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Top 10 British Indie Movies You Need To See

VO: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Andrea Buccino
Who needs the blockbusters when you can watch these beauties? Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British Indie Movies you need to see. For this list, we take a look at the best of British independent cinema. From cult horrors to gritty gangster flicks, grab the popcorn and we’ll get cracking! Special thanks to our user Freemantle_uk for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British Indie Movies You Need To See


Who needs the blockbusters when you can watch these beauties? Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British Indie Movies you need to see.

For this list, we take a look at the best of British independent cinema. From cult horrors to gritty gangster flicks, grab the popcorn and we’ll get cracking!

#10: “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998)


Guy Ritchie’s breakthrough movie, “Lock, Stock” is still one of the Brit director's best efforts. The film flits between fast-paced action, OTT violence and spot-on humour, with cockney mobsters, loan sharks, drugs deals and shoot-outs. Released in ‘98, the cast list was bristling with established and rising stars, and it served as a starting point for one Jason Statham, in particular. Statham scored his first big screen role with “Lock, Stock”, before becoming an internationally recognised shoo-in for badass action hero roles.

#9: “The Wicker Man” (1973)


Forget the embarrassing remake, Robin Hardy’s original “Wicker Man” is an absolute classic. The film sees a pious police sergeant head to a small island off the coast of Scotland in search of a missing girl. But nobody on the island seems to have heard of her, not even her own parents. And what’s more, they’re all into some strange pagan rituals involving sex and sacrifice. Set against beautiful idyllic backdrops, the eerie atmosphere makes for a terrifying and unsettling thriller, with Christopher Lee at his very, very best.

#8: “This Is England” (2006)


To Shane Meadows' acclaimed deconstruction of early-80s England, and a fresh take on Thatcher’s Britain. It’s 1983, and we follow young Shaun in his search for identity, through his friendship with a skinhead gang. The group is fractured upon the return of Combo, a hard-right fanatic played by Stephen Graham, with the film charting the political and social turmoil at the time. “This Is England” convinced critics upon release, winning Best Film at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards, and inspiring a Channel 4 miniseries to continue its characters’ stories.

#7: “Fish Tank” (2009)


To another hard-hitting drama, this time with Andrea Arnold as director. Kate Jarvis stars as Mia, a young woman who’s angry at the world, and is struggling to find purpose and motivation in her life. But things get even worse when her mother brings home a new boyfriend, in the form of Michael Fassbender’s Conor, who strikes up a secret, physical relationship with Mia. Jarvis delivers a show-stealing performance, while Fassbender received widespread praise for a standout role from his early career. Though unsettling at times, it’s a must-see movie.

#6: “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” (1979)


A bona fide British institution, Monty Python have had various surreal, big-screen success, but “Life of Brian” is probably the troupe’s finest filmic achievement. Brian, as everybody should know by now, is not the messiah, but he did have the misfortune of being born on the same day as the son of God, in the stable next door to that which Mary, Joseph and Jesus frequented. Intelligent, funny, incredibly controversial and eminently quotable, “Life of Brian” is indie comedy at its brightest.

#5: “The Man Who Fell to Earth” (1976)


David Bowie takes the lead for this psychedelic sci-fi, under the famed directorship of Nicolas Roeg. Based on Walter Tevis’ novel and made shortly before the release of the original “Star Wars”, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” pushes genre boundaries. A glittering example of what can be achieved without big studios getting in the way, Thomas Jerome Newton plays an alien on Earth to collect water to save his dying planet. It’s a landmark British film, even though the story largely takes place in the deserted landscapes of New Mexico and Arizona.

#4: “Withnail and I” (1987)


Director Bruce Robinson's hilarious high point, “Withnail and I” glides back and forth from funny to full-on bleak, with an endlessly quotable script. The story of two unemployed, down-on-their-luck actors who take a holiday together, the film showcases stellar performances from a blinding cast, including Richard E. Grant as the titular Withnail and Richard Griffiths as his over-friendly Uncle Monty. A film set against a phenomenal soundtrack, including tunes from The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, it’s one to watch over and over again.

#3: “Trainspotting” (1996)


An undisputed cult classic, and based on Irvine Welsh’s first novel, “Trainspotting” follows the misadventures of four working class lads, hooked on heroin in ‘90s Edinburgh. From its iconic opening to an unforgettable end, it’s frantic, dynamic and it doesn’t pull any punches. Showing drug culture, brutal violence and unconventional friendships, it’s powered by star-making performances from the likes of Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle, trademark inventive direction from Danny Boyle and probably one of the slickest soundtracks we’ve ever heard.

#2: “Kes” (1969)


We could’ve included a number of Ken Loach films today, but “Kes” has to be the director’s best work. The story sees Billy Casper look after and train a kestrel, set against the backdrop of a late-60s mining town in Yorkshire. Adapted from Barry Hines’ “A Kestrel for a Knave”, the film was largely shot on location with local actors - a move which prompted some American criticism because of the heavy accents. The language might be tough for those across the pond to grasp, but “Kes” is one of Britain’s best and most heartbreaking films.

Honourable Mentions

“Hunger” (2008)

“The Descent” (2005)

“Peeping Tom” (1960)

#1: “If....” (1968)


The winner of the Palme D'Or in '69 and the taker of today’s crown, it’s the film which first brought Malcolm McDowell to the big screen, and the movie which confirmed Lindsay Anderson as one of the most respected and influential indie filmmakers in Britain. A clever satire of British society built around a boarding school, “If…” moves from a relatively straightforward story of oppression and rebellion to become a standout cinematic experience. No authority figure is safe from Anderson’s unmerciful eye, and it’s a thrill to see.
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