The Rio Games are now in full swing, hurrah! But if you’re chosen team start to flag or you see one too many horrific accidents, you can always opt for some Olympic entertainment that’s a little more softened by the lens of Hollywood.
Here are four films about Olympians that will be sure to distract you from the real thing happening in Rio:
If you’ve grown a little sick and tired of all the Summer Games and are eagerly looking forward to Pyeongchang’s Winter Olympics; then here’s a film that should get you excited for some action on the slopes. Before you start it up, turn down the heating and invest in a bobble hat to really get into the spirit of things. Once you’ve got your hot chocolate/eggnog nice and hot, get ready for your heart to be equally warmed.
With two self-assured leading men and experienced British Actor/Director Dexter Fletcher at the helm, this is a movie that knows exactly what strings to tug and when. It’s bright colours and upbeat soundtrack gift it with an infectious lust for life that is hard to resist. Veteran nice guy Hugh Jackman is on good form here alongside Kingsman’s breakout star Taron Egerton. Just don’t forget that its summer outside, after getting thoroughly immersed in this Wintery wonder!
Bennett Miller’s third feature is almost as cold to the touch, with large swathes of the action taking place on multi-millionaire John du Pont’s frosty Philadelphia ranch. Infinitely less chipper and much more brooding, Foxcatcher takes its name from du Pont’s Wrestling team who buys the services of Olympic Wrestling Champions Dave and Mark Schultz. What starts out as a simple story of hopeful Olympians turns into a power struggle between the competing coaches.
Channing Tatum’s performance as wayward wrestling contender Mark is an unflinching look at the pressures of competitive sports. Although the film seems simple from the outset, the warring emotions and motives of the central three characters soon send the film flying into a complex conclusion that is as shocking as it is true. For a chilling look at the sometimes futile hunt for a gold medal, you could do a lot worse than Foxcatcher.
The story of Louis Zamperini’s gruelling 47 days surviving on a raft in the middle of the ocean should be enough story for one movie. However, his story was tragically, much more than that. Having qualified and competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he is enlisted to the war effort and his bomber is shot down in 1943. After being rescued by the enemy he is sent to a gruelling POW camp where he is embroiled in an antagonistic relationship with the leading officer there.
Angeline Jolie’s third feature film hits all the notes of the prestige-pic, perhaps a little bit too well. Alexandre Desplat, hot on the heels of writing great scores for The Grand Budapest Hotel and Harry Potter, delivers classy music whilst the mostly young cast of newcomers respond to the subject matter with ease. Although a little clichéd in places, Unbroken gets enough right to orchestrate some inspirational moments – more than enough to recommend it.
Another true story born out of the tumultuous Berlin Olympics, it’s a surprise that it hadn’t already been turned into a biopic. With a decent supporting cast featuring Jeremy Irons, William Hurt and a surprisingly restrained Jason Sudeikis; the inspirational tale of Jesse Owens’ battle against adversity failed to find an audience commercially. However, Race tends to succeed in more parts than it fails.
Newcomer Stephan James came in to replace a Star Wars-bound John Boyega for this biopic and does an admirable job of portraying the legendary athlete. Meanwhile, Stephen Hopkins ably directs the feature; he’s done well to distance himself from a couple of 90s stinkers and commands this diverse cast with real panache. When you get to the finish line, the pay-off feels just about worth it although Rachel Portman’s cloying soundtrack threatens to derail the whole show.