Matthew Macfadyen’s best TV and movie roles - from Succession to QuizMar 30 | 3 min read
The Edgar Wright Hot List: His best films and TV shows - from Spaced to Last Night in Soho
As his latest release, psychological thriller Last Night in Soho, comes to Sky Cinema with NOW, we take a look at British writer and director Edgar Wright’s best film and TV credits.
There's something unmistakable about Edgar Wright's directing style, and with his trademark fast-paced cuts and crash zooms mixed with energetic music, he's created some of the most iconic British films in recent years.
Often described as ‘genre smashing’, Wright’s films have taken familiar movie tropes and breathed new life into them by looking at them from a skewed perspective. The 'Three Flavours Cornetto' trilogy, for instance, features horror, 'buddy cop' and apocalyptic sci-fi films and putting a group of average - often sub-average, to be fair - men and women in the middle of the action gives them charm and relatability.
His latest film offerings may have bigger budgets but retain the idea of the central 'every man' - or in the case of Last Night in Soho's protagonist Eloise Turner, every girl.
Fashion student Eloise, played by Thomasin McKenzie, is so overwhelmed by the bright lights of London that she is transported in her dreams back to the Swinging Sixties, where she experiences the glamour and seediness of Soho in equal measure.
Eloise might be Wright's first female lone progatonist, but as with many of his films, the roots of the character are firmly based on his own experiences.
“Eloise herself is an amalgam of experiences," Wright told an interview with The Independent.
“I think one would be surprised at just how much comes from real life, but that hopefully makes the film resonate – injecting the personal into the fantastical.”
Even in his music documentary The Sparks Brothers, Wright takes a personal view, looking not just at the siblings behind quirky pop duo Sparks, but at how the band affected his own life and that of many others by bringing the fantasical to reality through their music.
"I've always felt like more people should know who they were or understand how influential they were," Wright explained to Collider.
"I made the movie, because as a Sparks fan, I was aggrieved on their behalf that they weren't better known."
Wright is currently working on a sequel to Baby Driver, and As Last Night in Soho streams on Sky Cinema with NOW, we take a look at his best work as a writer and director to date.
Last Night in Soho (2021)
Edgar Wright's latest film is a psychedelic psychological horror. Straying further from his comedic roots this is a more grown-up and serious Wright, but his inventive style of editing and music is still very much at the forefront.
The film centres around sensitive fashion student Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) as she heads from Cornwall to the bright lights of London. Overwhelmed by her new situation, she is transported in her dreams back to the Swinging Sixties.
Seeing the seemingly glamorous lifestyle through the eyes of nightclub singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), Eloise is at first enchanted by these visions but soon finds herself witnessing a seedier side to Soho and uncovering a tale of mystery and murder.
The film also stars Matt Smith and features cameos from real 60s icons Terence Stamp and, in her last film appearance, the late Dame Diana Rigg.
Stream Last Night in Soho on Sky Cinema with NOW from 17 June.
The Sparks Brothers (2021)
Wright’s first feature length documentary chronicles the career and influence of the absurdist art pop duo Sparks. Real-life brothers Ron and Russell Mael have been making music under the name of Sparks since the 60s but still somehow remain an enigma undiscovered by many.
In his introduction to the film, Wright asks, “How can Ron and Russell Mael be successful, underrated, hugely influential and overlooked all at the same time?”
Interviews with musicians including Beck, Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols as well as the brothers themselves make for an insightful and joyful documentary.
Watch The Sparks Brothers on Netflix.
Baby Driver (2017)
Wright’s take on the heist movie, centres on getaway driver Baby, played by Ansel Elgort.
A demon behind the wheel, Baby has to constantly listen to music to drown out his tinnitus but this allows Wright to weave a thumping soundtrack all the way through the film and synchronise the action with the beats.
After meeting the woman of his dreams, Baby tries to extricate himself from his life of crime, but as ever in the heist movie genre, this is easier said than done.
Baby Driver, which also stars Lily James, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, is one of Wright’s more serious films but still contains the edgy editing and quick cuts that he’s become famous for and makes for a thrilling ride.
