When I was little, I dreamed of being British. Alas, I’m stuck with my Midwestern roots and accent, but movies can help transport me across the Atlantic to the land of tea, crumpets, royalty and extreme politeness.
Here are 9 “bloody brilliant” films for when your day needs a little UK:
Downton Abbey and Downton Abbey: A New Era – PBS’s Emmy-winning Downton Abbey ran from 2011-2016 and was one of the most-watched TV shows ever (as in, of all time, in the world), so it’s no surprise that these two movies featuring many members of the original cast have fans jumping for joy—er, awkwardly smiling and clapping their gloved hands—that they get more Crawley family drama.
The Favourite – Olivia Colman took home the Best Actress Oscar for her, um, memorable portrayal of Queen Anne in this truly weird black comedy inspired by scandalous British history. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz play cousins who constantly try to one-up each other to become Anne’s BFF, or “Court favourite,” which is basically like a life full of major perks. Soon we see just how far they’ll each go to be the chosen one. Spoiler alert: gout is involved. Ew.
Emma and Pride & Prejudice – Does it get more British than Jane Austen novels (and their adaptations)? In Emma, Anya Taylor-Joy plays the titular matchmaker, and in 2006’s Pride & Prejudice, Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen have everyone rooting for love to win out in their love-hate relationship.
Atonement – There are certain scenes from this adaptation of Ian McEwan’s best-selling novel that I still can’t shake. Starring Keira Knightley (again!) and James McAvoy as star-crossed lovers in WWII-era Britain, along with an absolutely brilliant Saoirse Ronan as Keira’s jealous sibling who tells a lie with far-reaching consequences, this is one of those films you’ll still think about years later.
Paddington and Paddington 2 – There are so many great British kids’ movies, but these two rise above all. The cult of Paddington is STRONG, my friends. Adults and kids alike adore watching the adventures of this cute little marmalade-loving, blue-jacket-and-red-hat-wearing bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw). I mean, when Nicolas Cage weeps over a film, that’s really all you need to know.
Love Actually – Yeah, I know most people think of this as a Christmas movie. But I think of it first and foremost as a British movie. A wonderful British movie about all sorts of different relationships and phases of love. With perhaps the best cast ever? We’ve got Keira Knightley (again—does that make her THE MOST British person? I think it does), Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and more, treating us to several love stories that sometimes intertwine. Christmas IS all around us—even in June!
What’s your favorite British movie?