British cinema is known for its quality and captivating actors. Whether they are blockbusters or indie gems, British films are loved around the world because of their unique humour and sensibilities.Believe it or not, many major film industries around the world, including Hollywood, have borrowed a lot from the British cinema, albeit unknowingly. British cinema has also given the world many stalwarts of cinema, from legendary directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Danny Boyle, Ridley Scott to groundbreaking actors like Charlie Chaplin, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sir Michael Caine, Ralph Fiennes, Eddie Redmayne et al to some of the most talented and beautiful actresses on the planet like Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Claire Foy and the list goes on.
In this interconnected world we live in, most of the British films have a Hollywood connection — they are either produced by some Hollywood production or primarily star Hollywood actors. James Bond, for example. Or Harry Potter. It won’t be wrong to state that very few British films are purely British these days. We, at The Cinemaholic, have figured a way to find the best out of all the British movies available on Netflix that you can stream right away. From hilarious comedies to powerful dramas to romantic comedies, here is the list of really good British movies on Netflix right now. You can find many of these best British movies on Amazon Prime or Hulu as well. Without further ado, here’s the full list.
30. The Riot Club (2014)
Not to be confused with the all-time classic that is ‘Fight Club’, ‘The Riot Club’ is the narrative of a drinking club on very similar lines. The story begins with Miles and Alistair – two wealthy brats who have connections with many nobles and are studying at the Oxford. While Miles is a timid and happy fella, who has a simmering relationship with his girlfriend Lauren, Alistair aspires to be a politician like his uncle. After joining ‘The Riot Club’ – a notorious club built on the idea of hedonism and the power of one’s money, Miles and Alistair need to stick to their guns with their careers at stake. A brazen incident, however, suggests otherwise. ‘The Riot Club’ is apparently based on a real-life Bullingdon Club – the unofficial all-male club for undergrads at the Oxford.
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29. Absolutely Anything (2015)
Featuring Simon Pegg and Kate Beckinsale and what is touted to be the last movie of Robin Williams (voice only), ‘Absolutely Anything’ also has the distinction to re-enact all the Monty Python’s characters on screen, perhaps for the last time. The story begins with a group of aliens who want to test whether Earth is worth their time. They choose a random human, Neil, who is a teacher in London, and want him to pass the litmus test. Neil is endowed with immense powers so that he could pull off any trick from under his hat, and the first thing he does is to command his faculty crush to worship him as a God, the only mistake being, he does it on behalf of his coworker. When people start a religion with Neil at the centre and other tricks that he can pull of, he doesn’t know how long he has before this superpowers thing gives in. ‘Absolutely Anything’ is like a white canvas one can do anything with, and the filmmakers have done a tremendous job with it.
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28. The Decoy Bride (2011)
Lara Tyler is a famous Hollywood actress who just wants to get married peacefully with author James Arber. To get rid of the paparazzi, they hire a local girl as a decoy bride. Starring David Tennant and Kelly MacDonald, this is a light British rom-com with a bunch of funny and emotional moments. Moreover, the setting is beautiful which elevates it comparing with other comedies. It is written by comedian Sally Phillips and Neil Jaworski.
27. Una (2016)
Una is a young woman in her late twenties tormented by her dark past. After she finds an old photograph of a man who used to be close to her, she goes to his workplace looking to know why he abandoned her after they had a sexual relationship. However, dark secrets start to unravel. “Una” is a character-driven psychological thriller that challenges the rules of cinema and explores child sexual abuse like no other Hollywood movie has ever done before. It stars Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn.
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26. Dough (2015)
A funny tale of a boy named Ayyash, the son of an immigrant in Britain, ‘Dough’ begins with Saba, a single mother who has her teenage son Ayyash to take care of. While Saba is trying to make ends meet by trying to find work in a phobic society, her son lives a rather laid-back life, given the absence of his father whom Saba hopes to reunite with very soon. Given their financial duress, Saba rings some bells and sets Ayyash up with a baker as an apprentice. Apparently, the baker is facing a slack in the sales and Ayyash seems of no help either anyway. Soon, the sales start skyrocketing due to one strange reason – unbeknownst to everyone else, including his boss, Ayyash has been mixing weed in the dough, which surprisingly is a hit among the people, before they land into some serious trouble. ‘Dough’ is hilarious, and a fresh take on drug abuse, but in a quirky way.
