The Serie A championship starts again. The eleven best films on football

In an interview released in May 2020, to the cameras of Sky TG24, the Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino confessed that he couldn’t wait for football to start playing again in Italian stadiums. And we are sure that he was not the only one with this desire. In the homeland of Dante and Petrarca, of Meazza and Piola, man is a footballer rather than a hunter. Finally the time has come. The 2023/24 Serie A season officially kicks off Frosinone – Napoli at 18:30 on Saturday 19 August

So, ball in the center, kick-off and back to watching the matches of the top flight of the Italian football championship.

For the unbelievers it will always be just 22 guys in their underwear chasing a ball, but the Italians (Churchill teaches) continue to lose football matches as if they were wars. After all, as he said Pasolini, “football is the last sacred representation of our time”. Already Homer in canto VI of the Odyssey spoke of spheromachy. And if the champions of Fútbol have now replaced the big screen stars in the hearts, and wallets, of many girls, the cinema does not hold a grudge. On the contrary, it pays homage to the “soccer players” and continues to talk about the Italians’ favorite sport. Certainly it is not easy to describe in 24 frames per second, a discipline that has its strengths in speed and chorus. So the movies often dwell on the collateral aspects of the most beautiful game in the world. We talk about presidents like Tognazzi who risk relegation until the last minute. Or how Toto, patron of Cerignola who dances to the notes of the Calypso Goal, and enjoys the Golden Legs of his pupils. Even the Vatican employee Alberto Sordi, struck by the football faith, he ends up singing the anthem of the Borgorosso Football Club at the top of his lungs.

The fan, the referee, the footballer

However, when it comes to shouting their passion, the word belongs to the fans: from Diego Abatantuono, one and trio of Really exceptional to Pippo Franco Lazio and Romanist at the same time for the love of his father-in-law. You know, that of the supporter is a bad life. Just look Vittorio Gassman in The monsters. However, even the coaches are not doing very well: both the Mister alla Oronzo Cana followers of B-Zone (The coach in the ball)and authentic catenacciari like “Il Molosso” (The extra man), a tough guy who doesn’t want to know about the extra man. It’s better not to talk about the referees, if only to avoid being admonished by Giovanna Ralli that in My Wife’s Enemy she can’t stand her husband’s black jacket and whistle Marcello Mastroianni. Then the match directors’ mates are particularly cheerful women and just a stadium slander. Unless the lady in question is Carmen Russo and the magnificent cuckold Alvaro Vitali (The fan, the referee and the footballer). However, refereeing seriously damages your health. For information, ask Carmelo Locascio, alias Lando BuzzancaThe referee).

In short, you run less risk playing. If you are the elusive 12, the door will turn into a portcullis. If, on the other hand, it is half right, half left, success in attack is assured. Breakthrough center forwards are also highly sought after, especially if they are called Paulo Roberto Cotechino. However, if national borders are crossed, the game gets tougher and Bill Shankl’s words echo: “Some think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t agree. I can assure you that it is much, much more.” In the varied international panorama it is worth mentioning Escape to victory And Fever at 90°, for many critics and cinephiles, two of the best films ever made about football. But cinema is like the National team: everyone has their own personal opinion on which films and champions are the best, most complete, deserving. Like this classification, more arbitrary than a red card from Concetto Lo Bello, more partisan than the hurler of an ultra curve. So ball in the center and happy championship to all.


11. Escape to victory

DIRECTOR: John Houston

CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, Pele, Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles,

The similarity between football and war finally takes on a positive value. The game becomes a moment of escape, in every sense. Thanks to the directorial mastery of John Huston and a spot-on cast (mixing actors and footballers), the film transfigures the match between Allied prisoners and German soldiers into a song of freedom. The penalty saved by Stallone, the goalkeeper version, and the bicycle kick by Pelé are memorable

10. Exceptional… truly

DIRECTION: Carlo Vanzina.

CAST: Diego Abatantuono, Massimo Boldi, Stefania Sandrelli, Italy, 1982

8 billion takings at the time, for a film that over the years has been promoted to Serie A thanks to a histrionic and overwhelming Diego Abatantuono. The film is the apotheosis of the terrunciello with the actor playing 3 roles: Donato Cavallo, leader of the Rossonere Brigades, Felice La Pezza, known as Tirzan, truck driver from Puglia and true Juventus fan and finally, Franco Alfano, Milanese and Inter fan. By elective affinities (Abatantuono is an old AC Milan heart) the most successful character is that of Donato. Unforgettable was his speech to the ultras of the devil: “… the password, so much for change, is always the same: VIULENCE !!”

