Poster for "The Boys in the Boat" movie.

The Oscars and the Olympics

Release Date: March 8, 2024

Category: Blog | Film | Movies

The Academy Awards were handed out on Sunday night, so that’s a perfect time for our latest Movie Club meeting! This time Film Buff Fran brings us The Boys in the Boat, based on the book by Daniel James Brown. What did we think of this adaptation? Take a listen!

Sports Go to the Movies

Movies about sports are incredibly popular–think Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own, Caddyshack, National Velvet, Moneyball, and more. Of course, the Olympics and Paralympics provide a lot of inspiration, and many Games-related stories have made their way to movie theaters. We’ve been watching Olympic-related titles for several years in Movie Club, so check out some of our favorites there!

According to Olympedia, over 260 Olympians have graced the silver screen. Five of them played the same character–Tarzan–though none more famously than Johnny Weissmuller, swimming and water polo star of Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928.

Many other Olympians have been in James Bond movies, including Bernhard Russi, 2x medalist in alpine skiing in the 1970s, who skiied down a bobsled run in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

The Oscars and the Olympics

Many wouldn’t think the Oscars and the Olympics have much in common. Only one movie about the Olympics has won the Best Picture Award, Chariots of Fire (which we featured on our first movie club chat). Only one Olympian won both a gold medal and an Oscar; and only one Oscar-winner is a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Kobe Bryant – Filmmaker

Basketball player Kobe Bryant first appeared in the Olympics in 2008 as part of Team USA’s “Redeem Team,” which went to Beijing to make up for the team not making it to the finals at Athens 2004. Bryant returned in 2012, and led the team to another gold medal.

In December 2015, Kobe retired from a 20-year professional basketball career, played entirely with the L.A. Lakers. To announce the end of his career, he published an open letter, “Dear Basketball.”  In 2017, director Glen Keane worked with Bryant to turn that poem into an animated short film. They won the Oscar in the Best Animated Short category in 2018, just two years before Bryant passed away in a helicopter accident.

Michelle Yeoh – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Olympian

Michelle Yeoh has been a Hollywood star for nearly three decades, starring in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (speaking of James Bond movies with Olympic connections) and the martial arts classic Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2023 for Everything Everywhere All at Once, the first Asian to win in the category.

Before all that, Yeoh was a junior squash player in Malaysia. In October 2017, Yeoh was elected to the International Olympic Committee. She is the only Malaysian on the IOC.

The Boys in the Boat – Robbed?

A New York Times bestseller, The Boys in the Boat was prime material for an adaptation, and George Clooney directed this adaptation, which is about the U.S. men’s rowing team that against all odds, won gold at the Berlin 1936 Olympics. The movie came out at Christmastime, prime time for releases that are out to win big on the awards circuit. However, not only didn’t it win anything, it wasn’t even nominated at this year’s Academy Awards. Was it robbed? Let us know what you think after you listen to the podcast!

–Alison Brown, with contributions from Jill Jaracz

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