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The 2020 Summer Olympics are coming soon! My favorite way to get into the Olympic spirit is to watch some of the great stories captured on film.
These are, in my humble opinion, the 27 best Olympics movies ever made.
Even when the Olympics are over, that doesn’t mean you have to stop watching the great Olympic stories or dreaming Olympic-sized dreams.
There are plenty of excellent Olympics movies about the amazing triumphs of gutsy, inspiring athletes from throughout the ages of the modern pinnacle of sports competitions. These films make wonderful gifts for people who just can’t get enough of the Olympics.
Each of the Olympics movies below includes the year released, IMDb user rating (# of stars out of 10) and MPAA rating.
The 27 Best Olympics Movies
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1. Foxcatcher (2014)
7.0 – R
U.S. wrestling champions (and brothers) Mark and Dave Schultz join “Team Foxcatcher,” a training team led by the eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont, as they prepare for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.
However, du Pont’s increasingly self-destructive behavior threatens to consume them all. Based on a true story.
2. Eddie the Eagle (2016)
7.4 – PG-13
Eddie Edwards was born to be an Olympian. The trouble is, he doesn’t know what sport, and he’s not particularly good at any of them.
A humorous and inspiring telling of the classic – and true – underdog story. This is one of the definitive inspirational Olympics movies that is simply and purely about the Olympics.
3. Chariots of Fire (1981)
7.2 – PG
Two incredibly talented athletes on British track team, one a determined Jew, and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics. But the competition goes much further than a few simple races; it is matter of conscience, dignitiy, and human triumph. Winner of the 1982 Best Picture Academy Award.
4. Munich (2005)
7.6 – R
Granted, this Spielberg film isn’t about the 1972 Olympic Games so much as the story that follows the Munich tragedy. Still, it is a powerful, thought-provoking movie and the incident is as much a part of Olympic history as any of the athletic accomplishments celebrated by the other films on this list. Based on a true story.
5. One Day In September (1999)
7.9 – R
Here is a stellar documentary covering the same 1972 events as Munich, but focusing much more on the incident itself.
6. Miracle (2004)
7.4 – PG
The true story of the “Miracle on Ice” – the underdog US Men’s Hockey team and their upset of the heavily favored Russian team.
7. Cool Runnings (1993)
6.9 – PG
A hilarious family comedy take on the surprise competitors in the 1988 Winter Olympics: the Jamaican bobsled team. Loosely based on the true story.
8. Unbroken (2014)
7.2 – PG-13
Louis Zamperini’s true-life story has it all. The famous 1936 Olympics, WWII action, a plane crash in the ocean and an incredible story of survival, life in a Japanese prison camp, and the fight for freedom.
9. Icarus (2017, documentary)
8.0 – TV-14
When Bryan Fogel sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, a chance meeting with a Russian scientist transforms his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller involving dirty urine, unexplained death and Olympic Gold-exposing the biggest scandal in sports history.
10. Peaceful Warrior (2006)
7.3 – PG-13
Dan Millman has it all: good grades, a shot at the Olympic team on the rings, a string of gorgeous girls and the envy of his teammates. Only one man shakes his confidence: an anonymous night gas station attendant, who, like Socrates, keeps questioning every assumption in his life. Then a traffic crash shatters Dan’s legs and his bright future.
11. Tokyo Olympiad (1965, Documentary)
8.0 – Unrated
Director Kon Ichikawa examines the beauty and drama on full display at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The film, which documents athletes and spectators in and out of the arena, develops a record of observations that range from the expansive to the intimate.
12. Without Limits (1998)
7.2 – PG-13
Lost in the shadow of the “other” Steve Prefontaine movie, which debuted the previous year, Without Limits manages to tell an inspiring and tragic story very well without resorting to cliches. Based on a true story.
13. Race (2016)
7.1 – PG-13
Powerful biopic about Jesse Owens. The film covers much of Owens’ life, including issues of racism in the USA, but the focus is mainly on the famous 1936 Berlin Olympic games and the sprinter’s incredible triumphs.
14. The Other Dream Team (2012, documentary)
8.4 – Unrated
The incredible story of the 1992 Lithuanian basketball team, whose athletes struggled under Soviet rule, became symbols of Lithuania’s independence movement, and – with help from the Grateful Dead – triumphed at the Barcelona Olympics.
15. Molly’s Game (2017)
7.6 – R
The unbelievable true story of Molly Bloom, a professional skier who also happened to run one of the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker games. Sure, we only get Bloom’s attempt to make the US team at the Olympic Trials, but that is still a part of the Olympics and this is still a vastly entertaining movie.
16. I, Tonya (2017)
7.6 – R
Biopic of controversial figure skating star Tonya Harding, blending the documentary/mockumentary style interviews of the real people along with actors dramatizing the story. An Olympian in 1992 and 1994, Harding’s name to this day still inspires strong emotions and heavy debate. Early reviews are divided, but this will undoubtedly live on as one of the best Olympics movies available.
17. Nadia (1984)
7.3 – PG
Biopic of gymnast Nadia Comaneci, from her childhood beginnings and how she was discovered by Belya Karolyi on up through her training and the famous performance resulting in the seven perfect 10’s at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
18. I Am Bolt (2016, Documentary)
7.1 – PG
The story and legacy of the fastest man in history, and three-time winner of the Olympic Gold Medal for the 100 meter dash, Usain Bolt.
19. Swimming Upstream (2003)
7.2 – PG-13
The inspirational life story of Australian swimmer Tony Fingleton, who overcame a difficult childhood in a dysfunctional family to become a world-class swimmer and Harvard graduate. When the 1964 Olympic Games approached, he needed to make a choice between two career paths and possibly two destinies.
20. Bigger, Stronger, Faster* (2008, documentary)
7.6 – PG-13
An inside look at America’s win-at-all-cost culture from the perspective of bodybuilding and performance enhancing drugs.
21. The Cutting Edge (1992)
6.9 – PG
Romantic comedy about two people with nothing in common but their dream of reaching the Olympics. Kate and Doug slowly realize that they are each other’s last resort to achieve their dreams. Reluctantly, they join forces, but it’s not long before the barbs – and sparks – start flying.
22. Prefontaine (1997)
6.8 – PG-13
Based on the life of Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine, this film was considered at flop upon release but actually holds up as a solid, entertaining sports movie.
23. Going for Gold (2012, a.k.a. Bert & Dickie)
6.7 – PG
Thrown together just five weeks before the final of the 1948 London Olympics, Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell row together in the the double sculls. Based on the true story.
24. Bannister: Everest on the Track (2016, documentary)
7.3 – Unrated
The 6th of May, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first man to better four-minutes for the mile. Since that day, more people have summitted Mount Everest than have matched Bannister’s feat. But before Bannister could make history, he first had to survive World War II.
25. Full Out (2015)
6.5 – Unrated
Based on the true life story of California gymnast Ariana Berlin. As she zoned in on her Olympic goals, 14 year old Ariana Berlin’s life took a sharp turn when she was involved in a debilitating car accident.
26. International Velvet (1978)
5.8 – PG
An underrated sequel to the 1944 classic National Velvet, this version stars Tatum O’Neal as Velvet’s orphaned niece, Sarah, as she follows her dream of Olympic glory with her horse Arizona Pie. Heartwarming and sincere, a lovely Olympics movie for the whole family.
27. A Sunday Horse (2016)
6.2 – PG
Available in the UK.
Inspiring true story of of young woman whose goal is to become an Olympic champion in show jumping. A heartwarming family film about overcoming great obstacles.
For more family-friendly films of all types, check out our Massive List of Family-Friendly Movies That Grownups Love Too