Cinema | Top-5 films do not feature soccer on the Sly

Football fan, author, podcaster and illustrator Karl Pilkington (see 24 Sept 06) with his take on Sylvester Stallone‘s January visit to Goodison Park. “This could be great for everybody,” Stallone said of football. (

We recently supplied the Atlanta Journal-Constitution with a list of our five favorite soccer movies (“Gimme 5: Films for the Soccer Fan,” Aug 20). We limited ourselves to feature films available via DVD and to those we had actually seen, resisting the urge to include Le Ballon d’Or (The Golden Ball; France/Guinea, 1994) based on reputation alone.

Presently we have a list of more than 100 football-related films at the Internet Movie Database, although the master compilation surely exists within Carlos Marañón‘s Fútbol y cine: El balompié en la gran pantalla (Football and Film: The Soccer Ball on the Big Screen) (see 25 Jun 06). Marañón catalogs nearly 500 movies produced through 2005 (he says he has added 80 in the time since). Admittedly, some bear only tangential relationship to the sport; he includes short films and documentaries as well.

In Marañón’s top five, he lists (1) Victory (USA, 1981) (Escape to Victory in the UK), (2) Campeones (Spain, 1997), (3) Kes (UK, 1969), (4) The Stars Look Down (UK, 1940), and (5) Historias de la radio (Spain, 1955). In correspondence, Marañón acknowledges the technical defects of Victory, which Marañón calls one of director John Huston‘s worst films, but says it earns the top spot based on its “legendary” status.

The placard for Siu lam juk kau (Shaolin Soccer; Hong Kong, 2001), readily Photoshopped for maximum embarrassment.

We emphasized more recent productions, with the accent on artistic merit. Also, to make the top five, we felt that football’s place in the film had to be more than incidental. The list:

1. Offside (Iran, 2006), dir. Jafar Panahi. See Mar 28.

2. Phörpa (The Cup; Bhutan, 1999), dir. Khyentse Norbu. See 29 Jan 05.

3. Historias de fútbol (Football Stories; Chile, 1997), dir. Andrés Wood.

4. Zidane, un portrait du 21e siècle (Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait; France, 2006), dir. Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno. See Feb 25.

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