This post was most recently updated on October 17th, 2017
There have been some great London movies, from modern comedies such as Notting Hill, the Ealing comedies and grittier films like Dirty Pretty Things.
Here we choose 20 of the best (in no particular order). Did we miss any out?
1. Love Actually
The Christmas favourite written by Richard Curtis. Love Actually follows 10 interconnected (they all seem to be related to one another or best friends) London inhabitants in the lead up to Christmas.
Highlights include Emma Thomson and her philandering husband played by the late Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant as a (dancing) British Prime Minister and Andrew Lincoln’s unrequited love for Keira Knightly.
A real Xmas feel good movie.
2. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
This fantastic adaption of the John Le Carre book of the same name stars Gary Oldman as George Smiley, brought to root out a mole at the top of British Intelligence.
The suspects, all leading figures in Intelligence, are given code names (Tinker, Tailor etc) as Smiley works to find the culprit.
3. Notting Hill
Also written by Richard Curtis, this movie stars Hugh Grant as a bookseller who just happens to capture the heart of one of the most famous movie stars in the world, played by Julia Roberts.
Again, real feel good fare…
4. Dirty, Pretty Things
A gritty look at London’s immigrant underclass.
An ensemble cast, including Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou, brings to life how exploited many in the side of London you don’t tend see is.
5. Sliding Doors
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Staring Gwenyth Paltrow as Helen, this is the ultimate ‘what if’ movie.
It features 2 parallel universes based on whether or not Helen manages to catch the train.
In one she does and arrives home to find her boyfriend cheating on her; in the other she avoids this fate.
A great twist on the usual rom com.
6. About A Boy
Another Hugh Grant movie, but one seeing him playing a much more complex character than his Notting Hill/Love Actually/Four Weddings ‘reticent upper class British chap’ role.
Based on the Nick Hornby book, he plays a shallow 30 something lucky not to have to work (his father composed a popular Xmas song) who finds meaning when he befriends a 12 year old boy, played by a young Nick Hoult.
Heartwarming, but grittier than Grant’s usual fare.
7. 28 Days Later
Based 28 days after a virus has turned Londoners into zombies, four survivors struggle to cope after the destruction of everything familiar.
8. The King’s Speech
Colin Firth stars as King George VI, unexpectedly elevated to the throne after the abdication of his Brother.
‘Bertie’ is a shy man who stutters, making public speaking difficult. He and his wife, Elizabeth (played by Helena Bonham Carter), employ the services of a voice coach (played by Geoffrey Rush), to cure his affliction.
9. Bridget Jones’s Diary
Based on the successful Helen Fielding book of the same name, Renee Zellweger plays Bridget, a 30 something ‘singleton’ looking for love.
She’s torn between the caddish Daniel Carver (played with relish by Hugh Grant) and the much more suitable Mark Darcy (Colin Firth).
Fun and perceptive at the same time.
A fun modern retelling of Michael Bond’s story of a bear from ‘darkest Peru’ who arrives, homeless, at Paddington Station in London with only one of his beloved marmalade sandwiches to his name.
He’s adopted by the Browns who, in the film, battle a villain taxidermist (played by Nicole Kidman) who wants a bear for her stuffed animal collection.
Fun for all the family.
Lionel Bart’s musical of one of Charles Dickens’ most popular books, Oliver Twist, is an all singing all dancing show including such famous songs as “Food, Glorious Food”, “Consider Yourself” and “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two”.
12. An Education
The breakout film for Carol Mulligan is based on the true story of Lynn Barber, now a journalist, and her affair with an older man in 1960s London.
He turns out to be a con man, and married…
13. The Lavender Hill Mob
One of the great Ealing comedies, gentle films made in the 1940s and 50s in the West London Ealing Studios.
Starring Alex Guinness as an unassuming bank clerk who plots the successful theft of his bank’s gold bullion.
14. Mary Poppins
This 1950s classic, based on PL Traver’s book of the same name, made nannies everywhere popular.
Mary, nanny to two unruly children of a London banker, sets about bringing magic and adventure to their lives – with the help of her friend, Bert (Dick Van Dyke with a famously dreadful London accent).
During her short stay she manages to tame the kids, and bring them closer to their workaholic father.
15. Truly Madly Deeply
Juliet Stevensen plays Nina, the grieving girlfriend of Jamie (played by Alan Rickman).
Jamie returns as a ghost and they are briefly reunited, before Nina realises they weren’t very well suited anyway (Jamie loves bringing his ghost friends round to watch the soccer for example).
They break up after which Nina meets Mark. Jamie leaves to allow Nina to move on – which, it becomes, clear was his intention all along.
16. A Fish Called Wanda
Michal Palin and John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, star in this London heist gone wrong comedy based in London.
Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Palin are diamond thieves who double cross each other as they try to recover diamonds stolen by their gang leader.
Cleese is great as his barrister who, the gang believes, can help them find the loot.
17. The Ladykillers
Another Ealing comedy staring Alec Guiness, this time as the head of a gang of robbers.
Having successfully robbed a security van they plan to murder the only witness, the landlady – the ‘Lady’ of the title –
18. Withnail and I
Richard E Grant stars in this comedy of unemployed actors in 1960s London.
Has become a cult film, especially in actor circles.
19. Passport To Pimlico
Another great Ealing comedy.
When the residents of post war Pimlico (a suburb of London) find out that they were originally a part of the House of Burgundy, they declare independence from rationing and other restrictions in Britain at that time.
Their struggle against the British state attracts support from Britons who are themselves fed up of post war austerity.
20. V For Vendetta
Based on an Alan Moore graphic novel, the film depicts a dystopian and post-apocalyptic 1990s London.
V (played by Hugo Weaving) tries to overthrow the fascist state and bring in democracy.
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