The 10 best British movies of 2008 traffic in the things we love about British film. There’s violence, humor, absurdity, tragedy, racial tensions, class warfare, and tales of exotic lands, not to mention thick accents, smooth criminals, and four letter words.  

  1. “Slumdog Millionaire” – The film took place in India and won the biggest award at the 2009 Oscar ceremony (that would be Best Picture), but it all started with Englishman Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay based on Vikus Swarup’s novel. That screenplay became one of best British movies of 2008 thanks to the genius of director Danny Boyle, the man behind cult classics “Trainspotting” and “28 Days Later.”

  2. “Hunger” – “Hunger” is a harrowing film about the IRA hunger strikes that took place in Irish prisons in 1981. One of the best British films of 2008, the movie deals primarily with the strike’s leader, Bobby Sands, and the events that led to both the strike and Sands’ death. The film won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.

  3. “This Is England” – “This Is England” is a film of boundless ambition. One of the best British films of 2008, it attempts to tell the tale of deeply entrenched racism, xenophobia, and class warfare through the filter of the ska, punk, and reggae skinhead movements of the early 1980’s. It is a violent, explosive, stark tale.

  4. “Man On Wire” – “Man On Wire” is a morbidly fascinating documentary about French tight rope walker Philippe Petit who attempted to make his way from one of the Twin Towers to the other on a heavy steel cable that he had smuggled into one of the buildings and illegally strung between the two. It’s a film filled with palpable tension.

  5. “The Bank Job” – One of the best British movies of 2010, “The Bank Job” is a taut and politically charged thriller filled with sly humor and violence. The film is much indebted to classic crime films like “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” that examine problems of class and race through the filter of violence and crime.

  6. “Son of Rambow” – “Son of Rambow” is a farcical British film in the great tradition of tongue-in-cheek comedy like Monty Python and the work of Peter Sellers. The movie tells the tale of two elementary school friends from very different social backgrounds making a film based on “Rambo: First Blood.” Enough said.

  7. “Atonement” – Were it not for English director Joe Wright, “Atonement” could very well have been a generic Oscar-bait historical drama about scandal and World War II. In Wright’s capable hands, it became one of the best British films of 2008, filled with amazing, extended tracking shots, strange camera angles, and the blurring of the line between ambient sound and soundtrack music.

  8. “RocknRolla” – One of the boldest British directors in recent memory, Guy Ritchie, put out two outright classics and two throwaway pieces of trash back-to-back. Ritchie rescued his reputation with “RocknRolla,” a raucous crime picture filled with facetious dialogue, erudite gangsters, and Guy’s explosively energetic direction. 

  9. “The Bourne Ultimatum” – British filmmake Paul Greengrass brought the Bourne trilogy to a close with “The Bourne Ultimatum,” surely the best film of the franchise. One of the best British films of 2010, “Ultimatum” has nail biting car chase, hair raising hand-to-hand combat, and a story arc that brings the franchise to a satisfying conclusion.

  10. “Doomsday” – “Doomsday” is pure trash, but it’s beautiful trash for sure. The film takes place in a Britain of the future, one that is being ravaged by a virus. A military major is dispatched to Scotland, which has been quarantined on account of the virus, to find a cure. The major finds the country dominated by marauding gangs like those of “Mad Max” and “Escape from New York.”