In Birds of Paradise, you saw two motivated girls from an elite Parisian ballet academy compete against each other. Their goal? To win a contract at the prestigious Opéra national de Paris. When the stakes are so high, every aspect of their physical, mental and emotional strength is tested. Here are 11 more great movies like Birds of Paradise, where protagonists compete against rivals, their inner demons or just about anyone else standing in their way to glory!
A fan of recently released Dramas? Here are movies like Stillwater, starring Matt Damon.
11 Drama / Rivalry Movies like Birds of Paradise (2021)
1 Black Swan (2010)
IMDB 8.0 | 724K Ratings
Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder
There’s a good chance you might have already seen Black Swan if you are just coming off after watching Birds of Paradise (2021). But, if you haven’t seen it, it’s almost going to be like you picked up exactly where you left off. In fact, Black Swan is a few leagues out of Birds of Paradise. Much better is what we mean. A dark drama that explores the rivalry between two exceptional ballet dancers. Nina (Natalie Portman) is perfect for a role as a white swan. But, as the competition intensifies with her rival Lily (Mila Kunis) who is set to play the black swan, Nina’s dark side slowly emerges to the surface.
A fantastic movie that manages to capture rivalry and mystery to delicately blend it into a brilliant thriller that will have you captivated from start to finish. And, like we said earlier, it’s ballet all the way, just like you saw in Birds of Paradise!
2 Whiplash (2014)
IMDB 8.5 | 764K Ratings
Stars: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist
Whiplash is about a talented and ambitious young drummer Andrew (Miles Teller). Andrew has his sights set on becoming the best jazz drummer at a elite music academy. Here, Andrew isn’t competing against a rival. Instead, he is constantly tested to the limits by his ruthless teacher who will stop at nothing in his quest for perfection from his students. J.K Simmons is brilliant as Terence Fletcher, the brilliant but demented teacher.
Will Terence’s cruel obsession for perfection break Andrew. Or, will Andrew’s infinite passion find him a way past his ruthless teacher. A movie with a jaw dropping climax. Won 3 Oscars!
3 The Prestige (2006)
Stars: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine
An intense rivalry between two 19th century magicians. It initially starts as a battle of supremacy. But, as the competition escalates, it becomes personal. Each man doesn’t just want to win, but destroy the other magician in his path.
A movie made in a period drama style. Old fashioned but thoroughly engaging, from start to finish. Christian Bale delivers an epic performance and so does Hugh Jackman. The supporting cast is exceptional as well.
4 Rocky (1976)
IMDB 8.1 | 540K Ratings
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers
The movie that started it all – the incredibly inspiring Rocky franchise. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is an unknown boxer slugging it out in a small gym. Very unexpectedly, he gets a shot at fame when he is given an opportunity to fight Apollo Creed, the undisputed heavyweight champion. It’s a nobody against the champion. But, Rocky has absolutely nothing to lose. An incredible movie that will have you inspired from start to finish. And, if you like Rocky, there’s a long list of sequels to watch, each one brilliant in its own right! Won 3 Oscars.
5 Fight Club (1999)
IMDB 8.8 | 1.9 Million Ratings
Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier
Edward Norton’s character is depressed and ready to give up on life. But, when he meets a man named Tyler (Brad Pitt), he finds a new zeal for life. He moves in with Tyler and they together start an underground fight club where men who are tired of their boring lives and feel down on their luck can come fight and stand a chance at redemption.
The movie becomes a rivalry when the two men both begin to seek the attention of Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), a member of their Fight Club support group. A cult movie among men and many women as well. #11 on IMDB’s Top Rated Movies! Besides rivalry with another fighter, it’s also a rivalry within one’s own mind. You will figure that out when you watch the movie!
6 Million Dollar Baby (2004)
IMDB 8.1 | 658K Ratings
Stars: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel
Million Dollar Baby is a movie about a working class woman’s struggle to make it big in boxing. Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) wants to box but she doesn’t know how. She wants to train under Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood), a veteran trainer. But, Frankie hates almost everyone except his old friend and now gym assistant Eddie (Morgan Freeman). But, eventually, Frankie relents and takes Maggie under his wing.
What follows is a heartfelt movie of triumph and camaraderie. Directed by Clint Eastwood and you know what that means – great moviemaking! Hilary Swank is simply brilliant as Maggie. But, it is definitely a sad movie. If you can’t handle tragedy, skip this one. But, you will be missing out on an absolute gem. Won no less than 4 Oscars.
7 Step Up (2006)
Stars: Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, Damaine Radcliff
Another movie with both the rivalry and ballet theme. Tyler (Channing Tatum) has to serve community service as a janitor at a ballet class. There, he catches the eye of Nora (Jenna Dewan), a brilliant ballet dancer. They fall for each other and hit it off on the dance floor as well. It’s about them, their love for each other, their dance routines and their competition against rival teams.
If a dance movie is what you are after, Step up won’t disappoint. And, if you like this movie, there’s no less than six sequels to watch after!
8 Seabiscuit (2003)
IMDB 7.3 | 70K Ratings
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Cooper
A brilliant movie about underdogs. Almost everyone in this movie is an underdog. Businessman Jeff Bridges has just lost his son. He hires a jockey (Tobey Maguire) who has a history of suffering from near career-ending injuries. Chris Cooper is the down and out horse trainer. Even the horse, Seabiscuit, is temperamental, undersized and the last horse you would pick to win at a track. But, despite all these odds, triumph could be in sight! A movie about the power of spirit, where you rival is life and everything it throws at you.
9 Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
IMDB 6.6 | 175K Ratings
Stars: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole
Ok, this movie is an off-beat suggestion. It’s a whacky slapstick comedy that shouldn’t be taken seriously. If that’s not what you are looking for, move on to Creed below. But, if you could use some levity in a movie about rivalry, this is an entertaining watch.
Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is the best NASCAR driver out there. Ricky has it all. The adulation of the crowd, a trophy wife and a loyal team racer who gladly hides in Ricky’s spotlight. But, Ricky’s life is turned upside down at the arrival of snooty French Formula One champion Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen). With everything Ricky loves almost about to be taken away from him, he must find a way to reign supreme again. A movie with some hilarious scenes. But, slapstick comedy. Remember that.
10 Creed (2015)
IMDB 7.6 | 258K Ratings
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thomspon
Would you believe it if we told you that Creed is yet another franchise movie that came off Rocky (1976) that we suggested earlier? Here, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) trains Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), son of Apollo Creed who Rocky beat to find his way to stardom.
It’s incredible how such an old franchise manages to stay incredibly fresh. This movie actually led to Creed II in 2018, another great success. A movie about boxing rivalries where both the boxer and trainer are equally invested in their pursuit of glory.
11 Rush (2013)
IMDB 8.1 | 453K Ratings
Stars: Daniel Bruhl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde
Formula 1 rivalry at its best. The time is the mid-1970’s. The track belongs to playboy English driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), a surgical driver. While their approaches to life are very different, they settle for nothing less than perfection on the race track.
The movie beautifully portrays the lives of these two contrasting personalities. A secondary plot explores the lives of the women in their lives, letting you see the rivalry from a completely different perspective. Directed by Ron Howard and it is shows. The moviemaking is brilliant. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl deliver phenomenal performances.
Have your own suggestions for films like Birds of Paradise 2021? Let everyone know with a comment below! We would love to publish your comments.