- The Draughtsman's Contract, his first feature (1982), an eighteenth-century tale of a young draughtsman commissioned to do a series of sketches of a country house, with interesting consequences for the household;
- A Zed and Two Noughts, (1986) a weird but fun film about twin brothers whose wives die in a mysterious accident caused by a swan, and who develop an obsession with decay, filming the decomposition of larger and larger animals.
- And: Belly of an Architect,(1987) with an excellent soundtrack by Wim Mertens and Glenn Branca,(as opposed to Greenaway's usual composer of choice Michael Nyman). Starring Brian Dennehy as a worried architect - who thinks he has stomach cancer - trying to set up an exhibition of the work of Étienne-Louis Boullée in Rome. Some amazing shots of the city. Chloe Webb (from Sid and Nancy) also stars as his slutty wife who has an affair with the son of the exhibition's curator;
- and many others, mostly short films, notably a TV production of Dante's Inferno and the 1995 film The Pillow Book with Ewan McGregor*.
Greenaway is exceptionally good at visual composition, spinning luminous images together from lighting and scenery and costume, often based on the works of painters such as Vermeer. He works with geniuses, like Sacha Vierny (extremely respected cinematographer), Jean-Paul Gaultier (who created the costumes for several of the films) and Nyman, and has cast some of the best actors in the industry. The quality of his work unsurprisingly shows through.
He was born in Wales in 1942 and originally trained as a painter, producing some fairly interesting art (a lot like R.B. Kitaj's later stuff: he's a big fan of Kitaj) before taking up film. He follows his own bizarre agenda, writing all his own movies, sometimes along disturbing lines: the films do not always have recognisably good plots, sometimes have needlessly sickening subject matter and can feel pretentious - but they always look beautiful.