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Ray's Top Five

Mark Kermode | 17:59 UK time, Tuesday, 17 April 2012

This weekend I'm going to be interviewing Ray Winstone on stage at The Bradford International Film Festival. He's had an extraordinary acting career but which are his best five films?

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Related Posts on Kermode Uncut
Eleven from Eleven: Mark counts down the best films from 2011

Mark's reviews on 5 live
London Boulevard

44 inch chest

Hear Mark Kermode review the week's new films every Friday from 2pm on BBC Radio 5 live. Kermode & Mayo's Film Review is also available as a free podcast to download and keep.



  • Comment number 1.

    Nil By Mouth is my favourite.

    The scene where he phones Valerie (his wife), however, through his shame he cannot bring himself to speak, so he discontents the line and pretends she's still on the other end. The following 3 minutes depict his downward spiral of emotions as the character becomes increasingly intoxicated and reveals more and more about himself.

    Gary Oldman is brilliant at getting great performances out of good actors. It saddens me that he hasn't directed since.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ray is superb n the understated but powerful film 'Everything'. His character visits a prostitute but only wants to talk.... I think only 5 people saw this film but it is worth checking out. Very much a less is more.

  • Comment number 3.

    For me its his one off appearance in an episode of Auf Weidershen Pet as an AWOL soldier but if I had to pick a film its as Michael Caine's son in Last Orders.

  • Comment number 4.

    The top 5 for the Daddy has to be
    5. OUR BOY

  • Comment number 5.

    Sexy Beast without a shadow of a doubt - a sizzling, burning performance in more ways than one.

  • Comment number 6.

    It's got be the short film he recently made that explores dissociative identity disorder...
    The Bet 365 ad.

  • Comment number 7.

    "Swelterin'. You could fry an egg on my stomach...' It's got to be Sexy Beast at number one. You've done it again Mr. Kermode. That film boasts an ensemble cast of great performances, and as for what you were saying about profanity taken to poetic levels, how about Ben Kingsley's bombastic sonata of 'F*cks' and 'C*nts'? Didn't know that he's involved in Bunny Munro, that IS good news.

  • Comment number 8.

    I can't say that I've seen a great number of Ray Winstone movies. I haven't seen 44 Inch Chest (but I'll rectify that soon since its available on a certain movie streaming service now). I also haven't seen Sexy Beast (eyes rolling). Just can't bring myself to watch it, based on the title alone.
    I know I liked The War Zone, but since it's been so long since I've seen it, here are my five Ray Winstone flicks.

    5 Edge Of Darkness (I liked it, didn't love it, but thought Winstone was great in it.
    4 Hugo (Was he in that?)
    3 Beowulf
    2 The Proposition (Features one of the more shocking onscreen deaths, right up there with The Beyond... I don't like it for that reason, though. At least that's not the ONLY reason).
    1 The Departed (Made my 'Top 100 Films of the 2000s: )

    I also liked Percy Jackson and The Olympians:The Lightning Thief FAR more than you, Dr. K. In fact, even though I don't think it's a great film by any stretch of the imagination, I do like it more than all but the third installment of the Harry potter films... And without PJATO:TLT, the world would not have 'Benjamin Sniddlegrass And the Cauldron Of Penguins' (which is now available for free online viewing).

  • Comment number 9.

    I love The Proposition; there is a scene with Ray Winston in which is so oddly hilarious. It's when he and Emily Watson are in their bedroom together, there is a gunshot, Ray Winston jumps up and runs straight into the door, it's a clip that i love so much i will burst out laughing whenever i think about it.

  • Comment number 10.

    THE WAR ZONE, just because it was filmed where I grew up. I have memories of meeting Tim Roth and he signed my Reservoir Dogs VHS. Also scenes being filmed in certain locations where we, at the time my friends at college, would hang out drink cider etc. They also nailed the visualisation of North Devon incredibly well...violent, bleak, incest and inbred.

    When this aired at the college cinema, and I was studying Film Studies at the time...there was a scene in which involved the local high street cafe (now closed I believe) and we all stood up cheered as if the film was some kind of Karate Kid fight scene and Daniel beat Johnny. However we sat down and continued watching this gritty, brutal bit of unsung celluloid.

  • Comment number 11.

    To be honest I think Ray Winston is great in all movies he apperes in, expeshally films in which he plays a small part, yea Sexy Beast and 44 inch chest are great movies but what about his role in The Departed, I think that he gets pushed asside in that film because of the towering performance by Jack Nickolson, Matt Damon and the wonderfull Marky Mark Walberg. I favorate the scene in the bar where they are talking about crambery Juice.

  • Comment number 12.

    Not a film, and by no means his best, but I remember seeing him fot the first time in Robin of Sherwood. As Will Scarlet. It must have been o.k. 'cause he left an impression. Been following him ever since. Of course the combination of Winston / Oldman gave an electric result.

