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The best British films of all time

The British Film Industry has produced many top-notch films at the cutting edge of modern cinema. The debate on which are the best British made films of all time is of course a matter of personal taste, however the British Film Institute has compiled a list of the top 100, based on 25,700 votes and covering 820 different films. Below are the top 10 British movies of all times (Well… At least the ones that made their list!).

1. The Third Man (1949)

This film remains a British classic with stunning performances from actors Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles, beautiful shots by Cinematographer Robert Krasker (who won an Oscar for his efforts) and a gripping storyline of intrigue and suspense.

2. Brief Encounter (1945)

Images of the parting scenes from this film are notoriously moving. The story of a suburban housewife who falls in love with a doctor and is robbed of her final goodbye to him is a thought provoking tear jerker that has never lost it’s timeless appeal.

3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

An epic Oscar (Best Picture) and BAFTA winning film based on the life of T.E. Lawrence, this film has been hugely influential in the history of cinema. Sweeping scenes shot across a shimmering desert and the performance of Peter O’Toole in particular ensure that this film is easily within the top 3.

4. The 39 steps (1935)

Widely regarded as the greatest of all the Hitchcock films, this movie tells the story of a Canadian tourist who meets a girl on the run from secret agents. He agrees to let her stay the night and she is murdered in his appartment. A great film from the mind of a cinematic genius.

5. Great Expectations (1946)

Hailed as the best movie based on a Dickens novel this film won two Academy Awards. An atmospheric and emotive masterpiece.

Kind Hearts and Coronets

6. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

A dark comedy with an ingenious twist, this film plays with the mind of the audience by encouraging us to get inside the mind of a killer. Great performances by both Dennis Price and Alec Guinness.

7. Kes (1969)

This film is shown in countless classrooms across Britain and tells the story of a working class boy who finds distraction from his mundane life caring for and training a Kestrel. Shot on location in Barnsley, this film also provides a political and social commentary on the issues of the period and the lack of opportunity for the working classes.

8. Don’t Look Now (1973)

Based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier, this chilling film stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland who embark on a trip to Venice following the tragic drowning of their daughter. They meet two sisters one of who claim to be psychic and say she can see their dead daughter and that their lives are in danger. A terrifying film that plays on our ultimate fears.

9. The Red Shoes (1948)

Based on a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale about an enchanted pair of red ballet shoes, this film is renound for its use of Technicolor and astounding cinematography. After painstaking restoration it was re released at Cannes in 2009 and is now available on Blu-Ray.

10. Trainspotting (1996)

The only relatively recent film to make it in to the BFI’s top 10, this disturbing film about the gritty truth of drug taking quickly established it as a British masterpiece at the time of Brit pop and ‘heroine chic’. Capturing the mood of a whole generation it was also responsible for launching the career of Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller.

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