suffering from serious jetlag as we try to follow the Olympic action on NBC from the Tokyo Games. What better time to feed Olympic fever with some appropriately-themed film fare? With their intense drama and heroics, the Games have always provided inspiration for Hollywood. From Chariots of Fire (1981) to Unbroken (2014) and Miracle (2004), movies have celebrated feats of athletic history. Others have fictionalized tributes to individual athletes, like The Gabby Douglas Story (dedicated to the first African American Olympic gymnast) and – of course – the GOAT (The Simone Biles Story). Olympic films have run the gamut from heartwarming comedies, like the Jamaican bobsledding chronicle, Cool Runnings, and romance (2019’s Olympic Dreams). Others still have examined events – including some tragic ones – that have surrounded the Olympics.

Here are a few we think should be on everyone’s watch list.

Margot Robbie in “I, Tonya” (2017)

I, Tonya (2018)

Craig Gillespie’s telling of the tawdry true story of Tonya Harding strikes the perfect deadpan tone for the stranger-than-fiction true tale of ice-skating rivalry gone bad. It earned three well-deserved Globe nominations: Best Comedy, Best Actress (Margot Robbie) and Best Supporting Actress for Allison Janney who took home the Globe.

Billy Crudup in “Without Limits” (1998)

Without Limits (1998)

This biopic garnered a Golden Globe nomination (Best Supporting Actor) for Donald Sutherland. Directed by Globe winner (Screenplay – Chinatown) Robert Towne, it chronicles the story of legendary long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine who competed in Münich in 1972, set American records in every distance from 2000m to 10,000m and tragically died in a car accident in 1975 as he was preparing for the Montreal Games. The film was produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner.

Mariel Hemingway and Patrice Donnelly in “Personal Best” (1982)

Personal Best (1982)

Before Without Limits, Towne had already directed another track-based drama, this one starring (twice Globe-nominated) Mariel Hemingway and real-life athlete Patrice Donnelly. The two play athletes who compete – and become romantically involved – as they train for the ill-fated 1980 Moscow games. Their dreams of Olympic gold are thwarted when the US boycotts the games.

Channing Tatum and Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher” (2014)

Foxcatcher (2014)

The true-crime drama directed by Bennett Miller and starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo earned three Globe Nominations: Best Drama, Best Actor for Carell and Best Supporting Actor for Ruffalo. A taut psychological study of the unhealthy and manipulative relationship that develops between Olympic gold medal-winning wrestlers and brothers Mark and Dave Schultz and eccentric multimillionaire John du Pont who recruits both to his Foxcatcher wrestling team to train for the 1988 Seoul Games. But du Pont’s self-destructive behavior will have dire consequences for all.

Daniel Craig and Eric Bana in “Munich” (2005)

Munich (2005)

The terrorist attack that cost the lives of eleven Israeli athletes – and of five Palestinian terrorists, during a botched rescue attempt – is the backdrop for this drama mainly detailing Mossad’s efforts to exact justice/revenge after what endures as the darkest stain on Olympic history. Masterful filmmaking that garnered Globe nominations for director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner.

Alex Collins, Paul Walter Hauser and Alan Hecker in “Richard Jewell” (2019)

Richard Jewell (2019)

Violence once again intrudes upon the celebration of world unity and peaceful competition that are the Olympic Games in Clint Eastwood’s telling of the Atlanta Games bombing. The 1996 dissection of a media frenzy focuses on the false accusations that swirled around Richard Jewell, the security guard that, at the time, had, in fact, saved many lives by finding the explosive device. Produced by Leonardo di Caprio and Jonah Hill, the film garnered a Best Supporting Actress Nomination for Kathy Bates, as Jewell’s fiercely protective mother.

Melissa Rauch in “The Bronze” (2015)

The Bronze (2015)

This deliciously quirky sports comedy produced by the Duplass brothers and directed by Bryan Buckley revels in satirizing America’s possibly most underachieving small-town has-been gymnastics champion as she coasts on her fading third-place fame. Things take a decidedly indie-flavored and zany turn as soured ex-athlete Melissa Rauch (also the co-screenwriter) is called to coach a young prospect (Ellery Sprayberry) with rather dubious motives. Hilarious and ultimately good-natured (not to mention featuring a groundbreaking sex-gymnastics scene).

Jon Heder in “Blades of Glory” (2007)

Blades of Glory (2007)

The heightened drama that seems attendant to figure skating more than most sports gets the Will Ferrell (and Jo Heder and Will Arnett and Amy Poehler and Jenna Fischer and Rob Corddry…) treatment in this predictably over-the-top and side-splitting tale of prima donnas and sequins on ice. Will Speck and Josh Gordon direct. You will never look at leotards the same way.

Bryan Fogel in “Icarus” (2017)

Icarus (2017)

Bryan Fogel’s exceptional documentary bowed at Sundance and is an unflinching investigation into the brazen performance enhancement conspiracy that would eventually take down the Russian Olympic program. A revelatory look into the darker side of top tier sports, and required viewing for all those wondering why Russian athletes in Tokyo are competing under the heading of “ROC”.