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The Tomatometer has ranked the top 51 soccer movies


Table of Contents

    (Photo by Paramount Classics/courtesy Everett Collection)

    To start playing soccer, all you need is a flat surface, a round ball, a leg or two, and boom, you’re halfway to becoming a regular Diego Beckham. With its low barrier to entry and sky-high skill ceiling, it’s no wonder soccer’s the most popular sport in the world (at least until pickleball takes over — just 2.5 billion more people to go). So when it comes to the best movies ever made about soccer, we’re looking at it top to bottom, from goal-scoring winners to movies that may have flopped before the critics but still managed to find a spot on audiences’ teams.

    We kick off our guide to the best soccer movies with Certified Fresh movies, including Offside (the comedy-drama from Iran, released when women were completely banned from attending sports), Bend It Like Beckham (the movie that made Keira Knightley a star), Shaolin Soccer (the outrageous action-fantasy from Stephen Chow), Diego Maradona (a documentary on one of the sport’s most legendary players), Early Man (stop-motion from Aardman Animations), and Looking for Eric (even freakin’ Ken Loach lightened up thanks to soccer). This premier selection of Certified Fresh movies reveals how truly international the sport is, as the only American soccer film in the top 10 is Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, a revealing documentary on the 1970-1985 soccer club that famously signed Pele.

    Beyond the top 10, we look at Fresh movies, including the Robert Duvall-starring A Shot at Glory, the World War II-set Victory, and Elisabeth Shue‘s autobiographical Gracie. Following that are Rotten-rated movies, including the ones that also rep positive Audience Scores like Green Street Hooligans, Mean Machine, and Goal! The Dream Begins. —Alex Vo

    #1

    Adjusted Score: 96809%

    Critics Consensus: A spirited film that explores gender politics with comedy, intelligence, and a variety of interesting characters.

    Synopsis: Since women are banned from soccer matches, Iranian females masquerade as males so they can slip into Tehran's stadium to... [More]


    #2

    Adjusted Score: 97119%

    Critics Consensus: Better than your average football pic, Damned United is carried by another star turn from Michael Sheen as Brian Clough.

    Synopsis: The story of Brian Clough's 44 day stint as manager of Leeds United Football Club takes place in 1974 England.... [More]


    #3

    Adjusted Score: 93661%

    Critics Consensus: Diego Maradona traces the arc of a standard sports documentary, but illuminates its subject with uncommon clarity and depth.


    #4

    Adjusted Score: 91882%

    Critics Consensus: The plot is utterly ridiculous, and the soccer in the movie is unlike any ever played anywhere on Earth, but watching Shaolin Soccer, you will probably find it impossible to care.

    Synopsis: All his life, an ordinary young man (Stephen Chow) has been treated like dirt. Still, he's never given up believing... [More]


    #5

    Adjusted Score: 90089%

    Critics Consensus: Inspiring, compassionate, and with a sly undercurrent of social commentary, Bend It Like Beckham is a lively feel-good movie that genuinely charms.

    Synopsis: Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra), the daughter of a strict Indian couple (Anupam Kher, Shaheen Khan) in London, is not permitted... [More]


    #6

    Adjusted Score: 87492%

    Critics Consensus: Ken Loach's latest is an uplifting, entertaining and amusing socio-drama featuring a match-winning performance from Eric Cantona.

    Synopsis: Ever since his wife (Stephanie Bishop) left him, Eric Bishop's (Steve Evets) life has fallen apart. His two teen sons... [More]


    #7

    Adjusted Score: 82675%

    Critics Consensus: You don't have to be a soccer fan to enjoy this stylish, breezy slice of 1970s sports history.

    Synopsis: This documentary looks back on a time when soccer briefly captured America's attention. The film profiles the North American Soccer... [More]


    #8

    Adjusted Score: 89321%

    Critics Consensus: Early Man isn't quite as evolved as Aardman's best work, but still retains the unique visuals and sweet humor that have made the studio a favorite among animation enthusiasts.

    Synopsis: A plucky cave man named Dug, his sidekick Hognob and the rest of their tribe face a grave threat to... [More]


    #9

    Adjusted Score: 100638%

    Critics Consensus: Finding beauty in sports beyond the mere satisfaction of winning, Next Goal Wins is a moving documentary filled with a lovable array of underdogs.

