The 39 Steps (1935)
Cool Factor: They don’t call Hitchcock the master for nothing, and here he proves himself worthy of that title. Championing moody imagery and a keen sense of the absurd, Hitch is ridiculously creative – right down to that iconic train scream.
Made In Britain: The “awfully, awfully” dialogue elicits titters nowadays, but that stiff upper lip got us through two world wars, you know.
If It Was American: The FBI would be involved in some way. Party crashers.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Cool Factor: Though Danny Boyle’s frenetic visuals are quite something to behold, the director’s thoroughly upstaged by his own movie’s score (courtesy of AR Rahman), which pulses with a vibrant life of its own.
Made In Britain: Most of it’s set over in Mumbai, but Boyle’s unmistakably British priorities (humour, ground-level drama, whiplash pacing) shine through.
If It Was American: It’d be called Slumdog Billionaire , ‘cos a billion is more than a million.
Layer Cake (2004)
Cool Factor: “I hate guns... Although that one is really pretty.” The film as a whole may be lacking in some areas, but it's with Layer Cake that a pre-Bond Daniel Craig shows what he’s made of. Blue-eyed and bad-ass, he’s a cracking everyman hero. Adding to the cool factor is Michael Gambon; the man abides.
Made In Britain: Craig and Gambon may bring the emotion, but the real star here is London. Just look at her shine.
If It Was American: They’d probably take the title literally and make a film about the baking industry.
Brief Encounter (1945)
Cool Factor: Perhaps not massively cool at first glance, it’s only when you get down to the nitty-gritty of Brief Encounter that you realise how ahead of its time it was – what with its controversial tale of unrequited love. It’s all fantastically romantic, and overflowing with iconic imagery.
Made In Britain: The scenes of Laura’s domestic life – replete with knitting and tea – are so olden days England it almost hurts.
If It Was American: It would be Far From Heaven .
Cool Factor: Say what you will about Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock follow-up, but there's no denying that Brick Top is one seriously cool gangster. Not only does he have an amazing name, but he has got amazing glasses, too. What a man.
Made In Britain: Vinnie Jones represents a football-attending portion of the British national identity - and he looks as mean as an angry wasp.
If It Was American: It'd be called Grab , and follow New Jersey gangsters competing to find the best deal on shoe polish in Wal-Mart.
Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)
Cool Factor: It’s just so sharp, so blackly humorous and so intrinsically tragic it can’t be anything other than cool. Plus there’s Alec Guinness, proving that he’s no acting slouch by playing all eight members of the D’Ascoyne family – long before Eddie Murphy tried it with The Nutty Professor .
Made In Britain: The black comedy here is so pitch it can only have been dreamed up in Britain.
If It Was American: It’d be six minutes shorter – that’s how many minutes were originally shaved from the film so as not to upset the American market.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Cool Factor: Werewolves tussle with British soldiers! Sean Pertwee is a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails, total bad-ass! People die in really horrible, grisly ways!
Made In Britain: These soldiers react in brilliantly British ways to their horrific circumstances. Including barricading themselves in a lovely little cottage.
If It Was American: It’d be a crummy Howling sequel with soldiers spouting eye-rolling one-liners.
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)
Cool Factor: Best of the Potter s (so far, Deathly Hallows 2 might just top it), it’s directed by an edgy indie Mexican who approaches the twee-inclined British material by deepening the franchise’s colour palette so it’s full of rich midnight hues. Harry Potter officially started growing up here.
Made In Britain: Boarding school couldn’t be a more British tradition if it tried. And have you heard Hermione speak?!
If It Was American: It’d star Haley Joel Osment and there would be witch cheerleaders everywhere.
28 Days Later (2002)
Cool Factor: Boyle again, this time tackling pseudo-zombie thrills in a post-apocalyptic England. Pacing’s tight as ever, while it’s a convincingly realistic vision of a horrific possible future. Wish he’d just admit it’s a horror movie, though.
Made In Britain : If only London really was that deserted all the time, it’d make shopping a far more pleasurable experience.
If It Was American: It’d be a mash of Logan’s Run, I Am Legend and Dawn Of The Dead . Starring Arnie as the stranded survivor.
Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Cool Factor: The first in what would be many new gangster-themed British films, Guy Ritchie’s crime drama set the bar high. With its central bad boys and gobby Brit-speak, it’s tangibly cool.
Made In Britain: Pubs, lager louts, rifles. Very British.
If It Was American: Woody Harrelson would be the one clutching those firearms, and would probably look equally tough.
The Witches (1990)
Cool Factor: It may be for the kiddies, but Nic Roeg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s deliciously bewitching tale is scary as hell. Coolest bit? The nightmare-inducing scene in which Angelica Huston transforms into a horrific vision that would have even the devil wetting himself and cowering in the corner.
Made In Britain: Ah, a windswept, cloudy coast. How beautifully British...
If It Was American: The kid would have an American accent. Oh wait...
Children Of Men (2006)
Cool Factor: Alfonso Cuarón again, lending his talents to this transatlantic modern classic. Another film envisioning a very possible dystopian future, this one’s stuffed with staggering stylistic ambition, including an impressive long take and a gruff, grizzled Clive Owen.
Made In Britain: It’s Michael Caine again! He’s basically a living monument dedicated to Britishness.
If It Was American: There’d be a bit where Owen’s post-apocalyptic anti-hero stumbles upon a big, destroyed landmark.
Cool Factor: Noel Clarke brings British movies bang up-to-date by showing us a portion of British society that heretofore hadn’t had a presence on the big screen. Yes, hoodies and yoofs.
Made In Britain: This is a Britain that most of us can associate with.
If It Was American: The kids would be more concerned with scoring kegs and getting into frat parties.
Cool Factor: The swinging ‘60s, of course. Spinning with groovy tunes, and heaped with fashion statement after fashion statement, nothing beats Alfie in the style stakes.
Made In Britain: For the UK release, British institution Cilla Black sang Burt Bacharach's Oscar-nommed Alfie toon over the end credits and went to No9 in the British charts. Top of the Pops...
If It Was American: It’d be a co-production with Britain and star Jude Law.
Monty Pythons Life Of Brian (1979)
Cool Factor: It’s just brilliantly silly, which automatically categorises it as cool. Forged by a comedy troupe at the height of their funnyness, Life Of Brian plays with a diamond idea (a Jewish man is mistaken for Jesus) and knocks it about until it’s completely exhausted.
Made In Britain : Despite being set in Jerusalem, everybody speaks with a range of comedy English dialects. Hi-larious.
If It Was American: They wouldn't dare, surely.
Eastern Promises (2007)
Cool Factor: Viggo Mortensen transforms before our very eyes from that bloke out of Lord Of The Rings into a tortured, mean-as-a-cornered-rat ‘cleaner’. That scene in the bathhouse is the thing of cinema legend. He has very cool shades, too.
Made In Britain: Promises ’ depiction of a multi-cultural London is bang on the money.
If It Was American: It'd be The Godfather .
Casino Royale (2006)
Cool Factor: Bond’s rebooted, and he’s never looked quite like this. With emphasis placed on realism (after its predecessors got too preoccupied with increasingly daft gadgetry), this is back-to-basics Bond that’s all the cooler for it.
Made In Britain: Bond IS Britain. The free jumping is an especially neat touch, too, adding a serious sense of peril to Bond’s escapades.
If It Was American: It wouldn’t be Bond. End of.
The Last King Of Scotland (2006)
Cool Factor: Not only does Scotland feature a whirlwind performance by James McAvoy – graduating from TV to prove he can hold his own in film – but also by Forest Whitaker, who’s suitably terrifying as Idi Amin.
Made In Britain : McAvoy’s everyday Scotsman is the initially jovial, upstanding chap you’d expect from a citizen of our shores.
If It Was American: It’d be called The Last King Of America .
The Italian Job (1969)
Cool Factor: Everybody wanted a Mini Cooper after The Italian Job , which is proof of its cool right there. Even now, if you’ve got a Mini with a Union Jack on, you’re golden. Thanks Italian Job.
Made In Britain: It’s all about the Mini – manufactured in Britain, and a true chunk of Brit heritage.
If It Was American: It’d star somebody like, oh, say, um, uh... Mark Wahlberg?!
