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The 100 best British films
February 9, 2011 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Time Out's 100 best British films, as chosen by the film industry
posted by fearfulsymmetry (64 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lawrence of Arabia only #23?

FAIL
posted by Joe Beese at 8:38 AM on February 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you just think to yourself "not necessarily in that order" as you read, it's a fine list of films.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:46 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


YMMV and everything, but I'd have put 'Went The Day Well' higher if only for this scene. The whole film still horrifies the living shit out of me.
posted by Jofus at 8:47 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ha, they put Don't Look Now at number one -- what a troll!
posted by eschatfische at 8:50 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Top ten are:

1. Don'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)
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:51 AM on February 9, 2011


Am I missing a link to just the list? I don't want to click on a hundred stamp-sized images to find out what's on it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:53 AM on February 9, 2011


Life of Brian is a fine comedy, but I'm not sure it's a better film than Bridge Over the River Kwai, Clockwork Orange, or Lawrence of Arabia. I'm still not even sure it's a better film than Holy Grail.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:54 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So Kubrick films are british?
posted by Omon Ra at 8:55 AM on February 9, 2011


Or 2001 a Space Odyssey, which I also wanted to mention.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:55 AM on February 9, 2011


Don't Look Now is a bold but awesome choice for number one. I support!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:56 AM on February 9, 2011


Not much to say about it other than a shame there's nothing at all from Sir Norbert Smith.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:59 AM on February 9, 2011


It's a comfortingly traditional list. All the Powell and Pressburgers, mostly in the top twenty; Ealing, Jarman and both Patrick Keillers. I approve.
posted by Grangousier at 9:00 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, it's a pretty good list alright. Some glaring absences though - Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Wererabbit. Slumdog Millionaire and Alien would all be on my list. Surely even Chariots of Fire and Shakespeare in Love merit a mention?
posted by IanMorr at 9:01 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Life of Brian is a fine comedy, but I'm not sure it's a better film than Bridge Over the River Kwai, Clockwork Orange, or Lawrence of Arabia. I'm still not even sure it's a better film than Holy Grail.

Sure it is. It's an actual film, for a start, rather than a collection of sketches. But it certainly isn't a better film than the David Lean movies, just a funnier one.

As for the list, I would put 'A Matter of Life and Death' higher, since it's my favourite movie. Good list otherwise.
posted by daveje at 9:04 AM on February 9, 2011


If I ruled the world, the Italian Job, Funny Bones and Great Expectations would be in there.

Quadrophenia and Scum are two fairly iconic, though not great films that might have merited inclusion.

Also, that is a massive Tilda Swinton love in right there on that list. I had to take my socks off to count at one point.

And I know these lists are subjective, but the high ratings of Kes and the Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner are emblematic of a particular affection for gritty, bleak dramas by people who read Camus while wearing donkey jackets.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:06 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dead Man's Shoes - utter, utter crap. Shane Meadows is one of the most overrated film makers in the world, I wouldn't have one of his films on this list.

I'd have Naked in the top 10 before Trainspotting, it's properly British.
posted by fire&wings at 9:08 AM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


So Kubrick films are british?

Aye, in the same sense later Hitchcock films are American.
posted by the cuban at 9:11 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mmm, but Hitchcock films in the US were financed with US money whereas Kubrick films in England weren't financed by British money.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:14 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So Kubrick films are british?
I'm thinking that the basis of this list is that the films were made at a British studio, even though they were financed/produced by, say, a US studio.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:14 AM on February 9, 2011


I was hoping The Third Man would be #1, and pleasantly surprised to find it at #2.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:15 AM on February 9, 2011


If Kubrick films are British then it's puzzling that 2001 is not on the list.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:15 AM on February 9, 2011


It is; buried down at #57.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:17 AM on February 9, 2011



I'd have Naked in the top 10 before Trainspotting, it's properly British.


Naked is a better film, but how's Trainspotting not properly British?
posted by the cuban at 9:20 AM on February 9, 2011


Ah, my bad, I only read up to the first 50.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:21 AM on February 9, 2011


If you're going to get particular about the "Britishness" of these films, it should be pointed out the Don't Look Now was a joint British-Italian venture, co-starring a Canadian, filmed in Italy.
posted by mkultra at 9:21 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Actually I consider Lawrence of Arabia to be a Jordanian film :P
posted by Omon Ra at 9:22 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


chosen by the film industry

I'm imagining that Time Out has a mass-mailing list including all of their film contacts, called "film industry." They blast their mailings out to that. Someone hacks a user id called "film industry," and starts responding to the mass mailings as if they were sent by a person.

