Winter Olympics 2018: From Cool Runnings to Eddie the Eagle, movies that showcase the glory of snow and ice sports

The last whistle, that one last jump, the perfect twirl, the miraculous landing, stunned silences, beating heartbeats, lopsided smiles and the crowd going into raptures.

There are very few things more exhilarating than watching the dying minutes of a sports-based movie.

An opportunity to relive a memory, a chance to recreate the visuals from one's head and just to feel the adrenaline pumping even when the outcome is known makes this genre of cinema the most-loved and equally most scrutinised.

With the Winter Olympics starting on 9 February, here's a list of movies that best epitomises and represents the feats performed by athletes of sports played on snow and ice.

Image Courtesy: YouTube Screengrab

Image Courtesy: YouTube Screengrab

Cool Runnings

No list of Olympics-based movies can ever be complete without the mention of the 1993 Jon Turteltaub-directed sports-comedy — Cool Runnings.

The movie is based on the debut performance of the Jamaican national bobsleigh team in the Winter Olympics of 1988 in Calgary.

A funny retelling of the turn of events that saw Jamaica, a tropical nation being represented in the field of winter sports.

'Cool Runnings', a quintessential underdog story ticks all the boxes of a sports-movie requirement in its very inimitable style.

A team that comes out of nowhere.

A team that is not taken seriously by other competitors

A team that loses the initial round to make them feel more out-of-place

A team that wins the hearts of fans, countrymen, commentators and other players (in that same order) in the following rounds

A team that walks into a temporary sunset with fists pumped in the air and claps resounding the arena.

'Cool Runnings' does all this and more and rightly settles in the annals of history as one of the most-loved sports movies made in English.

Miracle

One thing that Hollywood loves equally if not more than sports is war-related movies. Combining the best of both worlds to deliver box-office success, Gavin O'Connor directed 'Miracle', a movie based on the United States' men's hockey team that won the gold in the 1980 Winter Olympics in New York that was held during the Cold War.

Kurt Russell stars as legendary ice hockey coach Herb Brooks who inspired the men's hockey team to put the nation's gains before their personal ones and beat the heavily favoured Soviet Union en route to winning the gold medal in front of a raucous home crowd.

The Indian movie Chak De India that released in 2007 has certain scenes that are reminiscent of the 2004 release Miracle that is widely considered to be one of the greatest sports movie to showcase one of USA's sporting pinnacles.

'Miracle' takes its name from the medal-winning round match between the USA and the Soviet Union when the commentator asks in the microphone after the US team manage to win the match 4-3, "Do you believe in miracles? YES"

A movie that reminds us once again that sports is indeed the greatest leveller.

I, Tonya

Sports-based movies are not only made about the highs of the game but also frequently brushes upon its perceived ugliness.

One such movie that released in 2017 is the Craig Gillespie-directed biographical film of American figure skater Tonya Harding and fall from grace after the 1994 attack on her professional rival Nancy Kerrigan.

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding breathes life into the role of one of the most controversial Winter Olympians in American history whose career was dramatically cut short after her alleged involvement in the assault of Nancy came into light.

The movie has received both bouquets and brickbats. While it is praised for its honesty and borderline unbiased retelling, it has received criticism for being overtly funny despite the grave results it had in the lives of Harding and her close ones.

A movie that adds credence to an oft-repeated statement, "Truth is stranger than fiction"

Eddie, the Eagle

Yet another underdog movie that makes this list is about British skier, Michael Edwards, who made a splash in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

1988 seems to be the watershed year for underdogs and English movies based on winter sports.

'Eddie' Edwards became the first Britisher in 60 years to represent the country in Olympic ski jumping. Though he came last in both the events he participated in, Edwards becomes a darling of the crowds and is hailed as a national hero after his sojourn in the Calgary Games.

Edwards, played by an impressive Taron Egerton, is coached by Bronson Peary ( the ever-reliable Hugh Jackman) is a well-made movie about an athlete who inadvertently revolutionised the sport.

Fondly called Eddie the Eagle, Edwards' participation in the 1988 Olympics that came out of nowhere, made the International Olympic Committee revisit its rules and made an important amendment that made it impossible for such one-off athletes to make it to the grandest stage of them all.

The IOC's new rule stated that for an athlete to compete in the Olympics, they would have to be in the top 30 percent of international competitors or the top 50 competitors, whichever is fewer.

Despite not being a medal-winning Olympian, the Eagle can always be proud of the fact that he not only earned the love and adulation of sports fans from around the world, he also managed to rattle the establishment.

Blades of Glory

While every other movie in this list so far has been biographical in nature, this Josh Gordon-Will Speck directed film is a well-intentional parody that takes all the usual tropes of a sports movie and turns it on its head.

Will Ferrell and Jon Heder play men's singles skates whose rivalry peaks to a point where both of them are stripped off their gold medals and are banned from singles competition.

The usual cliches of true love for the sport, rivals turning friends for a common good, betrayal, love and success in the climax is encapsulated in the duo's attempts at getting back into the sport as a same-sex figure skating pair.

The movie is filled with one gag after the other that is made more hilarious by the stellar star cast that includes names like Will Arnett, Amy Poehler and Nick Swardson.

Blades of Glory also takes a subtle dig at yet another winter sport movie, The Cutting Edge, that deals with the conflict between the leads who participate in figure skating who resolve their conflicts with the successful implementation of a dangerous routine that taps their inner love for each other.

A movie that celebrates the comedic abilities of the lead actors more than the sport itself, but nevertheless, if not anything else, it is one fun-filled detour.

Other honourable mentions are documentaries like "Icarus", "Red Army" and "To Russia with Love".

While Icarus deals with the allegations of state-sponsored doping by Russia in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, 'To Russia with Love' is a commentary on Russia' anti-gay laws ahead of the 2014 Games.

Red Army is a feature on the famed ice hockey team of the Soviet Union that deals with how the sport had its parallels with the changing political and cultural movement in Russia.

The Pyeongchang Games of 2018 has already seen a considerable share of controversies and heart-warming stories. With three more days left for the start of the Games that will go on till 25 February, it is but certain that there will be a number of stories that in due time will be documented for posterity.

In the Oscar-winning Clint Eastwood-directed sports movie Million Dollar Baby, there is a quote that goes, "It's the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you."

Cinema has repeatedly ensured that this magic of risking everything for a dream is seen by the entire world and is not just restricted to the eyes of the ones seeing it.


Updated Date: Feb 06, 2018 21:08 PM

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