Are we back in a golden era of British films? With the likes of The Favourite, Ex Machina and Dunkirk all released in recent years, it certainly seems like it. But where to start? C&TH cuts through the noise with our selection of the best new British films to watch now, plus where to find them.
Best New British Films To Watch Now
Emereld Fennel’s sophomore directorial feature begins at Oxford University, following Oliver (Barry Keoghan) and Felix (Jacob Elordi) as the former struggles to find his place amid the latter’s upper-class friends. What ensues is an intense friendship that gets darker and weirder when Felix invites Oliver to spend his summer holidays at his home (aka mega mansion), Saltburn.
Stream It: Saltburn is streaming now on Prime Video.
Victorian Britishness is filtered through a weird, steampunk lens in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, led by an eerie woman named Bella (Emma Stone) who has been brought back to life Frankenstein style with her own baby’s brain transplanted into her head. Here’s exactly what to expect.
Watch It: Poor Things is in cinemas now, with a digital release TBC.
Though Willy Wonka is decidedly American, we’re expecting some British humour from Wonka, which was written and directed by Paul King (previously directing Paddington and Paddington 2) and co-written by Simon Farnaby of the Horrible Histories troupe. Plus, it was filmed in the UK – so we’re claiming it. Learn all about the film here.
Watch It: Wonka is still in cinemas, but you can pre-order it to stream at home on Prime Video and iTunes.
A love letter to Brixton and Peckham, and named for the real Rye Lane Market, Rye Lane follows two young Black Londoners, Yas (Vivian Oparah) and Dom (David Jonsson), who spend the day together while recovering from terrible breakups. Directed by Raine Allen-Miller, the film has been praised for its vibrant yet candid portrayal of British life.
Stream It: Rye Lane is streaming now on Disney+.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan, this Irish black tragicomedy transports viewers to the fictional Irish isle of Inisherin, where Farrell and Gleeson play two lifelong friends who face turmoil when one abruptly ends their relationship, with surprisingly gory consequences.
Stream It: The Banshees of Inisherin is streaming now on Disney+.
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Set between London and Lahore, What’s Love Got To Do With It? Is produced by British film studio Working Title Films, starring Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi and Emma Thompson, James plays a filmmaker documenting her childhood friend and neighbour’s arranged marriage to a bride from Pakistan.
Stream It: What’s Love Got To Do With It? is streaming now on Netflix.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical
Inspired by the West End show via Roald Dahl’s classic childhood tale of a mistreated schoolgirl with strange powers, Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical arrived in British cinemas at the start of December in 2022 to immediate popularity and acclaim. Starring Alisha Weir as the titular Matilda Wormwood, Emma Thompson as the infamous Trunchbull, Lashana Lynch as loveable Miss Honey and Boiling Point’s Stephen Graham as Mr Wormwood, it’s an all-singing, all-dancing, star-studded affair.
Stream It: Matilda The Musical is streaming now on Netflix.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
D. H. Lawrence’s famously steamy novel got the Netflix treatment in 2022, starring Emma Corrin and Jack O’Connell. Set across the expansive (fiction) Chatterley estate, the film follows Conni (the titular Lady Chatterley) who embarks on an affair at the instruction of her paralysed husband in order to have a child.
Stream It: Lady Chatterley’s Lover is streaming now on Netflix.
Directed by Oliver Hermanus from a screenplay written by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 Japanese film, Ikiru. Bill Nighy plays Rodney Williams, a senior London County Council bureaucrat in 1953 London, who has just received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2023 Oscars, Nighy is up for his first Academy Award, for Best Actor.
Stream It: Stream Living for free with a Prime Video subscription.
Also earning Paul Mescal his first Oscar nomination – in the same category as Nighy, no less – Aftersun was produced by BBC Film and the BFI. Written and directed by Charlotte Wells, her first feature film, Aftersun transports us to an early 2000s Turkish resort, where 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) is on holiday with her father, Calum (Paul Mescal).
Stream It: Aftersun is currently streaming on Mubi via Prime Video.
Death on the Nile
Kenneth Branagh’s sequel to his previous Agatha Christie flick, Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Death on the Nile stars an ensemble British-American cast, including Branagh, Tom Bateman, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Rose Leslie and Emma Mackey (among many more famous faces). The flick brings Poirot back to the silver screen, where his Egyptian vacation turns into a murder hunt.
Stream It: Death on the Nile is streaming now on Disney+.
See How They Run
Nominated for the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film, See How They Run transports viewers to 1950s London, where plans for a movie version of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap West End show are halted when a member of the crew is murdered. Starring Saoirse Ronan and Sam Rockwell, this new British film draws on the old but remains a fresh, glamorous whodunit in classic British style.
Stream It: See How They Run is now streaming on Disney+.
A heartwarming, very-British flick starring Judi Dench, Jennifer Saunders, Russell Tovey and David Bradley, Allelujah follows a geriatric ward in a British hospital when it is threatened with closure. Read our interview with newcomer Bally Gill to learn more.
Stream It: Allelujah is available to rent from £4.99 on Prime Video.
Empire of Light
At times uncomfortable, other times joyful, this romantic drama is situated in Margate on the Kent coast in 1980, starring Olivia Coleman as Hilary, a cinema manager, opposite Michael Ward as Stephen, a new starter at the cinema.
Stream It: Empire of Light is streaming now on Disney+.
The Zone Of Interest
Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival 2023, British film director and screenwriter Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest is based on Martin Amis’ novel of the same name, is set and was filmed in Auschwitz, following a Nazi general and his family living close to a concentration camp.
Release Date: In UK cinemas from 2 February 2024
Wicked Little Letters
Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley lead this brand new British comedy, filled with a serious flurry of expletives. Set in 1920s Littlehampton, we follow Edith Swan (Colman), a deeply conservative woman who, along with others, starts receiving anonymous letters brimming with foul and unintentionally hilarious profanities. Suspicion quickly falls upon Edith’s neighbour, Rose Gooding (Jessie Buckley), a widowed yet rowdy Irish migrant with a young daughter. Click here to read everything we know so far, a watch the blasphemous trailer.
Release Date: In UK cinemas from 23 February 2023.
With filming wrapped in December 2022, this World War II biopic is expected to be released in 2023, with Kate Winslet in the titular lead role. The film will follow Lee Miller, a real New York City glamour model who became a photojournalist and Vogue’s war correspondent during WWII, chronicling events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris and concentration camps. Andy Samberg, Marion Cotillard and Josh O’Connor will also star.
Release Date: To be released on Sky Cinema and NOW in 2024
Another Cannes debut, and another TBC release date, Firebrand stars Alicia Vikander as Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, who is named Regent while King Henry VIII fights overseas. A star-studded affair, expect to see Brits Jude Law, Sam Riley, Eddie Marsan, Simon Russell Beale and Erin Doherty in Tudor garb, roaming the corridors of Haddon Hall in Bakewell, Derbyshire. According to Variety, Prime Video are vying for the UK distribution rights, so a big screen release is still uncertain.
Release Date: TBC