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25. Anti-Social (2015)
A film with a relatively low critic rating, ‘Anti-Social’ is the narrative of Dee and Marcus, two brothers with opposing interests. While Dee is a graffiti artist who spray-paints walls across London, which include propaganda graffiti, Marcus is a serial robber and pulls heists across various stores in London without getting caught. Characteristically speaking, both Dee and Marcus are looming anti-socials in their own ways. After getting fame as a graffiti artist, Dee enters the elite world and befriends and gets into a relationship with Kirsten. Marcus, meanwhile, plummets further into organized crime and as all viewers expect, Dee and Marcus team up for the one last time to do something totally inexplicable. Not a very untold story though, ‘Anti-Social’ still makes its case for a fresh perspective. The movie also features the ever-charming Meghan Markle.
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24. A Lonely Place to Die (2011)
Best friends Rob, Ed, Alison, Kate, and Alex decide to hike and climb the Scottish Highlands. But when they discover a Serbian girl in the wilderness, they become involved in a terrifying game with her kidnappers. Now, they must try to fight for their lives. “A Lonely Place to Die” is an intense and fast-paced thriller with a great cast and a powerful script. Director Julian Gilbey took the most of the landscape and created a film that will make gasp in surprise on multiple occasions. No characters’ safety is guaranteed which turns “A Lonely Place to Die” into an unexpected and captivating movie.
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23. Mindhorn (2016)
Set in the Isle of Man, ‘Mindhorn’ revolves around a murder that has happened in the small, idyllic town. Apparently, the killer would negotiate and perhaps surrender only to a person named Mindhorn. The problem though – there’s nobody bearing that name. Although, Mindhorn was a long-cancelled tv show which was premised around a cop and the actor Richard Thorncroft who played Mindhorn agrees to negotiate with the killer one last time. With his publicity in ruins and his career hitting the end of the road, Thorncroft’s only hope is to steal his chunk of publicity from this morbid extravaganza. Although the movie has a clever premise despite made of a shoestring budget, it is a watchable flick any given day.
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22. Sunset Song (2015)
A beautiful yet a lengthy feature, ‘Sunset Song’ is arguably one of the most beautiful films on this list. The movie spans six years in the life of Chris, a young girl and daughter of a tyrannical Scottish farmer. She roots for love which is hard to find in her theoretical family – a domineering father, a timid mother and a brother. While the entire family is dysfunctional, her mother kills herself owing to the burden of multiple childbirths and her brother leaves soon after. Because of an ailment, Chris’ father is bedridden and although Chris is sullen due to the departure of her newfound husband to the Great War, she is thrilled to run her father’s farm on her own. A coming-of-age movie which is the narrative of Chris’ growing up as a person, ‘Sunset Song’ makes for a delightful yet a lengthy watch.
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21. The Hippopotamus (2017)
A shining comedy of manners, ‘The Hippopotamus’ revolves around an alcoholic, failed poet and critic Ted Wallace, who has apparently given up on his life and wants to drown his sorrows at any cost. Ted happens to visit his friend Logan’s manor in the countryside, which is in the news these days because of Lord and Lady Logan’s mysterious, miraculous son David. As it turns out, David is also Ted’s Godson. At the manor, the Swafford Hall, the Logans plan to keep up their pride and introduce their son’s gift to the world. Ted Wallace needs to keep his pride aside and investigate these so-called “miracles”, which he proves to be a hoax and avoids a major embarrassment for the Logan family. This pun-intended comedy is based out on a Stephen Fry’s novel of the same name.
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20. Bad Day for the Cut (2017)
An unexpectedly violent and bloodied drama, ‘Bad Day for the Cut’ is one of the few moving revenge dramas on this list. Or perhaps the only one. The story revolves around an Irish farmer named Donal, who lives a simple life in countryside Ireland. He is content with his daytime life on the farm and the nightlife he spends with his pals, splurging his money on alcohol. He is made fun of, for he still lives with his mother. On an unfortunate day, when his mother has been murdered by some assailants, he takes it upon himself to find the killers and avenge the death of his mother. Despite the simplistic narrative, ‘Bad Day for the Cut’ makes for quite a compelling watch, thanks to the watertight screenplay it boasts of.
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19. Virunga (2014)
In the east of Congo lies Virunga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site known for being the home to the last mountain gorillas. We follow a group of armed individuals that try to protect this endangered species of armed militia, poachers and evil forces trying to control Congo’s rich natural resources. Nominated for “Best Documentary Feature” in the Academy Awards of 2015, this film is a wake-up call about nature and civil war. Besides being beautiful thanks to Orlando von Einsiedel’s direction and Congo’s mesmerizing landscape, it is also a thought-provoking film.
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18. Easy Virtue (2008)
A play-based story, ‘Easy Virtue’ is much more than it seems to be. The movie begins with Jessica Biel as Larita Whittaker, the newfound French wife of a French-speaking Englishman John Whittaker. After their chance encounter in Monaco followed by their wedding, John and Larita arrive at the former’s mansion in Nottinghamshire. John’s mother Veronica and father Jim are taken by surprise, while his sisters don’t have much of an initial fondness for Larita. Veronica is shocked by Larita’s ways and loses hopes on her. Jim is always surrounded in a pall of gloom, as apparently he had to face a loss in the Great War. Larita feels even the more insecure because of Sarah, John’s ex-lover who frequents the mansion. A few stray incidents are enough for Larita to make up her mind and leave John once and for all. The film was widely acclaimed for the set and production design.
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17. Calibre (2018)
A thumping and racy edge-of-the-seat thriller, ‘Calibre’ begins with Marcus, a businessman based out in Edinburgh. Vaughn is an old friend of Marcus and the two have a chance meeting and decide to go hunting into the Scottish highlands. While they share a drink at a local inn with two ladies – Kara and Iona, Vaughn is constantly reminded of his pregnant wife and decides not to fool around. During the hunt, while Vaughn is trying his hand for the first time with a gun, he accidentally shoots and kills a boy hiding behind a doe that Vaughn was aiming at. A nonchalant Marcus then kills the boy’s father too, who apparently was shooting at Vaughn. The grand cover-up follows but their plan of hiding the bodies and getting away with it fails terribly. The ending, to everyone’s shock, was way too different than what we could imagine. ‘Calibre’ was lauded for the cinematography and the performances.
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16. Man Up (2015)
Yet another Simon Pegg’s movie on this list, ‘Man Up’ is the story of Nancy and Jack who meet out of nowhere at a train station and are meant to be, from what it looks like. Nancy, a 30-something single woman has given up on finding her true love. While she’s on her way to London to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her parents, she sits across Jessica in the train, who is reading a book on blind dating. Jessica, given the fact that Nancy wasn’t exactly nice to her, leaves the book on the train, thus making Nancy follow Jessica at the Waterloo station. A man named Jack introduces himself to Nancy, thinking of her as Jessica, for he’s Jessica’s blind date. A chance-encounter turned eternal love tale, ‘Man Up’ is a heartwarming, worthwhile watch.
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15. The Duchess (2008)
When she was seventeen, Georgiana Spencer married with the Duke of Devonshire, one of England’s richest and most influential dukes. However, their marriage is not what she expected. According to the Duke, Georgiana only has two responsibilities: produce a male heir and be loyal to him. The coldness of the Duke pushes Georgiana away, so she begins an affair that may have awful consequences. Starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes in the main roles, this is a multi-layered historical drama with compelling deep characters and a lot of drama.
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14. Hector (2015)
The titular ‘Hector’ is a hippie and a homeless man living off the roads for decades now. He scourges service centres, gas stations and similar places and relies upon them for food, shelter, and other facilities like bathing etc. Typically, every year, Hector starts his “pilgrimage” from Scotland to London during the Christmas season, for he loves the feeling and warmth in the capital city. During the course of his annual trek, we get to know many tragic things about his past and how his life came to be known as so miserable yet intriguing. ‘Hector’ not only is a tear-jerking movie, but it is also the play of fate and one’s destiny against what one actually wishes for.
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13. Burn, Burn, Burn (2015)
With a staggering 90% approval rating at the Rotten Tomatoes, ‘Burn, Burn, Burn’ is yet another guilty pleasure that takes you on a whirlwind journey you can least expect. Dan was a young man and is a party animal, who loved hanging around with his friends. Owing to his pancreatic cancer and untimely demise, all of his pals are under duress. His funeral is attended by a small-time actress Seph and a writer named Alex. Seph and Alex land upon a video of Dan who asks them prior to his death to be his Thelma and Louise and scatter his ashes across the UK in four places which hold special importance to him. The road trip that follows is the virtual conclusion of Dan’s journey and would accomplish his ashes what he couldn’t do in person. A morbidly funny affair, ‘Burn, Burn, Burn’ has many surprises under its sleeve.
