Year in review: from Journeyman and Creed II to Bobby Robson and Man United – what were the best sports films of 2018?
- Another Rocky instalment makes the list, as does the ever popular former Newcastle United manager
As we look back at the end of the sporting year, the time has come to look at the sports-based movies and documentaries that you may have missed during the last 12 months. Here’s what you should be watching during your holiday downtime.
Note that these are all one-off films so there is no place for multi-part documentaries such as ESPN’s 20-hour epic Basketball: A Love Story, Manchester City’s All or Nothing, or Juventus series First Team. They are also all English-language productions.
Bobby Robson: More Than A Manager
The Englishman is one of the giants of the game and never lost his cool even when hard done by, either at Barcelona or in the English press pre-Italia ’90. This is a glowing tribute from some of the biggest names in modern football with both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in reverence of Mr Robson.
Billed as “Die Hard in a football stadium”, ex-WWE superstar Dave Bautista adds to his growing big-screen reputation by rescuing London from terrorists at West Ham United’s Upton Park. Utterly ridiculous and equally watchable, they actually blew up the stadium for the film.
The Rocky spin-off franchise added a second instalment this year with Michael B Jordan lacing up the gloves again for round two. This time the Philadelphia underdogs come up against Viktor Drago, son of Rocky Balboa’s enemy Ivan from Rocky IV.
Kyrie Irving follows in the line of NBA stars acting (Michael Jordan, Ray Allen, Kevin Durant and Shaquille O’Neal) for a comedy that was born out of his Pepsi Max commercials. O’Neal is among a host of former stars who feature in this tale of street ball revenge.
Swimming With Men
Male synchronised swimming? It’s truer than you think in this film “based on a true story”. The UK’s best comedy talent take on the world championships with an appearance from the Swedish side that won the real life Men’s Cup event in Milan in 2009.
The Miracle Season
While not a smash, this volleyball tear-jerker has gained favourable reviews. A high school and community come together to mourn the loss of their star player but can they do her justice in the championship?
John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection
Described in Vogue as “the best tennis film ever made” this falls short of perfection. McEnroe is a fascinating character, once the enfant terrible of the sport, he is now one of the most respected broadcasters on the circuit. The film contains unseen archive footage from the 1984 French Open final, the film explores the mind of the then world number one.
The Last Race
The struggle for the elderly owners of small town stock car racing to stay afloat as America changes at a rapid pace. This documentary has a 93 per cent “fresh” rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
The Netflix documentary turns its focus on Zion Clark, a wrestler born without legs who grew up in foster care as he competes against able-bodied high school rivals in his native Ohio. Compelling stuff.
The Longest Hole
One golfer, one caddy and one hole. Simple enough but the distance was 2,011 kilometres of the Mongolian desert and it took a staggering 20,094 strokes to complete.
Kaiser! The Greatest Footballer Never To Play Football
Zero goals in 24 years is a poor return from a striker but for Carlos Henrique it was ideal. It meant he had never played and that is what the “biggest fraud in football” wanted most of all in his career as a professional.
Andre The Giant
The larger than life true story of pro wrestling’s first overseas superstar. Beneath the reminiscences from his friends of his drinking prowess and physical enormity lies the heartfelt portrait of a decent human being dealing with a rare disease.
Lean On Pete
The age old tale of boy meets ageing racehorse trainer and equally ageing racehorse only to find the stability missing in his life.
Too Good To Go Down
If you missed it last night, we've got you covered...
We'll be showing 'Too Good To Go Down' again, exploring the difficulty of the post-Sir Matt Busby era at Manchester United
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— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 6, 2018
The eerily familiar tale of an in-decline Manchester United as they struggle to come to terms with the departure of a legendary Scottish manager after a long period of success.
The inestimable Paddy Considine writes, directs and stars in this drama about a champion boxer who has to rebuild his life following a life-threatening, career-ending injury.