Guardian Picks the Top 25 British Films of the Last 25 Years

September 1, 2009
Source: The Guardian


Now this is a best of list we don't see that often. The Guardian asked their "expert panel of film-makers and critics" to name their top 10 British films since 1984. They then compiled this list of the top 25 British films from the last 25 years and it's quite an interesting list - from Trainspotting to Sexy Beast to Shaun of the Dead to Hunger. A few of these seem to be bordering on being British (only made by British filmmakers or about British people, not actually set in England, like Slumdog Millionaire or Man on Wire) but they are all great films (at least those that I've seen). Take a look below or click here for the full gallery and write-up!

1. Trainspotting (1996)
2. Withnail & I (1987)
3. Secrets & Lies (1996)
4. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)
5. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
6. Nil By Mouth (1997)
7. Sexy Beast (2000)
8. Ratcatcher (1999)
9. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
10. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
11. Touching the Void (2003)
12. Hope and Glory (1987)
13. Control (2007)
14. Naked (1993)
15. Under the Skin (1997)
16. Hunger (2008)
17. This Is England (2006)
18. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
19. Dead Man's Shoes (2004)
20. Red Road (2006)
21. Riff-Raff (1981)
22. Man On Wire (2008)
23. My Summer of Love (2004)
24. 24 Hour Party People (2002)
25. The English Patient (1996)

Some of the people that The Guardian polled include director Edgar Wright, writer Peter Morgan, actor Sir Ben Kingsley, and critic Anne Thompson. This really is a good list of great films. Trainspotting is one of those films that I randomly discovered when I was younger along with Sexy Beast, too. As is always the case with one of these lists, I feel like I need to catch up on so many that I haven't seen, so many new films I need to watch. We suggest you head over to The Guardian for the complete write-up with photos, editorial on each film, and much more. And if you're interested, you can see a few top 10 lists from their experts as well!

