What’s the Best British Film of All Time? It’s Not The King’s Speech

  • Share
  • Read Later
Don't Look Now

Time Out

The film world might be focused on Oscar season, but there’s always room for reflection on British cinema. Right?

London’s edition of Time Out has released the results of its extensive survey it carried out to count down the 100 best British films of all time. And this was no public popularity contest — the magazine only polled actors, directors, writers, producers, critics and other notables.

(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 movies of 2010)

This select group of 150 people each offered their top 10, and the surprise winner was Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 thriller (ironically set in Venice), Don’t Look Now, with the magazine calling it, “the crowning achievement of one of Britain’s true iconoclasts and masters of cinema.” Back in 1999, when the British Film Institute (BFI) undertook a similar task, the movie came in eighth place, with the winner being Carol Reed’s sublime 1949 noir The Third Man, which was the runner-up in Time Out‘s poll. As for Oscar front-runner, The King’s Speech, it didn’t even make the list.

(More on TIME.com: See why Don’t Look Now is in the top 10 ‘I see dead people’ movies.)

The now 83-year-old Roeg also makes a further appearance in the top 10 thanks to the Mick Jagger and James Fox vehicle, Performance (1970). The legendary Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, arguably the nation’s greatest ever filmmakers, also crop up twice in the top 10 (The Red Shoes at five and A Matter of Life and Death at six, which happens to be this writer’s favorite ever film) and have six movies in the 100, with a seventh if you include Peeping Tom, which was directed by Powell.

There are only two movies in the top ten which were made after 1973: Distant Voices, Still Lives is at three (Terence Davies from 1988) and the one film most of us will have seen, Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (1996), which sneaks in at number 10.

(More on TIME.com: See the top 100 movies of all time)

Inevitably, the debate over the top spots and omissions (no room at the inn for A Hard Day’s Night or O Lucky Man, for example) has already begun. But it all puts British cinema back in the spotlight, and with the Baftas taking place on Sunday and The King’s Speech expected to win Best Picture at the Oscars, the industry is getting a much-needed shot in the arm.