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The 100 best British films: contributors

You’ve read our list of the best British films, now explore the top ten lists from guest contributors including Wes Anderson, Ken Loach, Riz Ahmed, 'Skyfall' director Sam Mendes and more

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What are the greatest British movies ever made? ‘The Third Man’? ‘Kes’? ‘Trainspotting’? ‘Carry On at Your Convenience’? Here’s probably the best answer you’re ever going to get: the 100 best British films, as voted for by the film industry itself.

To compile our list of the best British films, we polled over 150 actors, directors, writers, producers, critics and other industry bigwigs to discover their favourite ten British films. Below, you can find the lists submitted by our most famous contributors, including directors Wes Anderson, Michel Gondry, Ken Loach, Sam Mendes and Terence Davies, and stars Sally Hawkins, Thandie Newton and Riz Ahmed.

The best British film contributors

Riz Ahmed

The phenomenally talented star of ‘Shifty’, ‘Nightcrawler’ and ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’.

Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows, 2004)

Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)

In This World (Michael Winterbottom, 2002)

Nil by Mouth (Gary Oldman, 1997)

Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996)

‘I think they all were powerful countercultural films and alternative stories, which I think is what we do best. They’re ballsy films that punched above their weight because of that. We usually make smaller scale films in the UK than they do in the States or some of the more artistically subsidised European countries. But that can give us a freedom and we should use that to go to unexpected places and push the buttons which get people’s attention. These films did that.’

Wes Anderson

The American director of ‘Rushmore’, ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ and ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’.

1. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943)

2. Oliver Twist (David Lean, 1948)

3. Sabotage (Alfred Alfred Hitchcock, 1936)

4. The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed, 1948)

5. The Hit (Stephen Frears, 1984)

6. The Queen of Spades (Thorold Dickinson, 1949)

7. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)

8. Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971)

9. They Made Me a Fugitive (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1947)

10. Melody (Waris Hussein, 1971)

Richard Ayoade

Comedian, writer, raconteur and director of ‘Submarine’ and ‘The Double’.

1. Kes (Ken Loach, 1969)

2. Performance (Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg, 1970)

3. If… (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)

4. Accident (Joseph Losey, 1967) / The Servant (Joseph Losey, 1963)

5. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943) / Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947) / The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948)

6. The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962) / Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)

7. Summertime (David Lean, 1955)

8. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) / A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)

9. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)

10. Odd Man Out (Carol Reed, 1948) / The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed, 1947)

‘Some cheating on the numbers here. I tried to make such hateful indecision less appalling by lumping films together with their directors – and this list already misses out any Mike Leigh or Shane Meadows, which is a disgrace.’

Clio Barnard

The British director of ‘The Arbor’ and ‘The Selfish Giant’.

1. Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)

2. Performance (Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg, 1970)

3. Under the Skin (Carine Adler, 1999)

4. House of Mirth (Terence Davies, 2000)

5. Better Things (Duane Hopkins, 2008)

6. Naked (Mike Leigh, 1993)

7. My Ain Folk (Bill Douglas, 1973)

8. The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961)

9. If… (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)

10. Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)

Alfonso Cuaron

The Mexican director of ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, ‘Children of Men’ and ‘Gravity’.

In chronological order:

The Big Swallow (James Williamson, 1901)

The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935)

Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960)

If… (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)

Kes (Ken Loach, 1969)

Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

Tommy (Ken Russell, 1975)

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)

Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996)

Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006)

Terence Davies

The Liverpool-born director of ‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’ and ‘Sunset Song’.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)

A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1946)

Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1943)

The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948)

The Ladykillers (Alexander Mackendrick, 1955)

It Always Rains on Sunday (Robert Hamer, 1947)

The Happiest Days of Your Life (Frank Launder, 1950)

Tunes of Glory (Ronald Neame, 1960)

The Green Man (Robert Day, 1956)

Michel Gondry

The French director of ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ and ‘Be Kind Rewind’.

1. Kes (Ken Loach, 1969)

2. Career Girls (Mike Leigh, 1997)

3. Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)

4. Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)

5. A Room with a View (James Ivory, 1985)

6. The Ladykillers (Alexander Mackendrick, 1955)

7. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, 1975)

8. The Kids Are Alright (Jeff Stein, 1978)

9. Quadrophenia (Franc Roddam, 1979)

10. The Man in the White Suit (Alexander Mackendrick, 1951)

Sally Hawkins

The British star of ‘Happy Go Lucky’, ‘Godzilla’ and ‘Blue Jasmine’.

1. If… (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)

2. Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945) or Ryan’s Daughter (David Lean, 1970)

3. Bleak Moments (Mike Leigh, 1971)

4. Kes (Ken Loach, 1969)

5. Bugsy Malone (Alan Parker, 1976)

6. Time Bandits (Terry Gilliam, 1981)

7. Henry V (Kenneth Branagh, 1989)

8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, 1975) / Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)

9. The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1948) / A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1946)

10. Don't look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

11. The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961)

Asif Kapadia

The British director of ‘Senna’ and ‘Amy’.

1. Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

2. Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah, 1971)

3. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)

4. Kes (Ken Loach, 1969)

5. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

6. In This World (Michael Winterbottom, 2002)

7. Bloody Sunday (Paul Greengrass, 2002)

8. Richard the Third (Richard Loncraine, 1995)

9. Nineteen Eighty-Four (Michael Radford, 1984)

10. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

‘In “Don’t Look Now” I love the unsettling atmosphere, the fantastic cinematography, the editing and direction is fantastic. A masterpiece of visual filmmaking. I first saw “Straw Dogs” at the BFI, it may still have been banned at the time. I had to remind myself to breathe at the end, I have never felt such unbearable tension in the cinema. “Kes” is probably the first feature film that I can recall watching all the way through, I saw it in my class at school, obviously I had no idea who Ken Loach was at the time. He’s an inspiration when it comes to naturalism and working with non-professional actors.’

Stewart Lee

The iconic writer and comedian responsible for ‘Jerry Springer: The Musical’.

1. Gallivant (Andrew Kötting, 1997)

2. London (Patrick Keiller, 1994)

3. Robinson In Space (Patrick Keiller, 1997)

4. Dead Man’s Shoes (Shane Meadows, 2004)

5. The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973)

6. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)

7. Local Hero (Bill Forsyth, 1983)

8. Where Eagles Dare (Brian G Hutton, 1968)

9. Culloden (Peter Watkins, 1964)

10. Whistle and I'll Come to You (Jonathan Miller, 1968)

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