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12. Suite Francaise (2014)
It won’t be wrong to call ‘Suite Francaise’ an eternal love story that takes place in the insurmountable of the circumstances, at a place which is the most unlikely one for love to bloom in its full glory. Set in the ’40s in a small French town, during the Nazi occupation of France following the latter’s surrender, the movie is the narrative of Lucile, who has been confined in her house along with her domineering mother in law, while they await the return of Lucile’s husband who is now a prisoner of war. As more and more German soldiers pour into the town and take people’s residences for their own stay, Lucile is smitten by Bruno, a young and handsome German soldier who has come to her place. Despite all the circumstances against her, Lucile does fall for Bruno. ‘Suite Francaise’ is a must-watch for period romance movie fans.
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11. 45 Years (2015)
With an intriguing tagline that says – Do we really know our loved ones?, ’45 Years’ begins with the incumbent 45th wedding anniversary of Kate and Geoff Mercer, who have been in endearing love for more than four decades. They plan to have a grand celebration to mark their 45th and have invited all their near and dear ones to the Norwich’s community hall. Geoff is troubled by a letter he receives a week before their anniversary, which troubles him. Apparently, the letter states that the body of his lover about 50 years ago, Katya, has been found in the Alps, who had disappeared leading Geoff to marry Kate. Katya then begins doubting her own self on whether she really has known Geoff in the past 45 years. The movie was the recipient of many national and international award nominations, notably Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay.
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10. Woman in Gold (2015)
A period movie at the outset told in a non-linear narrative, ‘Woman in Gold’ boasts of a star cast that involves Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Katie Holmes, Charles Dance among others. The story begins in the present day where Maria Altmann, an 80-something woman is sullen due to the death of her sister and is at her funeral in Los Angeles. She recalls the atrocities imposed on them by the Nazis, along with many other Jewish families during the second world war in Vienna, Austria and recalls how herself and her husband had evaded the atrocities and had successfully fled to the US while her other family members couldn’t. She finds a few letters in her late sister’s possession which date back to the ’40s and which had references to her then late aunt Adele, who is now known in Austria as ‘Woman in Gold’. She must fight the system to restore the dignity of her aunt and her family. ‘Woman in Gold’ is essentially a classic, which has Helen Mirren stealing the show through and through.
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9. An Education (2009)
Carey Mulligan is Jenny, an obedient, timid and hardworking girl living in a London suburb with her parents during the ’60s. Her only mission in her life – to get into Oxford and lead a better life than she currently is having, deprived of any luxuries. The 16-year-old is dating Graham, a boy she has a crush on. Enter David Goldman, a flashy, affluent man who is twice Jenny’s age and has a liking for her. To everyone’s shock, he doesn’t shy away from expressing his love for Jenny, which despises Jenny’s parents. Looking at David’s education and the fact that David never went to Oxford leads Jenny to think which is the right path for her to choose – the one her parents have thought for her or the one she deems is right. ‘An Education’ is an eye-opener and a triumphant coming-of-age story which is perfectly carried by Carrey Mulligan on her shoulders with her outstanding performance.
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8. Chocolat (2000)
Vianne Rocher is a woman donning a red-hood and has moved into a small town in France with her daughter Anouk, much to the despise of Comte, the mayor of the town. To further his resentment, Vianne sets up a chocolate shop in the middle of the town, during the Lent season. Despite the initial opposition she faces, Vianne manages to win the townsfolk over with her mouth-watering chocolates. Roux, a river-drifter has entered the town, with his pals and Vianne develops a liking for him. Ultimately, ‘Chocolat’ shows us how, with love, a lone woman can win over an entire town. Juliette Binoche outshines everyone else in this romance drama and many few of us know of ‘Chocolat’ as a British movie. Well, now you do.