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  • Rick
    Is Guy Ritchie not british?!
  • He is and damn, you're right, Snatch deserves to be on here, damnit!
  • movieboy
    the list does not feel right wheres: * Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) * East is East (1999) * Billy Elliot (2000) these movies should be on the top 25 British films
  • Al
    28 Days Later is way better than Slumdog. Very proud of Withnail and I for making the cut.
  • "A few of these seem to be bordering on being British (only made by British filmmakers or about British people, not actually set in England, like Slumdog Millionaire or Man on Wire)" Well, that would be similar to the American Film Institute's top 100 films. Not all the films are set in America, but were American productions. Apocalypse Now, Lord of the Rings, Saving Private Ryan, Spartacus, Platoon, Blade Runner, Toy Story, Ben-Hur
  • Hallospaceboy
    Nope. Guy Ritchie aint that good. He doesn't deserve to be on there. He is a a third rate QT.
  • tom
    wtf, no Death at a Funeral?
  • Rorschach90
    I'd like to see 28 Days Later on here, and definitely Snatch and Lock, Stock. Those 2 are insanely good
  • Yo, true that, Tom. Death at a Funeral is my favorite British film in recent memory.
  • Greedo
    In Bruges.
  • Kalypse
    No Guy Ritchie?
    Where's Snatch and The Descent?
  • snatcher
    Snatch is precisely that, a pile of old gipping snatch! Guy Ritchie is worse at movies than his gaping ex wife is at making music.
  • Brandon
    I vote for Snatch too!
  • box3r
    Really Snatch or Lock Stock and Two smokin barrels should definitly be on here. These two movies are great. I'm not british but damn, this really isn't a nice top25 without these two movies. I'm disapointed.
  • RPH
    No Gandhi?!?!?
  • napoleonblownapart
    Snatch I think is better than Lockstock A fish called wanda? I haven't seen it in ages but i seem to remember it doing well financially and critically
  • Yeah, Guy Ritchie totally got the shaft in this ranking...thanks a lot Guardian:( I am glad to see that 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'This is England' made it here. Trainspotting, though visionary at the time it was made, is a bit overrated. Also, there was a little movie called The Long Good Friday that should have been on this list but it was made in 1980 so it missed the cut...
  • napoleonblownapart
    Gandhi was '82
  • Brazil fits. where the hell is it or any gilliam for that matter? dont tell me he was disqualified for not being born in Britain.
  • beavis4play
    snatch, "lock stock and 2 smoking barrels", and "rock and rolla" HAVE to be on this list, don't they?
  • Sleepykid
    "British cinema is a contradiction in terms." - Francois Truffaut. Looking at that list, I'll concede he has a point. And I'm British myself.
  • Tofer
    Three films that almost certainly should have made the cut are The Full Monty, 28 Days Later, and Billy Elliot. Guy Richie's films are fun to watch, but slightly overrated in my opinion. They all play out the exact same way.
  • NeoN
    This is england and dead mans shoes should have been higher. I agree with #13, guy ritchie is like diabetes on british film. At first it was funny to get away with cheeky stuff now it needs to be amputated.
  • jim
    Full Monty and every Guy Ritchie movie should be added
  • SuicidalOptimist
    Aww...where is Billy Elliot?!? =(
  • Colca
    Riff-Raff is listed as 1981 here. It was actually 1991. Clearly a typo but right now it looks like someone did some terrible math on how long ago 25 years was.
  • RC
    Glad to see Shaun of the Dead made it on here. It would have been an absolute travesty if it didn't.
  • SC
    They should have put Hot Fuzz and Death at a Funeral on here. And what about Christopher Nolan's films? I mean I know he has dual citizenship in the US and the UK but that should still count right? Also I'm pleased to see Shaun of the Dead getting some love! (Second favorite movie ever!)
  • leiner
    bloody hell! I've just seen FIVE!!
  • rachel
    no Kubrick?????????!!!? ive only seen 9 of those.. and lock stock needs to be there (ahem)
  • David Banner
    My check of the films I've seen on this list. I do not agree with this list, nor like all, or recomend all, but anyhow seen 14/25: 1. Trainspotting (1996) yes 2. Withnail & I (1987) yes 3. Secrets & Lies (1996) no 4. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) no 5. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) no 6. Nil By Mouth (1997) yes 7. Sexy Beast (2000) yes 8. Ratcatcher (1999) no 9. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) no 10. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) yes 11. Touching the Void (2003) yes 12. Hope and Glory (1987) yes 13. Control (2007) yes 14. Naked (1993) yes 15. Under the Skin (1997) yes 16. Hunger (2008) no 17. This Is England (2006) no 18. Shaun of the Dead (2004) yes 19. Dead Man's Shoes (2004) no 20. Red Road (2006) no 21. Riff-Raff (1981) yes 22. Man On Wire (2008) no 23. My Summer of Love (2004) no 24. 24 Hour Party People (2002) yes 25. The English Patient (1996) yes
  • Those dudes at the guardiansmust be a bunch of RAH-TARDS.. Snatch and Lock Stock need to be on this list. Crazy fools, those brits.
  • Ben
    Where is Hot Fuzz, RocknRolla, 28 Days Later and The Descent?!
  • reaperslogic
    No Hot Fuzz???
  • hey
    Dead Man's Shoes should be much higher up, if not at the top - it's an amazing film. Hunger should also be higher up the list. Trainspotting is good but very overrated and should not be number 1. Glad Guy Ritchie isn't on the list to be honest - he started off as a Tarrantino wannabe and has migrated into a self-satisfied 'mock-ney' with highly derivitive plots and dialogue. Essentially, he's gone up his own arse!
  • PG
    Trainspotting is one of the most overrated films in cinema history. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad film but nowhere that good either. And I definitely agree that 28 Days Later and The Descent should have been included. Those two were one of the best horror movies to come out in the last decade regardless of country of origin.
  • Markus
    Agree with Greedo.. In Bruges should be there
  • HandsomeBob
    Yeah, seriously, I thought Guy Ritchie was British. Snatch and/or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels should be here.
  • Pounding Metal
    Good call #17. A Fish Called Wanda is a classic! I agree with everyone on Snatch as well. Should be top of the list! If it were my list it would have Brassed Off on it, as well as Billy Elliot.
  • Clyde
    #36 the only person who has gone up his own ass is you....come on guy ritchie is awesome, and he boned madonna. lol cats ha ha you probably love all those hairy fairy films with the writing on, er subtitiles i mean. PAUL W S ANDERSON is british, surely he should get a mention, hello resident evil, event horizon anybody, danny boyle even ripped him off with sunshine, like thats not event horizon in an orange puffa jacket. NICK LOVE, the business by nick love, a bloody master piece! DEAD MANS Shoes, did anyone really like this film? the acting was terrible especially the main bloke Paul Consantine, rubbish. the only good fing about this film is that they had a real disabled in a major role as the younger brother. has he been in other movies since, anyone?
  • Film Fan
    Any Top 25 British Film list that fails to include "Elizabeth" immediately fails. Sorry. Also missing that should be there: "About a Boy" "The Bank Job" (2008) "In Bruges" "Bend it Like Beckham" "Stormy Monday"
  • MeNotYou
    Anyone who thinks that Paul W S Anderson should be considered in a "best of" discussion should immediately be banned from ever commenting on a film blog again. That is all.
  • MeNotYou
    Oh, and I would definitely put "A Fish Called Wanda" on this list.
  • Gabe
    I love the equal amounts of Love and Ire for Guy Ritchie. I for one would at least put Snatch on this list. But what the fuck o Layer Cake with that amazing cast and fucking plot, fuck. Or for that matter any one of tons of awesome U.K. crime dramas.
  • Efrain
    Whoa whoa whoa. How in the world did A Clockwork Orange not make the cut. That has to be one of the best if not the best British film i've ever seen.
  • napoleonblownapart
    The best British film I've seen recently was the Escapist with Brian Cox. Better than some I see made the list
  • efrainisatwat
    Efrain you twat a clockwork orange was made more than 25 years ago.
  • Chris from USA.
    What about Bean ? ,Mr. Bean h.e is number one this of the pond .
  • brockie
    I always thought Twin Town was a good film.
  • Chris
    #41 "DEAD MANS Shoes, did anyone really like this film? the acting was terrible especially the main bloke Paul Consantine, rubbish. the only good fing about this film is that they had a real disabled in a major role as the younger brother. has he been in other movies since, anyone?" Er Clyde, the "real disabled" person was acting!!! He was in RockNRolla (Tony Kebbell). The main role was by Paddy Considine, a great actor.
  • Daniel Margrain
    The following ought to of been the definitive list (in no particular order): Raining Stones My Name Is Joe A Room With A View The Crying Game Backbeat In The Name of the Father The Madness of King George Butcher Boy Small Faces The General High Hopes Last King of Scotland Distant Voices, Still Lives East Is East London to Brighton The Krays Howards End Remains of the Day Gangster No 1 This is England Four Weddings and a Funeral Nil By Mouth Sexy Beast Trainspotting Hope and Glory




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