Cool Factor: It may revel in Americana and geekdom, but this comic adap was created by a Scot, stars a Brit, and was scripted and directed by two more of our fine country folk. Which is all a long-winded and fancy way of saying – Hit Girl belongs to Britain, awight?!
Made In Britain: The sly humour, the plentiful cursing and the lampooning of American culture – all very British indeed.
If It Was American: It’d be Spider-Man.
Gregorys Girl (1981)
Cool Factor: “Just dance,” encourages Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair), lying down and thrashing about like he’s having a seizure. It takes somebody who’s really, genuinely cool to be that dorky without caring what others might think.
Made In Britain: Altered Images band member Clare Grogan features, proving she’s a big player in the Brit art scene.
If It Was American: It’d be indistinguishable from the mountain of generic romcoms already taking up video store shelf space.
An American Werewolf In London (1981)
Cool Factor: Grisly horror comes to London as this transatlantic treat offers up an Oscar-winning werewolf transformation scene, Jenny Agutter being gorgeous, and THAT awesome moment in the Tottenham Court Road underground.
Made In Britain: Werewolf In London used an exhaustive list of English locations, including Charing Cross and London Zoo.
If It Was American: The same thing would happen in New York, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as cool as this London-set yarn.
Cool Factor: Everybody likes the story of a nobody who done good, and Gareth Edwards is one such (former) nobody. Aside from that, Monsters is awesome thanks to its clever handling of the giant alien invaders, as well as its exceptional realisation of a trashed Earth.
Made In Britain: All that hand-held camerawork and clever CGI stuff takes the best of Cloverfield and puts a reality-striving British spin on things.
If It Was American: It would be Cloverfield . Duh.
The Ipcress File (1965)
Cool Factor: Michael Caine again, being all iconic and stuff - as usual. His Harry Palmer finds Caine on typically top form, basically playing James Bond but more realistically.
Made In Britain: Can you imagine the British film industry without Michael Caine? No, we can’t either, and frankly the thought frightens us.
If It Was American: It certainly wouldn’t star Caine. Sad face.
The Day Of The Jackal (1973)
Cool Factor: Nowadays, nobody really notices when a film does a bit of globe-trotting. But Jackal 's trek through Europe unveiled that corner of the world in brilliant ways. The casting of an unestablished Edward Fox also lent the film a dangerous edge.
Made In Britain: It was made in Britain, though the film’s director, Fred Zinnemann, was actually Austrian.
If It Was American: It’d be The Bourne Ultimatum.
Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Cool Factor: The towering triumvirate that is Pegg-Frost-Wright make their cinematic debut with this confident horror send-up, which is both an affectionate riff on zombie flicks and a grimace-inducing, full-blooded zombie flick in its own right. Hella funny, too.
Made In Britain: Cups of tea, Cornettos, zebra crossings, the pub. So English it feels like we lived it.
If It Was American: The climax would take place at a fast food restaurant.
Sexy Beast (2000)
Cool Factor : Ray Winstone, to not put too much of a fine point on it. In our 2004 poll, we named Sexy Beast the 15th best British film of all time, and that’s got a lot to do with Winstone’s charismatic, no-bullshit turn.
Made In Britain: It may be set in Spain, but the characters and their interactions are totally and utterly British.
If It Was American: It’d be set in Hawaii instead. Do the Americans know where Spain is?
Cool Factor: Hard to believe this was Sam Riley’s debut performance, the English actor completely capturing the spirit of Ian Curtis in this biopic of the singer’s days in Joy Division. It’s also in black and white, which is always cool.
Made In Britain: Yes, Ian Curtis was indeed made in Britain.
If It Was American: It’d have to be about somebody else. Or: see I’m Not There.
Cool Factor: We can sum up the cool factor of Bronson in two words. Tom, and Hardy. Giving the acting game one heck of a second crack, Hardy completely nails the notorious prisoner, showing that Christian Bale isn’t the only Brit who likes to suffer for his art.
Made In Britain: Michael Gordon Peterson IS British, as is the rather messy matter of bareknuckle boxing.
If It Was American: It’d probably star Sylvester Stallone as a word-slurring boxer.
Four Lions (2010)
Cool Factor: Rebelliousness and controversy – two of the defining attributes of ‘coolness’, we think you’ll find. And this terrorist lampooner has them both in spades. There’s also that bit with a bird bomb. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Made In Britain: Only in Britain can we be this contentious and get away with it.