Watch Baby Driver on Sky Cinema with NOW.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
Based on the comic of the same name, this was Wright’s first film not to be set in the UK. It’s a cool offbeat slacker comedy filled with typical fast edits, cartoon graphics and a rocking soundtrack.
Bassist Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) falls hopelessly in love with enigmatic Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but his world is turned upside down when he finds he must defeat an army of evil ex-boyfriends if he wants to date her.
Watch now on Prime Video.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The first film in Wright's 'Three Flavours Cornetto' trilogy - so called because a different flavour of the Wall's cone appears in each movie - is, as the title suggests, an homage to 1970s zombie flick Dawn of the Dead.
Directed by Wright and co-written with Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead was inspired by an episode of Spaced in which Tim (Simon Pegg) hallucinates that people are turning into zombies.
When the zombie apocalypse arrives in North London, heartbroken Shaun (Pegg) along with his useless best friend Ed (Nick Frost) must try to save his mum and win back his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), armed with only a few LPs, a cricket bat, a leaky pen and a hangover-curing strawberry ice cream.
Watch Shaun of the Dead on Prime Video.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
The second Cornetto film - Classico, in case you were wondering - is a very English take on the buddy cop genre with a doe of The Wicker Man thrown in.
London cop Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is brilliant at his job. In fact, he's a bit too good at it for his superiors' liking and he gets transferred to the sleepy picturesque village of Sandford.
Determined to pursue the same zero-tolerance policing strategy of his city days, he sets about tackling the rather small crimes he encounters in the village, ruffling the feathers of locals and the sleepy provincial police force in the process.
Together with his partner, bumbling PC Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), he soon uncovers a grisly conspiracy of murder in this in this action-packed buddy cop comedy inspired by films such as Bad Boys and Point Break.
Watch Hot Fuzz on Prime Video.
The World's End (2013)
The final of the Cornetto trilogy (see if you can spot the Mint wrapper at the end) is an apocalyptic sci-fi film and takes on a much darker tone compared to its action packed predecessors.
A reunion of five childhood friends, orchestrated by man-child Gary King (Simon Pegg), goes terribly wrong as the legendary pub crawl they’re attempting is thwarted by reluctant participants as well as the imminent end of the human race.
Stars Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine and Martin Freeman, with a special cameo appearance from Pierce Brosnan.
Watch The World's End on Prime Video.
Two decades since it signed off, Spaced remains a highly influential sitcom and one which launched the careers of its young stars as well as director Wright.
Written by Jessica Hynes and Simon Pegg, the slightly surreal comedy ran for just two series. Platonic friends Tim (Pegg) and Daisy (Hynes) pretend to be a couple so they can rent a flat together from eccentric landlady Marsha (Julia Deakin).
Nick Frost and Katy Carmichael played the pair's respective best friends, while Mark Heap's turn as eccentric artist and neighbour Brian Topp simply added to the absurdity.
Bizarre but hilarious situations befall the couple and their friends in each episode. The show is also packed with pop culture references to films, television shows, comic books and video games which also became a trademark of Wright and Pegg's later movie collaborations.
Watch Spaced series 1-2 on Netflix.
Edgar Wright is often mentioned as a director but he has also written, or co-written, for many of his own projects.
Before Marvel became the mammoth that it is today, Wright and Joe Cornish wrote a treatment for the lesser known Ant-Man. When the project was picked up by Marvel, Wright and Cornish worked on a screenplay but due to 'creative differences' the two left the film before its final release.
"I wanted to make a Marvel movie but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie," he explained in an interview with Variety.
Fans of Wright and Cornish may still be able to spot the original dialogue that made the final cut.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)
Another Wright writing credit shared with Joe Cornish is for The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson, the 2011 release was Wright's first foray into the Hollywood big league.
Wright and Cornish were brought on as writers when Steven Moffat left the project. However, due to scheduling difficulties, Wright also had to leave the project before completion.
Jamie Bell stars as the boy journalist with Wright's regular collaborators Nick Frost and Simon Pegg appearing as identical non-twin detectives Thomson and Thompson.
Watch The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn on the BT Player
Main image copyright: © 2020 Focus Features LLC and Perfect Universe Investment Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.