British cinema is known for its quality and captivating actors. Whether they are blockbusters or indie gems, British films are loved around the world because of their unique humour and sensibilities. Believe it or not, many major film industries around the world, including Hollywood, have borrowed a lot from the British cinema, albeit unknowingly. British cinema has also given the world many stalwarts of cinema, from legendary directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Danny Boyle, Ridley Scott to groundbreaking actors like Charlie Chaplin, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sir Michael Caine, Ralph Fiennes, Eddie Redmayne et al to some of the most talented and beautiful actresses on the planet like Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Claire Foy and the list goes on.
In this interconnected world, we live in, most of the British films have a Hollywood connection — they are either produced by some Hollywood production or primarily star Hollywood actors. James Bond, for example. Or the beloved Harry Potter franchise. It won’t be wrong to state that very few British films are purely British these days. We, at The Cinemaholic, have figured a way to find the best out of all the British movies available on Netflix that you can stream right away. From nail-biting thrillers to powerful dramas to romantic comedies, here is the list of really good British movies on Netflix right now. You can find many of these best British movies on Amazon Prime or Hulu as well. Without further ado, here’s the full list.
16. The Riot Club (2014)
Not to be confused with the all-time classic that is ‘Fight Club’, ‘The Riot Club’ is the narrative of a drinking club on very similar lines. The story begins with Miles and Alistair – two wealthy brats who have connections with many nobles and are studying at Oxford. While Miles is a timid and happy fella, who has a simmering relationship with his girlfriend Lauren, Alistair aspires to be a politician like his uncle. After joining ‘The Riot Club’ – a notorious club built on the idea of hedonism and the power of one’s money, Miles and Alistair need to stick to their guns with their careers at stake. A brazen incident, however, suggests otherwise. ‘The Riot Club’ is apparently based on a real-life Bullingdon Club – the unofficial all-male club for undergrads at the Oxford.
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15. Una (2016)
Una is a young woman in her late twenties tormented by her dark past. After she finds an old photograph of a man who used to be close to her, she goes to his workplace looking to know why he abandoned her after they had a sexual relationship. However, dark secrets start to unravel. “Una” is a character-driven psychological thriller that challenges the rules of cinema and explores child sexual abuse like no other Hollywood movie has ever done before. It stars Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn.
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14. Mindhorn (2016)
Set in the Isle of Man, ‘Mindhorn’ revolves around a murder that has happened in the small, idyllic town. Apparently, the killer would negotiate and perhaps surrender only to a person named Mindhorn. The problem though – there’s nobody bearing that name. Although, Mindhorn was a long-cancelled tv show which was premised around a cop and the actor Richard Thorncroft who played Mindhorn agrees to negotiate with the killer one last time. With his publicity in ruins and his career hitting the end of the road, Thorncroft’s only hope is to steal his chunk of publicity from this morbid extravaganza. Although the movie has a clever premise despite made of a shoestring budget, it is a watchable flick any given day.
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13. Bad Day for the Cut (2017)
An unexpectedly violent and bloodied drama, ‘Bad Day for the Cut’ is one of the few moving revenge dramas on this list. Or perhaps the only one. The story revolves around an Irish farmer named Donal, who lives a simple life in countryside Ireland. He is content with his daytime life on the farm and the nightlife he spends with his pals, splurging his money on alcohol. He is made fun of, for he still lives with his mother. On an unfortunate day, when his mother has been murdered by some assailants, he takes it upon himself to find the killers and avenge the death of his mother. Despite the simplistic narrative, ‘Bad Day for the Cut’ makes for quite a compelling watch, thanks to the watertight screenplay it boasts of.
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12. Virunga (2014)
In the east of Congo lies Virunga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site known for being the home to the last mountain gorillas. We follow a group of armed individuals that try to protect this endangered species of armed militia, poachers and evil forces trying to control Congo’s rich natural resources. Nominated for “Best Documentary Feature” in the Academy Awards of 2015, this film is a wake-up call about nature and civil war. Besides being beautiful thanks to Orlando von Einsiedel’s direction and Congo’s mesmerizing landscape, it is also a thought-provoking film.
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11. Calibre (2018)
A thumping and racy edge-of-the-seat thriller, ‘Calibre’ begins with Marcus, a businessman based out in Edinburgh. Vaughn is an old friend of Marcus and the two have a chance meeting and decide to go hunting into the Scottish highlands. While they share a drink at a local inn with two ladies – Kara and Iona, Vaughn is constantly reminded of his pregnant wife and decides not to fool around. During the hunt, while Vaughn is trying his hand for the first time with a gun, he accidentally shoots and kills a boy hiding behind a doe that Vaughn was aiming at. A nonchalant Marcus then kills the boy’s father too, who apparently was shooting at Vaughn. The grand cover-up follows but their plan of hiding the bodies and getting away with it fails terribly. The ending, to everyone’s shock, was way too different than what we could imagine. ‘Calibre’ was lauded for the cinematography and the performances.
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10. Man Up (2015)
Yet another Simon Pegg’s movie on this list, ‘Man Up’ is the story of Nancy and Jack who meet out of nowhere at a train station and are meant to be, from what it looks like. Nancy, a 30-something single woman has given up on finding her true love. While she’s on her way to London to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her parents, she sits across Jessica in the train, who is reading a book on blind dating. Jessica, given the fact that Nancy wasn’t exactly nice to her, leaves the book on the train, thus making Nancy follow Jessica at the Waterloo station. A man named Jack introduces himself to Nancy, thinking of her as Jessica, for he’s Jessica’s blind date. A chance-encounter turned eternal love tale, ‘Man Up’ is a heartwarming, worthwhile watch.
