The British film industry has been growing steadily over the past few decades and British cinema produces many incredible films every year. British film has many of its own unique characteristics and provides audiences with brilliant films in every genre. From quintessentially British humour in comedy films to hard hitting dramas that raise social issues, from intelligent and cerebral thrillers to exciting stunt sequences in action movies – British cinema has it all.
The 2010’s saw a number of excellent British films released and cinema goers were treated to some amazing films. British cinema also saw itself in co-production with other countries and produced world renowned films such as Inception, Carol and Dunkirk, again showing that British cinema has become a big player in the cinema industry.
As this decade draws to a close, we can look back at some of the British films from the last ten years that are more than worthy of an audience’s time and that have made a mark in the British film industry. With great films such as the ones below, it is an exciting time to see what the upcoming decade will bring.
10. I, Daniel Blake (2016)
After fifty-nine-year-old widower Daniel Blake suffers a heart attack, he relies on welfare to help him get by. One day he is denied his benefits, declared fit and told that he must return to work. As Daniel tries to appeal the decision, as he desperately searches for work to help him survive, he develops a bond with a single mother who is also struggling with the welfare system.
Ken Loach’s film won the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and the 2017 BAFTA for Outstanding British Film. I, Daniel Blake grossed over fifteen million dollars at the box office and was Loach’s biggest success at the box office. The film was also critically acclaimed upon its release and is seen as one of the most important British films of recent times.
Hard hitting, unflinchingly honest and achingly close to the bone, I, Daniel Blake is a snapshot of what modern Britain has become. The film raises both political and social issues and is elevated even more by the raw and natural performances in it. I, Daniel Blake is more than just a film. I, Daniel Blake is a wake-up call to massive issues we are facing in society and is absolutely required viewing for everyone.
Trivia: I, Daniel Blake received a fifteen-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere.
9. Under the Skin (2013)
A strange otherworldly woman arrives in Scotland where she proceeds to lure men into a van, before seducing them and sending them into another dimension where they are never heard from again. But she has underestimated humanity’s true nature and soon finds that human’s cruelty knows no bounds.
Directed by Jonathan Glazer and co-written by him and Walter Campbell, Under the Skin grossed five million pounds against its budget of eight million pounds and was a box office failure. However, it was well received critically and earned multiple awards and nominations. It was named by many publications as one of the best films of 2014.
Under the Skin is an utterly unique film and thus provides an utterly unique experience for its audience. Visually haunting, strangely beautiful, and disturbing, Under the Skin raises questions on what to means to be human and how we treat others who are different to us. It is rare that a film like Under the Skin comes around and it is without a doubt a film that will stay with you long after you have watched it.
Trivia: The men that were lured into the van by Scarlett Johansson’s character were not actors and were unaware that they were being filmed. Director Jonathan Glazer installed hidden cameras in the van and only informed the men afterwards that they were in a film.
8. Starred Up (2013)
When nineteen-year-old Eric is prematurely transferred to an adult prison facility, he finds himself face to face with his estranged father. Unable to control his temper, Eric quickly makes enemies in both his fellow inmates and the prison authorities. Torn between different gangs, prison politics and trying to make a better life for himself, Eric’s volatile relationship with his father is stretched to breaking point.
Grossing three million dollars at the box office, Starred Up was released to critical acclaim. Directed by David Mackenzie, Starred Up premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and quickly garnered praise for its direction and performances.
Starred Up has been called an “instant classic of U.K. prison cinema” and many cited it as the best film of 2013. The film’s exploration of prison life and the relationship between father and son is done with brutal honesty and makes Starred Up infinitely watchable even in its most violent moments. The central performances also elevate this film and mark Jack O’Connell as a British actor to be reckoned with.
Trivia: The f word is used over three hundred and forty times in this film.
7. The Selfish Giant (2013)
Thirteen-year olds Arbor and Swifty are best friends. As outsiders in their own neighbourhood and excluded from school, the boys start collecting scrap metal for a local scrap dealer using an old cart and horse. Swifty discovers that he has a natural gift with horses, which drives a wedge between the boys eventually causing an events to take a tragic turn.
Inspired by the Oscar Wilde short ‘The Selfish Giant,’ and directed by Clio Barnard, the film grossed $943,209 at the box office. The Selfish Giant was a critical success and was nominated for various awards, including Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards.
Called by many as “A Kes for the twenty-first century,” The Selfish Giant has been cited as a masterpiece of modern British cinema. Raw, emotional and bleak, The Selfish Giant is by no means an easy or fun watch and yet it is an important and visually powerful insight into friendship, poverty and the pains of growing up.
Trivia: Arbor and Swifty were based on two children who worked as scrappers that Clio Barnard met whilst filming The Arbor.
6. Skyfall (2012)
When M’s past comes back to haunt her, 007 must track down a hard drive containing top secret information and destroy the threat attached to it. But not everything is as it seems, and Bond may have to pay the ultimate personal cost to save M.
Directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall was a massive box office success and became the first Bond film in the franchise to gross over a billion dollars worldwide. Skyfall was also well received critically and has been named by many critics as the best Bond film of all time.
Making use of great locations, stunning action sequences and brilliant performances, Skyfall is more than deserving of all of its praise. This was also a Bond film that was infinitely grittier and more serious than some of the franchise’s previous instalments. This was a big gamble from Mendes, but it paid off and gave audiences and fans an incredible cinematic experience that has since held up to multiple viewings.
Trivia: Ninety versions of Bond’s tailor-made Tom Ford suit were made for the opening chase sequence. Thirty were made for Daniel Craig, thirty were made for his stunt double and thirty were made for his double. Each version of the suit was for a specific part of the scene. For example, a suit with longer sleeves was made for the part when Craig was riding the motorcycle so that his sleeves wouldn’t ride up over his forearms.