The Beautiful Game is an inspiring feat of athleticism, endurance, team work and mental strength. It is one that evokes passion, inspires youngins with their Christiano Ronaldo and Messi pin-ups, unites strangers and exposes raw emotion. Sweat, blood and tears (and a lot of face paint) come together for one purpose – to score that winning goal.
It is a deep and twisted love affair: one that encompasses victory, togetherness, passion, pain and heartache. Even if you don’t care much about the game, we’re sure you are watching the World Cup. So we’ve gone a step further... We’ve read the reviews, we’ve tallied the ratings, we’ve watched the good, the bad and the over-acted poor displays of the game - to bring you the very best films you need to watch right now because let’s face it – you can never get enough of ‘that feeling’.
1. GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS (2005):
Overall rating: 7.7/10
It’s an interesting display of the influence of football on people’s lives albeit in this context, violent. A Harvard undergrad is expelled, moves to London (we do love British accents) and joins the underworld of football hooliganism. Bonus! The lead is played by Elijah Wood (anyone remember ol’ Frodo Baggins?)
WATCH | Green Street Hooligans trailer:
2. THE DAMNED UNITED (2009):
Overall rating: 7.5/10
Brian Clough (played by Michael Sheen) takes over as manager to Leeds Football Club, a club which he openly criticized, from legend Don Revie. He throws out Leeds’ old method of violent tactics to win games and tries to restore integrity into his players. It’s an inspiring tale of challenging the system and rising to beat the best, by becoming the best. Oh and did we mention that Harry Potter’s Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall) is Clough’s right hand man?
WATCH | The Damned United trailer:
3. THE FOOTBALL FACTORY (2004):
Overall rating 7.3/10
Adapted from the John King novel, the film comprises sex, booze and football… the trifecta? It focuses on more football hooliganism and involves, you guessed it, the Brits. A 20-something year old male (Tommy), with not much ambition and a love for the bottle and Chelsea Football Club is involved in a football firm (gang) and violence ensues. Someone dies, Tommy has an epiphany and someone goes to jail. It’s really very dramatic, and brilliant.
WATCH | The Football Factory trailer:
4. OFFSIDE (2006):
Overall rating: 7.2/10
Who said soccer was only for the boys? This is a fantastic film that documents the struggles of being a woman in Iran. Women are banned from attending football games but a courageous group of Iranian women dress as a men and sneak their way into the Iran-Bahrain game. It explores gender politics with a female lead – need we say more? If you can get past the fact that the film isn’t in English, and read the subtitles – it’s truly moving, with an interesting twist at the end. PS: The director was inspired by his own daughter who did this very thing!
WATCH | The Offside trailer:
5. GOAL: THE DREAM BEGINS (2005):
Overall rating: 7/10
The story line is rather trite, however, everyone does love an underdog and this film portrays the cliché perfectly. Santiago Munez’s dream is to play football, however, he comes from a poor Mexican family who move to Los Angeles where they live as immigrants. The odds are stacked against him. Through ‘this and that’ he manages to secure a deal at Fulham football club in the UK. His grandmother is the real legend though, in our opinion.
WATCH | Goal: The Dream Begins trailer:
BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (2003)
Everyone needs to watch this movie, at least once! An iconoclast of female strength and ability, and of cultural differences and tolerance. It’s centered around overcoming the odds and shows that women can indeed, bend it like Beckham. Plus, David Beckham appears at the end, okay?
WATCH | Bend it like Beckham trailer:
ZIDANE: 21ST CENTURY PORTRAIT (2006)
I really don’t think we need to say more than simply; Zinedine Zidane is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. This documentary portrays that by focusing solely on the Spanish La Liga match played between Real Madrid and Villarreal in 2005. It’s beautiful, it’s brilliant.
WATCH | Zidane: 21st Century Portrait trailer: