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Comedies, dramas, war films, horror British filmmakers have proved they can tackle any genre, and the best British movies around can be anything, putting the best British movies up against anywhere else in the world. Here's the list Two giants of British screen acting, surprisingly working together for the first time, make a combustible double-act in this Norfolk-set two-hander.

Charlotte Rampling scored her first Oscar nod as Kate Mercer, one half of a long-married couple nearing a key milestone. The other half, husband Geoff Tom Courtenayhas long-hidden skeletons in closet — or in this case, attic — that she unwittingly discovers at this key moment.

Cue brewing tensions, agonised soul-searching and a portrait of marriage's autumnal challenges that's handled with great subtlety and sensitivity by director Andrew Haigh. Since it simply wasn't possible to compete with Connery's in the super-spy stakes during the '60s, Sidney J. Furie's first adaptation of cook-turned author Len Deighton's Cold War novels goes the other way.

While investigating kidnapped scientists, undisciplined surveillance man Harry Palmer doesn't globe-trot, bed-hop or trade verbage with cat-stroking megalomaniac villains; he spends his time on mundane form-filling tasks in drab offices. Despite coming from the Bondian creative team supremo Harry Saltzman, deer Ken Adams, editor Peter Hunt, scorer John Barrythis labyrinthine thriller provides a credible everyman alternative to Bond while embracing British everydayness. There's decent support too most notably from Gordon Jacksonbut the adventures are worth watching for Michael Caine's arguably most iconic role, where his unique brand of cockney cool really started to shine.

Starring enough Redgraves to populate a small island, Richard Attenborough's Great War musical flaunts one of the chunkiest contacts book in British movie history. The director assembled the cream of '60s acting talent, garbed it in khaki and set it lose on a uniquely British satire. At times it plays like the most thespian game of I-spy in history. The general behind that bushy moustache? Laurence Olivier, of course. That recruitment drive chanteuse? Maggie Smith. What A Luvvie War might have been a better title. But stardom aside, it adds up to an indictment of the War's immeasurable suffering that's both scathing and deeply moving.

If the chronological approach gives it an occasionally episodic quality, Attenborough choreographs it all with such flair and compassion that it feels like the world's most dazzling history lesson. Filled with the hummable tunes from the trenches and boasting one of the most heartbreaking final shots in cinema, it's an unsung epic.

Ostensibly a movie about the Manchester music scene between ''92, 24 Hour Party People spends more time mocking its lead character and narrator, record label owner Tony Wilson played by Steve Cooganthan relaying the stories of Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays, all of whom passed through his orbit. But as you roll on the floor laughing when Tony crashes into a tree while riding a hang glider, or gets caught by his wife in the back of a "nosh van" getting "oral pleasures" from a stranger, you really don't mind how much '90s pop culture gets brought to life — or whether what is shown on screen actually happened in the first place.

Deftly directed by Winterbottom24HPP as no-one ever calls it is far, far funnier than anyone should ever expect a biopic to be. If you can call it a biopic. Or expect anything of it at all, really We all know that Gary Oldman is an actor's actor — he's established his reputation beyond doubt over the past three decades — but this as yet sole effort as auteur shows that he's an actor's director too.

A disturbingly honest and unflinching look at the practice and of domestic violence, this gave Ray Winstone an astonishing chance to shine and established him as both a hardman and an actor capable of great subtlety and range even as he plays someone capable of neither.

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But no less capable is Kathy Burke, ly best known for TV comedy, who gives a three dimensional performance in what could have been a simple "victim" role. It's not a feelgood effort - quite the opposite — but a semi-autobiographical exorcism of the demons of Oldman's own south London upbringing that shows a side of life that we might all prefer to ignore.

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Few debuts are this powerful or memorable. There are many teen comedies, and teen sex comedies. None, however, come close to Gregory's Girla story of love and lust burning in all its teenage intensity that manages both realism and unspeakable hilarity without ever forgetting to sympathise with its subjects. John Gordon Sinclair is the youngster struck down with adoration for the gorgeous, football-playing Dorothy Dee Hepburnwhile Grogan plays Susan, Dorothy's friend and a far better bet for the awkward Romeo.

It's a familiar set-up, but it's almost never been as beautifully observed or intelligently written as it is here, for which all credit to Bill Forsyth. After all, dates that involve aimless walks and visits to the chip shop will ring just a little bit more true-to-life than American cinema's endless parade of proms, beach parties and sporting events.

View it as a companion piece to the director's Local Heroand settle yourself in for some of the most convincing real-life laughs you will ever see on film. Elegant and measured storytelling secures Tomas Alfredson's Cold War thriller a spot on the list. Led by Gary Oldman 's buttoned-down George Smiley "It's a sitting down role," as he describes itit's an old-fashioned search for a mole among the top spies of "The Circus", something made more difficult by the fact that he's officially retired.

Also, of course, the suspects are some of Blighty's finest actors, from Colin Firth to Toby Jones and Ciaran Hinds, while the pawns at stake include Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, so they're not going to be easy to read. With that lot on top form, Alfredson might have been forgiven for just pointing the camera at them and giving up, but in fact he crafts a grimy, distinctly '70s London in muted tones and dim shadows and gives the whole thing a sheen of undoubted quality. There's a cruel irony in the fact that Terry Gilliam 's hymn to non-conformity ran smack into huge studio pressure to conform to audience expectation.

Specifically, Universal's grande fromage Sid Sheinberg believed that its ending was too bleak and needed less, well, bleakness. Being Sid Sheinberg he was in a position to force through his infamous 'Love Conquers All' edit, unwittingly providing Gilliam's unique sci-fi with the Big Brother figure it didn't boast on screen.

