Top 10 British Films Of 2017

Top 10 Films takes a look at the best British films of 2017 including box office winners such as Paddington 2 and Dunkirk as well as future classics from independent cinema like God’s Own Country, Lady Macbeth and Prevenge.

best british films of 2017

In addition to our best British films of 2017 list below, there are many others worth checking out. Danny Boyle’s T2: Trainspotting was one of British cinema’s most hotly anticipated films of the year and it largely works albeit without reaching the heights of the original film. Mindhorn, which was praised for its performances by Top 10 Films critic Martin Carr, is another stand out of 2017, as is Sally Potter’s darkly comic The Party and Armando Iannucci’s political satire The Death of Stalin.

best british films of 2017

Brian Cox as the famous British prime minister Winston Churchill.

We found things to like in Ben Parker’s taut underwater thriller The Chamber, while classically toned horror Don’t Knock Twice offered some well-oiled scares for those that like their jump-out-of-your-seat moments. We also enjoyed Churchill, a film “carved from granite and defined by terms thankfully impossible to replicate” it’s “understated, memorable and more than a match for the forthcoming Gary Oldman interpretation.”

10. The Ghoul (Tunley)

best british films of 2017The Ghoul is a confident and unique psycho-drama from first time writer-director Gareth Tunley. The film keeps its audience at arms-length, suggestive of its enigmatic protagonist’s state of mind. Detached and strangely emotionally impenetrable, Tunley’s foreboding film meditates on mental illness through the guise of the psychological thriller while reeling us into a plot stained by mystery and immersive ambiguity.

9. Trespass Against Us (Smith)

best british films of 2017There’s a cloying sense of murky dread permeating director Adam Smith’s feature film debut Trespass Against Us. It’s a darkly appealing asset of this affecting, if tonally imbalanced, crime-family drama set against the backdrop of a travelling community in Gloucestershire.

8. Stockholm My Love (Cousins)

best british films of 2017This is a film of stark beauty, peppered with striking imagery and grounded by the captivating performance of an Eighties pop star. Focusing on a fictionalised figure embodied by Neneh Cherry we follow in close up, long shot, first person and third person her journey around Stockholm. Languid, emotive and intimate, Cherry presents a riveting on screen presence which elicits a deceptively effective silent movie performance.

7. Dunkirk (Nolan)

best british films of 2017Christopher Nolan hasn’t put a foot wrong since he wowed audiences with Batman Begins and Dunkirk continues his startling body of work with a technically majestic dramatisation of the allied evacuation of France during the early part of World War II. With its grandiose IMAX cinematography, Dunkirk is best seen on the biggest screen possible with huge speakers surrounding your viewing position, but such is the talent of the filmmaker, there’s still plenty to marvel at home.

6. Moon Dogs (John)

best british films of 2017This low budget rites of passage road trip movie from director Philip John is simplistically penned by Derek Boyle and Raymond Friel, using minimal locations to maximum effect. Jack Parry-Jones, Christy O’Donnell and Tara Lee form an unlikely trio of protagonists as we journey across The Shetlands onto Oakney before landing in mainland Scotland. Using the isolated lifestyle of these characters to create drama, comedy and pathos raises Moon Dogs above the herd.

5. Lady MacBeth (Oldroyd)

best british films of 2017Windswept scrubland, flesh pressing flesh and austere isolation combine to convey the buttoned down oppression of this caustic costume drama. Pregnant pauses and animalistic coupling serve as literal release in a film verging on art house whilst keeping one eye on the mainstream. Feeling more like a sequence of events witnessed from a distance, Lady Macbeth is at once supremely voyeuristic, intimately complicit yet intentionally aloof.