  • Comment number 13.

    what about ripleys game?

  • Comment number 14.

    Definitely Sexy Beast. One of my favourite films. Nil By Mouth was also excellent, if hard to watch. Both truly great performances.

  • Comment number 15.

    Certainly one is Ripleys Game. Even though he isn't on screen for long. But without a doubt the best Winstone film is Antonia Bird's 1997 'Face'.

  • Comment number 16.

    The Proposition is one of my favourite films, I have it on blu-ray and it looks stunning; you can feel the heat, the dust and smell the stench of sweat and blood the characters exhibit.

    Winstone is incredible in it, he steals every scene.

    The other Winstone gem for me is, although not a film, Robin of Sherwood, the tv series; although I wasn't alive when this came out I saw re-runs on ITV and loved it. For me, he is the defining Will Scarlet and tears every scene apart, from blind rage and anger to compassion, to weeping in despair.
    He is definitely the daddy for me. :D

  • Comment number 17.

    "and this was a very close run thing, but by a whisker..."

    Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull?

    Oh yeah, Sexy Beast, of course.

  • Comment number 18.

    Tim Roth's "The War Zone" -
    A film so grim even Bergman would have been proud -

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm afraid I must confess my ignorance! I do like his on screen presence, but having been confronted with your list, Doc, I've seen to few of Ray's work. I did liked him in "Beowulf", one of my favorite animated movies (I really like epics). And I've seen him in several other movies, but he has only been on my radar since "King Arthur". Out of all the knights, the king included, he was the most genuine and intense. Gonna get crakin' on that list of yours, starting with "The Proposition"... been a while since I've seen a good western! (This is why I really like listening to you, Dr Kermode. The great movies I've never heard off that you introduce me to! Plus, you are funny! Oh, love that rant on Phantom (3d) Menace!)

  • Comment number 20.


    My only disagreement is that I thought Proposition was number one as his best film. I thought Sexy Beast was his best performance. And then there is War Zone.

    It's almost unwatchable in parts

    I've seen 707 of the top 100 movies ever made (according to Sight and Sound) and this is the only one that should be in their list


  • Comment number 21.

    First Saw Ray in a TV series call Fox which also stared the great Peter Vaughan (one of our most underated actors) from then on Scum and so on don't think I've ever seen him in a bad role also seen him in a local pub and was very down to earth top man as they say

  • Comment number 22.

    Ray Winstone is one of my favourite living British actors, these are my favourite films he has appeared in.
    1 Sexy Beast
    2 44 Inch Chest (it took two viewings to get there though!)
    3 London Boulevard, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Nil by Mouth and Scum (TV version, haven't seen film version)
    And I've added The Propostion to my "I love films" DVD rental list.

  • Comment number 23.

    Have to admit, I feel terribly ashamed not to have seen Sexy Beast yet. Will have to rectify that, and see 44 Inch Chest too. Only saw The Proposition once, so again will need to rent it. I did remember enjoying it immensely though.
    Watched Nil by Mouth the other day, so certainly that performance is up there, and agree with Mark that his small role in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll was excellent. He was excellent in The Departed too, probably the best thing in it with Leo and Martin Sheen. Now if only he'd stop those annoying Bet 365 ads.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Mark, I like your list, very good choices. I would personally go:

    1. Sexy Beast
    2. The Proposition
    3. The Departed
    4. Tracker
    5. Hugo

    On a side note Mark, can you please let us know whether you have come to a decision on whether you liked or didn't like Killer Joe. Surely you know by now.

  • Comment number 25.

    Cannot disagree with your list on this occasion.

    I would like to also raise attention to Ray's turn as Sweeney Todd in the TV adaptation a few years back, and he didn't even have to do a Bowie impression in the performance.

    Although The Departed, Quadrophenia and Cold Mountains are flawed in general Ray is clearly the stand out in all the films in which he has been present.

  • Comment number 26.

    'The Proposition' A Masterpiece

  • Comment number 27.

    WHAT? Nil by Mouth is ten times the film Sexy Beast is

  • Comment number 28.

    Agree with the rest of your list but take great exception with 44 Inch Chest which I rated as one of the worst films of 2010:

    "Great cast squandered in lifeless predictable exercise of east end gangster talky artiness, Revolver for the middle aged. Stagey is the key word as the performances might have been electrifying if performed live on a stage in a way that might have lifted the material, but instead dull dull dull dull dull, had me pining for Harold Pinter's turn in the film version of Mojo, and that's not a good thing."

    Ray and the rest of the cast are on form, and I'd be tempted to ask him if they'd consider doing it as a stage play, which might actually work. The piece didn't work as a film for me, and I don't see how it could rate higher than The War Zone, Face, Quadrophenia or even the relatively pedestrian Last Orders.

  • Comment number 29.

