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Top Foreign Films

Updated on October 18, 2008

The Top Foreign Films: An Introduction to Great Foreign Cinema


Like an increasing number of American movie goers, I'm falling in love with the best foreign films. Some of these movies have are relatively new foreign movies, while others are classic foreign films that have been around for decades. My list of the top five international movies has a wide variety of both, and since I have more than five personal favorites that are worthy of being on a "best of" list, I'm going to share more than just my five favorite foreign films.

Foreign films are stronger than other, and some are tied to genre. For example, there are several fantastic Asian horror films that are taking American fans of the genre by storm. Movies like "The Grudge," "The Eye," and "The Ring" are becoming very popular in American theatres, and have spawned some unfortunate "Americanized" remakes. These are great films, and Asian horror is a genre with a lot of great movies for horror fans.

Many different nations have some really incredible foreign films coming out, and my favorites cover a wide variety of genres and time periods. If you've never learned the joys of good foreign films, I highly recommend it as a fantastic habit to get into.

Babette's Feast - The Movie That Started my Love of Foreign Films

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City of God: One of the Greatest Foreign Films Ever

Top Foreign Films: Some of My Favorite Foreign Movies

My 5 Favorite Foreign Films


So now's the time to announce my list of my top five foreign films. What you will actually see is my top five along with four honorable mentions. This list has a very good variety of films, and includes some of my all time favorites. Some of these films not only rank as the best foreign films (in my opinion), but several of these are on my top twenty list of movies, period.

My Top 5 Foreign Movies:

#1 Aguirre, the Wrath of God. How do you even begin to describe this movie? Strange, surreal, and incredibly unique. This intense film is one of my personal favorite movies, and is stunning. No matter how many unusual movies you've seen, this one will bowl you over with how weird and unique this film is.

#2 Love Me if You Dare. A friend whose taste in movies I usually find questionable raved about this one. And so did another. And another. That made it easy. I watched the movie, and it is one of the very few films that I have ever given a "perfect" 10 to. This story of love, connection, dark comedy, and inability to live in a "normal" world. I believe this is a French foreign movie, and this one is a stunning roller coaster ride of a film.

#3 City of God. A terrifying and dark film based in Rio de Jinero, Brazil. If you want to get a sense of Brazilian slums and shanty towns, this is your film. This movie is a real eye opener about the state of life for many in the Third World.

#4 M. This is a 1931 film that was decades ahead of its time, and features an incredibly dark theme about a child serial killer who is absolutely self-loathing of himself. Move over Hannibal Lecter, this guy beat you by decades.

#5 Babette's Feast. This is an absolutely fantastic movie. It doesn't need action, swearing, nudity, or obvious moments of heavy action. This movie keeps moving with an interesting plot, interesting characters, and great dialogue. This is a wonderful story, and a movie you should see.

Honorable Mentions: Yojimbo, Pan's Labyrinth, Nosferatu, & Princess Mononoke.

"M" 1931 - Amazing Foreign Film

Great Modern Foreign Film - "Love Me If You Dare"

What Are Your Top Foreign Films?

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    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Good list. I've liked the best of foreign films ever since I was in the foreign films club in college in the early 1960s. On my list, among others, are anything directed by Ingmar Bergman, by Francois Truffaut, by Bill Forsyth, by Gillo Pontecorvo, by Akira Kurosawa, by Luis Buñuel, by Jean Cocteau, by Sergei Eisenstein, by Roman Polanski, or by Alain Resnais. I'm sure there are others who are not coming to mind and many more of whom I am still ignorant. Your list and Roger Ebert's list whet my appetite for great movies I have not yet experienced.

      I think the Coen brothers team, Robert Altman, Woody Allen, and Stanley Kubrick are or were world-class American directors.

      The only two films by Werner Herzog that I've seen so far, "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" and "Fitzcarraldo", are both awesome. The documentary "Burden of Dreams" about the making of "Fitzcarraldo" shows that the making of the film was as much of an adventure as is the adventure in the film.

    • profile image

      Pablo Matamoros 6 years ago

      Maybe because I am a "foreigner", I love foreign movies. :)

      I think the problem with Hollywood is that it privileges economic returns over a good story.

      Check the number of blockbusters based on comics that have been released in the last couple years. I don't have anything against them, they entertain me, but more often than not I leave the cinema with a feeling of “emptiness”. Also, sometimes you feel that you have already seen the film or you don’t remember it at all after a couple of week.

      Sure, foreign movies also are after returns, but the resources are not as abundant as in Hollywood. Therefore directors are after good stories first, as often FXs or big international starts are not an option.

      If you like foreign movies, take a look at my website: - It focuses on Spanish and Portuguese speaking movies.

      I am pretty sure you will find movies that won’t disappoint you. (By the way, City of Gods and Pan’s Labyrinth are among the movies that I reviewed )

    • profile image

      marlene 6 years ago

      I love the french movie "tell no one" Try it... you'll love this one!

    • K Kiss profile image

      K Kiss 7 years ago from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

      I have been hooked on to foreign films for the past 3 years. I, like Cris, just can't pinpoint exactly why I like them more than the regular English movies. I have gotten so used to watching them with subtitles that the 'foreign language' bit doesn't come in the way at all. Even though I don't catch the meaning of the words they speak without looking at the subtitles...I just let myself be engulfed by the uncommon utterances...

      I have only watched Love me If you dare from your top 5 list...but I am going to watch the rest of the movies that you listed.

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 7 years ago from Scotland

      I love foreign films but have to admit I haven't seen any of these.

      Thanks for the advice and a great Hub Jerry

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I must say, I share your love for foreign films -- there's just something about them I can't quite put a finger to. Anyways, among the titles you cited, I have only seen City of God, Pan's Labyrinth and Princess Mononoke (try catching the other Studio Ghibli animation Spirited Away - won an Oscar!). As for the rest - I guess I have a lot of catching up to do! Thanks for this wonderful list :D