Top 100 British films by British Film Institute

"This is the complete list of the 100 best British films of the century, as voted for by 1,000 leading figures of the movie industry, and compiled by the British Film Institute."


Weight: 65


  1. Limited to single country or region (-25)
  2. Limited to ~75 years or less (-10)

Films (100)

1. The Third Man

Directed by Carol Reed | 93 min | 1949

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

2. Brief Encounter

Directed by David Lean | 86 min | 1945

Meeting a stranger in a railway station, a woman is tempted to cheat on her husband.

3. Lawrence of Arabia

Directed by David Lean | Rated PG | 216 min | 1962

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and lead the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.

4. The 39 Steps

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | 86 min | 1935

A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.

5. Great Expectations

Directed by David Lean | 118 min | 1946

A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.

6. Kind Hearts and Coronets

Directed by Robert Hamer | 106 min | 1949

A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

7. Kes

Directed by Ken Loach | Rated PG-13 | 110 min | 1969

A young, English working-class boy spends his free time caring for and training his pet falcon.

8. Don't Look Now

Directed by Nicolas Roeg | Rated R | 110 min | 1973

A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter are in Venice when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond.

9. The Red Shoes

Directed by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | 133 min | 1948

A young ballet dancer is torn between the man she loves and her pursuit to become a prima ballerina.

10. Trainspotting

Directed by Danny Boyle | Rated R | 94 min | 1996

Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends.

11. The Bridge on the River Kwai

Directed by David Lean | Rated PG | 161 min | 1957

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

12. If....

Directed by Lindsay Anderson | Rated X | 111 min | 1968

In this allegorical story, a revolution led by pupil Mick Travis takes place at an old established private school in England.

13. The Ladykillers

Directed by Alexander Mackendrick | Rated N/A | 91 min | 1955

Five diverse oddball criminal types planning a bank robbery rent rooms on a cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow under the pretext that they are classical musicians.

14. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Directed by Karel Reisz | Rated N/A | 89 min | 1960

A rebellious, hard-living factory worker juggles relationships with two women, one of whom is married to another man but pregnant with his child.

15. Brighton Rock

Directed by John Boulting | Rated N/A | 92 min | 1947

Pinkie Brown is a small-town hoodlum whose gang runs a protection racket based at Brighton race course. When Pinkie orders the murder of a rival, Fred, the police believe it to be suicide. ...

16. Get Carter

Directed by Mike Hodges | Rated R | 112 min | 1971

When his brother dies under mysterious circumstances in a car accident, London gangster Jack Carter travels to Newcastle to investigate.

17. The Lavender Hill Mob

Directed by Charles Crichton | 78 min | 1951

A meek bank clerk who oversees the shipment of bullion joins with an eccentric neighbor to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eiffel Towers.

18. Henry V

Directed by Laurence Olivier | 137 min | 1944

In the midst of the Hundred Years' War in 1415, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France.

19. Chariots of Fire

Directed by Hugh Hudson | Rated PG | 125 min | 1981

Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

20. Stairway to Heaven

Directed by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | Rated PG | 104 min | 1946

A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.

21. The Long Good Friday

Directed by John Mackenzie | Rated R | 114 min | 1980

Harold, a prosperous English gangster, is about to close a lucrative new deal when bombs start showing up in very inconvenient places. A mysterious syndicate is trying to muscle in on his ...

22. The Servant

Directed by Joseph Losey | 116 min | 1963

The aristocratic Tony moves to London and hires the servant Hugo Barrett for all services at home. Barrett seems to be a loyal and competent employee, but Tony's girlfriend Susan does not ...

23. Four Weddings and a Funeral

Directed by Mike Newell | Rated R | 117 min | 1994

Over the course of five social occasions, a committed bachelor must consider the notion that he may have discovered love.

24. Whisky Galore

Directed by Alexander Mackendrick | 82 min | 1949

Scottish islanders try to plunder 50,000 cases of whisky from a stranded ship.

25. The Full Monty

Directed by Peter Cattaneo | Rated R | 91 min | 1997

Six unemployed steel workers form a male striptease act. The women cheer them on to go for "the full monty" - total nudity.

26. The Crying Game

Directed by Neil Jordan | Rated R | 112 min | 1992

A British soldier is kidnapped by IRA terrorists. He befriends one of his captors, who is drawn into the soldier's world.

27. Doctor Zhivago

Directed by David Lean | Rated PG-13 | 197 min | 1965

The life of a Russian physician and poet who, although married to another, falls in love with a political activist's wife and experiences hardship during the First World War and then the October Revolution.

28. Life of Brian

Directed by Terry Jones | Rated R | 94 min | 1979

Brian is born on the original Christmas, in the stable next door. He spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.

