We’re taking a look at the best of British movies currently available to stream on Netflix. Movies so good you should stop what you’re doing now and grab the remote.
Sometimes when sitting down to watch a film, we want something raw and gritty. The type of film that speaks the truth, gives us a snapshot into people’s lives or makes a fantasy or horror genre more realistic. There’s no better film category to fit this bill than an original or independent British film. They make you laugh, make you cry and make you think all in around 90 minutes.
As there are so many talented British screenwriters, directors and actors out there. We wanted to celebrate them and their films and achievements, with a list of seven British films on Netflix that you simply must watch.
So, next time you want a film you can really get your teeth into. Rather than scrolling endlessly, pick something from this list and get ready to be entertained.
1. Wild Rose (2018)
The film follows Rose-Lynn, played by Jessie Buckley, a young mother of two who dreams of becoming a country singer. This Film 4 feature follows her struggles between her reality, her dreams and how she can find a path that allows her to have both.
Star of the show
Jessie Buckley, also known for her roles in ‘War and Peace’ and ‘Chernobyl’, is an Irish actress and singer. Her singing skills definitely come across in this film especially in the original song ‘Glasgow’ (which she performed at the BAFTAS 2020). Her Irish accent, yet, is pretty much undetectable as she delivers an incredible performance as a Glaswegian. As well as Buckley, there are some equally amazing supporting performances in this film. Especially by Julie Walters, who plays her mother, and Sophie Okonedo, as her employee.
Writer and Director
‘Wild Rose’ was the first film to come from Scottish screenwriter Nicole Taylor. Better known for her TV work, such as the award-winning three-part BBC series ‘Three Girls’. For the making of ‘Wild Rose’, Taylor teams up with British TV and Film Director Tom Harper to bring to life this funny, outspoken character and the world around her. Harper’s credentials are also award-winning, as he directed ‘War and Peace’ and 3 episodes of ‘Peaky Blinders’.
Across 2019 and 2020, this film was nominated 34 times across several award shows. These included the BAFTA for Best Leading Actress (Buckley), and the British Independent Film Awards for Best Screenplay, Best British Independent Film and Best Supporting Actress (Walters), among 6 others. The film also won several awards, like a Circuit Community Award for Best Original Song. Plus, BAFTA Award Scotland for Best Feature Film and Best Actress (Buckley), and a British Independent Film Award for Best Music.
With all these nominations and awards under its belt, you can imagine that Wild Rose is a worthy watch. You don’t even need to like country music to love the message behind the story.
2. Tucked (2018)
If you want a film that oozing with charm and humour, ‘Tucked’ is for you. Set in Brighton, it sees two drag queens, Jackie (Darren Nesbit) and Faith (Jordan Stephens), make an unlikely bond. They struggle with gender, family and life issues together, and they find out who they are and what life is really about.
Stars of the show
TV and film veteran Darren Nesbitt, along with actor and one half of ‘Rizzle Kicks’ pop group, Jordan Stephens. They deliver such heart-warming, realistic and funny performances. Both the characters are relatable as they cross generations and their dynamic builds throughout the film. There is also another relatable cameo from ‘Skins’ actor April Pearson. Although her scene is short, the emotion she portrays adds to the relatability of the overall story in so many ways.
Writer and Director
Jamie Patterson was both the writer and director of this film. He is a prolific British filmmaker and co-founder of JumpStart Productions. Which has also bought us films such as ‘Home for Christmas’ and ‘Making Tracks’ (which is well worth the watch and on Amazon Prime to rent). In an interview with PremiereScene, Jamie explains that the inspiration behind this feature was from a drag show he watched in his hometown of Brighton. Where one of the queens left him wanting to know more about her and who she was under the make-up.
Tucked has won a host of awards for the film’s narrative from Filmfest Homochrom to L.A Outfest and Naples International Film Festival. As well as being nominated for the British Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Producer.
Tucked is truly a masterpiece, just make sure the tissues are close by!
3. I Boy (2017)
This film takes the British movies on Netflix category in a bit of a different direction. And, along with the realistic London settings, this Netflix-backed film also injects its own level of sci-fi, action and an unexpected modern vigilante.
After walking in on his friend Lucy (Maisie Williams) being attacked by a gang, Tom (Bill Milner) is shot whilst trying to call for help. When he wakes up from his coma, he discovers fragments of his smartphone have become embedded in his brain, which in turn gives him new abilities. This film does follow a superhero formula that we may be used to; but, it does have its own set of twists which keeps you interested until the end.
