The choice of Best British Movies of all time is obviously going to have to be based on some criteria. I could have gone with the best British movies according to box office takings, number of awards or critical acclaim. Instead I thought I’d be a bit self indulgent and base my list of best British movies simply on my preference and how I feel they truly represent the best of the British film making industry. I hope you enjoy my pick of 8 Best British Movies of All Time.
1 Monty Python’s Life of Brian
To many, the surreal aspect of British humor is unfathomable, and even more so when it is represented by the Monty Python team. Although many would prefer to see the Holy Grail on this list of best British movies, the Life of Brian is a masterpiece. The parody of the Life of Christ caused mass controversy and was banned in many towns across the land. Irreverent or harmless satire? Only individuals can decide.
To be honest, I am not a fan of this film but I do appreciate it. A film about heroin addicts in an economically downtrodden city is never going to be fun. However, let’s not forget this movie literally shoved Ewan McGregor into the limelight and gave Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) his first major global recognition.
Not only one of the best British movies ever but one of the best ever musicals. Every one of the songs that Lionel Bart penned to tell the story of Oliver Twist is unforgettable. The movie captures perfectly the two sides of Charles Dickens’ London - degradation and wealth - and has everything a ripping yarn needs; great believable characters, cute kids, romance, murder and fabulous music. No wonder it picked up 5 Oscars.
4 Four Weddings and a Funeral
The comedy scriptwriting of Richard Curtis was brilliantly directed by Mike Newell to set the bar for all future fluffy British romcoms. Some of the best British movies are in this genre including Notting Hill and Love Actually. Four Weddings opened with the word fuck! and introduced the world to Mr. Debonair himself, the epitome of English gentlemen, Hugh Grant.
5 The Ladykillers
Whilst Hollywood was finding its direction after WWII, having been providing the world with lavish musicals, war movies and blockbuster thrillers, the little film studios of Ealing were still churning out a menu of traditional comedies and heart warming, quintessentially British pastiches of life. Among the Ealing films, some of the most successful were the crime capers and The Ladykillers thoroughly deserves the accolade of being one of the best British movies. Forget the Hollywood remake, it’s not a patch on the original.
6 A Man for All Seasons
We all love a costume drama and this is one of the daddies! A Man for All Seasons is the story of Thomas More, Chancellor to King Henry VIII. More struggled against his king’s fight for divorce, a conflict that obviously, the monarch won. The fabulously evocative drama and the brilliant portrayal of More by Paul Schofield, deservedly won the movie 6 Oscars.
7 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
So, I’ve done comedy, costume drama, contemporaneous, romcom, musical, so the next of the best British movies has to be children’s. Of course however, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy any of the Harry Potter movies. I’ve chosen this one simply because it’s my favorite. It’s where a lot of the questions raised in the first book are answered and sets the scene for the forthcoming adventures.
8 Bridge on the River Kwai
It was really difficult to choose a war film to include in the best British movies. As a conquering nation the Brits have fought battles on all continents. I toyed with the idea of Zulu, Battle of the River Plate, Dunkirk, The Charge of the Light Brigade but in the end, there really was only one. Another multi-Oscar winner, this movie is the amazing story of the resolve of a British officer in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Despite the subject matter, it is an amazing foray into the world of human nature.
I’m sure plenty of people are going to totally disagree with my list of best British movies but if I have made it thought-provoking then I’m happy. I really could list plenty and many more are certainly deserving of an honourable mention. What’s your favorite British movie?
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