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66 Essential British Films To Take Your Mind Off The World Cup

How to forget 48 years of hurt.

Whether you€™re destined to be widowed by the beautiful game, sickened by your team€™s performance (or that they didn't even qualify) or just can€™t stand another minute of hearing about the World Cup, at some point during the next few weeks, you're likely to need some distraction from the football. With that in mind, and to celebrate the importance of British cinema (as well as the kingdom's flagship status in the footballing world) we're looking at 66 of the very best British films that will give you a good reason to resist putting your foot through the telly after the match. There€™s no guarantee that they€™ll cheer you up but they will certainly take your mind off it. There are a few rules for this list: for the sake of repetition no Bond, no Harry Potter (though there are directors who warrant multiple entries), no films set in Britain but backed by foreign investment, each film should be at least partly set in Britain, or have British central characters (so no 2001 or Dredd) and every film must have been released since England last won the World Cup in 1966. This leads to the omission of British classics such as A Matter of Life And Death, The Ladykillers, Whiskey Galore and Peeping Tom to name a few but allows us to see what the country's filmmakers have dished up to entertain us over the last 48 years, when the football has sent us running to the cinemas or reaching for the remote.

66. The Damned United (2009)

It's maybe not the greatest idea to start with a football-themed film in a list intended to distract from the World Cup but Tom Hooper's 2009 film about Brian Clough's ill-fated 44 day reign at Leeds is that strange beast: a decent football film and a decent film in its own right. And it's worth watching solely to see the genius of Brian Clough filtered through the genius of David Peace's 2006 novel and delivered by the genius of Michael Sheen's uncanny and reverent portrayal.

65. Sleuth (1972)

Sleuth is a masterclass in holding the audience's attention with little more than two actors and a wonderful script. It was the first film in which the entire cast received an Oscar nomination and it is easy to see why. Young Michael Caine more than holds his own against Lawrence Olivier, and Anthony Shaffer's complex, puzzle-box narrative keeps you guessing until the very end. Later remade by Kenneth Branagh with Caine and Jude Law, but as is to be expected the original sets the benchmark.
Contributor
Contributor

As well as the odd article, I apply my "special mind" to scriptwriting for Comics, Films and Games... Oh and I cut down trees, I skip and jump, I like to press wild flow'rs, I put on women's clothing, and hang around in bars. Follow me on Twitter @DrRobertOtnik