Film industry names ‘Don’t Look Now’ as Best British Film

Share Article

Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 steamy gothic thriller tops Time Out’s 100 Best British Films

A panel of film experts including Sam Mendes (Director of ‘American Beauty’), Wes Anderson (Director of ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’) and actress Sally Hawkins (‘Made in Dagenham’)

have selected the 1970s steamy gothic thriller ‘Don’t Look Now’ as the Best British Film of all time, beating the likes of popular British movies such as Trainspotting and Four Weddings and a Funeral to the top spot.

The panel of 150 selected experts, which included directors, actors, heads of major cultural organisations and critics, was assembled by Time Out film editor Dave Calhoun. Each panellist nominated their 10 favourite British films which were then compiled to create a definitive list of Time Out’s 100 Best British Films.

Speaking about the selection as the Best British Film, ‘Don’t Look Now’’s director Nicolas Roeg commented ‘Well, it’s all very exciting indeed’. He continued ‘It’s almost forty years since I made the film now. It’s some time since I last saw it, but I see clips when I introduce it at festivals and it reminds me of that time and making it in Venice with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.’

Apart from the surprising ending of the film, one of the film’s most famous moments was the steamy love scene between Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland which Roeg believes helps today’s audiences connect with the film. Roeg told Time Out: ‘Sex, whether you like it or not, is the prime force of life. There is no other reason to be here. For me, sex is very rarely rude. It’s a fresh thing. I think people secretly connected to “Don’t Look Now”. Maybe that’s why, after all this time, people see the film more clearly. When it came out, audiences were less used to it. That scene would’ve been like someone bursting out of a cupboard and shouting “Boo!”.’

The top 10 from Time Out’s 100 Best British Films

1.    Don’t Look Now (1973) – the terrifying Venice chiller starring Julie Christie
2.    The Third Man (1949) - Graham Greene’s story stars Orson Welles in post-war Vienna
3.    Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) – moving Liverpool drama with the late Pete Postlethwaite
4.    Kes (1969) - Ken Loach’s Northern Classic about a boy and his kestrel
5.    The Red Shoes (1948) – a beautiful melodrama set in the world of ballet
6.    A Matter of Life and Death (1946) – the greatest film of World War Two with David Niven
7.    Performance (1970) – Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg rock and roll in 1960s Notting Hill
8.    Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) – Alec Guinness in one of his finest comic roles
9.    If… (1968) – a brilliant satire about a British boarding school with Malcolm McDowell
10.    Trainspotting (1996) – the classic adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel with Ewan Macgregor

The full Time Out’s 100 Best British Films, featuring the top 100 along with panellists’ individual selections, can be found online by visiting:

On the significance of Time Out’s 100 Best British Films, Time Out’s film editor Dave Calhoun comments: ‘This is a once-in-a-decade poll and it throws new light on the films which inspire our current actors, directors and writers. In the same week that the Bafta winners are announced, and as the British film funding landscape remains in flux, now seems as good a time as ever to think about British cinema in the context of over 100 years. Add to that the aggressive flag-waving over ‘The King’s Speech’, and you could say that such soul-searching isn’t just a good idea, it’s essential.”

To celebrate the outstanding achievements of the British Film industry Time Out Live will be launching the Time Out’s Film Club with a series of exclusive screenings of films from the 100 Best British Films at the Cineworld Haymarket in London. Starting from March 22, these special screenings will feature introductions from the likes of actors Jonathan Pryce (‘Pirates of the Caribbean’), David Morrissey (‘Doctor Who’) and Sally Hawkins (‘Happy-Go-Lucky’). For further information and tickets, visit

100 Best British Films Venice Competition
Win a trip for two to Venice, the beautiful setting of ‘Don’t Look Now’, to mark its section as the Best British Film with Time Out. For further details and to enter the competition, visit


Dave Calhoun, Time Out’s film editor is available for comment about Time Out’s 100 Best British Films.
For further information and for images, please contact:
Jayne Stala, Lucy Gordon or Adrian Ma at Komodo PR on or call 020 7680 5520.