29. Withnail & I

Directed by Bruce Robinson | Rated R | 107 min | 1987

London, 1969 - two 'resting' (unemployed and unemployable) actors, Withnail and Marwood, fed up with damp, cold, piles of washing-up, mad drug dealers and psychotic Irishmen, decide to ...

30. Gregory's Girl

Directed by Bill Forsyth | Rated PG | 91 min | 1981

Gregory is a normal teen who is infatuated with a classmate. He must work to win her affection.

31. Zulu

Directed by Cy Endfield | 138 min | 1964

Outnumbered British soldiers do battle with Zulu warriors at Rorke's Drift.

32. Room at the Top

Directed by Jack Clayton | Rated N/A | 115 min | 1959

An ambitious young accountant schemes to wed a wealthy factory owner's daughter, despite falling in love with a married older woman.

33. Alfie

Directed by Lewis Gilbert | 114 min | 1966

An unrepentant ladies' man gradually begins to understand the consequences of his lifestyle.

34. Gandhi

Directed by Richard Attenborough | Rated PG | 191 min | 1982

Gandhi's character is fully explained as a man of nonviolence. Through his patience, he is able to drive the British out of the subcontinent. And the stubborn nature of Jinnah and his commitment towards Pakistan is portrayed.

35. The Lady Vanishes

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock | 96 min | 1938

While traveling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train.

36. The Italian Job

Directed by Peter Collinson | Rated G | 99 min | 1969

Comic caper movie about a plan to steal a gold shipment from the streets of Turin by creating a traffic jam.

37. Local Hero

Directed by Bill Forsyth | Rated PG | 111 min | 1983

An American oil company sends a man to Scotland to buy up an entire village where they want to build a refinery. But things don't go as expected.

38. The Commitments

Directed by Alan Parker | Rated R | 118 min | 1991

When Jimmy Rabbitte wants to start a band, he has open auditions at his house.

39. A Fish Called Wanda

Directed by Charles Crichton, John Cleese | Rated R | 108 min | 1988

In London, four very different people team up to commit armed robbery, then try to doublecross each other for the loot.

40. Secrets & Lies

Directed by Mike Leigh | Rated R | 136 min | 1996

A successful black woman discovers that her birth mother is a lower-class white woman, but the woman denies it. As emotions run high, everyone's secrets are exposed.

41. Dr. No

Directed by Terence Young | 110 min | 1962

A resourceful British government agent seeks answers in a case involving the disappearance of a colleague and the disruption of the American space program.

42. The Madness of King George

Directed by Nicholas Hytner | Rated PG-13 | 104 min | 1994

A meditation on power and the metaphor of the body of state, based on the real episode of dementia experienced by George III [now suspected a victim of porphyria, a blood disorder]. As he ...

43. A Man for All Seasons

Directed by Fred Zinnemann | 120 min | 1966

The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage.

44. Black Narcissus

Directed by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | 100 min | 1947

After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.

45. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Directed by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | 163 min | 1943

From the Boer War through World War II, a soldier rises through the ranks in the British military.

46. Oliver Twist

Directed by David Lean | 105 min | 1948

Based on the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist is about an orphan boy who runs away from a workhouse and meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. Oliver is taken in by the pickpocket ...

47. I'm All Right Jack

Directed by John Boulting | Rated N/A | 105 min | 1959

A naive aristocrat in search of a career becomes caught up in the struggles between his profit-minded uncle and an aggressive labour union.

48. Performance

Directed by Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg | Rated X | 105 min | 1970

Chas, a violent and psychotic East London gangster needs a place to lie low after a hit that should never have been carried out. He finds the perfect cover in the form of guest house run by...

49. Shakespeare in Love

Directed by John Madden | Rated R | 123 min | 1998

A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

50. My Beautiful Laundrette

Directed by Stephen Frears | Rated R | 97 min | 1985

An ambitious Asian Briton and his white lover strive for success and hope, when they open up a glamorous laundromat.

51. Tom Jones

Directed by Tony Richardson | 128 min | 1963

In eighteenth century England, "first cousins" Tom Jones and Master Blifil grew up together in privilege in the western countryside, but could not be more different in nature. Tom, the ...

52. This Sporting Life

Directed by Lindsay Anderson | 134 min | 1963

Despite success on the field, a rising rugby star senses the emerging emptiness of his life as his inner angst begins to materialize through aggression and brutality, so he attempts to woo his landlady in hopes of finding reason to live.

53. My Left Foot

Directed by Jim Sheridan | Rated R | 103 min | 1989

Christy Brown, born with cerebral palsy, learns to paint and write with his only controllable limb - his left foot.

54. Brazil

Directed by Terry Gilliam | Rated R | 132 min | 1985

A bureaucrat in a retro-future world tries to correct an administrative error and himself becomes an enemy of the state.