Stars of the show
Although this film has a lot of talented rising stars in its cast. The two leads – Bill Milner, who you would recognise from ‘Son of Rambo’ and ‘X Men – First Class’, and Masie Williams from ‘Game of Thrones’ – provide us with compelling performances. And even though Masie is still kind of kick-ass in this film, she connivingly portrays a different character to our beloved ‘Game of Thrones’ Aria.
Writer and Director
‘I Boy’ is based on a book of the same name by award-winning Kevin Brooks. The screenplay was taken on by Joe Barton, who also had a hand in writing the hit Channel 4 series ‘Humans’, so, we know we are in good sci-fi hands. Even though this was only director Adam Randell’s second feature film, he made the most of his limited budget and really got across the film’s storylines. There are even some great special effects in play too.
Although this film isn’t dripping in awards, I would still strongly recommend it as one to have on your list.
4. Only You (2018)
A lot of the movies on this British list for Netflix revolve around younger people and the coming of age struggles, but ‘Only You’ is aimed at a slightly older audience. It takes a romantic drama and spins it in such a commanding, realistic and enlightening way. It also shows that even in your 20s and 30s, there are still many life lessons to learn and even more time to ‘come of age’. In this feature, you follow a couple who meet on the off chance on New Year’s Eve and try to build on their relationship together. Don’t worry if you are not into rom-coms, as Only You throws out all the usual cheesiness that you usually get from this genre. It replaces it with a rawness that you can really tap into.
Stars of the show
Spanish actress Laia Costa, who you may also know from the award-winning Victoria (which you can rent from Amazon Prime) takes the female lead. Next to ‘The Crown’s Josh O’Connor. Their on-screen relationship is what makes this film what it is. You get sucked in by their chemistry together and both characters individually.
Writer and Director
Both the writing and directing of this film is the work of the very talented Harry Wootliff. Harry has also written for TV shows, such as ‘Waterloo Road’ and ‘Totally Frank’. For her first feature film, she achieved a pretty impressive 7 award nominations and 4 wins.
Award nominations for ‘Only You’ included a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer (Wootliff). The wins came from the British Independent Film Awards and Dinard British Film Festival, which included Best Actor (O’Connor) and Best Film. There was also a Writers’ Guild of Great Britain award for Best First Screenplay, which is very well deserved.
So, if you are in the mood for a realistic take on a modern relationship, give this one a watch.
5. The Last Tree (2019)
The first thing that will strike you about this film is the use of sound effects and music throughout the feature. It makes every scene very poignant, especially in the first 10 minutes. It’s a coming of age film that highlights the raw emotions that come with growing up in two different places.
Femi (Tai Golding/Samuel Adewunmi) goes from his happy childhood in the countryside with his foster mother to living with his birth mother in London. We take the journey with him, as he navigates from a teen to an adult, whilst working out the difference between who he is and who he wants to be.
Stars of the show
Tai Golding and Samuel Adewunmi both take the title lead in the film as Femi. For his first acting role, Golding’s performance is second to none and sets the pace for his older counterpart. Up and coming British actor Adewunmi was a standout in the older role of Femi and is an actor to look out for! Another stand out in this film was Ruhtxjiaïh Bèllènéa as Tope, who, again, is someone else to keep your eye on in future films.
Writer and Director
Like with a few of the other films on this list, both the writing and directing was by one person. This time it’s Shola Amoo, who also has another original film on Netflix called ‘A Moving Image’. The film just missed a mention on this list, but is still worthy of a watch.
This is another one of our amazing British films with a bag of nomination, including Best Sound at the BAFTA Awards and 3 wins. British Independent Film Awards – Best Supporting Actress (Ruhtxjiaïh Bèllènéa), Most Promising Newcomer (Adewunmi), and a Writers Guild of Great Britain award for Best Screenplay.
6. Storage 24 (2012)
So, this is the oldest one on the list; but, we couldn’t have a best of British list without having at least one Noel Clarke film in here. I’ll be honest, unfortunately, it’s not as good as some of his other work. But it is an entertaining watch – and as far as scary movies go, it’s a good one, with a few twists and turns, even if they’re a little predictable.
The storyline and setting are quite imaginative – I bet you’ve never seen a scary movie filmed in a storage unit before, have you? Well, in Storage 24, a group of friends find themselves trapped inside a storage unit after a suspicious classified aircraft crashes in central London. Unfortunately for the characters, it looks like whatever was being transported in the plane is trapped in the same storage unit too.
