10 Essential British New Wave Films

Everything, including the kitchen sink.

Grim working-class life, angry young men, kitchen-sink realism, and gritty locations filled with colorful characters — these are just a few ways to describe the films of the British New Wave. This unforgettable chapter in film history emerged in the early 1960s and brought British cinema to the forefront. Through April 6, New York City’s Film Forum celebrates the British New Wave with a fantastic series. From programmer Bruce Goldstein:

As the 1950s ended, British cinema exploded with new energy, as directors like Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, Lindsay Anderson and John Schlesinger tackled groundbreaking material from young new writers (among them John Osborne, Shelagh Delaney, and Harold Pinter – fresh from revolutionizing the stage), creating a socially conscious, aggressively working class cinema, trampling taboos by depicting England’s angry and alienated youth, and treating sexual content frankly. And they had the interpreters they needed in a tidal wave of powerful young actors like Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, Rita Tushingham, Julie Christie, Alan Bates, et al. As the 60s progressed, social realism gave way to more escapist fare, Britain’s angry young men evolving into the fashionably disillusioned hedonists of Swinging London.

We’ve highlighted some of the essentials from his time period, most of which are screening at Film Forum.