It’s Oscar season baby! Wooo!
Ok, maybe that ‘wooo’ was a bit forced because, truth is, it’s not exactly a vintage year for the Academy Awards.
Dune? Basically half a film.
West Side Story? A better version was released 50 years ago.
The rest? Well, there’s a classic in the form of Licorice Pizza to be fair, a nice-but-forgettable film in the form of Belfast, a three hour film that did-not-need-to-be-three-hours-long in Drive My Car. And the others are fine. We guess.
So, with all of this in mind, we at 90min decided to make our own 2022 Academy Awards for films that we’ve actually like. And of course, these films are all about football.
The Damned United – Peter Morgan
The story of Brian Clough’s tumultuous time at Leeds United was detailed (somewhat accurately…) in a book by David Peace, and was taken to the silver screen by Tom Hooper and Peter Morgane.
If just for Stephen Graham portraying Billy Bremner, this is a must watch.
Mike Bassett: England Manager – John R. Smith & Rob Sprackling
Mike Bassett: “Have you heard what the crowd are f**king shouting? ‘F**k Bassett!’ ‘Bassett’s a c**t!’ ‘Bassett’s a bastard!’ ‘Bassett’s a wanker!’ They shouldn’t be f**king shouting at me, they should be shouting at you, and do you know why? Because it’s f**king half-time, and we’re f**king 2-0 down to the f**king Mexicans! What the f**k’s wrong with you? Get your f**king fingers out! Where’s your bottle f**king gone? “
Mike Bassett hurls a piece of equipment at the goalkeeper.
Mike Bassett: “And f**king pay attention you cunt, when I’m f**king talking to you! If you don’t wanna wear the shirt, f**king take it off! There’s thousands of kids out there who’d die to put that f**king shirt on. Get back on the f**king field, show those bastards what you can f**king do, or you can f**k off home on the f**king plane! You got that?”
Narrator: “England lose 4-0”.
It’s basically poetry.
Shaolin Soccer – Frankie Chung, Ken Law & Ronald To
Shaolin Soccer is what we imagine Florentino Perez and Andrea Agnelli wanted the Super League games to be in order to keep the kids away from Fortnite.
Mogwai for ‘Zidane: 21st Century Portrait’
What a year it’s been for Mogwai. In February the veteran Scottish band scored their first ever UK number one album, and now in April, they’ve bagged a 90min football Academy Award.
Living the dream.
The Last Game – Dan Wieden & David Kennedy
Call it an advertisement instead if you want, but you can’t deny that watching Cristiano Ronaldo score a free kick from outside a stadium while blindfolded (cause, why not?) is fun.
Nefta Football Club – Yves Piat, Damien Megherbi & Justin Pechberty
Set on the border between Tunisia and Algeria, ‘Nefta Football Club’ is a thoroughly entertaining drama-comedy about two young boys finding ‘laundry detergent’ *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* in the desert, and bringing it to their local football pitch. Well worth 17 minutes of your time.
Diego Maradona – Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Reeves & Paul Martin
Pound for pound one of the best films of 2019 (which is really saying something), Diego Maradona holds more weight than ever before since the greatest footballer of all time‘s unfortunate passing in November.
You can read 90min‘s full review of the film here.
Early Man – Peter Lloyd, David Sproxton, Nick Park, Carla Shelley & Richard Beek
Imagine Wallace and Gromit were prehistoric footballers and one of the characters was played by Johnny Vegas.
That’s ‘Early Man’.
Keira Knightley in ‘Bend it Like Beckham’
One of Britain’s most revered actresses of the 21st century, Keira Knightley has won plenty of awards over years but, despite being nominated twice, she has never won an Academy Award…
That’s right, the Academy didn’t give Keira Knightley her a deserved Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role award for ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ so we’re giving her the 90min equivalent instead. Well deserved.
Eric Cantona in ‘Looking for Eric’
The first, and only, actual footballer to receive a coveted 90min football Academy Award is Eric Cantona for his star turn in ‘Looking for Eric’.
Cantona radiates off of the screen as Eric’s (the protagonist is also called Eric) life coach in a surprisingly life affirming movie from Ken Loach.
“Je suis, Eric Cantona.”
Offside – Jafar Panahi & Shadmehr Rastin
This category was really a toss up between two Iranian films: ‘Permission’ and ‘Offside’.
And while ‘Permission’ is a fantastic movie, we had to give the nod to ‘Offside’ for being an expertly executed comedy-drama about gender segregation and the beautiful game in Iran.
A must watch for any football fan.
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait
17 cameras all pointed at Zinedine Zidane for 90 minutes. Well, nearly 90. He was sent off in the game…What’s not to love?
Ken Loach for ‘Looking for Eric’
Ken Loach is a true cinema legend, having written and directed classics such as ‘Kes’, ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ and ‘I, Daniel Blake’, and won the Palme d’Or (no, it’s not the Ballon d’Or of cinema) a record two times.
So, when a man with this cinematic pedigree makes a football film, you know it’s going to be bloody great – and that’s exactly what ‘Looking for Eric’ is.
Parminder Nagra in ‘Bend it Like Beckham’
For the free-kick at the end of the film alone, Parminder Nagra doesn’t just deserve a 90min Academy Award, she deserves an actual Academy Award, a Ballon d’Or, a BAFTA, hell, even give her a Grammy too – she’s earned them all.
Rick Tomlinson in ‘Mike Bassett: England Manager’
The main strength of Rick Tomlinson’s performance in ‘Mike Bassett: England Manager’ is that Rick Tomlinson is just one of those guys that you want to route for. He’s an inherently likeable guy.
And as ‘Oscar moments’ go, they don’t come much better than Mike Bassett reading out ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling.
Bend it Like Beckham – Gurindar Chadha & Deepak Nayare
Is ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ the best shot, best acted, best scripted football film?
You know, maybe not.
However, what makes ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ a worthy ‘Best Motion Picture’ winner, as Ali Rampling attests, is its importance to the generation of young girls. A generation that grew up pre-WSL, pre-England’s women’s team being great, pre-professional women’s football in the country, who were introduced to the idea that women can actually go out and play football.
That’s why ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ is the best football film ever made.