9. The coach in the ball

DIRECTION: Sergio Martino

CAST: Lino Banfi, Licinia Lentini, Camillo Milli, Giuliana Calandra, Viviana Larice

The film is said to be shown as an antidepressant during titled team training camps. After all, who wouldn’t want to be coached by Oronzo Canà, the prophet of the B-Zone, the theorist of the 5-5-5 module? Thanks to the coach in the ball, we all became fans of the newly promoted Lombard and rejoiced for the goals of Aristoteles, the Brazilian ace with saudade. Like this. Between a wife named Mara Canà, a cuckolded and fraudulent president, two improbable prosecutors like Gigi and Andrea, Lino Banfi plays one of the most beloved characters of his long career. In short, a hero and not only for the Soldati twins, very abusive fans of the Longobard

8. Fever at 90°

DIRECTOR: David Evans

CAST: Colin Firth, Stephen Rea, Ruth Gemmel

As can already be seen from the etymology, typhus is a disease. This film, based on a novel by Nick Horbny, turns out to be the most suitable thermometer to measure the heat of a passion accustomed to grinding kilometers and overcoming obstacles. Because you always follow your heart’s team and in any case. Arsenal’s matches punctuate the life of the protagonist (a Colin Firth in a state of Grace) better than a metronome. And Paul’s words are more definitive than the man in black’s triple whistle: “Football has meant too much to me and continues to mean too many things. After a while everything gets mixed up in your head and you can’t figure out if life is a mxxxx because Arsenal suck or vice versa. I went to too many matches, spent too much money, got pissed about Arsenal when I should have been pissed about other things, demanded too much from people I love… Okay, anything goes! But… I don’t know, maybe it’s something you can’t understand if you’re not in it.”

7. Best

DIRECTOR: Mary McGuckian

CAST: John Lynch, Ian Bannen, Jerome Flynn, Ian Hart, Patsy Kensit

“I spent most of my money on booze, women and fast cars, the rest I squandered.” In this sentence there are all the genius and wildness of George Best. A cursed poet, Golden Ball in 1968, died at the age of 59. The film reconstructs with affection and skill the life of one of the strongest footballers in the world, nicknamed the fifth Beatles, for his long hair and passion for drunkenness

6. The Extra Man (2001)

DIRECTION: Paolo Sorrentino

CAST: Toni Servillo, Andrea Renzi, Nello Mascia, Angela Goodwin, Italo Celoro, Antonino Bruschetta

“There is no draw in life”. Especially if you choose to play with a 4 point formation, i.e. with the extra man. For his first work, Paolo Sorrentino decides to tell the life of two characters who have in common only the name: Antonio Pisapia. One is a singer (inspired by Franco Califano) The other is a footballer, reminiscent of Agostino Di Bartolomei, captain of Roma who committed suicide in 1994. Andrea Renzi is extraordinary in playing a shy and shy man who dreams of a future as a coach which he will never get, because he is considered too sad for the world of football

5. Offsides

DIRECTOR: Jafar Panahi

CAST: Sima Mobarak Shahi, Safar Samandar, Shayesteh Irani, Ida Sadeghi, Golnaz Farmani

The qualifying match for the World Cup between Iran and Bahrain turns into the litmus test of the condition of women in Iranian society. Between fiction and reality, the participation of his country in the world championship becomes for the director Jafar Panahi, an opportunity to tell the encounter-clash between two antithetical visions. Operation successful and rightly awarded with the Silver Bear in Berlin

4. My friend Erik


CAST; Eric Cantona, Steve Evets, John Henshaw. UK, Italy, France, Belgium, 2009

Eric Cantona, le roi as his supporters called him, plays himself in this tale signed by Ken Loach, who teaches us that one must always have faith in one’s teammates. As the deus ex machina, the French champion, idol of Manchester United fans, is a real revelation. A guardian angel who helps a hapless postal worker get his life back

3. Bloody United

DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper

CAST: Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Jim Broadbent

ex footballer Brian Clough’s 44 days as Leeds United manager became a small masterpiece for the big screen. Thanks to the sumptuous interpretation of Michael Sheen, the film offers us the tasty portrait of an icon of English football of the seventies, famous for his antics and for his visceral hatred towards his colleague Don Reevie. A Mister who can be summed up in this sentence: “I don’t like to call myself the best coach in the country, I’m just the best.”

2 . Diego Armando Maradona

DIRECTION: Asif Kapadia.

CAST: Diego Armando Maradona

After Senna and Amy Winhouse, Oscar-winning director Asif Kapadia tells us about the life, victories and defeats of Diego Armando Maradona. Reworking 500 hours of largely unedited footage, the filmmaker reveals to us above all the secrets of Pibe De Oro during his experience in Italy (1984-1991). From the two championships, an Italian Cup, a UEFA Cup, won with the Napoli shirt, to the World Cup won in Mexico in 1986, the sincere and fascinating portrait of a champion loved by a city and hated by the rest of the world.

1. In our Sky a Roll of Thunder

DIRECTION: Riccardo Milani

CAST: Gigi Riva

The film is an intimate story, of the sportsman and of the man, which begins in childhood passing from the first kicks to the ball to continue in what will become his region of choice from which he will never leave: Sardinia. Among the faces interviewed, in addition to Luigi Riva, also Gianfranco Zola, Nicolò Barella, Gianluigi Buffon, Roberto Baggio, Massimo Moratti, Cristiano De Andrè.