Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Observer's 25 Best British Films

The Observer Film Quarterly has put together a list of the top 25 British films of the past 25 years, a list that actually looks pretty accurate, though I'm sure everyone is wondering where one or two of their favorites are.

Of the titles listed, I've only seen four. Four! I have a new project. I'll see every film on the list before the year is up. They'll have to be squeezed in among all of the awards ponies being released, but I'm confident I can get it done.

1. Trainspotting (1996) D: Danny Boyle - The life of a heroin addict in Edinburgh, Scotand.
2. Withnail and I (1987) D: Bruce Robinson - Two down-on-their luck actors find solace in drink and a trip to the country.
3. Secrets & Lies (1996) D: Mike Leigh - When her adoptive parents die, a young black woman seeks out her birth mother only to make an astounding discovery - her mother is white.
4. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) D: Terence Davies - Ripples of memory show a working-class family in 1940s and '50s Liverpool.
5. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) D: Stephen Frears - London punk Johnny and Pakistani Omar redo a run-down launderette.
6. Nil By Mouth (1997) D: Gary Oldman - A brutish working-class Briton heads a volatile, tightknit clan in 20th-century London.
7. Sexy Beast (2000) D: Jonathan Glazer - A retired gangster is threatened into taking another mob job.
8. Ratcatcher (1999) D: Lynne Ramsay - Life in a Glasgow housing project during the 1973 garbageworkers strike as seen through the eyes of 12-year-old James.
9. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) D: Danny Boyle - A Mumbai orphan becomes a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in the hopes of finding his childhood love.
10. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) D: Mike Newell - An English charmer and a lusty American make love over a course of surprising events.
11. Touching the Void (2003) D: Kevin Macdonald - Two mountain climbers descending one of the world's highest peaks face the ultimate tragedy.
12. Hope and Glory (1987) D: John Boorman - A 9-year-old boy recalls life with his mother and family in World War II England.
13. Control (2007) D: Anton Corbijn - Fighting a personal battle with epilepsy, romantic troubles with his wife and girlfriend, and the overwhelming success of a band, Ian Curtis commits suicide at the age of 23.
14. Naked (1993) D: Mike Leigh - An out-of-work philosopher meets assorted weirdos on his odyssey by night in London.
15. Under the Skin (1997) D: Carine Adler - A young woman embarks upon a sexual odyssey in reaction to her mother's sudden death from a brain tumor.
16. Hunger (2008) D: Steve McQueen - The last six weeks of the life of the Irish republican hunger striker Bobby Sands.
17. This Is England (2006) D: Shane Meadows - 12-year-old Shaun befriends the wrong people in 1983 England.
18. Shaun of the Dead (2004) D: Edgar Wright - Along with his slacker friends, a man embarks on a comic killing spree to save his girlfriend and make the world safe.
19. Dead Man's Shoes (2004) D: Shane Meadows - When a man leaves the rural village where he has grown up to join the army, his brother is taken in by a controlling and vicious local drug dealer.
20. Red Road (2006) D: Andrea Arnold - A CCTV operator begins spying on a man connected to a terrible event in her past.
21. Riff-Raff (1991) D: Ken Loach - An ex-convict from Glasgow turns London construction worker and falls for a drifter from Belfast.
22. Man On Wire (2008) D: James Marsh - Philippe Petit's daring high-wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.
23. My Summer of Love (2004) D: Pawel Pawlikowski - A spirited local girl finds herself drawn into the lush fantasy world of a prep-school rebel, but what started as a magical adventure soon becomes a dangerous friendship.
24. 24 Hour Party People (2002) D: Michael Winterbottom - Tony Wilson is a gobby local journalist and the owner of Factory Records.
25. The English Patient (1996) D: Anthony Minghella - A Hungarian count, critically injured at the end of the second world war, retells the story of his doomed affair with an Englishwoman in prewar North Africa.

That's the list. I'm definitely intrigued by all the synopses, so this is a mountain I can't wait to climb. I'll be keeping count in the sidebar as I get through them.

How many of these films have you seen? Which are your favorites? Did The Observer miss any? Which one should I watch first?


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