12 Lovely British Films You May Have Missed

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Last Updated on April 16, 2024 by Stefanie Hutson

Sometimes, you browse all the streaming services and you still can't find a British TV show you feel like watching. For those days, it's always nice to have a few good movies on your watch list. In this post, we'll take a look at some lesser-known British films we've enjoyed recently.

The Aspern Papers

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The Aspern Papers (2018)

This British drama is based on Henry James' novel of the same name, and it's primarily set in the Italian city of Venice. It follows Morton Vint (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an editor obsessed with the romantic poet Jeffrey Aspern, as he attempts to locate the celebrated writer's love letters hidden within the possessions of Aspern’s elderly lover, Juliana Bordereau (Vanessa Redgrave). Vint uses deception to gain access by courting Bordereau's niece Tina (Joely Richardson). 

Though well worth watching, it's a film that's also a little sad because it could have been much better. Rhys Meyers' American accent is all over the place, but the setting and Vanessa Redgrave are just enough to make it worthwhile.

Last Spotted On: Tubi

Doors Open

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Doors Open (2012)

This Edinburgh-based heist film follows a bored self-made millionaire, an art professor, and a banker who craft a plan to swap valuable art with forgeries so they can make off with the real masterpieces. They plan their “perfect crime” over the Christmas season, only to run into all manner of complications that test both the plan and their friendships. Stephen Fry  (QI) and Douglas Henshall (Shetland) star.

Last Spotted On: Streaming rental or purchase (services like Vudu or Amazon Prime)

Days of the Bagnold Summer

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Days of the Bagnold Summer (2019)

Simon Bird (Friday Night Dinner) directed this coming of age film based on Joff Winterhart's graphic novel of the same name, and it was adapted for screen by his wife, Lisa Owens. In it, Monica Dolan (Appropriate Adult) plays Sue Bagnold, a fiftysomething librarian whose husband has left her to live in the States with his new younger partner.

Earl Cave plays her son, heavy metal fan Daniel. Oblivious to his dad's obvious issues, it's his mum who gets the brunt of his attitude when dad falls through on plans to host him for the summer in Florida. The film also includes an appearance from Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey) as Daniel's history teacher.

Last Spotted On: Pluto TV, Toku Channel, Tubi, Prime Video

My Old Lady

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My Old Lady (2014)

Though not an exclusively British film, Dame Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) and Kristin Scott Thomas (Slow Horses) make it British enough for this list. Set in Paris, it marked the directorial debut of Israel Horovitz.

Kevin Kline stars as Mathias Gold, a down-on-his-luck New Yorker who inherits a valuable Parisian apartment from his estranged father. Upon arrival, he discovers the apartment is occupied by an elderly woman, Mathilde Girard (Maggie Smith), who has a lifetime tenancy agreement he can't wrangle his way out of. Her daughter, Chloé, (Kristin Scott Thomas), is also central to the plot as generations of family secrets float to the surface.

If you enjoy films about family reconciliation and the joys of unexpected relationships, this is one you'll want to check out.

Last Spotted On: Tubi or streaming rental services like Amazon Prime and Vudu


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Grabbers (2012)

This British-Irish horror-comedy is set on a remote Irish island where the inhabitants discover they have to stay continually intoxicated to survive attacks from bloodsucking sea creatures that have emerged from the ocean. The creatures, known as “Grabbers,” are allergic to alcohol, making drunkenness a defense mechanism against their attacks.

The action follows local police officers Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) and Ciarán O'Shea (Richard Coyle), as they rally the island's residents to fend off the monsters during a massive storm. It's an unusual take on the horror/monster genre, and along with the beautiful scenery, it makes for an enjoyable (albeit silly) viewing experience.

Last Spotted On: AMC+, Shudder, Tubi

Sometimes Always Never

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Sometimes Always Never (2019)

This quirky and touching British drama tells the story of an eccentric tailor called Alan who's obsessed with finding his missing son, Michael, who stormed out over a game of Scrabble years ago and hasn't been seen since. Alongside his other son, Peter (Sam Riley), Alan sets off on a journey that blends the search with his love of word games. Directed by Carl Hunter, it features themes of loss, connection, and the peculiar ways we communicate love – making it the perfect film for anyone who loves to watch complex family relationships play out on screen.

