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Six Oscar-worthy stories from London

Jan 10, 2013, 11:02 AM EDT

502295_ORIG Getty Images

The Oscar nominees are out, and, no surprise, Lincoln scored the most nominations with twelve. That’s because we’re suckers for biopics that show the struggle of the American spirit and ignore the “details” that might muddy the story. And so, here’s six Olympic biopics we’d like to see made from stories plucked from London 2012.

1. SOUTHERN BLADES: Oscar Pistorius, born with missing fibulas, his legs were amputated below the knees as a baby. In 2008 he appealed the Olympic Court of Arbitration for the right to compete with the standard Olympic games, a right that was granted him for the 2012 games where he went on to run in South Africa’s Men’s 4×400 team.

Lead: Jude Law

Oscar Chances: SUPER HIGH

Courtrooms, drama, human triumph, the world stage, and an Oscar for special effects. What’s not to love?

2. WATER WINGS: The true life and story of Michael Phelps: a young boy growing up in Baltimore who would go on to win eight golds in a single Olympics, and twenty-two total medals, to become the most decorated athlete in history.

Lead: John Krasinski (plus muscles)

Oscar Chances: MEDIUM

We have a great story here, especially with his early fourth place finish, keeping the audience guessing if he has one more in him (apparently he had six). But, as with all biopics, you have execute it top to bottom for success (see: Alexander [2004]).

3. MISSY THE MISSLE: The incredible true story of Missy Franklin – teenager, olympian, missile – and her world-capturing performance on the biggest stage imaginable, along with her quest, at 17, towards a gold medal and world record.

Lead: Amy Adams

Oscar Chances: LOW

It’s not a better story than Phelps, and, for some reason – call it appeal – swimming movies have never much translated to the silver screen. Just ask Terrence Howard if you don’t believe us.

4. BOLTING TO THE LINE: “I am now a living legend. Bask in my glory.” Jamaica’s Usain Bolt destroyed the exceptional field (all but one under 10s) of the 100 meters in 9.63 seconds. Also winning the 200 in 19.32, the first athlete to win both sprints in consecutive Olympics. And to top it off, he also ran the anchor leg to set a world record in the 4×100 relay for his third gold.

Lead: Michael B. Jordan

Oscar Chances: MEDIUM

It would all fall on Bolt’s shoulders. His life is as astounding as it is unlikeable. Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali have gone before; there may be little room left for another greatest and his sass ought be handled with great care.

5. FIERCE!: The Fab Five – the five American gymnasts (Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross) who won the all-around gymnastics gold, including the individual champion Gabby Douglas – lived up to their name, bringing home only the second gold ever for the women’s gymnastics team.

Lead: Willow Smith (as Gabby) – and at least one of the Fanning sisters

Oscar Chances: LOW

An ensemble piece would receive great audience appeal – teamwork, perseverance, underdogs – but certainly the Oscars are far above that. And remember Stick It? No? Because most of us would rather just watch real gymnastics.

6. BEST CHASE SCENARIO: the story of the burgeoning friendship between Mo Farah (UK) and Galen Rupp (USA) and the story of how they placed 1-2 at the 2012 Olympics in the 10,000m final for two countries that hadn’t medaled in 104, and 48 years, respectively.

Lead(s): Garrett Hedlund (as Rupp), David Gyasi (as Farah)

Oscar Chances: HIGH

Call me crazy, but everyone loved the running/religious tension in Chariots of Fire, and I can’t think of the last dear-friends-of-different-races-working-together movie that actually worked. It’s time. The Oscars are ready. We’re all ready.


Bryce is a filmmaker in Los Angeles, and does most of his writing for various Disney International publications. But he remains a Seattle sports fan beneath the magical facade.

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