London has been used as a backdrop in so many films. From romantic movies set in the pre-Victorian era like Shakespeare in Love to a more futuristic London in V for Vendetta and Star Wars: Into Darkness – there is just something about London streets that makes it a perfect setting for movies. When it comes to London in film, it seems that there are two categories that stand out and immediately come to mind when you think of films in London: romance and spy movies. I’m talking about Love Actually – a film I have watched a gazillion times. No matter how cliche it gets, I still get the feels when I see a young Keira Knightley kiss Andrew Lincoln in the middle of the street. Sure, the film isn’t quintessentially London, but is one I cannot forget in this list. Or what about My Fair Lady, featuring the high society of Edwardian London – even my mother loves the film. The rags to riches story is a theme that has proven to be timeless. One that is truly a London romantic film however, is of course Notting Hill featuring London’s Portobello Road Market. Not a personal favorite of mine, but Hugh Grant’s clumsy manor is always entertaining and kind of charming in a way. His character in Bridget Jones’s Diary is less charming, but in that film it’s really more about Colin Firth, playing a modern version of a Mr. Darcy (on that note, not a London film, but certainly one of my faves, Pride & Prejudice). Colin Firth also stars in some of my other personal favorites: the King’s Speech (can you hear Beethoven’s symphony no. 7 already?) also set in Edwardian London and Kingsman: The Secret Service, featuring a dreamy closet of British essentials (“Oxfords, not Brogues“). And with the latter, we segue into the second category of London in film: spy films. Ian Fleming’s James Bond series has undoubtedly been a great influence to British cinema. London is featured in Skyfall as well as the 1967 version of Casino Royale, with the latter making extensive use of iconic London locations (10 Downing St, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace). A different category, perhaps a less mainstream one, is films featuring the London underworld. Film classics such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Layer Cake take up that category (I have to leave out Trainspotting as it isn’t set in London). We end with another category worth mentioning, fantasy / animation. From Shaun of the Dead to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (alright, only the beginning) and Disney classics such as Peter Pan and Mary Poppins. And then of course there’s Harry Potter. It may be set in another world, but the parts that do take place in the ‘real’ London, are what makes the story so alluring and surrealistic. And come on, who hasn’t looked for platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station?