In celebration of dragon slaying, British patron saint, and all around great guy, Saint George, we figured that the best way to mark the occasion of his death than by celebrating immortality through film and listing not 2, not 6 but 50 of the greatest British directors who ever lived. For extra punch, the day is also known as Shakespeare Day, marking the date that the world lost the Bard's artistic genius, and there's a certain pride you can't blame the Brits for when it comes to this day. So what better way to mark the occasion than to herald those British film-makers who have made a difference to cinema's history, past or present? This year will mark the second British Film Registry poll, which will ask film fans and critics to vote for the British films and talents who deserve to be preserved in the BFR vault, and before the voting opens we're reminding everyone of some of the figures behind the camera who could well deserve to be included. Just a couple of things to keep in mind before jumping in: up and coming young directors who have made only one fantastic film like Duncan Jones (that fantastic movie is Moon, not Source Code, in case you were wondering) and Paddy Considine (who only has the excellent Tyronnasaur to his name) haven't exactly earned the right to be called great just yet, though they may possess all the qualities of directors who populate this list. Additionally, this list also embraces those filmmakers who were born somewhere else but who became British citizens, worked in Britain, and are considered British and can be found lurking somewhere on the list. Also, rather more controversially, filmmakers who just moved to the country and worked as expatriates do NOT count, which means, unfortunately for Great Britain, no Stanley Kubrick. So who made the list?
50. Edgar Wright (1974 - )
Just about edging out the likes of Richard Attenborough, Mike Figgis and Charles Laughton is filmgeek director extraordinaire Edgar Wright, the first half of Britain's answer to Quentin Tarantino. Bursting onto the scene with his zom-com Shaun Of The Dead in 2004, he re-energized the action-comedy drama in the British film industry like no other talent in quite some time. Everything he's done since Shaun has been essential and irresistible entertainment for legions of fans, right down to the Grindhouse fake trailer Don't. And he isn't done yet: he's got At World's End coming up to round off the trilogy of movies with his two musketeers Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and then he gets to play with capes and superpowers in Marvel's Ant-Man. Must See: The Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
49. Leslie Arliss (1901 - 1987)
For someone who, were he still alive today, would be making dramas dripping with sentimentality and getting Academy Awards members drunk in the process, (think like a modern day Tom Hooper or Stephen Daldry) Leslie Arliss deserves a spot because of the impeccably timed impact and influence his movies have had. Though not received well at first by critics, Arliss's melodramas became part of a collective movement of films called the Gainsborough Pictures and shattered box office records, laughing at Hollywood in the process. Their success was most likely due to the fact that people wanted to escape the harsh reality of World War II, and today his movies have the Criterion seal of approval and are recognized as important part of the British cannon. Must See: The Man In Grey (1943)
Nik's passions reside in writing, discussing and watching movies of all sorts. He also loves dogs, tennis, comics and stuff. He lives irresponsibly in Montreal and tweets random movie things @NikGrape.