    Synopsis: Dutch coach Thomas Rongen attempts the nearly impossible task of turning the American Samoa soccer team from perennial losers into... [More]


    #10

    Adjusted Score: 90615%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Recovering from a life-threatening brain hemorrhage and acutely aware that his memory might desert him, the greatest football manager of... [More]


    #11

    Adjusted Score: 87445%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Two young football players are caught between the politics of the game and their growing feelings for each other.... [More]


    #12

    Adjusted Score: 24945%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Six friends become soccer stars by winning the Champions League.... [More]


    #13

    Adjusted Score: 90137%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Three months before the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, the players filed a class-action, gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S.... [More]


    #14

    Adjusted Score: 87749%

    Critics Consensus: The Keeper strays into easy sentimentality, but this fact-based drama's warm spirit makes its indulgences easy to forgive.

    Synopsis: A young English woman and a soccer-playing German POW overcome prejudice, public hostility and personal tragedy near the end of... [More]


    #15

    Adjusted Score: 85861%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Inspired by true events, the story follows two young Tibetan boys, Palden and Nylma, escaping Tibet and arriving at a... [More]


    #16

    Adjusted Score: 49162%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: An investigation reveals organized crime's involvement in sports in Colombia.... [More]

    Starring:


    #17

    Adjusted Score: 84654%

    Critics Consensus: Perhaps at penalty for being overtly conventional, Pelé rewards fútbol fans with incredible archival footage of a king on the field while peripherally examining his relationship with Brazil's politics.

    Synopsis: This documentary feature tells the story of iconic footballer Pelé, his quest for perfection and the mythical status he attained.... [More]


    #18

    Adjusted Score: 82275%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Inside Qatar's labor camps, African and Asian migrant workers building the facilities of the 2022 World Cup compete in a... [More]

    Starring:


    #19

    Adjusted Score: 75937%

    Critics Consensus: A gritty portrayal of modern day family life in Sao Paulo , with vividly drawn characters and an uncompromising resolution.

    Synopsis: Four brothers from a poor family fight for their dreams.... [More]


    #20

    Adjusted Score: 77020%

    Critics Consensus: Despite its fair share of sports movie cliches, Rudo y Cursi marks an auspicious directing debut for Carlos Cuarón, and features strong performances from García Bernal and Luna.

    Synopsis: Tato (Gael García Bernal) and Beto (Diego Luna) are poor stepbrothers living on a banana plantation in Mexico. Both are... [More]


    #21

    Adjusted Score: 22444%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Jimmy Grimble dreams of being a good footballer - if he was, life would be easy. He'd find a nice... [More]


    #22

    Adjusted Score: 70078%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: The head of a German POW camp, soccer enthusiast Karl von Steiner (Max von Sydow) organizes a match between Nazi... [More]


    #23

    Adjusted Score: 63540%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Desperate times call for desperate measures, so losing soccer coach Gordon McCloud (Robert Duvall) accepts the signing of Jackie McQuillan... [More]


    #24

    Adjusted Score: 50139%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Table soccer figurines come to life to battle a bully who wants to destroy them.... [More]


    #25

    Adjusted Score: 58942%

    Critics Consensus: Zidane, Un Portrait du 21E Siecle hits surprisingly few of the expected documentary beats, but the end result is still uniquely immersive.

    Synopsis: A soccer match between Real Madrid and Villareal from the perspective of player Zinédine Zidane.... [More]

    Starring:


    #26

    Adjusted Score: 65069%

    Critics Consensus: Gracie can be rousing and touching in spots, but is ultimately undone by its predictable story arc and a lack of nuance.

    Synopsis: Gracie Bowen (Carly Schroeder) is the only girl among her parents' four children. Her brothers and father (Dermot Mulroney) eat,... [More]


    #27

    Adjusted Score: 56232%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: A teacher (Colin Firth), obsessed with soccer and a team that hasn't won a league cup in 18 years, begins... [More]


    #28

    Adjusted Score: 31232%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: A shared love of soccer unites two siblings (Eliú Armas, Fernando Moreno), but their mother's violent death and one's need... [More]


    #29

    Adjusted Score: 35642%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: The lives of homeless people change forever when they travel to Cape Town to play in the Homeless World Cup.... [More]


    #30

    Adjusted Score: 16647%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Soccer student Cory Bailey arrives at a prestigious soccer academy and is determined to beat her rival's team in the... [More]


    #31

    Adjusted Score: 47704%

    Critics Consensus: When it comes to the subculture of soccer thugs, Green Street Hooligans lacks sufficient insight, and instead comes off as a Fight Club knock-off.

