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Top 10 British Films Of 2013

New: Top 10 Best British Films 2013 (UK Movies)So let’s delve into my top 10 British films of 2013. Ah, Great Britain. Grande Britannia. We gave Shakespeare to literature. The Beatles to popular music. And to cinema, we bequeathed an enduring icon of masculinity who happens to be star of one of the most popular series in motion picture history.

But that’s enough about Harry Potter. In 2013 British cinema delivered the usual mix of crackers and crapulence. How are we defining the term ‘British film’? A movie made in Britain, set in Britain, and/or with lots of Brits in it? That’ll do nicely. Here are my picks….

10. The World’s End

Best British Films 2013
Okay, so yes, it was a disappointing finale to an adventure which had transported stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright from cult telly fave Spaced to playing with the big boys in Hollywood.

The fast-cutting, high octane filmmaking might have all been present and correct – indeed, even augmented further by some thunderous terrestrial vs. extraterrestrial barroom roughhousing – but the jokes were in short supply and the last 20 minutes of yuk-free yakking made you wish the world would hurry up and end that bit sooner.

9. The Rise


Take one intricate heist scenario and lather with lashings of manly banter and what do you get? Only The Rise, a young northern drama which aspired to be something like a Stone Roses record given celluloid life, but came in more about Shed Seven level.

Still, the Sheds were popular enough in their day (hi American readers) and The Rise served as a promising-enough debut from writer-director Rowan Athale, whose subsequent movies will undoubtedly show signs of him ‘getting better’ (groan, etc. – is that enough Shed f**king Seven yet?).

8. In Fear


Another feature debut, In Fear saw director Jeremy Lovering successfully spin a tense, claustrophobic tale of on-the-road torment in rural Ireland, he apparently denying his young cast access to the film’s full script in order that their fright appear as genuine as possible.

And while you ponder the probability and practicality of that titbit, also mull over the fact that the two male roles were filled by Iain De Caestecker and Allen Leech – meaning that Lovering should have called his movie Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Downton Abbey if he was REALLY serious about getting folks to go see it.

7. The Borderlands


A miracle occurs and the first reaction of the Vatican is to debunk it, sending a sozzled priest and a banter-loving cameraman to gather the evidence to do so. Yes, that’s right – found-footage film ahoy!

But hold on! For those able to put aside their prejudices, The Borderlands was a witty treat, with a surprisingly large amount of laughs in the early stages and ample scares in the latter, as the investigators came into inexorable conflict with the malign force behind that original ‘miracle’.

6. Filth
Top British Films 2013

Just when his smug showings in the likes of X-Men: First Class were in dire danger of turning James McAvoy into the British leading man you’d most like to punch square in the chops (assuming Jude Law was otherwise engaged…), he roared back to form with Filth – playing the dirtiest of dirty cops in an effective adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s gleefully sordid page-turner.

Best British Movies 2013
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  • gd smith said

    I didn’t see that many british films in 2013. I like Worlds End and thought Tower Block was OK. Unfortunately I did see A Field in England and though it was aimless,lumpy and nothing that interesting. As a piece of cinema, it was not well shot, didn’t feature startling performances and only seemed to qualify as art because someone said it was art at some point. Very Film4. Mind you I thought the Hit List was ho hum as well. In fact I think Wheatley and Winding Refn are bigger symptoms of dumbing down than Michael Bay. Historically Bay is up against people like irwin allen. Refn and Wheatly are up against Herzog, Polanski, Goddard, Tarkovsky, Fasbinder, Scorsese and an endless list of genuine cinematic greatness. I’m pretty certain they are not even in the same league as Ken Russell. In fact I’ll go further and say their films are just so poorly paced they’ve had an hynotic effect and bassically appeal to people who think slow is the same thing as profound. If you look Valhalla Rising, there are endless debate by gormless young men who think it’s art because it’s an endurance test rather than because it is saying anything or has aesthetic value. Bassically if Bay is Ow My Balls then Wheatley and Refn is Ass. Remember when you cared who’s ass it was and why it was farting fits Field in England and Only God Forgives all too well.

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    • Paul Martin said

      I kinda wanted to hate A Field in England, just like I wanted to hate Drive before it. Both Wheatley and Nicolas Winding Refn feed into that noxious tendency amongst the critical fraternity (and it is still a fraternity to a large extent) to artificially elevate young(ish) white auteurs to minor cinematic godhood in what feels like some creepy act of self-identifying fanaticism. I guess guys like Lynch and Cronenberg are the granddaddies of it, but PTA, Nolan, Fincher and others all come in for similar treatment.

      This year, it felt like every time you had a conversation with someone about British film, they had to fall over themselves to praise Wheatley, as if we were all competing in The Sun’s massive Fantasy Praise Ben Wheatley League for a top prize of £250,000 and a wild weekend with the cast of Geordie Shore. But saying that, I genuinely liked A Field in England, just as I really dug Drive. For now at least, Wheatley’s movies – if not ever being able to measure up to the dribbling hyperbole – are still hitting enough of the right notes for me.

      I’ve not seen Valhalla Rising, but I was in the pro-Only God Forgives camp. Obviously it didn’t offer that kind of Gravity-type pleasure of strapping yourself in for the ride and just going with the entertainment value of it all. But like Upstream Color or Lost Highway or Fear X, it made me want to try and analyse it afterwards – to ask questions about the choice of images, sounds, dialogue, and to come up with theories of what it might all mean.

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  • Sheridan Passell said

    Was hesitant about watching ‘Alan Patridge: Alpha Papa’ for the reasons you mention Paul, also agree it turned out to be hilarious. Ended up rewatching it three times without realising. Laughed much more than I did during ‘The World’s End’, which was fine but overrated. Other best British films of 2013 for me (that I saw) were Trance and, um, Kick-Ass 2 sort of counts as UK?

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  • omar said

    that is not the real tale. =P

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