Notes: Best and Worst Soccer Movies of 2018

2018 was a World Cup year, with Russia hosting possibly the most entertaining World Cup ever broadcast. Many producers and creators plan football film releases during a WC year, when interest in soccer is intense. Thus I was pleasantly surprised at the number of films that were shown on cable and streaming sites, as well as in theatres.

All films reviewed in 2018

As a result, I reviewed 41 films in 2018, which is an increase from 35 films in 2017 and 20 movies in 2016. Twenty of the 41 films I watched in 2018 were documentaries, which means that substanially more feature films were made available around WC 2018. As an aside, the increased distribution allowed me to reach a milestone of 250 movie reviews.

The quality was pretty good this year. I assessed almost one-third of the films with a high Rating of 8 or 9 on a scale of 10. Only 6 films, or 15%, received a Rating of 3 to 5. Following is a quick summary of the top- and bottom-rated films.

2018 Best Soccer Films:

Oscar statue

My four best films this year, all rated at 9, are across the board in genre: 2 comedies, 1 drama, and 1 teenage film.

Flitzer (2017) is a very clever Swiss film, where a coach tries to replace the school funds he’s lost by taking bets on when streakers will disrupt a football game.

Holy Goalie (2017) is a Spanish underdog comedy where a monk leads his novitiates to try to save their monastery by winning the Pope’s tournament in the Vatican City.

A fascinating documentary, Dirty Games (2016) shows various ways the Turkish league, the NBA, and boxing promoters fix games, and how FIFA allows Qatar to exploit the workers building their stadiums for WC 2022.

The really attractive aspect of Buscando a Marcos Ramírez (2017) is its sheer innocence. But all of the actors are extremely good looking as well. This was the first Costa Rican movie I have seen.

2018 Worst Soccer Film:

Lemons
Lemons – black

The movie I had the biggest issue with this past year was Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story. It was even more disappointing that the film came from the formerly admirable Fulwell 73. Too many of their recent films seem to lack ethics in reporting, and the Justin Fashanu film is an attempt to put lipstick on a pedophile and rapist.

Soccer Movies reviewed in 2018

This table lists all the football films reviewed this year. Within a numerical Rating, movies are sorted by release year and then by title.

TitleRYearGenreOrigin
Dirty Games92016docuGER
Buscando a Marcos Ramírez92017kids,dramaCRC
Flitzer92017comedySUI
Holy Goalie92017comedyESP
L'arbitro (The Referee)82013comedyITA
Istanbul United82014docuGER TUR
Barça Dreams82015docuESP
Becoming Zlatan82015docuSWE
Takim82015dramaTUR USA
Funny Soccer82016comedyCHI
Coach Jake82017docuUSA
Setenta y Sete82017docuESPN BRA
American Fútbol82018docuUSA
Early Man82018comedy, kidsGB
Futbolistas 4 Life82018docuUSA
After the Cup: Sons of Sakhnin United72009docuGB
Looking for… series72010docuFRA
The Anderson Monarchs72012docuUSA
The Hooligan Factory72014comedyGB
Beirut Parc72016docuGER LIB
Yesil Kirmizi (The Red Green)72016docuTUR
End of Summer72017dramaCHI
Mi Mundial72017kids,dramaURU
The Workers Cup72017docuGB Qatar
Mario72018dramaSUI
Shoot (The Arabian Warrior)72018dramaKSA USA
Centre Forward61978dramaPRK
I Scored a Goal in the FIFA World Cup Final62010docuUSA GK ESPN
Die Mannschaft62014docuGER
One Night in Istanbul62014comedyGB
Bobby (Bo66y)62016docuGB
The Pass62016dramaGB
En el Septimo Dia62017dramaUSA
Nossa Chapa62018docuBRA USA
Shui Hu The Soccer Heroes52006kidsCHI
Soka Afrika52011docuGB
United We Fall52014comedyGB
White Collar Hooligan 352014thrillerGB
Lethal Soccer Mom52018suspenseCAN
Penalty Kick52018comedyCOL MEX
Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story32017docuGB