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Top 10 Great British Movies That Are Probably Overrated

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Joe Cooper
The critics tell you to love them, but deep down you may think otherwise. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 great British films that are probably overrated. For this list we’ll be taking a look at critically acclaimed British films, or films that are at least partly produced in Britain, or are inspired by British source material, that have fallen under scrutiny since their release. We are by no means saying these films are terrible, but rather that they perhaps don’t deserve the golden pedestal they sit upon. Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Great British Movies That Are Probably Overrated


The critics tell you to love them, but deep down you may think otherwise. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 great British films that are probably overrated.

For this list we’ll be taking a look at critically acclaimed British films, or films that are at least partly produced in Britain, or are inspired by British source material, that have fallen under scrutiny since their release. We are by no means saying these films are terrible, but rather that they perhaps don’t deserve the golden pedestal they sit upon.

#10: “Love Actually” (2003)


This ensemble rom-com was the hit Christmas film of the early 2000s, starting a trend for similarly themed holiday films in the following years. Whilst it is indeed heartwarming and has many memorable moments, it promotes a rather unrealistic portrait of how love blossoms in both a casual and business setting. Is the Prime Minister’s romance with Martine McCutcheon dreamy or completely inappropriate? And is it not terribly wrong to kiss your husband’s best friend after he confesses his love to you? Apparently not in this charmingly perfect world.

#9: “The King’s Speech” (2010)


By no means a bad film, “The King’s Speech” was widely celebrated in award show circles, focusing on a historical figure overcoming a persistent speech impediment. It certainly highlights an intriguing moment in the history of the British monarchy, but it doesn’t offer anything especially new to the cinematic experience, especially when compared to other films released in the same year, including “The Social Network”, “Black Swan” and “Inception”. Having said all that, the speech therapy scene filled with swearing is an absolute classic.

#8: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005)


It was inevitable that this film would be compared to the 1971 original in all aspects, and it’s still up for debate as to which one is better. Despite its modern aesthetic, the Tim Burton retelling of Roald Dahl’s book is actually much more faithful than the classic Gene Wilder version, but is burdened by all the aspects of Burton’s films that have since become cliché and a bit tiring. With another weird role played by Johnny Depp, and some more dialogue that feels stilted and rehearsed, it doesn’t live long in the memory.

#7: “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962)


This David Lean epic, based on the life of T. E. Lawrence, is a staggering cinematic achievement with visual storytelling that inspired such Hollywood heavyweights as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. However, at 3 hours and 42 minutes, it is probably a smidge too long, testing the patience of even the most ardent moviegoer. Several T. E. Lawrence biographers have also noted how the historical inaccuracies in the film have warped the public perception of these figures, showcasing them as blockbuster characters rather than actual people.

#6: “Atonement” (2007)


The set-up to this doomed romance is both absorbing and heart breaking; a single lie, told out of jealousy and spite, decides and ruins the life of two young lovers. The rest of the film exists purely as wish fulfilment on behalf of the young girl who propagated that lie, as we’re subjected to a depressing tale filled with hopelessness and offering little resolution. The film’s saving graces include that mesmerizing tracking shot on Dunkirk beach, and some outstanding performances from the cast, but after the initial shock of the twist ending, repeat viewings aren’t always all that satisfying.

#5: “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)


A huge success around the world when it was released, “Slumdog Millionaire” shone a light on the slums of Mumbai, an area of the world rarely explored in Western cinema. But while it is commendable, it can be seen as reinforcing what Western audience’s believe all of India is really like, cherry-picking the worst elements from the society and stitching them together under Danny Boyle’s slick direction. The character Jamal’s frequent use of British English might also be seen as pandering to a mainstream audience, robbing the film of a genuinely authentic feel.

#4: “Skyfall” (2012)


This much more personal story for Bond, which delves deep into his past, is mirrored by the appointment of Sam Mendes as director, who takes a more steady and artful approach to depicting 007. “Skyfall” became the most commercially successful entry in the franchise with over $1billion in ticket sales, heavily relying on its direction and cinematography to make it seem fresh. But ask many Bond fans and they’ll admit that it doesn’t really offer anything new to the series, and falters in terms of super-spy-level thrills. That being said, Javier Bardem’s Silva is an awesome addition to Bond’s rogue gallery.

#3: “Shakespeare in Love” (1998)


When a blinding war epic like “Saving Private Ryan” is beaten to Best Picture by this much more straightforward period romance, you start to question the Academy’s judgment. Today, “Shakespeare in Love” is arguably most famous for its highly contentious award wins and melodramatic acceptance speeches, with Judi Dench’s best supporting actress gong drawing particular scrutiny, given after only 8 minutes of screen time. Another example of the audience’s love for British period dramas, it’s also retrospectively hurt by the fact that it has no basis in reality, being a completely fictitious take on the bard.

#2: “The English Patient” (1996)


This movie is one of those films that you feel like you should see… But put off watching for as long as you can. A near three-hour romantic drama that swept up at the Academy Awards in 1996, “The English Patient” is perhaps a prime example of an Oscar bait movie; an epic love story set during a war, based on a real life figure and filled with high-calibre actors, with the narrative pace of a snail. When stripped of all the accolades however, it’s probably not quite as engrossing as its legacy would have us believe.

#1: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011)


The anticipation for this adaptation of John le Carré’s seminal spy novel was seriously high, as production had managed to accrue the very best of British acting talent, in particular Gary Oldman as George Smiley. However, condensing the complex novel into a single two-hour movie meant many pivotal points in the original story were quickly overlooked. Even after multiple viewings, it is difficult to decipher exactly what’s going on unless you already know the ins and outs of le Carré’s world, but because of the acting pedigree, it’s considered a modern classic nonetheless. The jury’s out.
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