It’s film time again. I’ve written about 11 books to read about London, but now I want to add movies. There are so many amazing films set in London, and today I want to share 15 of my favorites with you.
Films Set in London
There are plenty of movies set in London. From Mary Poppins to Withnail and I, the list is diverse and could go on forever. But I’ve handpicked my top choices from among the many, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
1. Love Actually
I can’t help starting with Love Actually. It’s one of the most iconic London films, and a modern Christmas classic. I love all the scenes shot in the city, from Downing Street to the Thames. And that’s to say nothing of the intertwining story lines and lovable set of characters that make this film so memorable.
2. Notting Hill
Another classic London movie is Notting Hill. This film about a British bookshop owner falling in love with an American movie star ticks all my boxes for romantic comedy and transatlantic cultural exchange. Set against the backdrop of one of the prettiest London neighborhoods, it’s a film I could watch over and over again. And I do.
3. Bridget Jones’s Diary
Speaking of romantic comedies, Bridget Jones’s Diary is another winner. A contemporary Pride & Prejudice story, the film features scenes shot around Borough Market and other parts of London. And Colin Firth is in it, which is always a good thing.
4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
Going back in time, Four Weddings and a Funeral has held its appeal over the years and remains a London classic. With Hugh Grant and other British favorites entertaining us everywhere from Highbury Fields to the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, Covent Garden, Sloane Square, and the South Bank, it’s packed with scenes from the city.
Moving away from romantic comedies (and Hugh Grant films, for that matter), Paddington is one of my favorite films set in London. This sweet bear wins my heart with every misstep he makes, and as an expat I can relate to his many cultural misunderstandings (although I have yet to ride a bathtub down the stairs).
6. The Bourne Ultimatum
Speaking of action, The Bourne Ultimatum, has one of my favorite London scenes of all time. My heart races whenever I watch former CIA operative Jason Bourne directing a journalist through Waterloo Station to help him avoid being tracked by CCTV cameras and CIA agents. The third film in the Bourne franchise might just be the best.
Another film set in London with great individual scenes is Guy Ritchie’s Snatch. A lot of footage was shot in and around Hatton Garden, and it’s a great film for getting to know London’s diamond district. I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the Ye Olde Mitre pub and recognized it from the movie.
8. Sliding Doors
One place that almost anyone would recognize in a film is the London Underground, and no film hinges on it quite like Sliding Doors. Gwyneth Paltrow’s character finds herself in the oh-so-familiar-to-a-Londoner situation of rushing to get on a train before the doors close. The rest of the film follows two scenarios: one where she gets through, one where she doesn’t. Lots more London—from Hammersmith to Belsize Park—features throughout.
9. Bend it Like Beckham
One part of London that’s not as familiar to most people is Hounslow (well, apart from the fact that Heathrow is there), and it’s the setting of Bend it Like Beckham. This movie about two girls playing soccer (er, football) is one of my favorite films set in London, not least because the creative story was such a sleeper hit.
10. About a Boy
Over to the boys, About a Boy is another heartwarming tale (and another Hugh Grant film…do I have a subconscious thing for him?). A young boy becomes friends with a man who’s stuck in boyhood, and locations as far flung as Kentish Town, Clerkenwell, Notting Hill, and Wandsworth figure into the story. There’s even a scene at the zoo.
11. James Bond
I was going to try to choose one James Bond film for my list, but the truth is that almost every James Bond film has great footage of London. Whether it’s MI6 in Vauxhall or scenes along the river, the franchise does a great job featuring the city in its movies.
12. Harry Potter
As do the Harry Potter films. I’ll focus on one of the most popular Harry Potter locations in London: Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross station. The site where the Hogwarts Express departs for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this special spot has become a pilgrimage site for Harry Potter fans from around the world.
13. The Parent Trap
Another great children’s film set in London is the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. Well, partially set, anyway. And given it shares the stage with my home state of California, I’m happy to put it on my list. London scenes were filmed in Kensington and Berkeley Square, two of the city’s most beautiful areas. I love watching the twin sisters swap places to trick their parents into getting back together.
14. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy also involves characters with tricks up their sleeves. This movie set during the Cold War features an all-star cast (Colin Firth again) and scenes filmed in West Kensington, Islington, Clerkenwell, and Mill Hill. I love the intrigue throughout.
15. An Education
Of all the movies on my list, An Education stuck with me for the longest after I watched it. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you haven’t seen it you’ll want to. Filmed largely in Twickenham, Ealing, West Acton, and Acton Town, there are also scenes set in more familiar areas like Westminster and the West End.
I could keep going, but I’ll end my list here and let you get to watching the films you haven’t seen already. There are so many great films set in London, and more being released all the time. I can’t wait to see what comes out next.
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