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Mike Leigh – All His Films Ranked and Rated

Mike Leigh, film Director
Short Biography:
Mike Leigh OBE FRSL (born 20 February 1943) is an English film and theatre director, screenwriter and playwright. Leigh is known for his lengthy rehearsal and improvisation techniques with actors to build characters and narrative for his films. His purpose is to capture reality and present “emotional, subjective, intuitive, instinctive, vulnerable films.” Leigh’s most notable works include the black comedy-drama Naked (1993), for which he won the Best Director Award at Cannes,[8] the Oscar-nominated, BAFTA- and Palme d’Or-winning drama Secrets & Lies (1996), the Golden Lion-winning working-class drama Vera Drake (2004), and the Palme d’Or-nominated biopic Mr. Turner (2014). He collaborates often with Timothy Spall, Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville.

Here is a rundown of his movies, with the score based on the average from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes (public votes only) and Letterboxd, from lowest ranked to highest:

Peterloo 2018 movie backdrop
14 – Peterloo (2018)
By Mike Leigh
IMDb: 6.5 / 10
RT Users: 4.3 / 10
Letterboxd: 6.62 / 10
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5.81 /10
History  |  Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
An epic portrayal of the events surrounding the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter’s Field in Manchester turned into one of the bloodiest and most notorious episodes in British history. The massacre saw British government forces charge into a crowd of over 60,000 that had gathered to demand political reforms and protest against rising levels of poverty.
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Mr. Turner 2014 directed by Mike Leigh
13 – Mr. Turner (2014)
IMDb: 6.8 / 10
RT Users: 5.6 / 10
Letterboxd: 6.86 / 10
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6.42 /10
History  |  Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
Eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall) lives his last 25 years with gusto and secretly becomes involved with a seaside landlady, while his faithful housekeeper (Dorothy Atkinson) bears an unrequited love for him.
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Bleak Moments 1971 movie backdrop
12 – Bleak Moments (1971)
IMDb: 6.9 / 10
RT Users: 6.9 / 10
Letterboxd: 6.98 / 10
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6.93 /10
Comedy  |  Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
Eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall) lives his last 25 years with gusto and secretly becomes involved with a seaside landlady, while his faithful housekeeper (Dorothy Atkinson) bears an unrequited love for him.
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Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) movie backdrop
11 – Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)
IMDb: 7.0 / 10
RT Users: 6.7 / 10
Letterboxd: 7.50 / 10
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7.07 /10
Comedy  |  Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
Teacher Poppy Cross (Sally Hawkins) is an eternal optimist who lives with her more cynical friend Zoe (Alexis Zegerman). Deciding she wants to learn to drive, she starts taking lessons from Scott (Eddie Marsan), a tense and downbeat instructor who believes Poppy’s levity reflects a lack of seriousness. Although they clash, Poppy is not deterred from her goal. Meanwhile, she starts dating Tim, a social worker who came to her school to help a child.
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Career Girls 1997 directed by Mike Leigh
10 – Career Girls (1997)
IMDb: 7.1 / 10
RT Users: 7.8 / 10
Letterboxd: 7.22 / 10
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7.37 /10
Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
Annie (Lynda Steadman) is meeting up with her old college pal Hannah (Katrin Cartlidge) for the first time since they graduated six years ago. They bonded in school, despite their differences; now they’ve become more mature and put their old problems behind them — or so they think. Once they reunite, Annie realizes that she hasn’t fully overcome her past anxieties, while Hannah learns that she is still too insensitive to the feelings of others. Both women hope to some make changes.
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Another Year (2010) directed by Mike Leigh
9 – Another Year (2010)
IMDb: 7.3 / 10
RT Users: 7.4 / 10
Letterboxd: 7.78 / 10
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7.49 /10
Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) are an older couple who have been happily married for a long time, making them an anomaly among their friends and family members. Gerri’s friend Mary (Lesley Manville) is a single woman whose husband left her and who disguises her loneliness. Gerri tries to fix her up with another friend, Ken (Peter Wight), but is taken aback when Mary is more interested in the couple’s adult son, Joe (Oliver Maltman), a lawyer who is considerably younger than she is.
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Meantime (1983) movie backdrop
8 – Meantime (1983)
IMDb: 7.2 / 10
RT Users: 8.0 / 10
Letterboxd: 7.56 / 10
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7.59 /10
Drama  |  Comedy  |  TV Movie
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
