Top 10 British Films

British cinema has enjoyed some great years over the last century. There has been the odd blip along the way but as Top 10 Films reveals, this small island has produced many enduring classics…

Move over Hollywood because British films are the focus for this piece. And while the former is most often associated with epic blockbusters and enormous budgets, the latter has created some of the most iconic movies of all time and some of the world’s biggest stars along the way.

Therefore, we thought it only fitting to compile a list of the UK’s top 10 films. Some you will have seen umpteen times, others you may have never heard of. Either way, we’re sure that you’ll be scrutinising your TV package listings to see if any are scheduled in the near future.

To rouse your senses even more, here is our list of the top 10 UK films:

10. Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)

Shaun of the Dead, film review, simon pegg, nick frostShaun of the Dead is still one of Simon Pegg’s best movies and undeniably one of the best films to be inspired by British television comedy. Laugh out loud funny with enough blood and gore to keep zombie purists happy, this is one British movie that you can watch again and again.
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9. Zulu (Endfield, 1964)

michael-caine_zuluTelling the story of soldiers who fought during the Zulu wars, this 1964 classic highlights the plight of a group of heroic soldiers who ultimately meet their demise at Rorke’s Drift. They’ll forever be remembered as heroes and their brave stand never forgotten. The film also features Michael Caine’s breakout performance.

8. Local Hero (Forsyth, 1983)

local-hero_british-film_1983Local Hero is the epitome of feel-good movies. When an American oil company send a representative to Scotland to buy-up an entire village so that they can build a new refinery, things don’t turn out as they’d planned.

7. Trainspotting (Boyle, 1996)

trainspotting_toilet-scene2_top10filmsEwan McGregor stars in this Danny Boyle masterpiece that’ll have you scared of public toilets forever. Trainspotting, however, isn’t just a film about drugs; in fact, it’s far more than that – it defined a generation.

6. Life of Brian (Jones, 1979)

Monty Python's Life of Brian, Film, Terry GilliamWas he the messiah or was he just a very naughty boy? Find out in this Monty Python classic that’ll have you singing along to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. In this cult parody, the pythons really excelled.

Discover More on Top 10 Films:
British Cinema’s Back Alleys and Byways: A Top 10 | Top 10 British Films of the 1950s | Top 10 British Films of the 1940s | Top 10 Films Inspired by British TV Comedy | Top 10 British Sports Films

5. Kind Hearts and Coronets (Hamer, 1949)

Kind Hearts and Coronets, Film, Robert Hamer, Dennis Price, Alec Guinness,One of the finest British comedies of all time, this enduring Ealing classic stars the brilliant Alex Guinness in multiple roles as various members of the tragically doomed aristocratic d’Ascoyne family. They each come to meet their maker thanks to the bitter Louis Mazzini (played by an equally impressive Dennis Price) who becomes obsessed with inheriting the family title by any means necessary.

4. A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1971)

clockwork-orange_stanley-kubrick_top10filmsAnything that stems from the imagination of Stanley Kubrick is usually a hit and A Clockwork Orange is no exception. This futuristic violence-fest may not be everyone’s cup of tea but nevertheless, it is a British classic.

3. Withnail and I (Robinson, 1987)

Richard E Grant, Paul McGann, Withnail and I, Brits on Holiday, British Countryside, Film, Bruce Robinson,Withnail and I is the caustic tale of two down on their luck actors living in London in 1969. It stars Richard E. Grant as Withnail and Paul McGann as his roommate and best friend Marwood. Amid its linguistic jousting and infinitely quotable lines, Withnail & I is a heartfelt parable of two friends fighting their own inner demons. Marwood laments poetically, his inner-monologue introducing the viewer to this urban squalor in Camden’s miserable town, while Withnail’s destruction appears self-warranted, as if his only way to live life to the full is finding the most hallucinogenic way to end it. Robinson’s script is full of joyous wordage born out pathos, paranoia and bitterness. Infinitely quotable, the film is one of the most oft-imitated and referenced. It sits proudly alongside the likes of This Is Spinal Tap, The Big Lebowski and Some Like It Hot as one of the greatest comedies ever made.

2. Lawrence of Arabia (Lean, 1962)

lawrence-of-arabiaWhat list of British films would be complete without Lawrence of Arabia? Peter O’Toole stars in this absolute masterpiece of cinematography. Based on the novel by T.E. Lawrence, this movie has become, quite rightly, an enduring classic.

1. The Third Man (Reed, 1949)

The Third Man, Carol Reed, Orson Welles,Orson Welles is in it, but this isn’t Citizen Kane. However, it might as well be as many critics have called this British classic the “greatest film ever made”. And I’m one of them! The film follows an American as he searches for the killer of his best friend in war-torn Vienna. This visually arresting film will keep you hooked from beginning to end with its twists and turns, dark humour and sinister backdrop teasing and tingling throughout.

Written and compiled by Rory Fish

Discover More on Top 10 Films:
British Cinema’s Back Alleys and Byways: A Top 10 | Top 10 British Films of the 1950s | Top 10 British Films of the 1940s | Top 10 Films Inspired by British TV Comedy | Top 10 British Sports Films

Over to you: what are your top 10 British films?

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About the Author
Rory Fish has loved movies since he can remember. If he was to put together an "all time" top 10 of absolute favourites it would have to include North By Northwest, 12 Angry Men and Sunset Boulevard.

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  1. Avatar
    Cinegirl Reply

    My favorite British film of all time is Kind Hearts and Coronets so it’s great to see it make your list.

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    Jason Pritchard Reply

    Terrific choices. I think you’ve covered the main British classics but I would have added some Powell and Pressburger, and maybe Hitchcock’s 39 Steps. But what do you subtract – Shaun of the Dead, perhaps. But is that me being prudish to the newer releases?

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    Chris Reply

    Awesome list. Although I prefer Holy Grail, good to see Monty Python feature in your top 10.
    I would probably take out Zulu(which underwhelmed me), and replace it with The Italian Job, and also add Day of The Jackal (1973), and a bit of Mike Leigh. Narrowing it down to ten picks is tough!

  4. Avatar
    Alex R Reply

    Wonderful list. Kind Hearts and Coronets, Lawrence of Arabia, The Third Man and Withnail and I are four of my all-time favourite films.

  5. Avatar
    Bmovie Reply

    I’d drop Shaun for a Hitchcock and Zulu for a Powell and Pressburger but you’ve got most of my favourites on here. Good list!

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