US Olympic Athletes Share Their Favorite Movies

The stars of the US Olympic team spill on the movies that make them laugh, cry, and motivate them, from iconic comedies (Airplane!, Coming to American) to more violent delights (Kill Bill, Training Day).

by | July 23, 2021 | Comments

What movies motivate US soccer icons Julie Ertz and Megan Rapinoe? Which Tarantino flick does track and field star Vashti Cunningham watch almost every day? And who first saw Airplane! as a kid and still hasn’t found a movie that makes him laugh as hard? As they head to Tokyo, we caught up with members of the US Olympic Team to talk about their favorite movies: the films that make them laugh, blow their minds, and give them the drive to reach for that podium. Tune in above – or check out our guide below – to see their favorite movies, from Good Will Hunting and The Shawshank Redemption to Happy Gilmore and The Little Mermaid.

Good Will Hunting (1997)


Chosen by: Sue Bird, Basketball

Follow at: @sbird10

Critics Consensus: It follows a predictable narrative arc, but Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey — and is loaded with enough powerful performances — that it remains an entertaining, emotionally rich drama.

Coming to America (1988)


Chosen by: Allyson Felix, Track & Field

Follow at: @allysonfelix

Critics Consensus: Eddie Murphy was in full control at this point, starkly evident in Coming to America‘s John Landis’ coasting direction

There Will Be Blood (2007)


Chosen by: Kolohe Andino, Surfing

Follow at: @koloheandino22

Critics Consensus: Widely touted as a masterpiece, this sparse and sprawling epic about the underhanded “heroes” of capitalism boasts incredible performances by leads Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano, and is director Paul Thomas Anderson’s best work to date.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)


Chosen by: Vashti Cunningham, Track & Field

Follow at: @vashtizzle

Critics Consensus: Kill Bill is admittedly little more than a stylish revenge thriller – albeit one that benefits from a wildly inventive surfeit of style.

Airplane! (1980)


Chosen by: Chuck Aoki, Rugby

Follow at: @Aoki5Chuck

Critics Consensus: Though unabashedly juvenile and silly, Airplane! is nevertheless an uproarious spoof comedy full of quotable lines and slapstick gags that endure to this day.

Black Hawk Down (2001)


Chosen by: Christian Taylor, Track & Field

Follow at: @taylored2jump

Critics Consensus: Though it’s light on character development and cultural empathy, Black Hawk Down is a visceral, pulse-pounding portrait of war, elevated by Ridley Scott’s superb technical skill.

Remember the Titans (2000)


Chosen by: Julie Ertz, Soccer

Follow at: @julieertz

Critics Consensus: An inspirational crowd-pleaser with a healthy dose of social commentary, Remember the Titans may be predictable, but it’s also well-crafted and features terrific performances.

The Little Mermaid (1989)


Chosen by: Tamyra Mensah-Stock, Track & Field

Follow at: @mensahtamyrastock

Critics Consensus: The Little Mermaid ushered in a new golden era for Disney animation with warm and charming hand-drawn characters and catchy musical sequences.

Blood Diamond (2006)


Chosen by: Nyjah Huston, Skateboarding

Follow at: @nyjah

Critics Consensus: Blood Diamond overcomes poor storytelling with its biting commentary and fine performances.

Happy Gilmore (1996)


Chosen by: Trevor Crabb, Beach Volleyball

Follow at: @kingcrabb808

Critics Consensus: Those who enjoy Adam Sandler’s schtick will find plenty to love in this gleefully juvenile take on professional golf; those who don’t, however, will find it unfunny and forgettable.

Chosen by: Megan Rapinoe

Follow at: @mrapinoe

Critics Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is an uplifting, deeply satisfying prison drama with sensitive direction and fine performances.

Ben-Hur (1959)


Chosen by: Tom Scott, Karate

Follow at: @tomscott75

Critics Consensus: Uneven, but in terms of epic scope and grand spectacle, Ben-Hur still ranks among Hollywood’s finest examples of pure entertainment.

Training Day (2001)


Chosen by: Perry Baker, Rugby

Follow at: @pbake11

Critics Consensus: The ending may be less than satisfying, but Denzel Washington reminds us why he’s such a great actor in this taut and brutal police drama.

Notting Hill (1999)


Chosen by: Katie Ledecky, Swim

Follow at: @katieledecky

Critics Consensus: A rom-com with the right ingredients, Notting Hill proves there’s nothing like a love story well told — especially when Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts are your leads.

Chosen by: Scout Bassett, Track & Field

Follow at: @scoutbassett

Critics Consensus: To Kill a Mockingbird is a textbook example of a message movie done right — sober-minded and earnest, but never letting its social conscience get in the way of gripping drama.

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