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The 100 Best British Films Ever
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70
Casino Royale Poster Casino Royale (2006)

Directed by Martin Campbell
Starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench

It wasn't Pierce Brosnan's fault that the Bond franchise ran aground, but equally you could hardly blame Daniel Craig that some 007 fanatics couldn't see him mirroring Brosnan's suave charm, Moore's wry humour or Sean Connery's ability to look deeply sexy even when wearing dad slacks and a golf visor. The whole Craig-not-Bond farrago was a reminder that, back in the early '60s, even Connery wasn't everyone's first choice. That seemed to work out okay and so, emphatically, did this. Sure, we'd probably have sacrificed all that product-placement ahead of gadget-fiend, Q, and we kinda missed the silly kiss-off lines, but the return of Bond matched all reasonable expectations and then blasted past them. From Craig's first 00-ppearance, a Bourne-like flashback ferocious enough to pin moviegoers back in their seats, every head-punch, put-down and swimming-trunk-clad step felt like a mission statement for the reborn franchise. "How did he die, your contact?" enquiries a case officer of Bond's first kill. "Not well," glowers 007. You can almost hear the remote-controlled car backing hurriedly into the garage. Craig is Bond and you'd do well to remember it.

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How Daniel Craig Marked The Arrival Of A New Kind Of Bond
WORDS DAMON WISE

"Stop getting Bond wrong!" Alan Partridge's plaintive cry echoed around the world in 2004 as pundits everywhere pondered the future of Ian Fleming's most famous creation. The suggestions were strange, daring or bizarre: Orlando Bloom as a young Bond in a '60s-set period romp; Colin Salmon as a black Bond; Rupert Everett as an openly gay Bond... It was a pivotal moment in the spy's 43-year screen history, because, although he later claimed to have been pushed, Pierce Brosnan jumped ship at a canny time. The Bond machine was running low on steam. And unless something was done about it, and fast, the franchise might not survive.

But what? Nobody knew, and so the carousel of new faces continued — Colin Farrell, Clive Owen, Sam Worthington — and when the music stopped, the actor left holding the martini had fans shaking and definitely less than stirred. Chester-born actor Daniel Craig, 37, didn't seem to have anything right. He came from an arthouse background. He was blond.

He was - how to put it? - unconventionally attractive. And he wasn't about to play the game: arriving at his press launch by motorboat, he outraged hacks by answering in monosyllables (asked why he wanted to play Bond, Craig smiled, "Why not?").

I watched this circus unfold with interest. I'd noticed Craig in Love Is The Devil, and first encountered him at the Berlin Film Festival in 2000, where I spoke to him about a strange Gothic comedy he'd made called Hotel Splendide. A low-key but focused presence on screen, Craig proved to be a disarming and witty interview off. Layer Cake (2004) was the clincher, and the last time I saw him in public was at the Malletti bar in Venice, where he thanked me for the support Empire had given Matt Vaughn's stylish crime thriller.

Each time, Craig seemed a step closer to the mainstream, and when the Bond story broke, I wasn't at all surprised. But in 2006, when I arrived in the Bahamas several weeks into the shooting of Casino Royale, I had some reservations: there were rumours coming from the Eastern European locations (Berlin and Prague) suggesting that all wasn't well, and that Craig was getting "cold feet". The tabloid stuff I'd read didn't interest me (So Craig had had two teeth knocked out? It was a cap. So Craig couldn't drive a manual? Er, yes he could, and did), but when he appeared, giving his interviews with producer Barbara Broccoli, any fears evaporated. Broccoli and Craig had an easy rapport, and Broccoli, together with her EON partner Michael G. Wilson, confirmed that Craig's appointment was a very deliberate decision to take the franchise a whole new way. "The world has changed," she reasoned. "The world is more serious, and I think people are looking for real answers. They want real heroes more than ever."

