Top 10 Best British Movies in the Last 10 Years

If you look at the last decade of British films you’ll see the same names crop up again and again. Danny Boyle, Guy Ritchie, Neil Marshall… These British directors have battled the wind, rain, mud and general gloom of their tiny isle to nip and tuck the face of British cinema and influence movie-makers and goers on a global scale.

How has British film experienced a new renaissance? And why? It’s not just about the funding. It’s about ideas, and adding a fresh spin on old ideas. It’s about looking at tired old genres with new eyes, and it’s an approach to the blockbuster where Britain has helped push the boundaries. Let’s look at some of those genres, then move onto the top ten British films in the last decade…

The new-wave gangster caper

Do the gangsters of today have molls and leap on car sideboards? Sadly not – hence the rise of the British Cheeky Urban Gangster caper, as evinced by Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and several other mockney gangster movies… in fact, director Guy Ritchie created this new and commercially popular genre almost single-handedly. Attaguy.

The new-wave monster/horror movie

British directors Neil Marshall and Danny Boyle clearly grew up on a diet of comic books and late-night horror films, too much sugar and not enough vegetables. For which all movie-goers must be thankful. British monster films in the last ten years have been low on budget but high on cinematography, character acting and you’ve-just-GOT-to-tell-a-friend twists. Dog Soldiers, Severance, Creep, 28 Days Later (and the poor sequel, 28 Weeks Later)… These British films hit global cinemas with their innovative approach to tired old monster genres like werewolves and zombies. Speaking of which…

The Zom-Rom-Com

Yes, the zom-rom-com. Worth a mention all of its own, the zombie romance comedy is genre-splicing at its finest, and is entirely a recent British innovation. Nowadays the zom-rom-com is a film staple, with US-made Zombieland its most recent commercial success.

Let’s take a look at some of those mainstream movies that put Britain back on the cinema-goer’s map.

28 Days Later – 2002

Until 28 Days Later, zombies did what their master George A. Romero told them to do. Everyone knew a zombie walked slowly and craved brainnnnsss, because Dawn of the Dead said so.

Danny Boyle’s film opened with an eerie and inspired scene promising something new – a loner in hospital scrubs, walking the empty streets of a wrecked and deserted London. There’s something powerful in the image of a deserted city. The film ended with zombies who could have been you, or me, or your loved one – normal people but diseased – and fast. So terrifyingly fast. By updating the zombie format, this British monster film focused on what people are really scared of nowadays – disease, chaos, poverty and the unknown. And zombies who could outrun you. Suddenly the world woke up and realised there was more than one way to handle the zombie genre. After the success of 28 Days Later the zombie films followed thick and fast.

Dog Soldiers – 2002

Why should zombies get all the attention? Aren’t werewolves fun too? Neil Marshall threw us a bone isaimini with this low-budget but fantastic-looking werewolf horror movie set in the gorgeous wilds of Scotland. Wait, you didn’t know it was about werewolves? Forgive the spoiler – but the film was made eight years ago. To be fair, the film finishes with a delicious werewolf-related plot twist for those that don’t yet know. What really made this film was the fantastic, gritty humour and interplay between the grizzled soldiers sent to investigate the disturbance, and the film was also helped by the moodily-shot atmosphere. A must for horror and action lovers – but one to avoid if you’re not a fan of gore, however tasteful and considered the gore might be.

Shaun of the Dead – 2004

And here we have it… the zom-rom-com! A true love letter to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, with plenty of film nerd in-jokes. Shaun of the Dead made an international star of everyone’s favourite ginger, Simon Pegg (Star Trek, Run Fat Boy Run). This film was witty, clever, charming, ridiculous… everything a zombie film has no right to be. Its bravery and humour made it a box office hit on both sides of the pond. A choice movie for anyone who likes zombies, romance, or comedy – and still a pretty safe bet for anyone who hates all the above. The ultimate in cross-genre success.

Children of Men – 2006

Children of Men. Was it sci-fi? Was it a drama? A thriller? An action movie? It was all of these things and none. Sci-fi haters considered it a beautiful and memorable film. Action movie lovers were thrilled by the powerful dust and rumble of the battle scenes. Everyone was moved by Michael Caine as a revolutionary old hippy, and the powerfully-handled concept of a pregnant woman in a near-future where fascists fight revolutionaries, refugee concentration camps abound and children are no more. Once again, the cinematography shone through to depict a beautiful, desolate rural England and a society torn apart by poverty and apocalyptic disease.