Best British Films

British cinema has produced some of the best films ever; of that there is no doubt. There have been many attempts to compile list of the Best British Films of all time. In our opinion most such lists are doomed to failure.

There are two reasons why this is true. First of all, lists are essentially compiled at a specific moment in time. Recent events will have more influence than what happened even a few months before. Maybe a filmmaker has just come up with a movie that has been lauded to the heavens. This will mean that his or her other films will stand a pretty good chance of making lists. A couple of flops later and this will cease to be the case.

In the 100 from Empire magazine listed below, Tinker Taylor Solder Spy had just been released and was hastily included at number 94. It’s a pretty safe bet that Tomas Alfredson’s well-crafted  spy drama would feature much higher on any list compiled today.

Secondly, all lists are subjective. It depends not only when but who is compiling them. What is the criteria for inclusion? Popularity seems to have played a major part in the decision. Who is to say that Alfred Hitchcock’s black & white shocker The Lodger from 1935 isn’t any bit as good as Sean Of The Dead in its own way? A young modern audience would almost certainly prefer Sex Lives Of The Potato Men (which is excluded from most lists) to Brief Encounter, but does that make it a better film?

We include the latest lists from Empire and Time Out magazines in full. We will add other attempts at listing the Best British Movies Ever as and when they come up, provided they are compiled by critics and not by a public vote. Democracy has a place in society, but it has no part to play in  judging the quality of cinema.

The 100 Best British Films Ever

According to Empire Magazine, October 2011

  1. Lawrence of Arabia | Best British Films of all TimeLawrence Of Arabia (1962)
  2. Monty Python’s Life Of Brian (1978)
  3. The Red Shoes (1948)
  4. Don’t Look Now (1973)
  5. Brief Encounter (1945)
  6. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
  7. Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)
  8. Trainspotting (1996)
  9. Local Hero (1983)
  10. Withnail & I (1987)
  11. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  12. This Is England (2006)
  13. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)
  14. The Third Man (1949)
  15. Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
  16. Goldfinger (1964)
  17. Billy Elliot (2000)
  18. Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)
  19. The Long Good Friday (1980)
  20. amatteroflifeanddeath_300A Matter Of Life And Death (1946)
  21. Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994)
  22. Saturday Night And Sunday Morning (1960)
  23. Rebecca (1940)
  24. Moon (2009)
  25. The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  26. Shallow Grave (1994)
  27. Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
  28. Borat (2006)
  29. Kes (1969)
  30. The Ladykillers (1955)
  31. Performance (1970)
  32. Sense And Sensibility (1995)
  33. Zulu (1964)
  34. A Man For All Seasons (1966)
  35. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
  36. If… (1968)
  37. 28 Days Later (2002)
  38. The Descent (2005)
  39. The Italian Job (1969)
  40. italian_job_300Sweet Sixteen (2002)
  41. Monsters (2010)
  42. The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)
  43. Great Expectations (1946)
  44. Sexy Beast (2000)
  45. Black Narcissus (1947)
  46. The English Patient (1996)
  47. The Wicker Man (1973)
  48. Topsy Turvy (1999)
  49. Look Back In Anger (1959)
  50. Hot Fuzz (2007)
  51. Wallace & Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (2005)
  52. The 39 Steps (1935)
  53. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)
  54. Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
  55. gene (1963)
  56. Shakespeare In Love (1998)
  57. My Name Is Joe (1998)
  58. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  59. Peeping Tom (1960)
  60. hard_days_night_300A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  61. The Full Monty (1997)
  62. Secrets And Lies (1996)
  63. Chariots Of Fire (1981)
  64. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
  65. Hunger (2008)
  66. Man On Wire (2008)
  67. In The Loop (2009)
  68. Went The Day Well? (1942)
  69. Blow-Up (1966)
  70. Casino Royale (2006)
  71. Control (2007)
  72. The Man In The White Suit (1951)
  73. Atonement (2007)
  74. Brighton Rock (1947)
  75. Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
  76. Naked (1993)
  77. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
  78. Henry V (1989)
  79. The King’s Speech (2010)
  80. tinker_taylor_2011_posterGoodbye, Mr Chips (1939)
  81. The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Runner (1962)
  82. The Lady Vanishes (1938)
  83. A Room With A View (1985)
  84. Hamlet (1948)
  85. Billy Liar (1963)
  86. The Killing Fields (1984)
  87. Hope And Glory (1987)
  88. Gandhi (1982)
  89. The Railway Children (1970)
  90. Dracula (1966)
  91. The Remains Of The Day (1993)
  92. Four Lions (2010)
  93. Brazil (1985)
  94. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
  95. Gregory’s Girl (1981)
  96. Nil By Mouth (1997)
  97. 24 Hour Party People (2002)
  98. Oh! What A Lovely War (1969)
  99. The Ipcress File (1965)
  100. Darling (1965)

In February 2011, Time Out surveyed 150 experts and critics with the film industry to produce its list of  The 100 Best British Films.

