The 30 Best '30 for 30' Films

As ESPN's groundbreaking series celebrates its fifth anniversary, we pick our favorite films: tales of triumph, tragedy and (of course) 'The U'

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'Hillsborough' (Dir. Daniel Gordon)
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ESPN2/30

2. 'Hillsborough' (Dir. Daniel Gordon)

In conjunction with this year's FIFA World Cup, ESPN extended the 30 for 30 brand to a series of soccer-themed documentaries. The first of these Soccer Stories is a stunner. Hillsborough uses first-hand recollections and old video footage to reconstruct what happened in Sheffield, England on April 15, 1989, when 96 people were trampled and crushed to death during a match at Hillsborough Stadium. Carefully and righteously, director Daniel Gordon picks apart the police and the press' initial attempts to blame the tragedy on hooliganism, instead of the inevitable result of bad stadium design and poor crowd-control. Hillsborough begins in horror, shifts into outrage and ends as an inspiring salute to the survivors' decades-long fight to control their own story. Put it this way: If Hillsborough had been released theatrically, it'd be a serious contender for 2014 Best Documentary lists – and maybe even Best Film.

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