British cinema has really flourished in the last decade.
Directors like Andrea Arnold and Steve McQueen have made incredible stories for the big screen.
Here are 25 of the best British movies of the last 10 years.
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.
"Attack the Block" (2011)
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.
"Wuthering Heights" (2011)
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.
"We Need to Talk About Kevin" (2011)
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.
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.
"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."
"Under the Skin" (2013)
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.
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.
"Ex Machina" (2014)
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.
"The Imitation Game" (2014)
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.
"'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.
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.
"I, Daniel Blake" (2016)
"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.
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.
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.
"The Death of Stalin" (2017)
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.
"God's Own Country" (2017)
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.
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.
"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.
"The Favorite" (2018)
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 Souvenir" (2019)
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.
"Lynn + Lucy" (2019)
"Lynn + Lucy" is illuminated by a pair of masterful performances by Roxanne Scrimshaw (Lucy) and Nichola Burley (Lynn), two lifelong friends who have never ventured far from their childhood homes.
But when Lucy gives birth to her first child, she doesn't react well to being a mother. 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.
"His House" (2020)
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 when a vicious evil enters their lives.
"Small Axe" (2020)
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 and the late 1980s.
The "Small Axe" collection is on this list not only because all five films are so good that they could all be cited individually, but because the collection together is an exceptionally acted and nuanced portrait of an underrepresented culture during a transitional time in history.
John Boyega, Letitia Wright, and Malachi Kirby star.
Actor and director Kenneth Branagh drew from his own experiences growing up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland for 2021's "Belfast." The semi-autobiographical drama tells the coming-of-age story of 9-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill), who is growing up in a Protestant family in the titular city as riots erupt in 1969.
"Belfast" was nominated for seven Oscars at the 2021 Academy Awards, with Branagh taking home best screenplay. It also won the BAFTA award for outstanding British film and the Golden Globe for best screenplay.
Charlotte Wells' debut film, "Aftersun," looks at the complicated relationship between 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) and her father, Calum (Paul Mescal) while they're on holiday together in Turkey.
In this emotional character study, the vacation is a pivotal point in Sophie's coming of age. It's also a heartbreaking portait of a father trying to hide his own struggles from his daughter.
Mescal was nominated for best actor at the 2023 Oscars for playing Calum, and Wells won outstanding debut at the 2023 BAFTAS.
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