Craig confirmed that he was on the same page, revealing that he'd asked to see a script before committing. "What I liked about this script," he said, "is that we have a Bond who — at least at first — is sort of fallible and doesn't get it right, so therefore he has to learn." But when he was asked what appealed most to him about the character of Bond, Craig had some insights that we're only now, post-Quantum Of Solace, able to appreciate fully.

"His pig-headedness and his bloody-mindedness, whichever way you want to put it," Craig said. "His relentlessness and his passion to get the job done - which defines him, because he's a loner and he doesn't like to get involved emotionally with people. And his ability to have, on the face of it, no fear. Now, hopefully there'll be some complexity to it, so you'll understand why he's like that, because there seems to be a suicidal tendency in him. But that's because of who he is and how he made himself this man. Because he had a tough upbringing and that's how he survived: by taking life on the chin."

I next saw Craig four months later back in London, and though the film was far from finished, the clips I was shown proved it was on track. This time it was my turn to get cold feet, and I admitted to director Martin Campbell that I wasn't quite ready to see Craig play Bond as a character, not an icon. "Well, it is a character," he replied, "and he's an actor that can do nothing but a character. And it's a story that gives him the opportunity to do that." Craig himself was just as sanguine, and even 'fessed up to having those dark nights of the soul during filming ("I still do, and I'd like to think I wouldn't care about the figures too much, but I know that on opening weekend I'm going to be, like…" he laughed "... watching them fall rapidly! Or go up. Whatever..."). But it was clear that the project for him was to get Bond right, and steer the character confidently into the 21st century.

"All that was important to me was that we weren't going to get into a repeat of what's been done before," he said. "Not for any reasons of criticism on my part, but just because... Well, what's the point? If you're gonna start it all over again, then there's got to be a real sea change. And that doesn't mean this isn't a Bond movie. I mean, that's the criticism I've been getting on the net. It seems to me that people just think — well, they think I'm fucking ugly, but I'll have to live with that — they think it's gonna be fucked up. That's as far away from what's been done as you can possibly get. What's been done is very, very different but it is religiously a Bond movie. Religiously a Bond movie. It's Casino fucking Royale, for Christ's sake, which is the defining Ian Fleming book."

In November, after all the naysaying and the doommongering, Casino Royale opened to rave reviews and full houses. Not only was it the film Craig and Campbell thought they were making, it was the Bond the public didn't know they wanted: a genuine, brilliant reinvention, a darker, flawed more recognisably human hero to reflect our troubled times. And now that he had proved the press wrong, Craig needed to stay in the good books. Would he be doing things a little differently next time, I wondered? "'Differently' is not quite the word," he mused quietly. "I think just more knowledgeably. I mean, you still have to throw yourself in, you know."

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Your Comments

1 100 Best British Films Ever??
Ok. I know everyone will have disagreements, (isn't that why we have lists) but surely there should be room for 'Brassed Off'! More

Posted on Sunday August 17, 2014, 00:44 by Gabriel2301
2 Only 29th, surely a mistake ?
Kes More

Posted on Friday February 14, 2014, 20:47 by mike lloyd
3 This should be No.1
Get Carter More

Posted on Friday February 14, 2014, 20:25 by mike lloyd
4 The Zulu film
Hey the Zulu film is there! Cool :-). That film is personal to me because my great (or great great) granddad was the man who won that war for us. He was known as Sargent Coal I think. :-p More

Posted on Monday June 17, 2013, 12:57 by Jackie Anne
5 BORAT is sick and disgusting
@ hollyinhd Borat should not be on here well said ... i hate BORAT .. sick sad excuse for a film More

Posted on Friday November 23, 2012, 15:24 by bill the butcher
6 Gandhi and the Kings speech
how are these two films lower than the Harry Potter films More

Posted on Wednesday November 21, 2012, 22:13 by nirvanaomid
7
Borat should not be on here, the Italian Job needs to be in the top ten. More

Posted on Friday October 5, 2012, 15:37 by hollyinhd
8
Just re-read this after a few months - the lack of Get Carter and The Innocents still hurts. It really does. More

