10 Good British Movies

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 11:51 am

If you’re looking for a little international flavor to spice up your next movie marathon, check out these 10 good British movies. Our friends across the pond have been cranking out superior examples of cinema for years, and their diverse exports range from black comedies to musical productions starring The Beatles. So pour yourself some tea (Earl Grey, of course), set aside that book about Benny Hill, and prepare yourself for this list of 10 good British movies. Cheers!

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Withnail and I (1986) – Richard E. Grant gained a measure of international fame by starring in this black comedy set in 1969 London. Grant plays Withnail, a struggling, alcoholic actor who lives with a fellow thespian, Marwood(Paul McGann), in a crappy apartment. Looking for a change of scenery, they pay a visit to the country cottage of Withnail’s eccentric Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths). But their vacation isn’t as pleasant as planned, punctuated by unfriendly locals, Withnail’s increased drinking, and Uncle Monty’s firm desire to bed Marwood (whether he likes it or not).

Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005) – Based on a true story, this comedy stars Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. Dame Judy is Mrs. Laura Henderson, a wealthy widow who buys a London theatre to give her something to do. Hoskins is Vivian Van Damm, her tyrannical manager. When her investment starts losing money, Mrs. Henderson begins to feature on-stage nudity, a first in the UK. But as London endures the Blitz of World War II, the below-street-level theatre becomes a haven for those looking for either a colorful diversion or a glimpse of a naked female body for the first (and possibly last) time. Full-frontal nudity from Bob Hoskins, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

A Hard Day’s Night (1964) – The Beatles star in this landmark film that combines musical performances with sly commentary on their own fame. As the Fab Four try to put on a show in London, they must contend with an irritating train ride from Liverpool, Paul’s wacky grandfather, and Ringo’s propensity for wandering off alone. Songs include “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “She Loves You,” and “A Hard Day’s Night.”

Death Defying Acts (2008) – Guy Pearce and Catherine Zeta-Jones team up in this co-production between Australia and the UK to tell the story of magician/escape artist Harry Houdini (Pearce) and his relationship with a beautiful con woman named Mary McGarvie (Zeta-Jones). When Houdini offers $10,000 to any psychic who can repeat to him his mother’s dying words, McGarvie and her daughter set out to claim the cash. Deftly mixing romance and the supernatural, I hope Death Defying Acts will inspire you to read more about Houdini, truly one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century.

Bedazzled (1967) – Young Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore) pines for a waitress named Margaret, but her lack of interest drives him to attempt suicide. That’s when the Devil (Peter Cook) makes an appearance, offering Stanley seven wishes in exchange for his soul. He accepts, of course, and spends the rest of the film trying to win Margaret’s affections. The seven deadly sins also get involved, and Lust is memorably portrayed by Raquel Welch.

Creep (2004) – Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) stars as a young woman who gets locked in overnight in the London Underground. Much to her horror, she soon realizes that she’s not alone. Let the cat and mouse game begin.

Children of Men (2006) – In the year 2027, the human race has less than a century to survive due to the fact that no children have been born on the planet in 18 years. The world has fallen into chaos, and Britain is besieged by millions of refugees hoping to gain entrance. Clive Owen stars as former activist Theo Faron, now working as a mild-mannered bureaucrat. When he’s drawn into a plot involving his estranged wife (Julianne Moore), Theo takes on the responsibility of escorting a young woman out of the country. Then he learns why she’s so important…she’s pregnant. Overlooked during its theatrical run, Children of Men is now regarded as a modern sci-fi classic.

Alfie (1966) – Adapted from the novel and play of the same name, Alfie stars Michael Caine as a young cad who slowly grows to maturity thanks to a personal health scare, the birth of his child, and the abortion of another one. If you enjoy films where characters break the fourth wall, then you’re in for a treat. Caine received an Oscar nomination, but he lost to Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons).

Notes on a Scandal (2006) – Cate Blanchett stars as Sheba Hart, a London teacher who’s carrying on an affair with one of her students. Judi Dench co-stars as Barbara Covett, a fellow teacher who learns about the affair and sets to manipulating Sheba through lies and blackmail. Both Blanchett and Dench were nominated for Oscars.

Billy Elliott (2000) – Set during the 1980s, Billy Elliott tells the story of an 11-year-old boy (Jamie Bell) who falls in love with the art of ballet. That doesn’t sit well with his coal miner father, and the boy must try to pursue his passion while hiding it from his family. Will he achieve his goal of one day performing the lead in Swan Lake, or will he abandon his dream and get a raging case of black lung?

Netflix carries all of these good British movies, and we get a small commission for sending you there (assuming you sign up for their free trial membership). This allows us to keep our doors open, but it also funds our growing obsession with bowler hats, scones, and Victoria Beckham. The following posts are also recommended:

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at 11:51 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “10 Good British Movies”

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January 25, 2011

Tamara Shaffer

I saw a British (I think) movie in the 90s about a woman whose husband is at work when a man enters their house and keeps her there all day. It seems he has a bone to pick with her husband, and he spends the day keeping her intimidated and wondering what his beef is about. I can’t remember who the actors were, the ending, or what year it came out, but I liked the movie.


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