The 100 Best British Films

According to Time Out magazine (London), February, 2011.

  1. don't_look_now_300Don’t Look Now (1973)
  2. The Third Man (1949)
  3. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)
  4. Kes (1969)
  5. The Red Shoes (1948)
  6. A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
  7. Performance (1970)
  8. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
  9. If… (1968)
  10. Trainspotting (1996)
  11. Naked (1993)
  12. Brief Encounter (1945)
  13. The 39 Steps (1935)
  14. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  15. Withnail and I (1987)
  16. Black Narcissus (1947)
  17. Canterbury Tale (1944)
  18. The Innocents (1961)
  19. Barry Lyndon (1975)
  20. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
  21. Nil by Mouth (1997)
  22. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)
  23. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  24. Brazil (1985)
  25. Great Expectations (1946)
  26. I Know Where I’m Going! (1945)
  27. The Bill Douglas Trilogy (1972, 1973, 1978)
  28. The Wicker Man (1973)
  29. Peeping Tom (1960)
  30. The Ladykillers (1955)
  31. The Lady Vanishes (1938)
  32. Get Carter (1971)
  33. Secrets & Lies (1996)
  34. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  35. The Servant (1963)
  36. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
  37. It Always Rains on Sunday (1947)
  38. Went the Day Well? (1942)
  39. London (1994)
  40. Ratcatcher (1999)
  41. Witchfinder General (1968)
  42. Listen to Britain (1942)
  43. Fires Were Started (1943)
  44. Sabotage (1936)
  45. Repulsion (1965)
  46. The Fallen Idol (1948)
  47. Blowup (1966)
  48. Hunger (2008)
  49. Gallivant (1996)
  50. Culloden (1964)
  51. Local Hero (1983)
  52. Robinson in Space (1997)
  53. This Sporting Life (1963)
  54. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)
  55. Radio On (1980)
  56. Caravaggio (1986)
  57. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  58. Gregory’s Girl (1980)
  59. Blackmail (1929)
  60. The Long Good Friday (1980)
  61. Walkabout (1971)
  62. Deep End (1970)
  63. Nuts in May (1976)
  64. Topsy-Turvy (1999)
  65. Dracula (1958)
  66. Wonderland (1999)
  67. Whisky Galore! (1949)
  68. Dead of Night (1945)
  69. Oliver! (1968)
  70. Bad Timing (1980)
  71. Edvard Munch (1974)
  72. Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)
  73. The Man in the White Suit (1951)
  74. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
  75. A Room for Romeo Brass (1999)
  76. Penda’s Fen (1974)
  77. Piccadilly (1929)
  78. Billy Liar (1963)
  79. The Offence (1972)
  80. Under the Skin (1997)
  81. Dr. No (1962)
  82. Orlando (1992)
  83. A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929)
  84. Fish Tank (2009)
  85. I’m All Right Jack (1959)
  86. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  87. Night and the City (1950)
  88. This Is England (2006)
  89. The Go-Between (1970)
  90. Blue (1993)
  91. Land and Freedom (1995)
  92. Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
  93. Zulu (1964)
  94. 24 Hour Party People (2002)
  95. London to Brighton (2006)
  96. Theatre of Blood (1973)
  97. 28 Days Later (2002)
  98. School for Scoundrels (1960)
  99. The Railway Children (1970)
  100. In This World (2002)

You would imagine that two lists of the 100 Best British films produced in the same year (in this case 2011) by film professionals would be almost identical. This is obviously not the case here. Topping the Time Out list is Don’t Look Now, number 4 on Empire’s offering. On the other hand, the other number one, Lawrence of Arabia, comes in at a relatively lowly 23 in the eyes of the Time Out compilers.

Interestingly enough, Shaun of the Dead, number 6 for Empire, doesn’t even make it into the other list. On the other side, Bruce Robinson’s cult classic, Withnail & I, makes  #15 with Time Out, but is omitted from Empire’s call. Shurely shum mistake?

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