Posted on Wednesday June 13, 2012, 22:31 by SDHoneymonster
9 94?!?!?
How can Tinker Tailor be at 94?! It is possibly one of the most uncompromisingly British films in history, and you've put it lower than WALLACE AND GROMIT?! OK, I'm done now. 94?! More

Posted on Tuesday February 14, 2012, 10:20 by Mr. Fincher
10 Wait.. Where's Sleuth?
I don't want to hate on this, I mean, it had some of my favorites, but hey Empire. Where is Sleuth? It's maybe the best british film I've seen. More

Posted on Thursday December 15, 2011, 17:03 by MrPinkBatman
11 Wait.
More

Posted on Thursday December 15, 2011, 17:00 by MrPinkBatman
12 Sexy Beast Wrong Way 'Round
While I'll agree with the selection of Sexy Beast for the list, my problem stems from all the critical super hype over Sir Ben's Don Loggan. For me his character is so over the top as to be comic relief. Where as Ian McShanes Teddy Bass was villain of nightmares. The scene in the hotel cafe, over breakfast, all he does is smile at Ray Winstone, and you feel that you need to hide beneath your seat. More

Posted on Saturday December 3, 2011, 00:13 by zeprin
13 Sexy Beast Wrong Way 'Round
While I'll agree with the selection of Sexy Beast for the list, my problem stems from all the critical super hype over Sir Ben's Don Loggan. For me his character is so over the top as to be comic relief. Where as Ian McShanes Teddy Bass was villain of nightmares. The scene in the hotel cafe, over breakfast, all he does is smile at Ray Winstone, and you feel that you need to hide beneath your seat. More

Posted on Saturday December 3, 2011, 00:13 by zeprin
14 The worst list ever
I registered just to vent my spleen. This list is awful. How is Monsters there and not Get Carter. What about I'm Alright Jack and the myriad of pre-1950s classics. What about Kidulthood and the Hammer/Amicus films. More

Posted on Friday December 2, 2011, 10:57 by Fredlocks
15 EMpire, the mag for teens!!!
reading this list and quit simply amazed that some harry potter films are in there!!! these films obviously voted on popularity not the acting nor the story!!! a list this bad im supprised that spiceworld the movie wasnt at no 1!!!! More

Posted on Tuesday October 25, 2011, 20:22 by daveo1973
16 goog list
good list but wheres films such as Get carter, The Elephant Man, Scum, Quadrophenia etc More

Posted on Tuesday October 25, 2011, 20:19 by daveo1973
17 goog list
good list but wheres films such as Get carter, The Elephant Man, Scum, Quadrophenia etc More

Posted on Tuesday October 25, 2011, 20:15 by daveo1973
18 Re: The 100 Best British Films
Boy have you blown it. How could you leave out TOMMY, the all time best film of any country or decade?????? Sure Ann-Margret's incestuous overtones as Mrs. Walker were a tad much, but otherwise, Ken Russell directed a masterpiece. How can the stunningly beautiful Roger Daltrey's portrayal of the title role not move you to tears????? The Rocky Horror Picture Show was another overlooked British masterpiece. You just don't know what a truly great British film consists of! More

Posted on Tuesday October 25, 2011, 17:13 by TommyGirl
19 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
L: JohnChard How can someone with such great taste in Westerns have such bad taste in British comedy? Dreadful? Really? Even Kim Newman here gave it 3/5, with his only argument for not rating higher being that it's dated! Which is a "dreadful" excuse to use on any old classic film. The film is highly rated by other British Film Institutes and Forums. Not your thing? I can truck with that of course, but dreadful isn't a word I've ever seen attributed to Oh! Mr Porter before now. ppose comedy's a very subjective thing, so if you don't think it works, you /i] don't think it works. I just didn't laugh at the film and I found Hay's mugging really tiresome. Also, you know the way that comedies rich in non-sequiturs might not play well in another 50 years' time? That's kind of how I feel about Porter!me of Groucho Marx's jokes (not many, just some) - not only do I not find them funny, but I don't understand they were once funny. Incidentally, '30s comedy is very much my thing (More

