Top 10 English Movies

Sunday, December 5 by Tom Gordon

The top 10 English movies ever made cover the gamut of film types, from adventures and crime thrillers to comedies, both romantic and silly. They include black-and-white classics and modern gems you probably saw in the theaters. So if you want to tap into your inner anglophile, check out some of the titles on this list of the top 10 English movies in history.

  1. "The Third Man." Directed by Carol Reed, this 1949 British film features Orson Welles as the evil and mysterious Harry Lime in post-war Vienna. It's full of shadows and odd camera angles, very European Expressionist. But it's the suspense, the script by novelist Graham Greene and the performances by Welles, Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard and others that make this easily one of the top 10 movies of all time.
  2. "Trainspotting." Probably the most visually disturbing movie on the list, "Trainspotting" is nevertheless a brilliant look at the lives of young heroin addicts in Edinburgh. Directed by Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") and starring a young Ewan McGregor, the movie is both hilarious and tragic.
  3. "Lawrence of Arabia." One of two epic films on this list directed by the legendary David Lean, this movie made Peter O'Toole a star and is one of the great "guy movies" of all time. "Lawrence of Arabia" isn't just one of the top English Movies ever made, it's one of the top movies ever made, period.
  4. "Bridge on the River Kwai." Also directed by Lean, this World War II tale, loosely based on a true story, is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. Alec Guiness is phenomenal as the proper British colonel who commits his fellow POWs to build a bridge for their Japanese captors to show that they won't be defeated even as prisoners. The ending is unforgettable.
  5. "Kind Hearts and Coronets." It's Guiness again, only this time in a clever classic where he plays eight roles, the eight ill-fated family members standing in the way of a young man seeking to become a duke. If you only know Alec Guiness from the "Star Wars" movies and few old dramas, check out his flair for comedy here.
  6. "Get Carter." This might be Michael Caine's coolest performance among a lifetime of amazing roles. Here he plays a violent London criminal who goes to Newcastle to bury his murdered brother and find who is responsible. As revenge movies go, this gritty and brutal 1971 flick is one of the best.
  7. "Shakespeare in Love." This Best Picture Oscar winner from 1998 looks at the struggle of William Shakespeare to overcome writer's block with the writing of "Romeo and Juliet" while also falling in love with Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), who longs to be onstage. Of all these top English movies, this is clearly the best date movie.
  8. "The Long Good Friday." Bob Hoskins stars as a longtime London gangster on the verge of a very lucrative deal. But his plans are sabotaged and he finds himself dealing with the American mafia, the Irish Republican Army (look for Pierce Brosnan in his first role as an IRA gunman), and various underworld types. The 1979 film is violent and the accents are thick, but Hoskins is fantastic and so is Helen Mirren as his mistress.
  9. "From Russia with Love." Every James Bond fan will have his personal favorite to go on this list, but this second feature in the long-running series showcased Sean Connery at his coolest and showed how suspenseful, action-filled and fun these movies could be without some of the over-the-top silliness that characterized the Roger Moore years. Connery has said this is his favorite, too.
  10. "The Life of Brian." Though "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" may be more quotable, "The Life of Brian" and its take on religion and politics showcases the Pythons at their peak.
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