4. Free Fire (Wheatley)

best british films of 2017

Free Fire – Credit Kerry Brown / Copyright Rook Films

Perhaps Free Fire is the film Quentin Tarantino would make with the aid of a script editor and some self-control. Ben Wheatley’s kinetic, hyperreal celebration of action cinema is distinguished by the writer-director’s trademark acerbic humour alongside a subversive appreciation of generic convention. The ending might be predictable, the premise open to nitpicking, and the initial incendiary plot device forgotten amongst the chaos but Wheatley’s streamlined action thriller is a richly satisfying affair. It’s surely his most accessible film to date without losing any of the characteristics that make his creative niche tick.

3. Prevenge (Lowe)

best british films of 2017

The most prolific female actor of the current decade is Prevenge writer, director and star Alice Lowe.

Filmed during writer-director Alice Lowe’s real life pregnancy, Prevenge gives new meaning to the term prepartum anxiety. It’s a quirky celebration of mother-child bonds steeped in pitch black comic irony. Lowe’s humour is the standout factor, her delivery suited to a script brimming with sarcasm and wit, but as a director she also concocts moments of genuinely chilling suspense.

2. God’s Own Country (Lee)

best british films of 2017You won’t see many directorial debuts better than this and certainly none in 2017. A film that uplifts amidst a pervading bleakness, that transforms for the better despite the anxieties of life pulling at efforts to find one’s calling, Francis Lee’s film has catapulted the filmmaker to the “one to watch” crowd with its array of awards and critical adulation.

1. Paddington 2 (King)

best british films of 2017The sequel to the brilliant Paddington that’s arguably better than the lovable bear’s first outing has to be the best British film of 2017. Writer-director Paul King has weaved a little magic with these films based on Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear stories. The sequel features all the things that made the first film so wonderful – the humour, the humanity, the adventure. What perhaps makes Paddington 2 even better is Hugh Grant chewing the scenery as the film’s chief villain; he’s rarely been funnier than this.

Compiled by Rory Fish. Written by Dan Stephens, Martin Carr & Rory Fish.

Over to you: what, in your opinion, were the best British films of 2017?

*Top 10 Films’ best British films of 2017 are based on UK theatrical release dates.

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
    Lyndon Wells Reply

    Great list!
    Completely agree with Paddington in the top spot. Not sure who enjoyed it more at the cinema me or my 3 year old!!
    Also interesting Dunkirk isn’t higher but all the films higher in the list deserve to be there. Free Fire was one of my favourite films of 2017

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    Angela Reply

    I for one loved Dunkirk but Paddington 2 was just brilliant.

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    CineGirl Reply

    There’s several films I need to catch up with. I’m looking forward to seeing God’s Own Country and Lady Macbeth. Totally agree on the inclusion of Paddington 2, Dunkirk, Moondogs, Free Fire and Prevenge.

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    Callum Reply

    Loved Paddington 2 – a deserved number one placing. I need to see some of the others. God’s Own Country is top of my “to see” list. Free Fire was great as was Dunkirk.

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    Roger Keen Reply

    Prevenge, Free Fire and Paddington 2 were three of my favourite films of the year full stop. What a great 2017 it was for British film.

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    Martin Dowes Reply

    Great to see Moon Dogs on here!

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    ArchE Reply

    I thought Prevenge was particularly provocative and compelling. Well done Miss Lowe.

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    Josie Richards Reply

    Prevenge and God’s Own Country were two of my favourites from 2017.

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    Richard Reply

    Churchill was another I liked from last year but spot on pick for Paddington 2 – so much fun.

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    Lisa R Reply

    Another vote from me for Paddington 2 as film of the year!

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    Rachel Reply

    Hurray for Moon Dogs!

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    Rob T Reply

    It was a great year for British cinema. Some excellent independents and some stellar bigger budget stuff too. It’s also nice to see British talent continue to perform strongly in Hollywood. All in all, a great year.

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    Chris Reply

    Good list, enjoyed Dunkirk, and want to seek out 1-2 of the others.
    A UK film not mentioned here is Daphne (2017) which is 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been praised for Emily Beecham’s lead performance. It’s out on dvd January 22

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