Last Spotted On: Tubi, Freevee, Roku Channel, Crackle, Pluto TV

Swimming With Men

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Swimming With Men (2018)

Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey), Rupert Graves (Sherlock), Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), and Nathaniel Parker (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries) all make key appearances in this quirky comedy about a man whose mid-life crisis leads him to join an all-male amateur synchronised swimming team. If you've ever wanted to see any of these men nearly naked, this is your chance.

Last Spotted On: T

The Father

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The Father (2020)

Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins on screen together? Don't mind if we do…

The Father premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2020, and it's an adaptation of Florian Zeller's play of the same name. Hopkins stars as Anthony, an octogenarian who rejects the caregivers that his daughter, Anne (Colman), attempts to impose upon him. She, in turn, struggles to balance her father's care with some of her own life changes. Using a disorienting narrative structure that mirrors his mental decline, the film attempts to convey the confusion and turmoil that accompany the sad but inevitable progression of dementia. Hopkins's powerful performance earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Last Spotted On: Starz or streaming rental services like Amazon Prime Video and iTunes

Gangsta Granny

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Gangsta Granny (2013)

Based on the best-selling novel by David Walliams (Little Britain), this movie follows Ben, a young boy who initially finds his grandmother's company dull, only to discover she has a secret past as a jewel thief. This revelation greatly improves their relationship, and they set off on an adventurous heist to steal the Crown Jewels.

The film features British TV favourites Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous), Miranda Hart (Miranda), and Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey). When a young boy gets bored at his gran's, she tells him about how she used to be a jewel thief…and they devise a plan to steal the crown jewels. Julia McKenzie (Miss Marple) stars as Granny. David Walliams also appears, playing Ben's Strictly Come Dancing-obsessed father.

Last Spotted On: Amazon Prime rental (under Mr. Stink & Gangsta Granny bundle)

Tell it to the Bees

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Tell it to the Bees (2019)

In rural 1950s Britain, Dr. Jean Markham (Anna Paquin) returns to her hometown to take over her late father's medical practice. There, she begins a scandalous same-sex relationship with the mother of young Charlie, one of her patients (Holiday Grainger, CB Strike). Jean and Charlie build a close bond through a shared interest in beekeeping, but it's the relationship between the two women that is both powerful and potentially destructive within the community.

Last Spotted On: Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Roku Channel, and Freevee


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Animals (2019)

Holliday Grainger (CB Strike) and Alia Shawkat star in this comedy-drama about two young ladies with some major lifestyle issues. Barista Laura and her American best friend Tyler love their wild life in Dublin. Laura struggles to write, and both enjoy a great deal of sex, drugs, and alcohol. 

When Laura meets concert pianist Jim, she falls in love – but his newfound sobriety poses a bit of a problem. When the two become engaged, Laura will have to re-think her lifestyle and her destructive friendship with Tyler. Though it might seem like a typical rom-com about getting married and making changes, it's more of an exploration of female friendship and personal values.

Last Spotted On: iTunes Rental

Mrs. Lowry & Son

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Mrs. Lowry & Son (2019)

This British biopic explores the life of renowned British painter L.S. Lowry (Timothy Spall) and his complex relationship with his aging, bedridden mother, Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave). Set in Pendlebury, Lancashire, during the 1930s, the story explores the dynamics of a mother and son whose opposing outlooks reflect deeper personal struggles and artistic ambitions.

Elizabeth is a former concert pianist with unfulfilled aspirations, and that leads her to be dismissive and critical of Lowry’s artistic pursuits. Meanwhile, Lowry is a rent collector by day, but deeply devoted to capturing the industrial scenes of Northern England in his paintings. Anyone who's ever done something their families questioned will be able to relate with the illustration of how familial pressures and expectations can both hinder and fuel creative expression.

Last Spotted On: Roku Channel, Philo, Pluto TV, Tubi, Plex, Crackle


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