If It Was American: Michael Moore would be the one directing, with a monkey playing George W Bush.
From Russia With Love (1963)
Cool Factor: Bond, of course! Never was there a British spy to wear a tux, shoot a gun, seduce women, and make lewd double entendre-heavy suggestions with so much style and grace. No wonder his popularity has lasted all these years.
Made In Britain: The tux, the drink, the swagger – Bond has come to define a very specific type of Britishness.
If It Was American: He’d still sound British – Sean Connery just can’t do an American accent.
Get Carter (1971)
Cool Factor: They say revenge is sweet, and here revenge really is suh-weeeet . Michael Caine makes for a ripping anti-hero, equipped with a mother of a boomstick and showing no mercy when it comes to avenging his dead brother.
Made In Britain: The Newcastle backdrop lends Get Carter a gloomy edge.
If It Was American: It’d star Sylvester Stallone.
The Wicker Man (1973)
Cool Factor: Once you’ve seen it, that killer ending is burned into your memory forever. Iconic, staggering in every sense of the word, completely unexpected, and one of cinema’s finest climaxes. Ever.
Made In Britain: More small town folk acting weird. It’s like The League Of Gentleman , but in the ‘70s.
If It Was American: It’d have Nicolas Cage as the star, screaming “beeeeeees!” Or thereabouts.
Cool Factor: 1984 gets most of its cool from being so freakishly right about our impending big brother state. Though it puts a distinctly ‘80s spin on it (just check out the clothes), it’s a deliriously clever adaptation of George Orwell’s novel.
Made In Britain: John Hurt’s the most British thing on display here.
If It Was American: It would be lensed as a happy romcom – what’s wrong with a big brother state, anyway?
This Is England (2006)
Cool Factor: Just to be clear; being a racist bully is absolutely, completely and unequivocally NOT COOL. But Stephen Graham’s nutter skinhead is a magnetic presence, while Meadows perfectly captures the tumult of the ‘80s.
Made In Britain: Skinheads, Goths, Margaret Thatcher. This really is England.
If It Was American: That title would be really confusing.
Peeping Tom (1960)
Cool Factor: It was considered shocking at the time, and Peeping Tom remains an unsettling cinematic experience. But it’s also more than just a horror movie, revelling in psychological analysis and exploring the power of the camera. As far as coolness goes, the spiky weapon’s a work of genius.
Made In Britain: Powell shot all around London, which gives the film a suitably grubby feel.
If It Was American: You’d end up with something like Psycho , ironically directed by a Brit, and which came out in the same year, funnily enough.
In The Loop (2009)
Cool Factor: Only the most filthy-mouthed government aid you’ve ever heard/seen in your entire life – and then some. Spitting four-letter expletives and hysterically visual threats at everybody around him, Malcolm Tucker’s like a really mean viper. And all the cooler for it.
Made In Britain: Nobody outside of Britain could possibly come up with language that crass.
If It Was American: There’d be a massive scandal about all the sweariness and it’d receive a kiss-of-death NC-17 certificate.
Cool Factor: Another classic Bond, this one seeing Sean Connery hit a high as the 007 agent. Not only is he dashingly charming, this is also the Bond film that features Bond girl Pussy Galore – a name so awesome we nicked it to baptise our cat.
Made In Britain: There’s nowt more British than Bond, who goes about his business as a gentleman. Mostly.
If It Was American : It'd star a Dutch villain called Goldmember.
24 Hour Party People (2002)
Cool Factor: A trippy dash through Britain’s music scene from punk rock right through to the 1990s, 24 Hour Party People basically acts as a showcase for all the amazing sonic wonders that this country has been responsible for over the years. As well as the equally amazing Steve Coogan, of course.
Made In Britain: Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays...
If It Was American: It just wouldn’t be as cool.
The Long Good Friday (1980)
Cool Factor: Being a gangster never looked so cool, especially in an ‘80s London landscape where your eye candy of choice is a young Helen Mirren.
Made In Britain: Hoskins’ wideboy Lahhhdaahn accent is pure Britain. We still can’t beat it.
If It Was American: It’d be called Have A Nice Friday.