We did this to a clueless manager, who was prone to announcing all kinds of petty new policies to 75 people, sent to the list "staff." Then "staff" started answering back, and the guy engaged in a protracted dialog with the collective "staff."
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:23 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The UK Film Council has information on qualifying a film as British. While it wasn't around when a lot of these were made, I think the Cultural Test, in particular, is a useful guideline to use when arguing the 'Britishness' of a film.
posted by IanMorr at 9:30 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking that the basis of this list is that the films were made at a British studio, even though they were financed/produced by, say, a US studio.

Star Wars, then?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:39 AM on February 9, 2011


Full list here to save you clicking.
posted by panaceanot at 9:41 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Tebbitt test would be an interesting one:

"Mr Kubrick, if England were playing the USA at cricket, who would you support?"

More seriously: perhaps looking at where the majority of the contributors to the film came from, where it was filmed, etc. Presumably most of Kubrick's films had heavily British crew and cast. Maybe we shouldn't look just at the director (otherwise Mulholland Falls is a New Zealand film, for example). Or maybe there's no hard and fast answer, and some films, like Kubrick's, could be considered multi-national.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:42 AM on February 9, 2011


"So Kubrick films are british?"

Success has many fathers. Failure is an orphan.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:45 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would personally put Peeping Tom higher if not even the top spot. Bonus points for including Dead Man's Shoes which makes for hypnotic viewing over and over again. Not to mention Derek Jarman's Blue...
posted by slimepuppy at 9:54 AM on February 9, 2011


I love the Top Ten. It includes no less than four of my all-time favourite films, never mind British ones (Don't Look Now, A Matter Of Life And Death, Kind Hearts and Coronoets and If...)

Also delighted to see Withnail, both Pythons and Dead Of Night there. The latter still amazes me with the way it can look and sound so dated and yet still send genuine shivers up my spine after all these years.
posted by Decani at 9:58 AM on February 9, 2011


Their ranking of Kubrick films is backward and they seem to have forgotten Dr. Strangelove which is a better movie than any of the ones they included. Also, Trainspotting is not that good.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:00 AM on February 9, 2011


Interesting list, and a bunch I haven't seen but now want to. How in god's name are they possibly considering Repulsion a British film? Studio? Financing?

Basically, as long as Withnail and I and the absolutely perfect, transcendent I Know Where I'm Going are in the upper third, I'm satisfied.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:01 AM on February 9, 2011


"Also, Trainspotting is not that good." Boy, I'll say.
posted by bz at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2011


eschatfische: "Ha, they put Don't Look Now at number one -- what a troll!"

I see what you did there.

Great choice for #1. I love that film so much. I'll have to work my way through the rest of the list. However, a quick search of the page indicates Peeping Tom isn't on there, which is a crying shame.
posted by brundlefly at 10:13 AM on February 9, 2011


However, a quick search of the page indicates Peeping Tom isn't on there

Try a slower one, its at 29.
posted by biffa at 10:24 AM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


No "Carry On, Nurse?"

This list means NOTHING!!
posted by briank at 10:25 AM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


biffa: "Try a slower one, its at 29."

Dang. How the hell did I screw that up? Carry on then!
posted by brundlefly at 10:28 AM on February 9, 2011


Their ranking of Kubrick films is backward...
I dunno. I actually think Lyndon is vastly underrated and generally gets a bad rap. And, as far as this list goes, it's certainly the most "British" of Kubrick's films, insofar as it depicts an historical Britain that actually existed (as opposed to his other "British" film, Clockwork, which is a purely speculative vision.)

I suspect Strangelove was omitted because it's such a bluntly US-targeted movie.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:32 AM on February 9, 2011


Yay, Gregory's Girl - but you've probably heard the crap dubbed version, which is actually harder to understand than the original.
posted by scruss at 10:40 AM on February 9, 2011


Seconding Naked being a way better film than Trainspotting and clearly deserving to be in the Top 10.
Also that's a lot of Shane Meadows (3 entries), considering there's not a single Stephen Frears film (The Hit should definitely be in there somewhere) unless i'm mistaken.
It's cool that they put a couple of Watkins in there though.
posted by SageLeVoid at 10:46 AM on February 9, 2011


I suspect Strangelove was omitted because it's such a bluntly US-targeted movie.

It's a US movie--it was produced by Columbia Pictures.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:52 AM on February 9, 2011


'as chosen by the film industry'

And yet a good chunk of the selection committee is comprised of critics.

