It may have been unfortunate for Anthony Asquith to be working in film at the same time as compatriots Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Powell because they were reaping all the critical praises while his mainstream movies were having a hard time passing the same exams. Time has been kinder to Asquith and the Criterion Collection can tell you why as three of his most popular films have been distributed by the art house titans for your viewing pleasure. His 1929's A Cottage at Dartmoor (which sneaking into TIME OUT's 100 Greatest British films) became a silent British classic and showcased a director who knows his way around the intricate technique of film. More notably, Asquith has been written into British cinema because of his wonderful screen interpretations of quintessential British plays such as George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest. Though his later films boast star studded casts (Orson Welles, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor etc.), Asquith will go down in British cinematic history for his knack of interpreting brilliant plays on screen. Must See: The Browning Version (1951)
20. Christopher Nolan (1970 - )
Oh, you forgot Christopher Nolan was British? It's ok, most people do. That's right folks, the man behind probably the most talked about movie-franchise in the history of cinema was born in London and resides in Highgate, England. Because of the borderline insane popularity of his Dark Knight trilogy, and a string of equally successful films, Nolan is your everyman's favorite filmmaker and we might be getting into a whole heap of trouble with some readers by not proclaiming him the best ever British director of all time, in the whole universe. Well, forgive us but he's in the top 20 which is saying a lot and a great compliment for British filmmakers. Easily the most successful Brit in Hollywood, Nolan has perfected the art of the intelligent blockbuster which is a win-win situation for everyone; the studios are happily swimming in dollar bills, the film geeks are happily discussing films like Inception and Memento and a timeless comic book hero has been immortalized all over again. Must See: Memento (2000)
19. Tony Richardson (1928 - 1991)
And we're back to the unwavering British Realist movement where Tony Richardson, together with Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz, marked the British New Wave with a couple of unforgettable tales of middle class strife. Starting off with A Look Back in Anger in 1959 where Richard Burton's disillusioned graduate has to come to terms with his grudge against the middle class, an endearing coming of age tale in A Taste of Honey that puts the female sensibilities front and center and perhaps his ultimate best in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (which makes both Time Out and BFI's lists and shows off perhaps Michael Redgrave's greatest performance) which is one of the better examples of working-class representation in the British movies of the times. Richardson was revered by his peers and chastised by critics, but there is no doubt that he is one of the many leading figures of British cinema during some of its most tumultuous years. Must See: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
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.