When it comes to looking like a film connoisseur even if you’re not, just talk about foreign films. There are a variety of films that people have not yet discovered because it’s in a different language, which is a sad reason to not watch a good movie. It’s like what the director Bong Joon-ho said, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films”. Watching foreign films are a great way to see a story unfold in a different cultural setting and view it as someone who is not the intended audience. So, here are some foreign films that you should totally watch right now.
If you’re looking for Nepali movies worth watching then check out our article on The Best Nepali Movies That Deserve Your Attention
Animated movies and Bollywood films will not be included in this list.
1. Parasite (2019)
Original Title: Gisaengchung
We just had to start with the most popular one. Chances are you’ve heard of Parasite even if you haven’t watched it (winning Best Picture at the 2020 Academy Awards certainly didn’t hurt its chances). Directed by Bong Joon-ho, (yes, the quote above was said by him) Parasite is cinema at its finest. Although the movie is supposed to be a commentary on the socio-economic class divide, it gets its point across so seamlessly that people were left wondering who was truly the parasite at the end. No to mention the movie is shot beautifully and in a way that reveals subtle details and foreshadowing to those who are really paying attention. It’s hard to rave about this movie without giving away some spoilers so go watch it right now!
2. Amélie (2001)
Original Title: Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
Amélie is a quiet yet whimsical movie set in the magical city of Paris itself. The movie follows our protagonist as she goes on little missions in her quixotic attempts to help others and bring them joy due to her shut-in childhood. Its color palette is dreary and dreamlike, just like Amélie herself. This movie is perfect for you if you’re more invested in the characters than the plot. Despite being set in the very real streets of Paris, it feels like somewhere fantastical, and the close up shots give off a silent film type vibe. Not to mention the soundtrack is amazing and features a lot of wonderful French songs. Overall, it’s a feel-good movie to watch if you’re feeling down.
3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Original Title: Wò hǔ cáng lóng
If you’ve got somewhat of a flare for the dramatic, we have a period drama just for you. Crouching Tiger is also a reputed movie, but chances are you haven’t heard of it if you’re not a fan of action movies. If you’re tired of the trend of over the top fight scenes, just know this is one of the movies that started it; and it does it beautifully. The fight scenes are fluid and packed with so much tension that you can’t look away. The martial arts choreography is still better than in many movies made today, 20 years later. One minute you’re watching an action packed drama, and the next minute you’re watching something close to a fairytale. There is a little bit of everything, action, romance, drama and heart. In fact, this movie might even be considered a masterpiece in its genre.
4. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Original Title: El Laberinto Del Fauno
Coming from the mind of the Director Guillermo del Toro, you can probably guess what kind of a story this is (Hint: He also directed The Shape Of Water). Dark fantasy is a genre that is both easy to excel and fail at, and this movie does the former. The best way to describe this movie is that it’s like Alice in Wonderland but much darker and grotesque. A young girl enters a fantasy land while there is a war going on in the real world, and this movie does not shy away from showing the worst parts of both. Despite coming out in 2006, the special effects and character designs still surprisingly hold up. Filled with fantastical elements and brutal gore, this movie is definitely worth your time. Also just to be clear: this is not for children.
5. Stalker (1979)
Despite being the oldest entry in our list, Stalker is a classic and will definitely go down as one of the best sci-fi movies of all time. Stalker has almost a hypnotic pull, by the time you realize how engrossed you are, you’re in too deep. This movie is haunting in the sense that even while nothing of significance is happening on screen, it refuses to be boring. There are stretches of scenes where time doesn’t even feel real. Shot beautifully, the movie also looks fantastic even without considering its time of release. The color palette is soothing and the contrast is also a useful storytelling device in this movie. All we can say is that there is a good reason why this movie has a cult-like following that it does. This movie is perfect for you if you like enigmatic stories and can handle slow burns while reading between the lines.
6. Battle Royale (2000)
Original Title: Batoru Rowaiaru
Battle Royale is one of the most important movies of the 21st century. Those of you who have never heard of Battle Royale – have you heard of The Hunger Games or The Tournament? Well these are all inspired by Battle Royale. It’s not often we come across movies that start an entirely new genre; the beginning of an era as we might say. Even apart from Hollywood, this movie inspired a whole new generation of Japanese cinema and anime. While this movie is definitely not perfect, it is a fascinating beginning point for the ‘killing others to stay alive’ genre. We recommend you check it out if blood and violence is your style.
7. Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Original Title: Ich seh, Ich seh
Next up we have a good old fashioned horror movie. Even if you haven’t heard of this movie, chances are you’ve seen the iconic image of this lady with a bandaged face floating around on the internet. Goodnight Mommy tackles one of the most horrifying things to happen to a child; what if your mother, your primary caregiver, is a monster? Not to mention the main character with her bandaged face is already downright creepy to look at. This movie is genuinely unnerving as we watch two children torture someone that may or may not be their own mother. It keeps building on in intensity and actually delivers in the end. It’s best not to watch this movie if you’re squeamish or easily terrified.
8. Happy As Lazarro (2018)
Original title: Lazzaro felice
This movie is more quiet and ‘artsy’ if you will. It’s not a thriller with guns blazing, but a somber story about the exploitation of the lower class by the rich. Our protagonist Lazzaro is a simple man, he does what he is told and does not speak out of turn. He is at times frustrating to follow, but ultimately he is a representative of how workers used to be actually treated a few decades ago. This movie seems grounded in reality for the most part, but has some fantastical elements which help in adding depth to the movie. We do not recommend it for people who need to be constantly stimulated by action and dramatic dialogue, but it is a beautiful film for people who appreciate this genre.
9. Train To Busan
Original Title: Busanhaeng
A zombie movie makes its first appearance on our list! Despite being about the zombie apocalypse, this movie provides an excellent social commentary while also delivering the expected gore and thrill. This movie is extremely well written and even heartbreaking at times. Even the side characters are developed to the point where you start to feel attached to them (or despise them), let alone the development of the main character. While the action sequences remain, the characters also have to use their brains at times to navigate through the train to survive which adds just as much tension as the former. Overall, Train To Busan is a brilliant movie that provides so much nuance which you wouldn’t have expected from a zombie train movie of all things.
10. City Of God
Language: Brazilian Portuguese
Original title: Cidade de Deus
Widely regarded as one of the greatest crime dramas of all time, City Of God illustrates life in poverty perfectly. If violence and guns doesn’t bother you then this movie will grip you tight and pull you into it. It’s an assault on all senses which will leave you both disturbed and amazed once you’re done. Loosely based on real-life events. While it might be hard to watch at times, this is a movie you simply cannot look away from. It perfectly illustrates how violence only breeds violence and offers an unflinching look at the slum life in Rio de Janeiro in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Overall, this movie is well worth the watch if you’re a fan of this genre.