Starred Up is the type of gritty, dark film that shakes you to your core and totally realigns your stance on humanity. It’s a quintessentially British production, difficult to watch but impossible not to. With stellar performances from Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn, Starred Up is a must see for any lover of British drama.

jack o connell starred upJack O'Connell stars as a troubled 19 year old inmate in Starred Up

Great Britain may only be the same size as Louisiana but it still manages to churn out a superb selection of films each year. Here’s a quickfire list of our five favourite British movies.

5. Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979

Practically a dictionary of dry British humour, Life of Brian is an outrageous donkey ride through Judea. Although not a favourite of religious types, for fans of religious satire Life of Brian is unrivaled and the unchallenged winner.

4. A Clockwork Orange, 1971

“I jumped, O my brothers, and I fell hard but I did not snuff it, oh no. If I had snuffed it, I would not be here to tell what I have told.” Banned in Britain for around 20 years, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, based on the book by Anthony Burgess, is an uncomfortable, violent cacophony of controversy. Kubrick himself was responsible for the ban of the film (fantastic PR there, Stan), although the themes tackled in the film, order vs. freedom, life and art, core human nature are ageless issues and A Clockwork Orange are just as significant now as when the dystopian novel came out in 1962.

3. Shaun of the Dead, 2004

Not quite as iconic as A Clockwork Orange, but undeniably good British silliness, Shaun of the Dead is easily recognisable as a brainchild of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. Parodying the lifelessness of the modern Londoner, the trio decided to just morph the whole lot into brain eating zombies.

2. Billy Elliot, 2000

So popular that it’s been made into a Broadway show, Billy Elliot is a coming-of-age drama set amid the 1984 Miners’ Strike. Billy wants to learn ballet, but his widower father and brother, both miners, will have none of his dreams. Challenging the class system and the immovable values of the mining communities, Billy Elliot is a troubling, touching and toe tapping delight.

1. Withnail and I, 1987

“We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!” Richard E. Grant may have played some refined and dignified characters throughout his career, but it’s manic alcoholic Withnail where he seemed most at ease. A zeitgeist time capsule for the less glamorous side of 1960s London, Withnail and I is packed with eccentricity and utter disbelief at the amount of booze that the main character can pack away.

MORE: Read the review for Starred Up

MORE: Starred Up: Jack O'Connell and Rupert Friend star in gritty British prison drama

richard e grant withnailRichard E. Grant played Withnail in the 1987 film Withnail and I