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7. Howards End (1992)
Often regarded as a timeless classic, an unforgettable tale of love, hate, lust, relationships, greed, power and wealth, and boasting of a star cast including stalwarts like Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, to name a few, the movie is a narrative of Margaret Schlegel and her sister Helen, belonging to the Schlegel family. Primarily, the Schlegels, Wilcoxes and Basts are the three social classes of the 1910’s England, and their power struggle forms the crux of the film’s narrative. Mrs Wilcox and Margaret have become best buddies, so much so, that the former promises Howards End, her home to Margaret after her demise. Margaret then gets engaged to the widowed Mr Wilcox, much to Helen’s despise. Margaret’s winning of Howards End is all that forms the remaining of the story. ‘Howards End’ was praised across departments and got nine Academy Award nominations including three wins, notably for Emma Thompson for Best Actress.
6. Love Actually (2003)
In this movie, we follow the lives of eight couples and their daily lives. Set in the month before Christmas in London, “Love Actually” is all about falling in love and out of love, meeting the right people or making mistakes. Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightly and Martin Freeman are just some of the many wonderful actors that brought this movie to life. Although this chick flick has a great storyline, the movie would not be the same without this strong and talented cast. “Love Actually” is the perfect movie to relax and watch with your loved ones.
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5. Weekend (2011)
If you’re looking forward to watching a boggling love story told without any regrets or remorse whatsoever, ‘Weekend’ should be your immediate pick. It’s a Friday night and Russell has been at a house party, drunk as a skunk and headed out to a gay club, out of impulse and nothing else. While he’s never been into gay relationships, his instincts lead him to do otherwise. He meets up Glen at the club and they go to Russell’s place to spend the weekend – boozing, talking and having sex. A seemingly passionate and steamy affair, highlighting the simmering love between Glen and Russell, ‘Weekend’ takes an aggressive stance and is a very straightforward retelling of what could’ve been otherwise a boring, worn-out love story. ‘Weekend’ is a must-watch, for all romance movie fans.
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4. Atonement (2007)
Briony (Saoirse Ronan) witnesses something she doesn’t understand and tells a lie that sends her sister’s boyfriend Robbie (James McAvoy) to prison (and eventually the army). The film mainly follows how Briony’s claim ruins her relationship with her sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley). Joe Wright’s adaptation of Ian McEwan’s acclaimed novel is a rich drama with remarkable performances and stellar direction. Although not war movie, it is set during World War II which is a huge influence in the atmosphere and the characters. This is not a fast-paced film, it is rather a character study with a plot that slowly unravels allowing you to be immersed in its atmosphere without even realizing it.
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3. Hot Fuzz (2007)
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg return with this impressive action-comedy movie that follows a skilled London police officer that is transferred to a small town. However, that small town is hiding a very dark secret. The parts are all cast brilliantly, especially Pegg and Frost as the two lead police officers. Moreover, this film is so funny you can watch twice and still catch jokes you did not notice the first time. With a lot of twists and turns, it manages to balance action and comedy perfectly. A witty intelligent British comedy that is well-directed and with action scenes executed stunningly.
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2. In Bruges (2008)
A dark comedy on the very outset, ‘In Bruges’ is the story of two Irish hitmen, Ray and Ken, who have been holed up in a house in Bruges, Belgium at the behest of their boss Harry, after a botched up job in London that had led to the death of an innocent. While Ken is immersed in the medieval beauty of Bruges, Ray is unhappy as this was his first task as a hired gun. Ray gets to meet Chloe, a young hippie girl who sells drugs on a Hollywood film set. As Ken gets new orders from Harry, while Ray is into his own problems, a final showdown must set things on course for both Ken and Ray. The film features Colin Farrel and Brendan Gleeson in leading roles and was largely appreciated for the leading performances.
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1. The King’s Speech (2010)
A thumping critical and commercial success, and a movie that won Colin Firth his debut Academy Award win for Best Actor in a Leading Role. ‘The King’s Speech’ is the real-life story of King George VI, the younger son of King George V who took the throne after his elder brother Edward abdicated it in 1936. The movie focuses on the stammer the late King had, which led him to be in awkward and embarrassing situations, an ailment which he eventually never overcame. To cope up with his stammer, he takes the help of an Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, who proves to be of great help in overcoming King’s fear of public speech and his problem of stammering. The 1939’s Britain’s declaration of war on Germany speech by the King forms the focal point of the movie, also a movie moment each viewer waits for while watching the movie. Colin Firth’s portrayal of King George VI has often been regarded as the most authentic and historically accurate portrayal of the King thus far.
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