Britannia in Brief Week: Brilliant British Movies by Leslie Banker

As part of Britannia in Brief Week here at Anglotopia we’re happy to be hosting one of the author’s – Leslie Banker –  for a guest post. Here’s her rundown of top 5 favorite British movies. Be sure to check out the rest of Britannia in Brief week! Check back later in the week for an interview and a post from her other half and co-author – William Mullins.

Much of the material in our book, Britannia in Brief, comes from the questions I had while reading English newspapers and watching British television and movies. In the name of research, William and I filled our Netflix queue with British movies that we watched with pen and paper in hand to make note of the cultural references I (the native New Yorker) didn’t catch—from cockney rhyming slang to political jokes to class-based jokes that were completely lost on me—and that we’d need to consider for inclusion. Here are my top five favorite British movies:

Hot Fuzz (2007). From the makers of Shaun of the Dead (2004), this is a hilarious spoof on the traditional cop movie. Overeager London copper gets transferred to a small town in the country, gets saddled with a not-so-sharp partner, and uncovers very strange happenings behind the hedgerows.

Withnail & I (1987). A British cult classic. As I understand, people in the UK are not allowed to graduate from University unless they can quote large tracts of the script from memory. The film doesn’t have much of a plot but is filled with great dialogue. It centers around two unemployed actors, Withnail and Marwood, who flee London for the countryside where they are stuck with Withnail’s Uncle Monty who keeps trying—unsuccessfully–to seduce Marwood.

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). Before Madonna was in the picture, Guy Ritchie made this great fast-paced movie about a high stakes card game gone awry. The East End (of London) gangsters all have great names like “Hatchet Harry.” I’m looking forward to Guy Ritchie’s upcoming movie about Sherlock Holmes!

Bend it like Beckham (2002). The daughter of orthodox Sikhs wants to play women’s football (soccer) but her parents disapprove. Culture clash ensues. The movie follows her as she struggles between the sport she’s really good at and her family’s traditions. It’s kind of a chick flick, but guys will appreciate that Keira Knightley‘s in it.

24 Hour Party People (2002). Let’s start by saying that Steve Coogan is a comic genius. Coogan plays Tony Wilson in the re-telling of the true story of the rise and fall of the “Madchester” music scene, featuring bands such as The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, in Manchester with the famous Hacienda Club at its epicenter.

What are your favorite Brit Movies?

Britiannia in Brief – The Scoop on All Things British – was written by Leslie Banker and William Mullins. It’s the ultimate guide to Britain for Anglophiles! To purchase Britannia in Brief: The Scoop on All Things British – click here. And be sure to check out their great blog here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Read More at Anglotopia


  1. avatar says

    Great Post Leslie! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this.

    My all time favorite Brit movie is probably Love, Actually. I used to love Notting Hill gobs and gobs but I don’t like it as much anymore. Julia Roberts’ crap acting combined with no chemistry between her and Hugh Grant really drag the movie down. Also, it paints an unreal picture of Notting HIll – something the locals don’t really appreciate!

  2. avatarmarkster says

    Really nice selection. Good British movies are few and far between (in fact, 99% of them are bloody awful), but you’ve managed to pick a few that do hit the mark. If you want to go a bit further back in time you could have picked Trainspotting, The Wicker Man, A Clockwork Orange, or Lawrence of Arabia, all of which continue to improve with age.

  3. avatar says

    Trainspotting! It could have been on my list. It was number six. I liked A Clockwork Orange, though still feel, years after seeing it, sort of creeped out. Though objectively it is a great movie. Fab additions!

  4. avatarHugh McKInney says

    I don’t think you can mention British films without having at least a nod to the great British film-making tradition.

    Old black and white British comedies, hated and loathed by the wartime generation, have acquired cult status with subsequent generations and any film featuring Terry Thomas, Ian Carmichael, Leslie Philips etc are generally worth watching to appreciate old fashioned British humour (note the correct spelling of humour).

    We also can’t ignore or forget the British tradition of war movies and this is only heightened by the fact that the Germans simply do not understand why we made so many. Films like the Dambusters, the Battle of Britain, Appointment in London, Bridge on the River Kwai all have their glorious British understated, stiff upper lip moments and actors like Michael Caine, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guiness and John Mills are always strong contributors to these types of films.

    Modern British films have a proud tradition and heritage behind them and it is worth reminding ourselves of that tradition from time to time.