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9. The Duchess (2008)
When she was seventeen, Georgiana Spencer married the Duke of Devonshire, one of England’s richest and most influential dukes. However, their marriage is not what she expected. According to the Duke, Georgiana only has two responsibilities: produce a male heir and be loyal to him. The coldness of the Duke pushes Georgiana away, so she begins an affair that may have awful consequences. Starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes in the main roles, this is a multi-layered historical drama with compelling deep characters and a lot of drama.
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8. Suite Francaise (2014)
It won’t be wrong to call ‘Suite Francaise’ an eternal love story that takes place in the insurmountable of the circumstances, at a place which is the most unlikely one for love to bloom in its full glory. Set in the ’40s in a small French town, during the Nazi occupation of France following the latter’s surrender, the movie is the narrative of Lucile, who has been confined in her house along with her domineering mother in law, while they await the return of Lucile’s husband who is now a prisoner of war. As more and more German soldiers pour into the town and take people’s residences for their own stay, Lucile is smitten by Bruno, a young and handsome German soldier who has come to her place. Despite all the circumstances against her, Lucile does fall for Bruno. ‘Suite Francaise’ is a must-watch for period romance movie fans.
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7. Howards End (1992)
Often regarded as a timeless classic, an unforgettable tale of love, hate, lust, relationships, greed, power and wealth, and boasting of a star cast including stalwarts like Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, to name a few, the movie is a narrative of Margaret Schlegel and her sister Helen, belonging to the Schlegel family. Primarily, the Schlegels, Wilcoxes and Basts are the three social classes of the 1910’s England, and their power struggle forms the crux of the film’s narrative. Mrs Wilcox and Margaret have become best buddies, so much so, that the former promises Howards End, her home to Margaret after her demise. Margaret then gets engaged to the widowed Mr Wilcox, much to Helen’s despise. Margaret’s winning of Howards End is all that forms the remaining of the story. ‘Howards End’ was praised across departments and got nine Academy Award nominations including three wins, notably for Emma Thompson for Best Actress.
6. The King’s Speech (2010)
A thumping critical and commercial success, and a movie that won Colin Firth his debut Academy Award win for Best Actor in a Leading Role. ‘The King’s Speech’ is the real-life story of King George VI, the younger son of King George V who took the throne after his elder brother Edward abdicated it in 1936. The movie focuses on the stammer the late King had, which led him to be in awkward and embarrassing situations, an ailment which he eventually never overcame. To cope up with his stammer, he takes the help of an Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, who proves to be of great help in overcoming King’s fear of public speech and his problem of stammering. The 1939’s Britain’s declaration of war on Germany speech by the King forms the focal point of the movie, also a movie moment each viewer waits for while watching the movie. Colin Firth’s portrayal of King George VI has often been regarded as the most authentic and historically accurate portrayal of the King thus far.
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5. The King (2019)
William Shakespeare had written a number of plays based on the lives of Henry IV and Henry V, all of which serve as source material for this 2019 film starring Timothee Chalamet. Chalamet here plays the role of the young prince Hal who is suddenly crowned king and given the name Henry V after his father passes away. However, Hal is the sort of person who has always resented royal life. He had given up his life in the palace before he was dragged to the throne to become king. Now, a complete novice at the business of running an empire, he has to take care of the many political turmoils in the country while also coming to terms with his own troubled past. Chalamet has performed impressively in this film, with the brilliant production design aiding his powerful screen presence.
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4. Kajaki (2014)
One of the most intense docudramas you will ever come across, ‘Kajaki’ is the story of a group of British soldiers who were trapped in the eponymous region in Afghanistan. These soldiers were actually going to eliminate a roadblock built up by the Taliban, but as soon as they step out of their car, they realize they have been trapped in an area with landmines all around them. The only way to escape is by calling for airlifts. However, the main issue with the airlift is the fact that the slightest mistake might result in the entire area getting blown up. This film is extremely tense and makes you hold your breath from the beginning until the very end.
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3. Apostle (2018)
One of the most intense original horror films from Netflix, ‘Apostle’ is the story set in 1905 and revolves around a man called Thomas Richardson who has just received the information that his sister has been kidnapped by the members of a secret cult who have taken her to an island. Thomas immediately sets out to infiltrate the cult dressed as one of them in order to locate and bring back his sister. However, on reaching the island he realizes that his task will not be easy at all. One of the main preachings of this cult is that they have done away with the extreme corruption of the world we see around us. But Thomas realizes that they are no different. Under their sinister rituals and sacrifices, there remains a well-hidden secret. The film beats its competition because of its stunning cinematography and set designs. The meticulous planning helped create an eerie atmosphere which becomes the film’s backbone right till the very end.
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2. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)
This movie from the makers of the critically acclaimed series ‘Black Mirror‘ goes much beyond the scope of films and offers us an experience we have never witnessed while watching a film. Here, the protagonist’s many decisions can be controlled by the viewer by selecting among the options that appear on the screen. The central character of this film is a game developer called Stefan who wants to adapt a book called Bandersnatch into a game. However, as he goes about doing so, Stefan realizes that his life, just like the life of the game’s central character that he is making, is under someone else’s control. This realization sends him down a spiral, and we realize that the force he is actually worried about is us, who have been twisting and turning his life since the film began. With this film, Netflix has made a strong case against piracy and has also extended the scope of what is possible through cinema.
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1. The Ritual (2017)
A British horror film, ‘The Ritual’ is the story of four friends who have chosen to take a hike around a Scandinavian forest. However, these forests are extremely dense and huge in size, and thus one wrong step can send you into the wilderness forever. This is exactly what happens to these four friends as they enter an area of the forest which is cursed by a creature from the Norse legends. Soon, these friends realize that escaping from this forest will be a near-impossible task. The film uses its locations beautifully to create a sense of horror and dread, and this is what sets it apart from other horror films that we generally see.
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