Brits bagged 40% of the Golden Globes: Here are the 25 best British movies of the last 10 years

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Zac Ntim
·14 min read
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British films
"Paddington," 'The Favourite," and "Dunkirk" all made the list. Studiocanal/Fox Searchlight/Warner Bros.

British filmmakers have spent the last decade providing the world of cinema with the most interesting and inventing stories one can find anywhere in the world. Working across a diverse range of genres at an increasingly mercurial rate, the British film industry is currently enjoying an acclaimed period of creativity.

Long gone are the days of cliched period dramas or ill-conceived remakes of comedy classics. British filmmakers are offering fresh takes that are leading the industry and pushing the film form forward.

So, keep reading below to see a list of the 25 best British films of the last decade, listed in no particular order.

"Wuthering Heights" (2011)

"Wuthering Heights"
"Wuthering Heights" was written and directed by Andrea Arnold. Curzon Artificial Eye

Andrea Arnold's unconventional re-imagining of Emily Brontë's classic novel strips away all the period-drama clichés we are accustomed to seeing when any Brontë is hauled over to the big-screen to create an immersive and incredibly daring drama that pushes beyond the well-known love story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliffe.

Instead, Arnold uses the love between the two young northerners who are split by rank; and, most prominently in Arnold's adaptation, race to create a movie that offers up all the gothic spirit of the novel alongside the even darker history of British imperialism.

"Under the Skin" (2013)

Under The Skin
Scarlett Johansson in "Under the Skin." StudioCanal

Writer-director Jonathan Glazer's third movie "Under the Skin" is a complicated and sparse sci-fi drama that is loosely based on Dutch author Michel Faber's acclaimed book of the same name.

The movie follows an unnamed alien mutant (Scarlett Johansson) who inhabits the body of a young woman who trails the streets of Scotland in a van in search of unsuspecting prey. Much of "Under the Skin" is shot objectively using small hidden cameras and unconventional, almost documentary-style techniques.

There is also an equally harsh and contemporary score by Mica Levi.

"Dunkirk" (2017)

Dunkirk movie
Fionn Whitehead in "Dunkirk." Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan is best known for his raucous "Batman" thrillers but his greatest achievement thus far is the much quieter, but no less groundbreaking WW2 drama "Dunkirk."

Once again feeding his trademark obsession with time, Nolan crafts three interweaving stories to provide an emotionally engaging recreation of the evacuation of Dunkirk, which saw some 340,000 allied troops rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk after the German invasion.

"Dunkirk" is an emotionally satisfying spectacle delivered by a writer-director who is in total command of his craft with a richly talented ensemble cast to match.

"Four Lions" (2010)

"Four Lions"
Riz Ahmed in "Four Lions." Optimum Releasing

The narrative premise of "Four Lions" suggests a mildly racist comedy, but the movie is, in fact, a fiercely intelligent and subversive satire.

The movie follows a group of young British Muslim men who, after becoming disenchanted with Western society and the continued interventionism of Britain and the United States, decide to become suicide bombers.

But after failing to impress al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists at a secret training camp in Pakistan, the group of oddballs create their own inept plan to bomb several sites in their hometown of Sheffield.

"The Souvenir" (2019)

the souvenir a24
Tilda Swinton stars alongside her daughter Honor Swinton Byrne in Joanna Hogg's "The Souvenir." A24

Over the last decade, British writer-director Joanna Hogg has released three movies, all of them masterpieces, and "The Souvenir" is the first of two to make this list.

Slightly pushing past her trademark small-scale yet managing to keep the deeply intimate nature of her previous work, Hogg charts a stunning semi-autobiographical film about youth, love, and, cinema.

There is also a stunning, career-making performance from Honor Swinton Byrne daughter of Tilda Swinton — who is a lifelong friend of Hogg's — and also stars.

The movie was executive-produced by Martin Scorsese.

"Shame" (2011)

shame
Michael Fassbender in "Shame." Fox Searchlight

Oscar-winning artist and director Steve McQueen's "Shame" is a compelling and provocative psychological thriller.

McQueen's frequent collaborator Michael Fassbender stars as a 30-something businessman who manages to balance his high-powered work life with a secret and unflinching addiction to sex. But when his free-spirited sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) arrives for an unexpected visit, Brandon's secret slowly starts to unravel.

"Attack the Block" (2011)

attack the block
John Boyega stars in "Attack the Block." Screen Gems

Effortlessly weaving together scary jumps and biting social commentary, Joe Cornish's 2011 cult classic "Attack the Block" is a fast-paced sci-fi comedy that follows an unlucky young nurse (Jodie Whittaker) who is forced to create an unlikely alliance with a group of mischievous local teenagers (John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones) to fight off an invasion from a rabid species of Aliens.

"His House" (2020)

his house
Netflix

The horror genre, whether in film, literature, or visual art, is often described as the most political of all genres for its ability to encase grand, subversive stories and ideas into narratives that can shake audiences into action. And with his debut film "House House," director Remi Weekes creates one of the most terrifying political horrors of all time.