Stars of the Show/ Writer Directors
The main male lead of the film, Charlie, is played by Noel Clarke. Who not only had the original idea for the feature, but also wrote the screenplay and is one of the producers. Noel Clarke is also behind a host of other incredible films, such as ‘Kidulthood’ (2006), ‘Adulthood’ (2008), ‘Brootherhood’ (2016). And the TV series ‘Bulletproof’, among others.
Director Johannes Roberts is also no stranger to the horror film world, as he also directed ‘47 Meters Down’, ‘Dark Hunters’ and the upcoming 2021 version of ‘Resident Evil’.
‘Storage 24’ didn’t bag a lot of nominations, but it did get one for Outstanding Foreign Film at the Black Reel Awards in America. And let’s face it any nomination for a film is a great feat.
For something completely different, with a bit of gore, this is a great Friday night film. I would recommend keeping a cushion or two close by, just in case you need to hide behind them.
7. Rocks (2019)
I’ll be honest with you here; we’ve left the best till last! This film follows Shola ‘Rocks’ Omotoso (Bukky Bakray). A Hackney school student, as she navigates through school life and being sole carer for her younger brother, after her mother leaves them on their own. The acting in the film from all the young people is so inspiring and relatable.
Stars of the Show
Every single cast member in this film is a star and most of them didn’t have much if any, acting experience. Most of the main cast members were in their mid-teens at the time of filming, except D’angelou Osei Kissiedu who played Emmanuel, Rock’s younger brother, who was only 7. The talented young cast not only gave unforgettable performances but also was the main force behind the film’s narrative.
Writer and Director
Whilst promoting her film ‘Suffragettes’ in 2015, director Sarah Gavron and her team noticed that there was a lack of recognition and films about young women. In a BBC interview, Gavron explained that when they broached the idea, they wanted to do it in a way that the young people involved in the film were central to the story and film-making process. So, they started with workshops in schools around London, where they also conducted auditions to start to gather their cast.
“We had no story ideas at that point, as we wanted to discover them during the process and build the film with a team and, crucially, with the young cast.”
Two of the first actresses they cast were Bukky Bakray (Rocks) and Kosar Ali (Sumaya). They quickly developed a natural bond and their friendship became one of the central features of the film. The storylines built from there. Using the cast and team around them to shape the dialogue and narrative to the film. Thus making Rocks a collaborative effort from everyone involved.
After watching this film, it’s very clear to see why the film got 27 nominations and 5 wins in the award season. 14 of those nominations came from the prestigious British Independent Film Awards for accolades. Including Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Bakray), Best Director (Gavron) and Most Promising Newcomer (Bakray and Ali). Their wins included awards from both the Dublin and the Brussels International Film Festivals for Best Ensemble and Best Director, as well as an Online Film Critics Society Awards for Best Non-US release.
‘Rocks’ should really be on everyone’s watch list. Not only for the unique way the film was workshopped and put together but also for the amazing performance by the talented young cast.
So, there we have it, seven must-see British movies on Netflix. Obviously, there are lots of other British films on this platform for you to explore, but these were our favourites.
Thanks for reading about the best of British movies on Netflix. If you know of any you think should’ve been in the list, or can recommend any British films streaming on other platforms that we should watch, comment below.
Read about 10 hidden gems on Disney Plus HERE.
Read IMDB information about Rocks HERE.
Disney’s Cruella – Review
I went into Cruella with one question: “what led Cruella De Vil to want to skin puppies for a fur coat?” And while I left the theatre happy… and with the strong urge to buy a new wardrobe, that question was never answered. While I thoroughly enjoyed the new Disney remake, I have to admit that the film is better when divorced from the source material. Here’s what Cruella from Disney did right, and where the spots were in our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this we assume you’ve seen the show but there are major spoilers coming up. You have been warned.
The film serves as an origin story to one of Disney’s most infamous villains; Cruella De Vil from the 1961 film 101 Dalmatians. The original film follows two newlywed couples; Anita and Roger, and their Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdita. After the two dogs have puppies, Cruella De Vil tries to kidnap them to make a fur coat. Cruella had actually kidnapped 101 Dalmatian puppies in total, and the two dogs rescue the canines. Roger and Anita end up adopting all 101 Dalmatians.
