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The 10 best Olympics movies and where to watch them online

Chariots of Fire
(Image credit: Enigma Productions)

After a year’s delay, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are upon us, where the world’s best athletes will compete against each other in 33 different sports. But if the live drama on the field isn’t enough for you, there are plenty of Olympics movies about both real and fictional events that take place during the games. 

Here are ten of the best Olympics movies, spanning both the summer and winter games, a variety of sports, and a mix of genres, too. 

Race (2016)

Race

(Image credit: Focus )

Jesse Owens was one of the seminal athletes of the 20th Century, winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics, so it’s strange that it took 80 years to make a feature film about that accomplishment. Race doesn’t quite capture the gold in telling Owens’ story, but it does feature a winning performance from Stephan James as the track-and-field great. Jeremy Irons is predictably slithery as Olympic team official Avery Brundage, and Jason Sudekis gets some pre-Ted Lasso coaching experience as Owens’ college coach. The movie tries to capture the drama of Owens’ triumph against the backdrop of Nazi Germany aiming to use the Olympics for propaganda purposes, and while that’s not always successful, it’s still a compelling watch. — Philip Michaels

Rent: Amazon | Apple 

Richard Jewell (2019)

Richard Jewell

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Jewel, a security guard at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, prevented a disaster when he spotted three pipe bombs and helped evacuate people from the area before they exploded. However, the FBI leaked that he was a person of interest, sparking unjustified scrutiny by the public. This Clint Eastwood-directed drama looks at the fallout and the toll it took on Jewel until he was exonerated nearly 90 days later, when Eric Rudolph confessed to planting the explosives. Starring Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Olivia Wilde, and John Hamm. — Mike Prospero

Rent: Amazon | Apple  | Stream: Cinemax Go | DirecTV

I, Tonya (2017)

I, Tonya

(Image credit: Neon/30 West)

Tonya Harding is one of the most infamous figures in all of sports, due to her ex-husband’s attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan in 1994. I, Tonya tells Harding’s side of the story with sympathy, nuance and dark humor. The mockumentary-style format follows her from the age of four, when the young Harding is forced into ice skating by her abusive mother LaVona (Allison Janney). The adult Harding (a transformed Margot Robbie) is clearly talented, but she trades in one stormy relationship for another with eventual husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan). Everything about her life is a mess, except for skating, but even that becomes tainted by her poor decisions. What should’ve been her moment of glory — the 1994 Winter Olympics — becomes her ruin instead. — Kelly Woo

Stream: Fubo | Showtime | Kanopy | DirecTV 

Miracle (2004)

Miracle

(Image credit: Disney)

Do you believe in improbabilities? It’s hard to make a movie that captures the actual drama of the U.S. men’s hockey team defeating the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics, but this one comes close. Kurt Russell as the sartorially challenged and temperamental head coach Herb Brooks is just about the only recognizable name, but then again, the U.S. team were a bunch of unknown college hockey players. Smartly, the movie adds in the real play-by-play commentary from Al Michaels as the game clock winds down and the most cliched line in all of sports is said for the first time. — Mike Prospero

Stream: Disney Plus | Rent: Amazon | Apple

Chariots of Fire (1981)

Chariots of Fire

(Image credit: Enigma Productions)

Even if you’ve never seen Chariots of Fire, you can probably hum its signature score without any prompting. The movie’s soundtrack by Vangelis has been the background music for many a casual runner for the last four decades. But Chariots of Fire offers more than just a memorable title track, as its Best Picture Oscar indicates. The movie tells the real life story of two British runners — Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) — who are driven to compete in the 1924 Olympics for very different reasons. Chariots of Fire delivers a riveting story, some great performances and as we mentioned, its theme song is pretty hummable, too. — Philip Michaels

Stream: Tubi | Rent: Amazon | Apple

Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Eddie the Eagle

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Michael Edwards had no business being an Olympic athlete, but due to a quirk in the rules, was able to qualify as Great Britain's sole representative in the ski jumping competition in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Taron Edgerton stars as the eponymous Eddie alongside such heavyweights as Christopher Walken, Hugh Jackman, and Jim Broadbent. We’re not spoiling anything by saying that Edwards never comes close to the podium — in fact, he finished dead last — but this easygoing movie is both heartwarming and inspiring. — Mike Prospero

Stream: Disney Plus | Rent: Amazon | Apple

Cool Runnings (1993)

Cool Runnings

(Image credit: Disney)

Another unlikely Olympic competitor at the 1988 Winter Olympics was the Jamaican bobsled team. This lighthearted Disney comedy stars John Candy as disgraced former U.S. bobsled Olympian Irv Blitzer, who reluctantly becomes the team’s coach as they train in the tropical Caribbean before heading to snowy Canada for the games. It slides down the same tropes as many other underdog sports movies, but it’s a sweet and funny movie regardless. — Mike Prospero

Stream: Disney Plus| Rent: Amazon | Apple

The Cutting Edge (1992)

The Cutting Edge

(Image credit: MGM)

“Toe pick” may be the most unlikely romantic phrase ever, but it will produce a flutter in your heart after seeing The Cutting Edge. The comedy revolves around world-class pairs figure skater Kate (Moira Kelly), a spoiled prima donna who drives away all potential partners. In comes former hockey player Doug (D.B. Sweeney), who reluctantly agrees to skate with her for a chance at Olympic glory. As they train, they bicker and taunt one another — but also share explosive chemistry. Their feelings threaten to derail their partnership before the 1992 Albertville Olympics, but if they can trust each other to pull off a risky new maneuver, Kate and Doug can not only get that gold medal but something even better — true love. — Kelly Woo

Stream: Hoopla | Rent: Amazon | Apple

One Day in September (1999)

One Day in September

(Image credit: Redbus)

This documentary, narrated by Michael Douglas, recounts the 1972 Munich Olympics, where Palestinian terrorists took eleven Israeli athletes hostage, eventually killing all of them during a botched rescue attempt. In addition to interviews with German and Israeli figures who were present at the games, as well as Jamal Al-Gashey, the remaining surviving terrorist. While the film received the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2000, its ending, which shows photos of the dead Israelis and Palestinians set to Deep Purple’s “Child in Time,” has been criticized for being gratuitously graphic. As follow-up viewing, Steven Spielberg’s Munich (2005) is based on the story of the Israeli agents sent to kill the surviving terrorists.  — Mike Prospero

Stream: PlutoTV | Rent: Amazon

Personal Best (1982) 

Personal Best

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Mariel Hemingway stars as a track and field runner who develops a romantic relationship with a competitor (real-life Olympian Patrice Donnelly) as they try and make the U.S. team for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. The movie was received warmly by critics, but was a box office failure. The movie also features Scott Glenn as the coach, as well as numerous track and field athletes from the era, such as Frank Shorter, who won the gold medal for the marathon in the 1972 Olympics, and Evelyn Ashford, who has four gold medals and set the record for the 100-meter race. — Mike Prospero

Stream: The Criterion Channel | Rent: Amazon | Apple