    Can't really fault your list, Doc, but I would like to also mention the film Face, a really smart film and one that isn't really talked about very much. Winstone's performance in it is fantastic throughout, and ultimately heartbreaking.

  • Comment number 30.

    Just for the fact it's one of my favourite films, Quadrophenia.

    Not sure how many people know he is actualy in it.

  • Comment number 31.

    One vote (from probably the only person posting here who has seen it) for Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains. He's fantastic as a young punk rocker, surely the idea of Ray Winstone fronting a band that consists of Paul Cook, Steve Jones and Paul Simenon touring with a band containing Diane Lane and Laura Dern, is worth the price of admission. Very glad to see it's being included in this retrospective of his career. Another shining example of Ray relying on his natural charisma over muscle and swearing.

  • Comment number 32.

    I couldn't agree more- Sexy Beast is a film I've watched several times and the whole cast is fabulous. Winstone quietly and subtly conveys the full range of human emotions. You really feel terrified for him. It's not just his best film it is one of the best performances by anyone in film full stop.

  • Comment number 33.

    A clear omission from your list mark is Face, Antonia Bird's brilliant and underrated gangster film. In this film he is the hard man bank robber but also a fragile emotional man tortured by his emotional seperation from his daughter and... PLOT SPOILER ALERT....his being blackmailed by a corrupt cop. Only Ray W could carry that contradictary role as well as he did, and in one scene he is wearing a Dalek T Shirt - Brilliant,

  • Comment number 34.

    Personally I'd go for The Proposition at No. 1 (but then again I am an incurable Nick Cave fanatic), although I really love Sexy Beast, but more so for 'Sir' Ben Kingsley's blisteringly, terrifying foul-mouthed performance. In saying that though, if Ray Winstone wasn't so brilliantly understated then perhaps Kingsley wouldn't have been able to shine so much.

  • Comment number 35.

    You say Ray Winstone and 'Sexy Beast' is the film that stands out by a mile. I often think of Winstone as the type cast cockney gangster who no matter what period in history his character is set in, can still manage to engage with the audience and threaten his fellow characters into doing what he tells them!
    Most recently I think it was Winstone's appearance as Magwitch in the BBC's television adaptation of 'Great Expectations' that stood out for me. He seemed to be the most believable and I think that Ralph Fiennes is going to have his work cut out beating that performance in the film version coming out later this year...

  • Comment number 36.

    always a bit nervous about compiling a list like this when I: a) haven't seen The Proposition and b) for the life of me remember watching Sexy Beast ONCE not long after it came out and for some reason cannot remember a thing about it!! but here goes:
    Stunning power and raw, savage acting talent from Winstone - even from the very first scene when he manages to ORDER A ROUND OF DRINKS and still be cool.
    Not a film for the faint hearted, but in its way so absorbing by the sheer horror of it, a masterclass in acting. Apparently Ray nearly walked off the set such was the gut wrenching topic of the film and his role in it, I cannot think of another actor who a) would have done the film and b) would have then excelled in it.
    One of my favourite films, a lovely, compassionate, compelling film - note Winstone's talent in more than holding his own on screen with a colossus of acting talent such as Caine, Hoskins, Mirren, Courtenay and Hemmings
    4. SCUM
    Incredible display of quality acting from a very young Winstone in a film that garnered a life of its own almost the second they wrapped shooting
    As a previous contributor stated, this is an almost forgotten yet brilliant film.

    Does anyone also remember him in Birds Of A Feather and the best (BBC) police drama of all time BETWEEN THE LINES in the early 90s which I read he allegedly did because he had a tax bill that needed paying off quickly?

  • Comment number 37.

    I agree. I`m glad you put Sexy Beast at number one. I love it ,its just brilliant. He does fear very well indeed, and who wouldn`t be scared of Ghandi.

  • Comment number 38.

    I do have quite a soft spot for Richard Dawkins Everything, I rented the film expecting a typical Winstone Performance of loud brash but brilliant acting. However I got one of the most touching and emotional films ive seen in quite sometime.
    He truly showed he can be the 'Daddy' of acting.

  • Comment number 39.

    I'm glad Sexy Beast is top, after seeing 44 Inch Chest in there too. After seeing it I was so disappointed, as it has great dialogue, with great delivery but that's all. It's more a play than the highly anticipated spiritual successor to the great Sexy Beast.

    There was this movie I saw last year on the television that i thought he was brilliant in, called Everything. A man who sees this prostitute a lot, but only to talk. During the course of the film we are drawn in to his character as it unfolds nicely up to the superb revelation at the end of why he did it. Due to the very low budget it is unspectacular to look at, but the performances (especially Rays) is fantastic.

    As well as Sexy Beast and Everything, my other three faves are: Fanny and Elvis, The Proposal, and Nil by Mouth.