The film follows a refugee couple who make the harrowing, transatlantic journey from war-torn South Sudan to England. But they struggle to adapt to their new lives a vicious evil enters their life.

"Amy" (2015)

"Amy"
Asif Kapadia's acclaimed documentary. Altitude Film Distribution

Acclaimed filmmaker Asif Kapadia uses archival footage and new personal testimonies to present a powerfully honest look at the twisted and dangerous relationship between artists, celebrities, and the media through the life and career of the immensely talented British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse.

"Lynn + Lucy" (2019)

"Lynn and Lucy"
"Lynn + Lucy" was written and directed by Fyzal Boulifa. BBC Films

"Lynn + Lucy" is illuminated by a pair of masterful performances by Roxanne Scrimshaw (Lucy) and Nichola Burley (Lynn), two very close life-long friends who have never ventured far from their childhood homes.

But when Lucy gives birth to her first child, she does not react well to being a mother and soon the pair's friendship is tested by the most extreme, criminal circumstances.

Writer-director Fyzal Boulifa's debut movie is a contemporary social realist drama with the morality of a classic Greek tragedy.

"Disobedience" (2017)

disobedience
Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz in Sebastián Lelio's drama. Bleecker Street

Based on British author Naomi Alderman's novel of the same name, "Disobedience" follows Ronit, a young photographer who returns home to her Orthodox Jewish community in North London after her father, a well-respect Rabbi, unexpectedly dies.

But many years earlier, she was shunned both by her father and the community for developing feelings for Esti, a childhood friend. And once back, the pair reignite that same intense passion, but this time Esti is married to Dovid, a rising Rabbi in their community.

"We Need to Talk About Kevin" (2011)

we need to talk about kevin Oscilloscope
Lynne Ramsey's intense psychological thriller. Oscilloscope

Lynne Ramsay's acclaimed adaptation of Lionel Shriver's award-winning novel follows Kevin (Ezra Miller), a wild teenager who is in prison after committing a mass murder at his high school.

His mother, Eva (Tilda Swinton), a once-successful travel writer struggles to deal with the pain her son has inflicted and we follow her as she descends further into her memories recounting every moment of her life that led up to Kevin's violent crime.

"'71" (2014)

"71"
Jack O'Connell stars in "'71." Universal Pictures

"'71." is a powerfully directed and acted thriller about a young recruit to the British army named Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) who is sent to Belfast in 1971 during the early stages of the Troubles.

And under the poor guidance of an inexperienced Lieutenant, Hook and his regiment are sent into a volatile area where a violent riot breaks out and Hook is accidentally abandoned. Left without the ability to contact his base, Hook is forced to survive the night and find his way to safety.

The movie manages to stay extremely close to historical facts while reveling in all the beats of the classic Hollywood genre in a way that is sure to take your break away.

"The Imitation Game" (2014)

the imitation game benedict cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing. The Weinstein Company

With an outstanding leading performance from Benedict Cumberbatch who illuminates on-screen, "The Imitation Game" serves as a perfect entry into the life of the mathematical genius and father of the modern computer, Alan Turing.

During World War 2, Turing, along with four other Cambridge mathematicians, was recruited by the newly created British intelligence outfit MI6 to crack the Nazi's unbreakable Enigma code.

And in 1942 Turing his team succeed. But 10 years later his life ends abruptly after he is arrested and convicted when it is revealed that Turing is gay.

"Archipelago " (2010)

"Archipelago"
Tom Hiddleston in Joanna Hogg's second film. Artificial Eye

"Archipelago," the second film by British director Joanna Hogg, is a subtle, funny, and confident drama about a family that begins to unravel during a getaway on the secluded Isles of Scilly.

There is very little dialogue here and Hogg's camera remains fixed with almost no movement through the film. Instead, each scene unravels quietly with meaning and emotion roaring through the actions of the protagonists and the sharpness of the film's largely improvised script.

This is a beautifully distilled work that lingers in the mind long after the closing credits.

"Ex Machina" (2014)

Ex machina
Oscar Isaac in the famous "Ex Machina" dance scene. A24

British writer Alex Garland is responsible for numerous acclaimed screenplays including "23 Days Later" and "Never Let Me God." And his directorial debut "Ex Machina" follows similar dark and metaphysical themes.

The movie follows Caleb, a 26-year-old computer programmer at a large internet company who wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company.

And when Caleb arrives, he finds that he will have to participate in a strange experiment in which he must interact with the world's first most advanced AI computer, which is housed in the body of a beautiful girl.

"God's Own Country" (2017)

God's Own Country
Directed by Francis Lee. Orion Pictures/Samuel Goldwyn Films/Picturehouse Entertainment

British writer-director Francis quite literally burst onto the scene after the debut of his quiet, confident, and moving drama "God's Own Country."

Josh O'Connor, who is best known as Prince Charles in Netflix's "The Crown," stars as a young Yorkshire farmer who battles addiction until the arrival of a worker from Romania who ignites an intense relationship that changes Johnny's life forever.