Dont Look Now (1973)
Cool Factor: Ebbing with an offbeat melancholy, Don’t Look Now tackles the tricky subject of grief with bags of style – and an era-defining climax of orgasmic editing gone wild.
Made In Britain: Donald Sutherland's natty ‘tache is a rather British addition to the film.
If It Was American: The little red figure would probably have been played by Zelda Rubenstein...
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Cool Factor: Hysterically funny, for sure, but Hot Fuzz is also effortlessly cool, appropriating American action tropes and reworking them to fit a British bust-up. Somehow, it works.
Made In Britain: Few things are more quintessentially British than a little village community where life revolves around the local pub.
If It Was American: It very nearly is. It’s basically Die Hard In Dorset .
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Cool Factor: As glam as a drag queen’s boudoir, with outfits to make even the Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert costume designers jealous, Goldmine is a pantomime of glimmering visuals. It also has Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor on top form.
Made In Britain: Can you imagine the Americans coming up with something like glam rock? The Swedes, maybe. But the only place it could possibly develop was right here on British soil. Damn we’re cool.
If It Was American: There’s no way this could ever be American.
The Third Man (1949)
Cool Factor: Just look at that shot, and tell us this isn’t one of the coolest films to ever have been made on British soil (well, mostly – it was shot in Vienna and London). The film’s climactic sewer scene is a thing of heart-thumping brilliance.
Made In Britain: Film noir may be a French term, but Britain really showed how it should be done with this corker.
If It Was American: It’d probably still have Orson Welles as the star.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Cool Factor: Perhaps Stanley Kubrick’s most daring work, A Clockwork Orange is a beast of its own, at once mesmeric, insane and lurid. It’s also an artist’s dream, filled with a collection of zany visuals and crazy-cool accessories (the penis ornament!).
Made In Britain: Alex’s band of thugs' nod to gang culture, while the film was shot in England, which gives it a nightmarish home-grown look and feel.
If It Was American: It would be a precursor for Donnie Darko.
Cool Factor: Truly British sci-fi had long been missing a trick, but leave it to David Bowie’s son to be the one to give it the injection of awesomeness it had been so desperately hankering after. Visually striking, narratively fascinating and featuring a fantastic turn by Sam Rockwell (OK - we’ll forgive him for not being British).
Made In Britain: Moon was shot entirely at Shepperton Studios, where a great many fantastic British films have been forged.
If It Was American: It’d end with Rockwell blowing up the moon in an explosion of CGI and then returning home to his daughter.
Withnail & I (1987)
Cool Factor: Wordy and hysterical, Withnail & I is a cult classic for a reason. Richard E Grant’s raw debut performance is a force of nature.
Made In Britain: Squalid Camden flat? Check. Love for the booze? Check. Lake District holiday? Check. This is Britain in celluloid form.
If It Was American: The holiday would be in Vegas. Not quite the same, is it?
Cool Factor: Though it’s based on a rock opera, Quadrophenia doesn’t rely on that to be cool. With its sweeping imagery (those cliffs), hero on a motorbike, anarchic spirit and spellbinding soundtrack, it’s so cool it’s almost frozen.
Made In Britain: Just check out those riots. Is that quintessentially British, too...?
If It Was American: It’d have a musical score courtesy of Elvis Presley instead.
Cool Factor: Queasy and electrifying, Danny Boyle’s probe into a druggy underworld is as revolting as it is revolutionary. Ewan McGregor has never quite topped it, delivering a career-best performance.
Made In Britain: The setting of an economically-depressed ‘80s Edinburgh is true grit British.
If It Was American: They’d pronounce it “Edin-berg” instead. Ouch.
Dead Mans Shoes (2004)
Cool Factor: Paddy Considine. In a gasmask. With a hammer. On the warpath for vengeance. It doesn’t matter what else is on this list, that will always be the coolest thing British film has had to offer. More than that, though, Considine’s vengeful Richard is one of the most well-rounded, believable characters to grace British cinema. Legendary.
Made In Britain: Though we wouldn’t like to say that bullies and gangs are a part of Britain, they really are, and Dead Man’s Shoes makes no bones about it.
If It Was American: It’d be a slasher movie from the wronged killer’s perspective. Like The Burning . And it probably wouldn’t be very good.