A working-class family in London’s East End is struggling to stay afloat during the recession under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. Only the mother Mavis is working; father Frank and the couple’s two sons Colin, a timid, chronically shy individual and Mark, an outspoken, headstrong young man, are on the dole. This situation is contrasted by the presence of Mavis’s sister Barbara, and her husband John, whose financial and social loftiness appears to be a comfortable facade over the unspoken soreness of a lackluster marriage.
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Topsy-Turvy (1999) by Mike Leigh
7 – Topsy-Turvy (1999)
IMDb: 7.3 / 10
RT Users: 7.9 / 10
Letterboxd: 7.62 / 10
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7.61 /10
Comedy  |  Drama  |  Music  |  History
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
Witty and entertaining dramatisation of the story of the famous partnership between lyricist William Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan. With a wealth of authentic Victorian detail, this account of the lives of the musical duo concentrates on the good-natured antagonism between the two creative geniuses, focusing on the turning point on their road to fame and riches – the production of `The Mikado’.
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All or Nothing (2002) movie backdrop
6 – All or Nothing (2002)
IMDb: 7.5 / 10
RT Users: 8.1 / 10
Letterboxd: 7.64 / 10
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7.75 /10
Comedy  |  Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
Penny’s love for her partner, cabdriver Phil, has run dry. He is a philosophical guy, and she works on the checkout at a supermarket. Their daughter Rachel cleans in a home for elderly people, and their son Rory is unemployed and aggressive. The joy has gone out of Phil’s and Penny’s life, but when an unexpected tragedy occurs, they are brought together to rediscover their love.
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High Hopes (1989) movie backdrop
5 – High Hopes (1988)
IMDb: 7.4 / 10
RT Users: 8.5
Letterboxd: 7.68 / 10
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7.86 /10
Comedy  |  Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
Slice-of-life look at a sweet working-class couple in London, Shirley and Cyril, his mother, who’s aging quickly and becoming forgetful, mum’s ghastly upper-middle-class neighbors, and Cyril’s pretentious sister and philandering husband. Shirley wants a baby, but Cyril, who reads Marx and wants the world to be perfect, is reluctant. Cyril’s mum locks herself out and must ask her snooty neighbors for help. Then Cyril’s sister Valerie stages a surprise party for mum’s 70th birthday, a disaster from start to finish. Shirley holds things together, and she and Cyril may put aside her Dutch cap after all.
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Vera Drake (2004) by Mike Leigh
4 – Vera Drake (2004)
IMDb: 7.6 / 10
RT Users: 8.4 / 10
Letterboxd: 7.70 / 10
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7.90 /10
Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
In 1950s England, housekeeper Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) is a kindly wife and mother who offers selfless devotion and unwavering care to her family, which includes her husband (Philip Davis) and two grown children (Alex Kelly, Daniel Mays). However, unknown to her friends and family, Drake provides abortions to local women with unwanted pregnancies. When the authorities learn of her illegal activities, Drake loses the admiration of many around her — and possibly her freedom.
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Life Is Sweet (1990) directed by Mike Leigh
3 – Life Is Sweet (1990)
IMDb: 7.4 / 10
RT Users: 8.7 / 10
Letterboxd: 7.80 / 10
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7.97 /10
Comedy  |  Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
The working-class malaise of suburban London is captured in this comedic drama, which focuses on twin sisters Natalie (Claire Skinner) and Nicola (Jane Horrocks) and their parents: easygoing Andy (Jim Broadbent) and his optimistic wife, Wendy (Alison Steadman). While Natalie has a plumbing job, and tends to take after her mom with her bright outlook, Nicola is on the dole and perpetually dwells on the negative. Will the cloud over Nicola’s head ever lift?
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Naked (1993) by Mike Leigh
2 – Naked (1993)
IMDb: 7.7 / 10
RT Users: 9.1 / 10
Letterboxd: 8.10 / 10
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8.30 /10
Drama  |  Comedy
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
An unemployed Brit vents his rage on unsuspecting strangers as he embarks on a nocturnal London odyssey.
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1 – Secrets & Lies (1996)
IMDb: 8.0 / 10
RT Users: 9.1 / 10
Letterboxd: 8.30 / 10
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8.47 /10
Drama
Directed by:  Mike Leigh
Top Billed Cast:
SYNOPSIS:
After her adoptive mother dies, Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a successful black eye doctor, seeks out her birth mother. She’s shocked when her research leads her to a lower-class white woman, Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn). At first Cynthia denies the claim, but she eventually admits to birthing Hortense as a teenager, and the two begin to bond. However, when Cynthia invites Hortense to a family barbecue, Cynthia’s already tense relationship with her family becomes even more complicated.
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