Posted on Tuesday October 25, 2011, 13:53 by rick_7
20 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
L: rick_7 L: JohnChard Oh Mr Porter! and Ask A Policeman Surely one of these Will Hay classics deserve to make any Great British list, especially when said list here contains A Fish Called Wanda and Four Weddings & A Funeral. FFS. ke trains and I /i] like Launder and Gilliat (actually, they like trains, don't they - y Vanishesght Train to Munich but orter!adful. sp; How can someone with such great taste in Westerns have such bad taste in British comedy?   Dreadful? Really? Even Kim Newman here gave it 3/5, with his only argument for not rating higher being that it's dated! Which is a "dreadful" excuse to use on any old classic film. The film is highly rated by other British Film Institutes and Forums. Not your thing? I can truck with that of course, but dreadful isn't a word I've ever seen attributed to Oh! Mr Porter before now. More

Posted on Tuesday October 25, 2011, 01:53 by JohnChard
21 Oh dear...
"The King's Speech"? "Shakespeare in Love"? There are more than a few films which have been overhyped but are truly terrible. And did "Shaun of the Dead" really deserve to be that high? Don't get me wrong, I'm a massive Edgar Wright fan, but... More

Posted on Monday October 24, 2011, 15:00 by fiedleraufdemdach
22 What?
I can think of a few that was so shamelessly left off the list. "Mona Lisa" and "The Crying Game" would be better choices than some of the Harry Potter movies you have on the list. More

Posted on Monday October 24, 2011, 13:09 by domino1003
23 A joke
Shaun of the dead is a better film than bridge over the river Kwai and Zulu?THAT's WHY these lists are pure rubbish. More

Posted on Monday October 24, 2011, 00:22 by Billmcgarrity
24 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
L: rick_7 L: JohnChard Oh Mr Porter! and Ask A Policeman Surely one of these Will Hay classics deserve to make any Great British list, especially when said list here contains A Fish Called Wanda and Four Weddings & A Funeral. FFS. ke trains and I /i] like Launder and Gilliat (actually, they like trains, don't they - y Vanishesght Train to Munich but orter!adful. ooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!! Rick, I thought I could count on you to love a little Will. More

Posted on Saturday October 22, 2011, 04:33 by rawlinson
25 I believe this list is "...according to our readers" ?
That would explain its quirkiness (in some people's opinion). These things tend to be dominated by the latest fad, so nice to see something sensible at no. 1 A better way to do this would be weight the votes by how old the film is. Anything that still gets a vote after 40 years should be considered a lot better than something that gets 40 votes after 1 year. If you have any doubts about that, try guessing what's on the novel best-seller list for 1910. Then have a look. I doubt you'll have heard of many of the authors, never mind the books. Yet these are the Harry Potters of their day. Here they are: http://www.arosebooks.com/58/best-selling-books -1910-1919/ I hope my point is made! More

Posted on Saturday October 22, 2011, 02:36 by LizR
26 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
L: JohnChard Oh Mr Porter! and Ask A Policeman Surely one of these Will Hay classics deserve to make any Great British list, especially when said list here contains A Fish Called Wanda and Four Weddings & A Funeral. FFS. ke trains and I /i] like Launder and Gilliat (actually, they like trains, don't they - y Vanishesght Train to Munich but orter!adful. More

Posted on Thursday October 20, 2011, 14:57 by rick_7
27 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
Oh Mr Porter! and Ask A Policeman   Surely one of these Will Hay classics deserve to make any Great British list, especially when said list here contains A Fish Called Wanda and Four Weddings & A Funeral. FFS. More