Sheinberg had less luck foisting a new title on the film — the director himself combed through numerous ideas, the Orwell-referencing '' amongst them, before settling on a sideways reference to a pre-war ditty called 'Aquarela do Brasil' — but he let the film fester so long on the shelf that Gilliam was reduced to begging for its release in trade press.

On the other side of the Atlantic, audiences were reveling in a dystopian vision that's since been referenced by everyone from the Coen brothers to Alex Proyas. Like Metropolis with a whole lot more paperwork, it's a melon-twisting vision of a future bureaucracy gone crackers.

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On paper, a comedy about radicalised British Muslims blowing themselves up during the London Marathon shouldn't be funny, but with Chris Morris at the helm, nothing can be taken for granted — not even gags about bomb construction or exploding crows.

Morris pulls off an incredible trick in extracting comedy from catastrophe with the help of a talented cast, Kayvan Novak to the fore as the earnest Waj with Nigel Lindsay as irascible convert Barry. Morris teases out belly laugh after belly laugh from characters rather than crudeness, sympathy rather than distain, all whilst making a point about the nature of terrorism. For this amazing balancing act alone, Four Lions deserves a place up there with The Life Of Brian in the contentious comedy hall of fame. Sure, the somewhat inevitable ending wouldn't be found in most 'how-to-make-a-money-spinning-comedy' handbooks, but in Morris's masterful hands, you're guaranteed hysteric giggle fits as well as some heavier head scratching.

You have to get past the imitators and the spoofs, because this Merchant-Ivory classic inspired legions of both, but if you can you'll find this sumptuously shot, beautifully understated drama is worth the effort. Forget Hannibal Lecter: this is Anthony Hopkins ' finest performance by a country mile. As the buttoned-down butler who places propriety about everything else in his life, his turn is so restrained he might as well be wearing a straitjacket, but underneath his every mood is clear, if you're paying attention, as he negotiates fascist sympathisers, American newcomers and Emma Thompson's strong-willed housekeeper.

The Kazuo Ishiguro novel already provided the elegiac sense of melancholy and missed chances, but this adaptation adds beautiful visuals and a polished sheen that even Hopkins' Steven would admire. Hammer's take on the big daddy of the vampire world assuming vampires have fathers is sexier and gorier than any adaptation, and most subsequent efforts. Christopher Lee makes an imposing, fiery Count, pitted against Peter Cushing's cool, cerebral Van Helsing in a battle for the soul of Mina Harker and any other comely wenches who happen to cross his path.

It's a pacy retelling of the story, only pausing for a moment here and there as Dracula looms threateningly over someone's neck, and it has a rich score that keeps the blood pumping. The Count's gruesome end, flesh peeling and melting in the sun, is an iconic horror image and did much to establish the Hammer style.

The story, by E. Nesbit, is ren's classic, and this is the definitive film version. A family are thrown into poverty and forced to move to the country when their father is accused of treason, but inbetween playing on the railway lines Kids: don't try this at home and various acts of minor heroism, they become accustomed to their new life. Winning over recalcitrant station master Bernard Cribbins and befriending strangers on trains proves to be its own reward in the end, building to a happy ending that still brings a tear to the eye.

Seriously, if you don't well up a little when Jenny Agutter, looking through the steam, spots her father and cries, "Daddy, oh my daddy" we can only assume it's because you had your tear ducts surgically removed. There's epic, there's really epic, and then there's Gandhi. As befits one of the most important figures of the 20th century, and certainly one of the most admirable among those figures, Richard Attenborough approached this biopic determined to do justice to both the Mahatma's lofty ideals and also the sheer scale of his achievement.

So star Ben Kingsley gets to bring Gandhi to life over a year period, starting from the earliest glimmerings of his political conscience to his eventual assassination, surrounded by some of the best actors ever to grace stage or screen. Along the way Gandhi brought independence to India, pioneered peaceful protest on a massive scale and provided a new benchmark for idealists everywhere. Kingsley's performance is extraordinary, but he's backed up by Attenborough's sweeping cinematography and enormous ambition - there are hundreds of thousands of extras in that funeral scene, dwarfing even the armies of Isengard for scale.

It's a mad benchmark that, in these digital days, will never be threatened, but it's hard to think of a more worthy subject. Five Oscar nominations are tribute to a none-more-British film about the Blitz that found an appreciative audience on both side of the Atlantic.

Seen through the eyes of ten year-old Billy Sebastian Rice-EdwardsJohn Boorman's autobiographical movie turns London's bombed-out suburbs into a giant adventure playground for schoolboys.

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An interesting — and wistful — companion piece to Steven Spielberg's Empire Of The Sunfilmed just down the road at almost at the same time, it's full of visual snapshots of an extraordinary time in England's past, a sepia photo album brought back to life. It's full of startling visual cues, too.

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Witness the sudden blast of a Luftwaffe bomb unfolding in horrifying slow-motion or the dead fish floating for Billy and his sister to collect after a rogue bomb lands in the river. But the randomness of the war's impact is best captured by the discovery that another rogue bombs means school is out - permanently. See, war isn't always hell, especially when it gets you out of double maths.

Thanks at least in part to his movie, everyone knows what happened next. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge emerged from the smoke and turned one of the most beautiful countries on Earth into a boneyard. Down the road, Brando's Kurtz may have been murmuring about "the horror" but here it was, up close and brutally impersonal. Schanberg may have won that Pulitzer for his reportage, but Haing Ngor's fearless journo is the beating heart of the story - and the film.

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