Worse, two of those- Josh Rothkopf and David Fear- are among the most juvenile critics writing today.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:55 AM on February 9, 2011


Yeah, but that was the whole discussion about the Kubrick films in the list, Sidhedevil. All of them (including Strangelove) were filmed in the UK but financed either by Columbia, MGM or WB.

What's weird is the converse, Lawrence is in the AFI best 100 films.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:25 AM on February 9, 2011


Ump. Ump. A Hard Day's Night? I think it is every bit as good as -- if not better than -- several films on that list. Such as anything Mike Leigh ever did.

Guy ducks, awaiting brickbats. I am no Mike Leigh fan; sue me.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:28 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but that was the whole discussion about the Kubrick films in the list, Sidhedevil. All of them (including Strangelove) were filmed in the UK but financed either by Columbia, MGM or WB.

"Financed" != "produced". There was much more studio involvement on Strangelove than on the other films in the list.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:28 AM on February 9, 2011


I mean, I agree with them that Barry Lyndon is a "British film" and Dr. Strangelove isn't, just based on what I know about the production history of those two movies. It's always going to be reasonably arbitrary, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:30 AM on February 9, 2011


Get Carter with Michael Cain was always a favorite.
It's such a wonderfully over the top garish, funny brutal gangster film-just badass.
posted by PHINC at 11:32 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bill Douglas, utter genius. Why's he not in the top ten?
posted by Abiezer at 11:49 AM on February 9, 2011


By the Kubrick logic, Walkabout must be an Australian film.

I'm not sure about the writeup, though: few would capture the desolate wilderness on every Aussie’s doorstep more convincingly. C'mon, my camellias got attacked a bit by mites the other year, but it's quite hyperbolic to call them a desolate wilderness.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:11 PM on February 9, 2011


By the Kubrick logic, Walkabout must be an Australian film.

Perhaps but the Kubrick logic is trumped by the 'Agutter Gets 'em out' rule in this instance, which makes Walkabout firmly English.
posted by biffa at 12:42 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what is the most British film ever? My vote would be for The Curse of the Wererabbit. Possibly Brief Encounter or The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp. A Matter of Life and Death is very British-y, but has an obsession about America as a theme.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:30 PM on February 9, 2011


Glad to see Local Hero on there. It's my absolute favourite movie, and one of the very few "heart-warming" comedies that won't make you want to barf or cause diabetes.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:41 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Hard Day's Night not being on there is kind of ridiculous. And just one Bond film (and it's not Goldfinger)? Also, I know I'm in the minority as a Python fan, but I find Life of Brian mostly tedious and unwatchable. I'd even take Meaning of Life over it.

Whiskey Galore is a wonderful little movie.
posted by stargell at 2:32 PM on February 9, 2011


people who read Camus while wearing donkey jackets.

that'll be me them. or at least, it was in 1985. and wot, no Peter Greenaway? or did i miss something? at least that would keep Jarman happy. Good to see Keillor in there. But Skolimowski and Polanski seem a bit of a stretch here, whatever the BFI might think.
posted by peterkins at 4:15 PM on February 9, 2011


Peter Greenaway isn't a director; just a designer of over-wrought tableaux. He missed his true calling as a window dresser for an expensive department store.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:02 PM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


A short edited version of 'A Matter of Life and Death' (which I knew by the title 'Stairway to Heaven') set to the music of Propaganda's 'Dream Within A Dream' is off of YT.

Also, Withnail tops my Anglo list.
posted by ovvl at 5:30 PM on February 9, 2011


Nice list - though I find it troublesome that there is not a single Alan Clarke film on the list.
posted by cinemafiend at 5:32 PM on February 9, 2011


And I know these lists are subjective, but the high ratings of Kes and the Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner are emblematic of a particular affection for gritty, bleak dramas by people who read Camus while wearing donkey jackets

Really, now? Naked, maybe (and I say that as someone who really loves that film). I saw Kes while living in a house with South African and NZ housemates - confusing them with the thick accents was my revenge for having to sit through Faliure To Launch.
posted by mippy at 1:56 AM on February 10, 2011


I'm not sure what a donkey jacket is, but I was probably reading Camus at the time when - on a second date - the girl suggested we grab a video & go back to her place. I'd seen Naked before, but hell yeah I wanted to watch it again, so I suggested "this is what we should get".

There wasn't any romance that night, or indeed ever with her, but I think we both dodged a bullet.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 AM on February 10, 2011


you should have got Zed and Two Noughts instead. things could have been very different.
posted by peterkins at 2:26 PM on February 10, 2011


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