55. The English Patient

Directed by Anthony Minghella | Rated R | 162 min | 1996

At the close of WWII, a young nurse tends to a badly-burned plane crash victim. His past is shown in flashbacks, revealing an involvement in a fateful love affair.

56. A Taste of Honey

Directed by Tony Richardson | 100 min | 1961

The moving story of a plain young girl who becomes pregnant by a black sailor, befriends a homosexual, and gradually becomes a woman.

57. The Go-Between

Directed by Joseph Losey | Rated GP | 118 min | 1971

Tale of torrid and forbidden love between Christie and Bates in the English countryside.

58. The Man in the White Suit

Directed by Alexander Mackendrick | 85 min | 1951

An altruistic chemist invents a fabric which resists wear and stain as a boon to humanity, but both big business and labor realize it must be suppressed for economic reasons.

59. The Ipcress File

Directed by Sidney J. Furie | 109 min | 1965

In London, a counter espionage agent deals with his own bureaucracy while investigating the kidnapping and brainwashing of British scientists.

60. Blow-Up

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni | 111 min | 1966

A mod London photographer finds something very suspicious in the shots he has taken of a mysterious beauty in a desolate park.

61. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Directed by Tony Richardson | Rated N/A | 104 min | 1962

A juvenile offender impresses the reform school Governor with running abilities. He is in turn given special privileges to encourage him to win a race against the local public school, but he is therefore teased his fellow rebellious peers.

62. Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Ang Lee | Rated PG | 136 min | 1995

Rich Mr. Dashwood dies, leaving his second wife and her three daughters poor by the rules of inheritance. The two eldest daughters are the titular opposites.

63. Passport to Pimlico

Directed by Henry Cornelius | 84 min | 1949

Residents of a part of London declare independence, when they discover an old treaty. This leads to the need for a 'Passport to Pimlico'.

64. The Remains of the Day

Directed by James Ivory | Rated PG | 134 min | 1993

A butler who sacrificed body and soul to service in the years leading up to World War II realizes too late how misguided his loyalty was to his lordly employer.

65. Sunday Bloody Sunday

Directed by John Schlesinger | Rated R | 110 min | 1971

Divorced working woman Alex and well-to-do Jewish family doctor Daniel Hirsh share not only the same answering service but also the favours of young Bob Elkin who bed-hops between them as ...

66. The Railway Children

Directed by Lionel Jeffries | Rated G | 109 min | 1970

After the enforced absence of their father, three children move with their mother to Yorkshire, where during their adventures they attempt to discover the reason for his disappearance.

67. Mona Lisa

Directed by Neil Jordan | Rated R | 104 min | 1986

George has just been released from prison, and manages to get a job driving a call girl from customer to customer. Initially they don't get on; he doesn't fit in with the high class customers Simone services. Will they ever get on?

68. The Dam Busters

Directed by Michael Anderson | 105 min | 1955

The story of how the British attacked German dams in WWII by using an ingenious technique to drop bombs where they would be most effective.

69. Hamlet

Directed by Laurence Olivier | 155 min | 1948

Prince Hamlet struggles over whether or not he should kill his uncle, whom he suspects has murdered his father, the former king.

70. Goldfinger

Directed by Guy Hamilton | 110 min | 1964

Investigating a gold magnate's smuggling, James Bond uncovers a plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve.

71. Elizabeth

Directed by Shekhar Kapur | Rated R | 124 min | 1998

A film of the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch.

72. Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Directed by Sam Wood, Sidney Franklin | 114 min | 1939

An aged teacher and former headmaster of a boarding school recalls his career and his personal life over the decades.

73. A Room with a View

Directed by James Ivory | 117 min | 1985

When Lucy Honeychurch and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, fellow guests Mr Emerson and son George step in to remedy the situation. Meeting...

74. The Day of the Jackal

Directed by Fred Zinnemann | Rated PG | 143 min | 1973

A professional assassin codenamed "Jackal" plots to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France.

75. The Cruel Sea

Directed by Charles Frend | 126 min | 1953

The World War II adventures of a British convoy escort ship and its officers.

76. Billy Liar

Directed by John Schlesinger | 98 min | 1963

A lazy, irresponsible young clerk in provincial Northern England lives in his own fantasy world and makes emotionally immature decisions as he alienates friends and family.

77. Oliver!

Directed by Carol Reed | Rated G | 153 min | 1968

A young boy runs away from an orphanage and meets a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by an elderly mentor.

78. Peeping Tom

Directed by Michael Powell | 101 min | 1960

A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.

79. Far from the Madding Crowd

Directed by John Schlesinger | Rated PG | 168 min | 1967

Bathsheba Everdene, a willful, flirtatious, young woman, unexpectedly inherits a large farm and is romantically pursued by three very different men.

