Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Olympic bests

Get psyched for the Summer Games with these enduring five-ring classics

Posted on

Chariots of Fire (1981)

Long before the Olympics became a pit stop on the way to earning lucrative, Phelpsian endorsement deals, they were about God and national pride. Hugh Hudson’s rousing Best Picture winner tells one such tale, focusing on the 1924 British running team. The film’s slo-mo jogging sequence, set to the Muzak strains of Vangelis, still soars. A-

Personal Best (1982)

Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne’s directorial debut provides a rare glimpse at the inner lives of female athletes — and subtly explores the lesbian relationship between two Olympic track-and-field hopefuls (Mariel Hemingway and Patrice Donnelly). Personal Best nails the drive and heartache that fuel high-level competition perhaps better than any other sports film. A-

American Anthem (1986)

Back in the ’80s, gymnasts like Kurt Thomas and Mary Lou Retton were red-white-and-blue heroes. So why not movie stars, too? Real-deal tumbler Mitch Gaylord scores a perfect 10 in this gold-medal guilty pleasure, where he’s equally at home on the rings and in the arms of Janet Jones. B

Cool Runnings (1993)

If the words Jamaican bobsled team bring a smile to your face, wait till you get a load of John Candy as the squad’s slob coach, Irv. Based on an unlikely true story, this Disney confection isn’t deep, but it’s damn fun. B

Miracle (2004)

At the height of the Cold War, the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team warmed the hearts of American fans with its David-and-Goliath upset over the Russkies. Kurt Russell, despite a really bad wig, plays tough-as-nails coach Herb Brooks. Even though you know the outcome, you might catch yourself yelling, ”U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” B+