Posted on Thursday October 20, 2011, 14:04 by JohnChard
28
Please use this format for future "best" lists, as I found it so much easier to navigate, and didn't get bored by clicking the next button continously. Also, you're never going to please everyone with lists. There are films I love that weren't added to this list, but I'm not going to stop reading empire because of it. Sure, I'll be a bit pissed, but I'll let it pass, as it isn't that important. More

Posted on Thursday October 20, 2011, 10:58 by Aileenfraser
29 Not bad for a small island.
People always moan when you get 'best' or 'greatest' lists (I used to) but there really is no need to take them seriously, they chop and change like the wind! No other nation could top a chart with names like Brian and Lawrence and for that alone we should be commended. More

Posted on Thursday October 20, 2011, 10:28 by thefacehead
30 RE: You missed somethng
Hmm.../b] should have perhaps just labelled this '100 Great British Films' and left off the 'Ever' bit. Even then there would have been cries of 'What?!' and 'Where?!' but less justified. As it is there are a fair few glaring omissions or strange placings (as with any list) but I have one major beef. NDITS? sk. Any list that contains TWO Harry Potter films but not Gilliam's truly delightful fantasy film for the family (if just the Harry Potter films could have had some of the same feel) is a list I cannot respect. JEDI BOBSTER More

Posted on Tuesday October 18, 2011, 22:24 by JediBobster
31 You missed somethng
How the hell is Oliver! not in there? I love a bit of 60s New wave realism as much as the next man but surely, one jaunty, fantastically scored musical wouldn't go amiss in this list. It's not as though Britain makes many. Also, Lean's Oliver Twist is better than Great Expectations. Pleased to have guessed 12 of the top 15 (omission of the two olivers hurt me obviously). List was ok, though would have expected: The importance of being earnest ('48) In which we serve Dead of Night and even a bit of Bridget Jones. More

Posted on Tuesday October 18, 2011, 15:48 by stapes
32 Basil Radford
Btw, Basil Radford is in the Lady Vanishes and not Basil Rathbone. Although, confusion is understood as Basil Radford does remind me of Nigel Bruce who was Watson to Basil Rathbone's Sherlock. Talking about Basil Radford, hoping that I've still got Dead of Night to see on this list ... More

Posted on Monday October 17, 2011, 15:06 by stapes
33 Where is...
A Taste of Honey The League of Gentlemen Ice Cold In Alex Whisky Galore In The Name of the Father crap crap crappity list.... More

Posted on Monday October 17, 2011, 15:06 by artilleryman
34 Seriously?
Is this list in order of excellence? Cause if it is Empire needs to shut down this web site immediately and stop publication......cause that list is pure shite. More

Posted on Monday October 17, 2011, 06:06 by mattyq
35 Where is...
...Kidulthood?? More

Posted on Sunday October 16, 2011, 20:20 by caz1974
36 Where is
Gosford Park? More

Posted on Sunday October 16, 2011, 18:25 by sjj
37 RE: Dracula at "90" surely not so low
It only revolutionised horror cinema and brought about a renaissance of British horror. And no American Werewolf in London, Masque of the Red Death or the Shining. This is a poor list Empire. I mean, there's some real populist shit in there. More

Posted on Sunday October 16, 2011, 18:08 by Count Karnstein
38 About Antonioni: it's Notte, not Notta! (La Notte= The Night)
We're in digital times and you just can not copy and paste two simple, easy words correctly? Add this to the Middle Age-like overdose of capital letters in late 2011 English and I get how such a crap of a "list" comes out. More

Posted on Saturday October 15, 2011, 16:33 by debora.milano
39 Oh my
Brazil, The Remains of the Day, A Room With a View, BLOW-UP (!!!) at the bottom places. And A Clockwork Orange just eleventh. Ok, I'm over. More

Posted on Saturday October 15, 2011, 16:15 by debora.milano
40 A masterpiece like Kes
"ranking" only 29th???? More

Posted on Saturday October 15, 2011, 15:58 by debora.milano
41 What about ...
Scum? More

