The 10 Best British Movies Actually From Britain, Ranked

Step aside, Hollywood. Some of the greatest films in history came from the land of Great Britain. How many of these have you seen?
The 10 Best British Movies Actually From Britain, Ranked

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Over the decades, Britain has firmly established itself as one of the leading nations in film production.

From David Lean to Alfred Hitchcock, from Ken Loach to Carol Reed, many preeminent filmmakers have hailed from the small island of Britain over the decades, not to mention fantastic writing-directing duos like Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

These impressive filmmakers have given us an entire culture of great cinema. Here are my picks for the best movies from Britain.

10. This Sporting Life (1963)

Trailer for This Sporting Life (1963)

The British kitchen sink drama This Sporting Life was a staple of the United Kingdom's cinema tradition for many years.

The story follows Frank Machin (played by the infallible Richard Harris), a man who works as a coal miner. However, when he starts a fight with some men inside a rugby club, his sheer physicality impresses the club owners—and they take him onto the team.

It's a story that looks at our purpose in the world and our desire for something better. In that sense, This Sporting Life is one of the best sport movies out there.

9. Trainspotting (1996)

Trailer for Trainspotting (1996)

Danny Boyle burst onto the scene with Trainspotting. While it wasn't his first film, it was the one that turned everyone's heads and got us all to pay attention to this British director.

The plot is rather loose: a group of friends in their mid-20s try to score heroin in 1990s Scotland. That's it. That's the film. But it's a pretty accurate reflection of a heroin addict's mental state and motivations.

In fact, it was such a good portrayal that it became controversial for supposedly glamorizing heroin use. Regardless, it's a fantastic film.

8. Don't Look Now (1973)

Trailer for Don't Look Now (1973)

Starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, Don't Look Now is one of the most harrowing depictions of grief in film history.

John and Laura, a married couple going through the throes of loss after their daughter drowns in their garden, go to Venice for John's work. However, once there, John begins to feel a presence is following him—one that's dark and sinister...

Featuring breathtaking performances and a tight story, Don't Look Now is one of the best horror movies from Britain.

7. Kes (1969)

Trailer for Kes (1969)

Ken Loach has established himself as one of the best British auteurs. With his directing career that spans almost sixty years, he will go down as a legendary filmmaker. Across all that, no other film in his filmography is as special as Kes.

Another kitchen sink drama, Kes is a film about a young boy who finds himself in a difficult patch in life: he's picked on at school (by students and teachers) and by his belittling older brother.

In this coal mining town, there's little hope or inspiration for him. However, all of that changes when he meets a kestrel whom he names Kes. This coming-of-age story will leave no eye in the house dry.

6. Withnail & I (1987)

Trailer for Withnail & I (1987)

A portrait of hopelessness and despair, Withnail & I is perfect British comedy material. It's the film to watch if you ever want to have an idea of what it's like to be an actor in a big city.

In fact, it's the film to watch if you have any kind of dream where factors determining your success are beyond your control.

While it can be pretty bleak in parts, Withnail & I is a film that has real heart and poignant moments.

5. The Third Man (1949)

Trailer for The Third Man (1949)

For many years, The Third Man was considered the British film. In fact, it still tops many lists to this day with magazines and websites hailing it as one of the best British movies of all time.

The story follows Holly Martins, an author who goes to Vienna to meet his friend Harry Lime. Holly has been promised a job, but he doesn't exactly know what that job will be.

However, when he arrives there, he learns that Lime was killed in a car crash. He then learns that that isn't true. The plot thickens!

Carol Reed made a number of spectacular films in his day, but The Third Man is an incredible watch that remains his masterpiece.

4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Trailer for A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Stanley Kubrick directed, produced, and wrote A Clockwork Orange (based on the novel by Anthony Burgess) and it has since become an iconic piece of cinema.

Alex DeLarge is a young delinquent who's antisocial and violent. He enjoys going out into the streets at night with his fellow "droogs" to kill the homeless and rape young women.

Unsurprisingly, A Clockwork Orange was met with fierce controversy when it was first released, and it was even banned after a host of copycat crimes were committed. However, it's gorgeously filmed and widely regarded as a masterpiece.

3. Hunger (2008)

Trailer for Hunger (2008)

Steve McQueen's Hunger is the only film on this list that was released in the 21st century. Despite its relatively young age, it's one of the best.

It's important to look at this director as a generational talent, one who's capable of rendering humanity's greatest crimes with an aesthetic sense of sadness in a way unlike any other filmmaker.

And that's exactly what Hunger is: a documentation of human suffering and willpower.

Hunger is a stunning film that depicts humanity's greatest capacity for evil and the depths of humanity's courage and strength, all within ninety minutes. The sound, imagery, and performances make this one of the best movies from Britain since the turn of the millennium.

2. Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

Trailer for Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)

"He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!" It's a line that everyone started repeating after watching Monty Python's brilliant Life of Brian.

Part comedy and part satire of organized religion and the ramifications of group mentality, Monty Python's Life of Brian is arguably the greatest comedy film ever made.

It's hilarious, wacky, clever, whimsical, and weird. Not to mention how it reinvented comedic cutaways or the fact that it's responsible for revolutionizing the entire genre.

1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Trailer for Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Frequently referred to as one of the best films of all time, it's no wonder that David Lean's fantastic epic film Lawrence of Arabia tops our list as the best movie to come out of Britain.

The story follows a British military officer named Thomas Edward Lawrence, tracking his experiences as he fights in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. It's a huge film in every sense of the word: the scope, the scale, the emotional impact.

In fact, the American Film Institute placed it as fifth on their list of 100 Best Movies and The Telegraph ranked it as the best British movie of all time after a poll from British filmmakers in 2004.

I'm happy to agree with all this evidence and I'd happily declare Lawrence of Arabia as a clear winner of all the best movies from Britain.