    Lets not withhold his stellar tv performances like Henry VIII, Sweeny Todd, or Vincent. But you just can't beat him as either Little John in Robin of Sherwood or the floating head in the Bet 365 ads.

  • Comment number 40.

    I've just noted other poster have mentioned Everything too, I'm glad I'm not alone that in thinking his performances in it is superb.

  • Comment number 41.

    I also have to mention Robin of Sherwood TV series from early 80s. Ray's portrayal of Will Scarlett was something fierce, considering that the show was mostly boys adventure serial. Ray's character was like real man among the boys, and even as a kid I felt that strongly. It just shows that he really has dedication.

  • Comment number 42.

    Sexy Beast without a shadow of a doubt, for me. Winstone is brilliant, but so is everyone else in the film, including all the crew and the Director. This was a utterly enthralling film from start to finish - beautifully acted, beautifully staged and photographed and expertly directed. Winstone's portrayal of Gal Dove - a man who just wants to be left alone - is pitch-perfect. And don't even get me started on Sir Ben's portrayal of the homicidal Don Logan... Sexy Beast is one of my few '10/10' movies. Every possible box is ticked.

  • Comment number 43.

    Not enough mentions for SCUM. An incredible performance and one of the best British films of all time,Winstone owns it! even his small role in QUADROPHENIA is great and a rarely seen British film called THAT SUMMER is worth a watch.
    Other than these, obviously SEXY BEAST and NIL BY MOUTH are his most memorable performances.
    THE DEPARTED???!!! don't make me laugh,awful film,average performance.

  • Comment number 44.

    Without doubt Sexy Beast. A masterpiece of a film. Just such a shame Winstone is now a parody of himself due to endless Bet365 ads.

    Bet in play, nah!

  • Comment number 45.

    I definitely agree with the last comment!

  • Comment number 46.

  • Comment number 47.

    I really can't fault your list, especially The Proposition; I love that film!

    I think Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains deserves an honourable mention (Can't believe only one person above has mentioned it; Kudos TalkingElvish)

  • Comment number 48.

    The Proposition was absolutely sensational. A very different style from Winstone. Winstone worked perfectly with Emily Watson and their performances merged brilliantly on the screen. A great cast and a great script. Looking forward to Saturday and watching you interview Ray Winstone.

  • Comment number 49.

    I am Ripper... Tearer... Slasher... Gouger. I am the Teeth in the Darkness, the Talons in the Night. Mine is Strength... and Lust... and Power! I AM BEOWULF!

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm not sure on the top 5, but I'm glads to see all the praise of The Proposition; including the good doctors. Too many times have I bigged it up to friends as an example of a great modern western, only to get "ho hummed" at.

  • Comment number 51.

    It's a good list Mark, apart from the glaring omission (or even a mention) of Love, Honour and Obey. This is an amazingly underrated film and central to that are great performances from both Ray and Kathy Burke. I've never heard you review the film so I'd love to know what you think.

  • Comment number 52.

    Dr. K, long long time follower but first time contributor. Only this emotive subject could rouse me to comment. And I am very happy to see someone else has expressed exactly the same. As a whole film "The Proposition" would be my top RW flick, but for a one-time cinematic memory the vitriolic rage in #49 will never be erased from my memory (no matter how bad some of the aspects of Beowulf were - peek-a-boo dragons? dear me).
    Mine is Strength... and Lust... and Power! I AM RAY WINSTONE!
    Poor Grendel.

  • Comment number 53.

    Ripley's Game. A film that doesn't deserve three excellent performances from John Malkovich, Dougray Scott and Ray himself.

  • Comment number 54.

    The two films that immediately came up for me were 44 Inch Chest and Sexy Beast. I was hoping you'd mention them and I'm glad they made the top 5. I think, in both of them, it is fantastic to see a man who emits such an air of power and confidence be broken down. It isn't pathetic or squeamishness, but is instead very human.

  • Comment number 55.

    Though a tv series i loved Births Deaths and Marriages.Mark Strong also great in it.The ending baffled me alittle!

  • Comment number 56.

    Good job putting Sexy Beast at No.1. Too tired to say anything else.

  • Comment number 57.

    Full marks Mark for picking Sexy Beast. Exactly right.

  • Comment number 58.

    Dr K,
    Surely Sexy Beast belongs to Sir Ben Kingsleys, the moment he comes on screen the film goes from a run of the mill mockney cockney gangster film to an all out British classic. What happened to the Ken Loach film Ladybird Ladybird where Ray gives a excellent performance which is almost a for runner to the character he plays in Nil By Mouth.

  • Comment number 59.

    The Proposition. Brilliant film. Amazing cast and strong performances by Guy Pearce, Emily Watson and Ray Winstone. I can taste and smell the dust and get heatstroke pretty much from the first frame. Amongst such a strong film Ray Winstone really leaps out at you and just shines.


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