Posted on Saturday October 15, 2011, 13:49 by jackcrompton
42 Will Hay
Have you ever seen a Will Hay film? More

Posted on Friday October 14, 2011, 21:09 by kirkj
43 Truly terrible list - sucking up to Simon Pegg!
Casino Royale - a joke surely. More

Posted on Friday October 14, 2011, 11:01 by acertree
44 RE: Get Carter... on the lst
Lets face it Empire FUCKED THIS LIST UP ROYALY! 4.gif] More

Posted on Thursday October 13, 2011, 10:46 by Wild about Wilder
45 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
Terrible list. More

Posted on Wednesday October 12, 2011, 13:44 by spamandham
46 RE:
93. Brazil 77. Deathly Hallows I mean really? Wow. More

Posted on Monday October 10, 2011, 19:56 by Piles
47 RE: dctuck
I wasn't complaining about people commenting, just the people who sounded like they were leaving Empire just because Empire posted a list different to what they would have expected. Debate's always a good thing! I disagree with some (quite a bit) of the list, but I'm not leaving to go to Total Film just because of this list... More

Posted on Monday October 10, 2011, 12:18 by dctuck
48 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
L: elab49 With British creative talent and money behind it f that's why Hunger is included, then surely so should In Bruges? More

Posted on Saturday October 8, 2011, 22:08 by martygillan
49 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
Dear Empire, Just glancing over your 100 Best British Films Ever - an imaginative and comprehensive list. I was just checking if any of my movies were in there and lo and behold at No. 82 is Mr. Hitchcock's classic "The Lady Vanishes". But I am afraid you have made an error - my part was played by the excellent character actor Basil Radford not Basil rathbone whom if you remember was the achetypal Sherlock Holmes and a very hissable Guy of Gisborne. Anyhow, carry on with the good work - you are all doing very well! More

Posted on Saturday October 8, 2011, 09:16 by Charters
50 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
Part of the UK, but not Britain. I just meant it doesn't really fit with the rest of the movies here From the looks of this list the idea of 'Britishness' seems to have been interpreted as Englishness (with the exception of only 5 films; Gregory's Girl, My name is Joe, Sweet Sixteen, Shallow Grave and Trainspotting) More

Posted on Friday October 7, 2011, 22:26 by martygillan
51 RE: The 100 Best British Films Ever
Actually it's set in Northern Ireland - which is part of the United Kingdom. With British creative talent and money behind it. Since the 50s film funding has been incredibly muddled with particularly the US taking UK bases and UK tax advantages. So I'd assume when looking at a list of this sort that common sense would be used as there is very little 'purity' to rely upon. More

Posted on Friday October 7, 2011, 21:59 by elab49
52 RE: Unknown movie at NO1?That's dissapointing.
L: Dalekbuster523 Ridiculous that the british film at NO1 is a total unknown.And why isn't "Mr Bean's holiday" on the list?I loved that movie. 'm all for people having their own opinions but Lawrence of Arabia a total unknown? I'm not sure a film forum is the best place for you. More

Posted on Friday October 7, 2011, 21:07 by Funkyrae
53 RE: Unknown movie at NO1?That's dissapointing.
L: Dalekbuster523 Ridiculous that the british film at NO1 is a total unknown.And why isn't "Mr Bean's holiday" on the list?I loved that movie. eriously ? On both those points. Has to be a joke. More

Posted on Friday October 7, 2011, 21:00 by JIm R
54 RE: Unknown movie at NO1?That's dissapointing.
An interesting list to compare to the one run within the forum. Apart from that though I wanted to say thank you to whoever has reformatted the lists in the main site - this was so much better than having to slog through single page after single page. Thank you - much better layout  More

Posted on Friday October 7, 2011, 20:37 by elab49
55 RE: Unknown movie at NO1?That's dissapointing.
So let e get tis straight, Monsters is on the list but Get Carter & Harry Brown arent???? More

Posted on Friday October 7, 2011, 20:09 by snaze1

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