As you may or may not know -- you really should if you don't -- today marks the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. The best athletes in the world (for winter sports, at least) will converge on the city to compete for Gold, Silver and Bronze honors to determine who the best in the world is. For the next four years at least, until the next Winter Olympics. Personally, I expect the Canadian team to dominate in curling.
Movie buffs know that Hollywood has a long, rich history of Olympics-pegged movies. From Cinderella story tales of underdog hockey teams to far-fetched (but true!) stories of the first Jamaican bobsled team, there is no shortage of based-on-truth features built around this holiest of sporting events. So in honor of the 2010 Winter Olympics, we've decided to bestow medals upon the best, the worst and whatever falls in between. Hit the jump to see what the judges decided.
Three words: Jamaican bobsled team. Two more words: John Candy. Put those together and you've got "Cool Runnings," what is perhaps one of the single-greatest Olympics-pegged movies ever made. It's got comedy, it's got heart, it's got conflict... and it's got those mean, nasty Swiss! "Eis, Zwoi, Drü" indeed!
Honors: Gold Medal
"Miracle" is all about hockey, which is an immediate notch in its favor. It also stars Kurt Russell, who it's hard not to love. It is one of those shmaltzy, overly serious feelgood sports movies, but it's a well-made one. Maybe not a landmark effort, but definitely deserving of some love. Remember... there's hockey, people. HOCKEY!
Honors: Silver Medal
"The Cutting Edge"
This is what happens when you mix romance with global sporting events. In "The Cutting Edge," we follow two Olympians who have had their dreams shattered. Hockey player Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney) is injured to the point that he cannot play the rough sport anymore. Figure skater Kate Moseley (Moira Kelly) is such a b--ch that no one wants to pair with her. Together, they make a caustic duo. But they find love and everything works out in the end.
Honors: Bronze Medal
"Chariots of Fire"
"Chariots of Fire" is an odd couple story, but played serious and set against the backdrop of the 1924 Summer Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) is a devout Catholic and star runner who dedicates his athleticism to the Lord. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) is a young Jewish man who runs to prove himself to a doubting community. Their story is the stuff of legend... and legendary music. The "Chariots of Fire" theme alone secures this movie's place as one of our all-time favorites.
Honors: Gold Medal
"Blades of Glory"
Like "Chariots," "Blades of Glory" is the story of two formerly competitive Olympians who end up friends. Unlike "Chariots," "Blades" is an execrable viewing experience. The 2007 release came along just as stars Will Ferrell and Jon Heder were at their most overexposed. There's nothing at all redeeming to be found here, and so the movie doesn't even place.
"Men With Brooms"
I worked hard to find this, friends. It simply would not be an Olympic movies list without curling getting some love. For those who don't know the obscure sport, curling involves shoving a block of granite down an ice-covered track. People at the other end man brooms, shaving ice to slow the block down so that it stops as close to the center of a target area as possible. This movie is about that, and Leslie Nielsen is in it. I've never seen it, but it doesn't matter. It gets a medal just for trying.
Honors: Bronze Medal
The plot in "Munich" has very little to do with the Olympics, beyond the story being kicked off by the tragic events of the 1972 Munich Olympics. A group of 11 Israeli athletes were kidnapped and subsequently killed by a Palestinian terror group. The story unfolds from there, focusing on an Israel-sanctioned assassination plot to take out those responsible for the horrific act. It's not a bad movie, but it's not so much about the sports. For that reason, it's out of the running.
"The Ringer" had noble intentions, but it stumbled crossing the starting line. Johnny Knoxville stars as one of two guys saddled with a debt that needs to be paid. An idea is hatched to rig the Special Olympics by having Knoxville's character Steve pose as a mentally-challenged individual so that he can participate in the event. Needless to say, lessons are learned, apologies are made and everyone's happy in the end. "The Ringer" gets points for trying, but not enough to score a much-coveted medal.