Editor’s Notes
It would be appreciated if ‘Time Out’ was mentioned when reporting on this list. It would also be appreciated if Time Out was not positioned as solely a ‘magazine,’ but as the media company with a global reach of over 17 million that creates websites that receives over 7.5m visits per month, mobile apps, LIVE event evenings, books and magazines in 50 cities across the world.

Observations about Time Out’s 100 Best British Films from Dave Calhoun, Time Out’s film editor
“Looking at lead actors, it’s surprising how few bodies of work are represented. Alec Guinness is the predictable winner with five films, but even big names like Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Peter Sellers and Christopher Lee only get two apiece.

With actresses, it’s a similar story: Deborah Kerr and Tilda Swinton vie for top place with three films apiece, while Julie Christie and Jenny Agutter each get two. As with the directors, it’s a male-dominated list with only 20 films focusing on female central characters.”

In terms of popular film settings from those that made the list, Calhoun comments: “Looking at the films by city, it’s perhaps unsurprising that London takes the lion’s share, with no less than 33 titles, from ‘Piccadilly’ in 1929 to ‘Fish Tank’ eight decades later.

“Liverpool is film’s second city, but with only three titles, two of them by Terence Davies, it’s a long way below the capital.

Glasgow is next, with two films. Manchester, Belfast, Newcastle, Birmingham and Edinburgh get one apiece.

If general regions are taken into account, things look a bit more even: while the South is still top with 44 films (including those 33 set in London), the North bounces back with 15, and Scotland puts up a pretty good fight with 11. The Midlands trails with only five (three of which were directed by Shane Meadows), and poor old Northern Ireland only gets one.

16 of the films on the list are set in foreign climes, including the top two. That number is raised to 17 if the moon is included as a foreign country with the inclusion of sci-fi classic ‘2001’!”

Calhoun also observes:

  •     Of the popular genres, horror did best, with eight titles ranging from the bloody – ‘28 Days Later...’, ‘Theatre of Blood’ – to subtler fare like ‘Dead of Night’ and our number one film, ‘Don’t Look Now’.
  •     The number three film is ‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’ – one of the late Pete Postlethwaite’s great films – and directed by Terence Davies who filmed his most recent work with Rachel Weisz at the end of last year
  •     Only four films by women on the entire list: ‘Under the Skin’, ‘Fish Tank’, ‘Ratcatcher’, ‘Orlando' - all in last 20 years
  •     Most recent film in the top ten is Danny Boyle’s ‘Trainspotting’
  •     The most popular directors are Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, who have six films in the top 100 Proving that the 1970s weren’t just Hollywood’s golden age, there are 18 British titles from that decade listed here. Right behind them comes the 1990s, with 17 titles, many of them directed by Ken Loach or Mike Leigh.

Creating Time Out’s 100 Best British Films
To create this list, Time Out polled a select group of 150 actors (for example, Sally Hawkins, David Morrissey, Thandie Newton, Jodie Whittaker, Riz Ahmed), screenwriters, directors (Sam Mendes, Wes Anderson, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Michel Gondry, Terence Davies, Rowan Joffe), producers (Jeremy Thomas, Kevin Loader, Rebecca O'Brien, Andrew Eaton), film industry heads (Sandra Hebron, artistic director of London Film Festival; chief executive of Film London; head of London Film School; head of National Film and Television School; heads of film at Barbican, BFI Southbank and Riverside Studios; Tessa Ross, head of Film Four) and critics (Time Out writers, critics from The Guardian, Telegraph, News of the World, Radio Four, New Statesman, The Metro, Evening Standard, Empire, Big Issue). They gave Time Out their top ten which was used to create Time Out’s 100 Best British Films.

About Time Out
Time Out is an international multimedia company that has a presence across the world’s major cities and is an essential and trusted source for going out and cultural experiences for urban adventurers. Whether through online, magazines, guidebooks, apps, books, events or partnerships, Time Out’s currency has always been up-to-date and accurate information to help people remain at the cutting edge of culture.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Lucy Gordon

020 7680 5520
Email >
Visit website