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Top 10 British Movies of the '90s

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Robert Barnott Palin
Ah, the 1990s – high tops, boy bands and iconic films. Hello and welcome to WatchMojo UK. Today, we will be counting down our picks for Top 10 British Movies of the ‘90s. For this list, we are taking into consideration features that were very well received upon release and still resonate today, and that featured either a British director or a largely British cast. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Movies of the '90s


Ah, the 1990s – high tops, boy bands and iconic films. Hello and welcome to WatchMojo UK. Today, we will be counting down our picks for Top 10 British Movies of the ‘90s.

For this list, we are taking into consideration features that were very well received upon release and still resonate today, and that featured either a British director or a largely British cast.

#10: “Shakespeare in Love” (1998)


Following the early days of the famous bard, in his pre-balding days, “Shakespeare in Love” centres around the playwright's search for a muse. In steps Viola, initially disguised as a man, in order to get cast in one of Shakespeare's productions. However, Viola is soon rumbled by William, and before long they start a love affair that goes on to inspire “Romeo and Juliet”. The critically-lauded film won numerous Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and was widely admired.

#9: “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998)


In what is now a Guy Ritchie signature movie, this memorable feature-length debut introduced two former pro sportsmen in Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham to the big screen. After a group of mates rack up huge debts with the sort of people you wouldn’t want to be in debt to, it leads them to rob a gang who just happen to live next door, with hilarious and unexpected consequences on screen. Off screen, it’s a heist-cum-caper classic that grossed over $28 million US dollars, which is all the more impressive when you consider its budget was under $1.5 million.

#8: “In the Name of the Father” (1993)


Starring method actor extraordinaire Daniel Day-Lewis as Gerry Conlon, this biographical courtroom and prison drama tells the story of the four men falsely convicted of the 1974 Guildford pub bombings. Emma Thompson brilliantly portrays Gareth Peirce, the Englishwoman who fought against their conviction, a conviction which also saw Conlon’s father – played by the late Pete Postlethwaite – imprisoned. Despite a few controversies upon its release in terms of real-life accuracy, the film went on to win awards around the world for its heartfelt depiction.

#7: “Howards End” (1992)


The stalwart Emma Thompson again appears on our list, this time winning an Oscar for her role in this E.M. Forster adaptation. Touching on similar themes and subject matter as the later “Sense and Sensibility”, the film is centred around encounters between differing social classes in Victorian England. The film more than lived up to the expectations set by the masterpiece source material, winning two Academy Awards, two BAFTAs and a Golden Globe, among other awards, in 1992. Not only this, but some of the most high-profile film critics helped to heap the praise upon it.

#6: “The Madness of King George” (1994)


Part biographical, part drama, part comedy, and fully fantastic, Nicholas Hytner’s historical feature length picture made film history of its own. Displaying screenwriter Alan Bennett’s typical wit, the film follows the deteriorating mental health of King George III – who by the time of his death had been deemed “permanently insane” – and the resulting power struggle in British parliament. It is brilliantly acted by the late Sir Nigel Hawthorne of “Yes Minister” fame, and the always impeccable Dame Helen Mirren, and earned bags full of accolades, including an Oscar, BAFTAs, and numerous critic and magazine awards.

#5: “The Remains of the Day” (1993)


A film that once again shows how British talent can truly bring book adaptations to life, “The Remains of the Day” is considered by some to be among the greatest British films of any decade. Anthony Hopkins, in a role that is a far cry from Hannibal Lecter, plays the former butler to the deceased and disgraced Lord Darlington. Alongside him is, unsurprisingly, Emma Thompson, as Miss Kenton – Lord Darlington’s housekeep. However, much of the story is shown through flashbacks that show Kenton’s developing feelings for the butler, with their respective duties getting in the way.

#4: “Secrets & Lies” (1996)


This film about a successful black woman discovering her birth mother is an underprivileged white woman did extremely well with critics, netting BAFTAs, a Golden Globe, and host of critical prizes. Director Mike Leigh made this movie with a ton of improvisation, and he reportedly met with each actor before filming to tell them only what their characters would know at the start. The secrets and surprises throughout were sometimes as new to the actors at the time of filming as they were to the audience. The '90s were a good decade for Leigh, who was also highly praised in 1991 for “Life Is Sweet”.

#3: “The Full Monty” (1997)


It’s hard to think of the 1990s and not have this Robert Carlyle outing spring to mind. After losing their jobs at the local steelworks in Sheffield, a group of pals who are down on their luck need money, and fast! What better way to raise funds by taking your clothes off in front of a room of screaming women. Answer? No better way. Absolutely no better way. Also bringing in elements of class, male mental health, sexuality and family, there really is more than meets the eye to this movie.

#2: “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (1994)


Although the title leaves nothing to the imagination, this romantic comedy captured the hearts of filmgoers around the world. Boasting a stellar cast including Rowan Atkinson and an overly charming Hugh Grant, it set the tone for many rom-coms to come, such as “Notting Hill” - a film which has just as much apologising and quirky British swearing. Both funny and tragic, this movie reaped Oscar and Bafta and Golden Globe rewards during the mid-90s, winning in such categories as comedy, acting and screenwriting, and will forever keep its place in people’s hearts.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are some honourable mentions.

"The Crying Game" (1992)

"Brassed Off" (1996)

“Orlando” (1992)

“Goldeneye” (1995)

“Naked” (1993)

#1: “Trainspotting” (1996)


From the fantastic directorial mind of Danny Boyle, king of great '90s films, comes our number-one pick. After his successful feature-length debut in 1994 with “Shallow Grave”, it was clear to see that Boyle was a visionary . . . and his follow-up didn’t disappoint. Here Renton, part of a group of heroin users, wants to get clean after one last hit, but everyone’s struggles and demons take the movie to very dark but sometimes very humorous places. As well as a memorable soundtrack (right, Iggy?), its popularity even eventually led to a long-awaited sequel in 2017.
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