"The Favorite" (2018)

The Favourite
Olivia Colman as Queen Anne. Fox Searchlight

Yorgos Lanthimos brought his trademark dark, absurdist humor to the mainstream with his 2018 Oscar-winner "The Favourite."

The movie follows a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) during the early part of the 18th century as England is about to wage war with the French. And for the most part, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), the Queen's lover and closest confident governs the country while tending to Anne's ill health.

But when a new servant named Abigail (Emma Stones) arrives at court a battle for the Queen's attention begins.

"The Death of Stalin" (2017)

death of stalin
Armando Iannucci's political satire. IFC Films

Armando Iannucci cemented his place within the pantheon of classic, British satirists with his work in TV. And thankfully, none of his recent big-screen work has lost any of his trademark bite.

Set in 1953 during the Great Terror of Joseph Stalin's reign, Iannucci's second directorial effort "The Death of Stalin" opens, as advertised, with the sudden death of the tyrannical dictator.

And when his corrupt, psychopathic councilors are notified, they descend on Moscow one-by-one, and a hilarious fight to install the next head of state begins.

"Matangi/Maya/M.I.A." (2018)

MIA
Rapper MIA's acclaimed documentary. Abramorama/Dogwoof

Director Stephen Loveridge has known the British rapper M.I.A. for over 20 years. The pair have been friends since they were film students at Central Saint Martins in London.

And as a result, "Matangi/Maya/M.I.A." — the documentary Loveridge made about M.I.A.'s life, her rise to fame, and the myriad of controversies that have followed — manages to mix a uniquely critical lens with intimate access to the subject.

The documentary is woven together using a vault of never-before-seen footage spanning decades and provides an expansive look into the life of one of Britain's most inventive and controversial artists.

"Small Axe" (2020)

"Lovers Rock"
Amarah-Jae St Aubyn and Michael Ward in McQueen's "Lovers Rock." Parisa Taghizadeh/BBC/McQueen Limited

Steve McQueen's "Small Axe" — a name borrowed from a 1973 single by the Wailers ("If you are the big tree, we are the Small Axe") — is not a singular work but instead a collection of five separate films that explore the lives of people living in London's West Indian community between the early 1960s to the late 1980s.

And the "Small Axe" collection has been named on this list, as it was on a similar list by the LA film critics circle, not only because all five films are so good that they could all be sighted, but because the collection together exemplifies what one might describe as "true cinema" meaning filmmaking that hits the deepest levels of the form to create strong and lasting emotions in the viewer.

John Boyega, Letitia Wright, and Malachi Kirby star.

"Paddington" (2014)

paddington
Ben Whishaw in Paddington Bear. StudioCanal

After a deadly earthquake destroys his home in the South American rainforest, a young bear named Paddington (Ben Whishaw) makes his way to England in search of a new home. And soon he finds shelter in the family home of Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins).

But while Paddington's charm seems to rub off on his new family and their friends, he has also caught the attention of an evil museum taxidermist Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman) who captures, kills, and stuffs exotic animals to house in the Natural History Museum.

And when Clyde becomes aware of Paddington, she sets out to hunt him down.

"McQueen" (2018)

"McQueen"
Fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Bleecker Street

"McQueen" is a moving documentary that charts the legacy of Lee Alexander McQueen, the boisterous, anti-establishment fashion designer best known as Alexander McQueen.

Co-directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, the movie divides the designer's life in to distinct chapters that are named after some of his most famed collections.

Archival footage and interviews with McQueen's closest friends and family offer insight into his extraordinary life and offer new context to some of his more controversial shows such as Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims and Highland Rape.

"McQueen" is a fitting tribute to a complicated artist of mesmerizing and profound genius.

"I, Daniel Blake" (2016)

"I, Daniel Blake"
Ken Loach's Palme d'Or winning drama. Joss Barratt/Entone Group

"I, Daniel Blake" is classic Ken Loach.

The movie follows Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) a 59-year-old widowed carpenter who is forced to rely on welfare after a recent heart attack leaves him unable to work. But despite his doctor's diagnosis, Blake is denied benefits and is told to return to his job.

We follow Daniel as he attempts to navigate his way through an agonizing and dehumanizing appeals process in which he begins to develop a strong bond with a single mother (Hayley Squires) who's struggling to take care of her two children.

"Skyfall" (2012)

Skyfall
"Skyfall" was Craig's third appearance as 007. MGM Studios

"Skyfall" is the first James Bond film by British theater and film director Sam Mendes.

The dark and stylish edition opens with James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a dangerous assignment that takes a wrong, almost fatal turn. As a result, all the personal details of MI6's undercover agents are released.

With MI6 now compromised from within, M (Judi Dench), the agency's head, creates an undercover cell with Bond to track down Silva (Javier Bardem), a dangerous villain from her past.

"Skyfall" is widely considered as the film that shot the storied James Bond franchise into the modern blockbuster business. The film also features Adele's "Skyfall," the best Bond theme since Paul McCartney's 1973 "Live and Let Die."

Read the original article on Insider