Cruella chronicles the villain’s childhood and rise in the fashion industry set in 1960s London. Played by Emma Stone, Cruella, whose given name is Estella, definitely had an “extreme” streak growing up. This leads her to be expelled from school, causing her and her mother to move to London. On the way there, her mother asks an “old friend” for help. This friend being her old employer The Baroness played by Emma Thompson. But The Baroness sends her Dalmatians on Estella’s mother, pushing her off a cliff and killing her. Estella thinks it was her fault but, as the dilations were chasing her after she accidentally crashed the Baroness’ fashion show. She runs away and ends up joining a little gang of thieves, composed of Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Houser). Both of whom are her henchmen in the original film.
After getting a job at a department store and catching the attention of The Baroness, Estella begins her career in fashion. The Baroness senses her talent, and Estella becomes one of her lead designers for The Baroness’ upcoming line. But when she learns that The Baroness killed her mother, she begins plotting her revenge, embracing her cruel alter-ego Cruella. Eventually, she discovered that The Baroness is her biological mother and a serial murderer. Estella decides to fully embrace Cruella, vowing to be an even better version of her psychotic biological mother. She fakes Estella’s death and reveals The Baroness’ murderous tendencies to the public, taking over her estate.
A perfect Cruella
Emma Stone was a perfect Cruella. As Estella, she was charming and awkward. As Cruella, she embraced an over-the-top cadence and flamboyance. She gives a surprisingly heartfelt performance and makes you root for the character even when she is acting, well, cruelly. Stone made a dramatic character feel believable in the real world and seemed to be having a blast playing her. On top of Stone’s performance were the costumes. Every single outfit Estella or Cruella wore was amazing. From the subtle yet unique every-day wear of Estella to the dramatic gowns and coats of Cruella. The costumes made the character feel set apart from the world and also believable as a talented fashion designer.
…But a soft one
My only complaint with Cruella in the film was that she wasn’t mean enough. While her plans for revenge were clever and unique, they didn’t feel like they were truly followed through with. Sewing a dress with moth cocoons to eat at The Baroness’ collection was fun and unpredictable. The heist to retrieve her necklace was entertaining. But when Cruella showed up in a Dalmatian print coat, taunting the Baroness with the fear that she had skinned her dogs… I wanted her to have actually done it. Instead, she just pretended to have killed her dogs. The Cruella from 101 Dalmatians absolutely would have skinned those dogs. I don’t need Cruella De Vil to have redeeming qualities. And I don’t expect her to take the higher road.
Skinning the dogs felt like the reveal the film was leading up to. Having her just pretend to have killed them made Cruella feel like a part Estella was playing and not who she was becoming. They actually had her bond with the dogs instead, when it felt like they should have been making Cruella hate Dalmatians given her later actions. Later in the film, she apologizes to Jasper and Horace for treating them poorly, when she treats them even worse in 101 Dalmatians. She also doesn’t kill the Baroness. Instead, Cruella takes the high ground again, simply sending her to prison. Once more, Cruella De Vil does not need to be redeemable, or even an anti-hero.
I wanted to see her descent into madness. Into one of Disney’s most unredeemable villains; a woman who wants to turn puppies into a coat! Furthermore, in a post-credit scene, it’s revealed that Cruella was the one who gifted Pongo and Perdita to Roger and Anita. While it’s a cute callback to 101 Dalmatians, it makes absolutely no sense for Cruella to later try to skin Pongo and Perdita’s puppy. Or even to kidnap Roger and Anita’s dogs, with who she is in good standing with at the end of this movie.
Throughout the film, Anita and Cruella were seen as childhood friends and later amicable co-workers. Anita even roots for Cruella. The actions of Cruella in 101 Dalmatians don’t feel like something this version of her would do. I don’t even think they truly set her up to be a villain. More like a ruthless fashion designer. She was mean, but she wasn’t evil. Certainly not a Cruel Devil.
In spite of Cruella feeling weaker than she was in the source material, the film was still lots of fun! It might be one of the best Disney remakes. Stone’s performance was nothing if not delightful, and everyone in the film seemed to be enjoying themselves. Cruella felt new and nostalgic, showcasing a plot that was engaging with touching emotional beats. It’s definitely worth a watch, and a re-watch. But it didn’t feel connected to the Cruella De Vil we were first introduced to in 1961.
What did you think of Cruella from Disney, did you agree with our review? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our review of Pixars Soul HERE.
Read IMDb information on Cruella HERE.
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