80. The Draughtsman's Contract

Directed by Peter Greenaway | Rated R | 108 min | 1982

Mr. Neville, a cocksure young artist is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner, to produce a set of twelve drawings of her husband's estate, a contract which extends ...

81. A Clockwork Orange

Directed by Stanley Kubrick | Rated X | 136 min | 1971

In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem - but not all goes according to plan.

82. Distant Voices, Still Lives

Directed by Terence Davies | Rated PG-13 | 85 min | 1988

The second film in Terence Davies's autobiographical series ('Trilogy', 'The Long Day Closes') is an impressionistic view of a working-class family in 1940s and 1950s Liverpool, based on ...

83. Darling

Directed by John Schlesinger | Rated TV-MA | 128 min | 1965

A beautiful but amoral model sleeps her way to the top of the London fashion scene at the height of the Swinging Sixties.

84. Educating Rita

Directed by Lewis Gilbert | Rated PG | 110 min | 1983

A young wife decides to complete her education and take her exams. She meets a professor who teaches her to value her own insights while still being able to beat the exams. The change in ...

85. Brassed Off

Directed by Mark Herman | Rated R | 103 min | 1996

The coal mine in a northern English village may be closing, which would also mean the end of the miners' brass band.

86. Genevieve

Directed by Henry Cornelius | 86 min | 1953

It's time for the annual London to Brighton antique car rally, and Alan McKim and Ambrose Claverhouse are not going to let their friendship stop them from trying to humiliate each other. ...

87. Women in Love

Directed by Ken Russell | Rated R | 131 min | 1969

The battle of the sexes and relationships among the elite of Britian's industrial Midlands in the 1920s. Gerald Crich and Rupert Berkin are best friends who fall in love with a pair of ...

88. A Hard Day's Night

Directed by Richard Lester | 87 min | 1964

A 'typical' day in the life of the Beatles, including many of their famous songs.

89. Fires Were Started

Directed by Humphrey Jennings | Rated N/A | 63 min | 1943

A new man joins the civilian firefighters at a London unit during the Second World War. He meets his fellow firemen and firewomen, manages to enjoy some leisure time with them, and then ...

90. Hope and Glory

Directed by John Boorman | Rated PG-13 | 113 min | 1987

A semi-autobiographical project by John Boorman about a nine year old boy called Bill as he grows up in London during the blitz of World War 2. For a young boy, this time in history was ...

91. My Name Is Joe

Directed by Ken Loach | Rated R | 105 min | 1998

Two thirtysomethings, unemployed former alcoholic Joe and community health worker Sarah, start a romantic relationship in the one of the toughest Glasgow neighbourhoods.

92. In Which We Serve

Directed by Noël Coward, David Lean | 115 min | 1942

This "story of a ship," the British destroyer HMS Torrin, is told in flash backs by survivors as they cling to a life raft.

93. Caravaggio

Directed by Derek Jarman | Rated N/A | 93 min | 1986

A retelling of the life of the celebrated 17th-century painter through his brilliant, nearly blasphemous paintings and his flirtations with the underworld.

94. The Belles of St. Trinian's

Directed by Frank Launder | Rated N/A | 91 min | 1954

These schoolgirls are more interested in racing forms than books as they try to get-rich-quick. They are abetted by the head-mistress' brother, played by Alastair Sim, who also plays the head-mistress.

95. Life Is Sweet

Directed by Mike Leigh | Rated R | 103 min | 1990

A waitress, her cook husband, & their twin daughters ponder their lives over a few weeks in a working-class suburb north of London.

96. The Wicker Man

Directed by Robin Hardy | Rated R | 88 min | 1973

A police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed. Stranger still are the rites that take place there.

97. Nil by Mouth

Directed by Gary Oldman | Rated R | 128 min | 1997

The family of Raymond, his wife Val and her brother Billy live in working-class London district. Also in their family is Val and Billy's mother Janet and grandmother Kath. Billy is a drug ...

98. Small Faces

Directed by Gillies MacKinnon | Rated R | 108 min | 1996

Three teenage brothers, gang-member Bobby, troubled mama's boy Alan and self-assured prankster Lex, reside in a downtrodden section of Glasgow, Scotland, circa 1968. But while Bobby and ...

99. Carry On... Up the Khyber

Directed by Gerald Thomas | Rated N/A | 88 min | 1968

Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond looks after the British outpost near the Khybar pass. Protected by the kilted Third Foot and Mouth regiment, you would think they were safe. But the Khazi of Kalabar...

100. The Killing Fields

Directed by Roland Joffé | Rated R | 141 min | 1984

A journalist is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot's bloody "Year Zero" cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of two million "undesirable" civilians.