If you’re offended by the C-word, then this list is definitely not for you. In fact, you should probably stop reading now because, from the next paragraph onwards, you’re going to come across that word a lot.
‘Cunt’ is probably the only swear word that still has any power in a desensitised world. Indeed, a single use of the word over here in the UK guarantees a 15 rating from the BBFC and, in most cases, anything more than a single use rockets a film straight up to the adults-only 18 certificate. If a character says ‘cunt’ in a movie, then it’s either a moment of real aggression or a comedic moment that has to be carefully judged.
It’s easy to throw the word around and have it not mean anything, but this list is a celebration of the movies that go the extra mile when they use the C-word. Whether it’s for a comedy moment, a rough comment or a scene of sheer terror and aggression, these films know exactly how to use the power of the most venomous expletive in the English language.
11. Withnail & I (1987)
“Monty, you terrible cunt!”
The exploits of the perma-sozzled title characters in British comedy Withnail & I are punctuated with barrage of rather creative expletives. This scene sees Withnail and Marwood cowering in the same bed when they hear an intruder entering the countryside cottage home of Withnail’s uncle Monty, where the duo are taking a recuperation break. The intruder ultimately turns out to be Monty himself, leading Withnail to let fly with a particularly choice insult.
It’s a perfectly-judged insult for the theatrical persona of Withnail and Richard E Grant delivers it with a brilliant, plummy-voiced rage to create a truly memorable moment.
10. The World’s End (2013)
“Why don’t you just get in your rocket and fuck off back to Legoland, you cunts?”
Edgar Wright allows himself a smattering of C-bombs in all three of his Cornetto movies. Any of them could’ve made their way on to this list, but none are as a memorable as the above putdown delivered by Simon Pegg to the invading hordes of aliens who have replaced the residents of his hometown with robotic replicas, known as Blanks, in The World’s End. Unfortunately for the aliens, they haven’t counted on a boozed-up Pegg and his British stubbornness.
The line, and the wider speech in which it sits, exemplifies the central thesis of The World’s End in a nutshell. Human beings are messy, infuriating and in many cases downright loathsome on occasion. However, it’s our individuality that makes us human and that is what Pegg’s character is seeking to defend in the only way he knows how – by swearing an awful lot.
9. This is England (2006)
“Don’t you fucking dare back chat me because I will slay you now where you fucking stand, you fucking Paki cunt.”
Many of the entries on this list are comedic. This one, however, is very much the opposite. At the heart of Shane Meadows‘s potent 1980s-set drama This Is England is the poisonous ideology of racist thug Combo, played with terrifying plausibility by Stephen Graham. His hate campaign comes to a head when he and his new gang tear apart an Asian-run convenience store and Graham spits racist invective at the shop owner while brandishing a machete.
It’s a chilling moment in which Graham’s barnstorming performance becomes an absolute force of nature. Any semi-valid political argument Combo might have had at any stage immediately falls apart as he devolves into hatred, crime and intimidation. This is a scene that shows just how potent and terrifying the C-word can be if it’s used in the right context.
8. The Inbetweeners 2 (2014)
“Oh no, why is there always some cunt with a guitar?”
For British people in their early twenties, like me, few television shows captured our adolescence like The Inbetweeners. It got a movie in 2011 and a second big screen adaptation in 2014, which featured James Buckley delivering a beautiful example of C-word comic timing. Faced with a hostel full of pretentious, double-barrelled posh kids, Buckley says exactly what we’re all thinking when he stumbles upon a fireside jam session with a surplus of white guys with dreadlocks.
This line is textbook Inbetweeners. These characters react to ridiculous situations in exactly the same way we would, with sweary derision. As much as Jay is a caricature of the braggadocious wannabe Casanova we all know, he also communicates our feelings perfectly at a crowd of “gap yah” idiots with a guitar to play badly.
7. Snatch (2000)
“Do you know what nemesis means? A righteous infliction of retribution, manifested by an appropriate agent, personified in this case by a ‘orrible cunt… me.”
Few people can deliver a swear word like Alan Ford. In fact, his entire turn as the terrifying mobster Brick Top in Snatch is essentially a celebration of how his Cockney accent makes every cuss a work of art. He’d essentially reprise the role more than a decade later in the hilarious horror-comedy Cockneys vs. Zombies, but Brick Top remains his masterwork. In this scene, he outlines his mobster persona in very clear terms – with an added C-word for emphasis.
Ford’s delivery is absolutely perfect here and it does a great job of defining the aggression of his character. Brick Top is a man who can go from quoting dictionary-esque verbosity to delivering the bluntest swear word in the English language without even missing a beat. It’s a joy to behold.
6. Kick-Ass (2010)
“Okay, you cunts. Let’s see what you can do now.”