    Synopsis: American journalism student Matt Buckner (Elijah Wood) moves in with his sister and her family in London. There, he meets... [More]


    #32

    Adjusted Score: 26322%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Brazilian soccer great Heleno de Freitas (Rodrigo Santoro) becomes the idol of many, but his personal demons and tumultuous life... [More]


    #33

    Adjusted Score: 48169%

    Critics Consensus: Shakespeare's wit gets lost in translation with She's the Man's broad slapstick, predictable jokes, and unconvincing plotline.

    Synopsis: Viola Johnson (Amanda Bynes) is in a real jam. Complications threaten her scheme to pose as her twin brother, Sebastian,... [More]


    #34

    Adjusted Score: 45411%

    Critics Consensus: Impressive sports action sequences are the highlight, as the run-of the-mill story invokes every known sports movie cliche.

    Synopsis: Santiago Muñez, a Mexican cook in Los Angeles, gets a chance to follow his dream of playing professional soccer. A... [More]


    #35

    Adjusted Score: 49685%

    Critics Consensus: Next Goal Wins finds director/co-writer Taika Waititi with his heart in the right place, even if his crowd-pleasing aim has noticeably strayed from its target.

    Synopsis: Directed by Academy Award Winner Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok), NEXT GOAL WINS follows the American Samoa soccer team,... [More]


    #36

    Adjusted Score: 45907%

    Critics Consensus: The script is mediocre and fails to give Ferrell a proper comedic showcase.

    Synopsis: As a child, Phil Weston (Will Ferrell) was never able to live up to the demands of his overbearing father,... [More]


    #37

    Adjusted Score: 8222%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: England's Football Association scrambles to find a replacement for the national team's manager after Phil Cope (Malcolm Terris) dies of... [More]


    #38

    Adjusted Score: 31051%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: The soccer career of Santiago Muñez (Kuno Becker) continues as he gets a chance to move from the English club... [More]


    #39

    Adjusted Score: 11376%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: British soccer fans (Danny Dyer, Frank Harper, Tamer Hassan) celebrate their favorite sport in a wash of drugs, alcohol and... [More]


    #40

    Adjusted Score: 16474%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Icelandic soccer star Ottar Thor (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) admits in a national magazine that he is gay. His teammates boot... [More]


    #41

    Adjusted Score: 35302%

    Critics Consensus: Despite some genuine wit, this crowd pleaser is filled with too many cliches.

    Synopsis: In a rough-and-tumble British prison, where murderers, thieves and assorted madmen are locked away, inmate Danny Meehan (Vinnie Jones) is... [More]


    #42

    Adjusted Score: 11030%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: An American soccer star finds romance with a single Russian mother after suffering a career-threatening injury.... [More]


    #43

    Adjusted Score: 32579%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Under guidance from manager Vicente Feola (Vincent D'Onofrio), young Pelé (Kevin de Paula) utilizes his street soccer skills to lead... [More]


    #44

    Adjusted Score: 14969%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Former Manchester United coach Matt Busby comes out of retirement to help a troubled boy and his teammates.... [More]


    #45

    Adjusted Score: 10547%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


    #46

    Adjusted Score: 26456%

    Critics Consensus: An enthusiastic but ultimately uninspired soccer film.

    Synopsis: The U.S. soccer team (Gerard Butler, Wes Bentley, Jay Rodan) are heavy underdogs as they prepare to play the British... [More]


    #47

    Adjusted Score: 16941%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Forced to coach a girls soccer team, a salesman (Rodney Dangerfield) stacks it with his girlfriend's son (Jonathan Brandis) in... [More]


    #48

    Adjusted Score: 5410%

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Filmmaker Anthony Wonke examines the life and career of famed soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.... [More]


    #49

    Adjusted Score: 8710%

    Critics Consensus: Witless, unfocused, and arguably misogynistic, Playing for Keeps is a dispiriting, lowest-common-denominator Hollywood rom-com.

    Synopsis: Long past his soccer-playing heyday, George Dryer (Gerard Butler) is struggling financially and failing in his attempt to reconcile with... [More]


    #50

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Fresh from England on a foreign exchange program, teacher Miss Anna (Olivia d'Abo) arrives in a small Texas town where... [More]


    #51

    Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

    Synopsis: Jules Rimet (Gérard Depardieu), João Havelange (Sam Neill) and Sepp Blatter (Tim Roth) overcome obstacles to make the World Cup... [More]

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