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Top 10 British Films Of 2014 …So Far

New: Top 10 Best British Films 2014 (UK Movies)With the first six months of 2014 already flushed away, to bob alongside the memories and fatbergs in the sewer of history, now seems the perfect time to slyly glance over our shoulder at the Top 10 best British Films of 2014 so far.

Oh and before we leap headfirst into the rundown (rundown, not rub down – shirt back on, please), for the purposes of this list we are defining a British film as a film made in Britain, set in Britain, and/or with a good-sized rabble of British actors in it. Simple, eh? Cue the countdown!

10. Frank
Best British Films 2014

The last time the writing of journalist Jon Ronson was committed to film, the result was Men Who Stare at Goats, an adequate but formula-friendly take on interesting true-life source material. For Frank, inspired by his own adventures with late British performance artist Frank Sidebottom, Ronson assumed scripting duties himself, alongside Goats screenwriter Peter Straughan.

And the result? Er, an adequate but formula-friendly take on interesting true-life source material.

As the ivory-tinkling main character, Domhnall Gleeson is stuck in irritating Richard Curtis vom-com mode that hopefully will have been lightsabered out of him by the time Episode VII opens. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Carey Mulligan in Llewyn Davis, but minus any humour or charisma. So it’s left to Magneto himself, Michael Fassbender, to save the day, all from inside a papier-mâché head.

9. Cuban Fury

Okay, so yes, it’s more formulaic than an algebra textbook. And its reliance on its logline gag of lovably chubby Nick Frost shaking his sequin-clad ass is as heavy as… well, lovably chubby Nick Frost.

But hey, hold on there. Cuban Fury trots out just enough good-natured mirth to save itself, largely thanks to Frost’s innate likeability, not to mention the support provided by Ian McShane, aka Deadwood’s Al Swearengen, who shows up as a typically foul-tempered dance instructor.

8. The Railway Man

Colin Firth stars as Eric Lomax, who meets his dream girl (played by Nicole Kidman) on a train and promptly marries her.

Blimey, 10 minutes in and the movie’s over – who’s up for a pint?

Er, not so fast, chugalug. From that starting point we proceed backwards, delving into Eric the Younger’s experiences as a wartime POW (played by Jeremy Irvine, who does a decent impersonation of older-ego Firth), toiling on the Burma-Siam railway.

Based on the best-selling memoir by Lomax (who died in 2012), The Railway Man offers a solid, well-made WWII story, while feeling a bit much in the best possible taste to truly distinguish itself from similar tales told previously on the silver screen.

7. Downhill

Want to see a bespectacled man in his 50’s have a meltdown over a pack of cheesy wotsits? Downhill is a small, unfairly overlooked British comedy about four old school buddies, now middle-aged (including Jeremy Swift from Downtown Abbey, Karl Theobald from Alpha Papa and Ned Dennehey channeling Withnail), embarking on a coast to coast walk across the UK. En route they each go through a mid-life crisis.

From a first time feature director, the film’s deceptively slight at first but by the end you’ll realise you’ve watched an accomplished, well-constructed character piece. The cast have a great dynamic and there are lots of amusing moments. Admittedly you’ll probably appreciate it more if you’re 30+. It also captures something distinctly British, both in the way they interact, and the rural scenery.

6. The Trip to Italy
Top British Films 2014

Three heads worked a treat for original hound of hell Cerberus and it’s worked pretty darn well also for actors Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon and director Michael Winterbottom, who from the starting point of A Cock and Bull Story have turned themselves into a comedy cottage industry. The first The Trip even triggered a viral smash, via Coogan and Brydon’s competing Michael Caine impressions.

Once again playing lampoons of their own public personas, the acting duo’s newest outing sees them follow in the footsteps of George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman, as they make a journey to Italy. But what trip next for this generation’s Chuckle Brothers? Chepstow Racecourse? The cabbage markets of Mogadishu? The inside of a gerbil’s anus, giving an entirely fresh spin on the Richard Gere rumour?

Best British Movies 2014
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  • Sheridan Passell said

    You can’t call one of the premium actors of his generation, Brendan Gleeson, an “auburn yeti”. Outrageous.

    Is there some contract somewhere that says Chris O’Dowd has to be in every British film this year?

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  • G said

    Under the Skin was awful. Trying to hard to be a David Lynch film. Though Scarlet’s English ascent was surprisingly believable.

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    • Sheridan Passell said

      I gotta say I loved Under the Skin. It wasn’t surreal and hard to interpret like a Lynch film it was more mainstream Kubrickian and I thought it was the best British film of 2014 so far (that I’ve seen). Sure some of the shots in the second half run a few seconds too long and it lacked the energy of the first half but the composition and visual storytelling were top drawer.

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      • G said

        I thought it was surreal just for the sake of being surreal. It did have a beauty to it, but it was all a bit pointless to me.

        And where is the movie Frequencies on this list? Not sure when that was released in the UK, but its a fantastic sci-fi flick

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  • gd smith said

    I liked under the skin. but I wish people would stop flinging Lynch a Kubrick around as comparisons.
    Lynch is a one off. Kubrick tended to stay fairly close to the source material he was working with, but made it is own through tone which usually involve a lot of humour.

    Under the Skin is much closer to social realism, meeting the French new Wave of Godard for a gnomic remake Xtro

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    • Sheridan Passell said

      Stephen King was very upset at what a departure The Shining was from the source material. Jonathan Glazer’s camera style is like Kubrick, not like Godard as far as I can see. It has the same cold detachment too. While the opening sequence with the eye forming could have been a deleted scene from 2001.

      The sequences where she is trying to pick up real people, for me, although interesting, felt out of place. The camera style was forced to change to something akin to a hidden camera show and Johannson was breaking character in her chatty improv. (This doesn’t include the scenes with the two men she takes back, and the deformed man – who were all actors.)

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  • gd smith said

    The Shining novel is was too reliant on internal thoughts to film in the way King wanted to see. all Kubrick did was simplify it. He also, in some respects worked more like theatre director than is commonly acknowledged and worked with his actors in a theatrical way. This can completely alter the tone of the story. Burgess used to bitch and whine about Clockwork Orange even though most of the dialogue is taken directly from his novel. Kubrick is vastly over used as a reference for modern films.

    I mentioned Goddard because of Alphaville and the idea of doing a science fiction story by making the everyday seem strange. Also the flat character interactions are far more New Wave than they are Kubrick. Actually, I think a lot of Under the Skin owes a fair bit to 70s films like The Passenger or even Two Lane Black Top. Little of kilter scenes, other scenes that are played out for longer than seems natural, the use of landscape and simple but effective visual tricks etc. And obviously , gooey b-movies like Xtro and come to think of it Breeders.

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    • Sheridan Passell said

      Kubrick also cut out the significant alcoholism element which really annoyed King, as King was a recovering alcoholic and Torrance’s struggle with it was quite autobiographical.

      Most other references there I haven’t seen, will have to put them on my watch list. I honestly think Under the Skin will overcome the significant criticism at the moment to become something of a minor classic in 20 years. Or at least it won’t be forgotten.

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      • gd smith said

        Breeders is a terrible film, it was more of jokey reference to alien goo and to undercut the idea that I might be a bit too prone too art or anything too serious and stuff.
        But any how, I saw a lot of Antonioni in Under The Skin and also a little bit of Robert Bresson. It’s just one of those films that breaks from conventional narrative film making in a way that annoys some people, but which I find interesting, if not always entertaining.

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  • JemimaR said

    ok I think the best british films of 2014 are Cuban Fury and soon The Inbetweeners 2 not seen many others yet … .

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