This is one of the more controversial entries on the list, considering that the most explicit swear word imaginable was being uttered by Chloe Grace Moretz who, at the time, was just 13 years old and playing a character who was two years younger than that. You’d have thought that those complaining about this moment in Kick-Ass would be more worried about the murderous rampage Hit-Girl embarks upon in this scene, rather than the C-bomb she drops beforehand.
Moretz is wildly entertaining in Kick-Ass and the publicity surrounding this scene was one of the things that helped the character secure major buzz, therefore launching Moretz as a huge young actor. It would be a stretch to say she owes her career to the C-word, but it certainly helped her path to stardom.
5. Bridesmaids (2011)
Little Girl: “Well you’re an old, single loser who’s never going to have any friends.”
Annie: “You’re a little cunt.”
Another very funny woman takes up the next spot on the list. Bridesmaids is one of the funniest films of recent years and is credited with helping to launch the current trend for female-led comedies. Kristen Wiig spends much of the second half of the story descending further and further into madness, culminating in this scene. Annoyed by a teenage customer asking for friendship jewellery, Wiig’s character becomes embroiled in a row that ends with her calling the poor girl a cunt, after which she is promptly sacked.
Wiig delivers the C-word with real venom and bitterness, infuriated by the friendship this young girlis still able to experience, while she feels as if her best mate has slipped away from her. In a foul-mouthed film, this is the only instance of the C-word and it really has the power to shock.
4. Blade: Trinity (2004)
Danica: “Enough! It’s not funny any more.”
Hannibal King: “No, it’s not, you horse-humping bitch, but it will be a few seconds from now. You see that tickle that you’re feeling in the back of your throat right now? That’s atomised colloidal silver. It’s being pumped through the building’s air conditioning system, you cock-juggling thundercunt.”
This one wins a spot on the list purely as a result of its bizarre creativity. Anyone who has seen Deadpool will know that Ryan Reynolds is a dab hand at creative swearing, but this outburst in Blade: Trinity turns the air bluer than the fourth wall-breaking superhero ever did. He delivers the unusual insult, which has become iconic among camp movie fans, while being brutally interrogated by vampires.
No one would argue that Blade: Trinity is a particularly great film, but it’s notorious for its C-word delivery and it’s certainly not a turn of phrase you forget once you’ve heard it. It’s not a phrase that will catch on in the general lexicon but, for one weird Ryan Reynolds moment, it’s perfect.
3. In Bruges (2008)
“Harry, let’s face it and I’m not being funny, I mean no disrespect, but you’re a cunt. You’re a cunt now and you’ve always been a cunt and the only thing that’s going to change is that you’re going to be an even bigger cunt. Maybe have some more cunt kids.”
In Bruges, marking a career highlight for both Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, is a joyously violent and sweary comedy, following two hitmen who have been exiled by their boss to the picturesque Belgian city. Soon, though, everything goes awry and Ralph Fiennes‘s psychotic crime lord is in Bruges himself, on the tail of both men. He finally tracks Gleeson down, only to receive the above verbal assassination.
Gleeson’s delivery is brilliant here and it’s a perfect depiction of his mental state at this stage of the film, completely disillusioned with his career and content to stay within the historic environs of Bruges. He lacerates Fiennes who, up until this point, has been the picture of arrogance. He is certainly taken down a peg or two.
2. In the Loop (2009)
“I’ve come across a lot of psychos, but none as fucking boring as you. You are a real boring fuck. Sorry, sorry, I know you disapprove of swearing, so I’ll sort that out. You are a boring F… star… star… cunt.”
Before he took on a far more friendly role in Doctor Who for the BBC, Peter Capaldi was the star of sweary political sitcom The Thick of It. He reprised the role of foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in 2009 big screen spin-off In the Loop. The entire film is built around Capaldi’s whirlwind of creative insults, culminating in the above retort to David Rasche’s American policy head, for whom Tucker has been forced to work.
It’s a blistering comment that is the perfect cherry on the top of a moment that sees Tucker finally get one over on the Americans, having been on the back foot for most of the film. Capaldi delivers his C-bomb with whispered fury in a way that ensures the expletive-phobic recipient of the insult definitely gets the point.
1. Trainspotting (1996)
“That lassie got glassed, and no cunt leaves here ’til we find out what cunt did it.”
There must be something about the Scots and the C-word. Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting turns the use of the C-word into a real symbol of his frankly stunning aggression. That is most clearly exemplified in the bar scene, where Carlyle’s Begbie tells his friends all about a particular “hard cunt”, who caused him problems during a game of pool. It culminates in him tossing a glass over the balcony and subsequently delivering the above line, before causing an enormous scrap.
This is the Begbie scene everyone remembers from Trainspotting most clearly and it’s the perfect depiction of everything that is snapped and broken about the character. He relishes the controversy and the carnage he causes with his every expletive-laden rant.
What are your favourite examples of the C-word in movies? Let me know in the comments section.