30 great non-English language films from the last 20 years

by vert2712 | created - 28 Sep 2010 | updated - 28 Sep 2010 | Public

In no particular order, a list of great/entertaining movies made outside of English-speaking countries. Most of these have been remade in English, or have been released internationally to some acclaim. And yes, the omission of "Life Is Beautiful" is deliberate.

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1. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

R | 118 min | Drama, Fantasy, War

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
98 Metascore

In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

Director: Guillermo del Toro | Stars: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú

Votes: 518,406 | Gross: $37.63M

2. Nine Queens (2000)

R | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
80 Metascore

Two con artists try to swindle a stamp collector by selling him a sheet of counterfeit rare stamps (the "nine queens").

Director: Fabián Bielinsky | Stars: Ricardo Darín, Gastón Pauls, Leticia Brédice, María Mercedes Villagra

Votes: 42,158 | Gross: $1.22M

Remade as "Criminal"

3. The Apartment (1996)

R | 116 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A recently engaged man sees a former lover and becomes obsessed with meeting her again.

Director: Gilles Mimouni | Stars: Romane Bohringer, Vincent Cassel, Jean-Philippe Écoffey, Monica Bellucci

Votes: 12,172

Remade as "Wicker Park"

4. Los cronocrímenes (2007)

R | 92 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
68 Metascore

A man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour. Finding himself will be the first of a series of disasters of unforeseeable consequences.

Director: Nacho Vigalondo | Stars: Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernández, Bárbara Goenaga, Nacho Vigalondo

Votes: 47,381 | Gross: $0.04M

5. Irreversible (2002)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
51 Metascore

Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass.

Director: Gaspar Noé | Stars: Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel, Jo Prestia

Votes: 96,304 | Gross: $0.75M

6. City of God (2002)

R | 130 min | Crime, Drama

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
79 Metascore

Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer.

Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund | Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Matheus Nachtergaele, Phellipe Haagensen

Votes: 586,982 | Gross: $7.56M

7. Hard Boiled (1992)

R | 128 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

7.9
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A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.

Director: John Woo | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Teresa Mo, Philip Chan

Votes: 41,017

8. Gomorrah (2008)

Not Rated | 137 min | Crime, Drama

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
87 Metascore

An inside look at Italy's modern crime families.

Director: Matteo Garrone | Stars: Gianfelice Imparato, Salvatore Abbruzzese, Toni Servillo, Simone Sacchettino

Votes: 41,004 | Gross: $1.58M

9. Pour elle (2008)

96 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.2
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With no legal means left to him, a high school teacher devises a daring plan to rescue his wrongfully imprisoned wife from jail.

Director: Fred Cavayé | Stars: Vincent Lindon, Diane Kruger, Lancelot Roch, Olivier Marchal

Votes: 7,628

Remade as "The Next Three Days"

10. Amores Perros (2000)

R | 154 min | Drama, Thriller

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
83 Metascore

A horrific car accident connects three stories, each involving characters dealing with loss, regret, and life's harsh realities, all in the name of love.

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu | Stars: Emilio Echevarría, Gael García Bernal, Goya Toledo, Álvaro Guerrero

Votes: 189,866 | Gross: $5.38M

11. Tell No One (2006)

Unrated | 131 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
82 Metascore

After eight long years since his beloved wife's hideous murder, unexpectedly, an accidental discovery of two bodies near a Doctor's estate will stir things again in a long-forgotten buried case that nothing is as it appears.

Director: Guillaume Canet | Stars: François Cluzet, Marie-Josée Croze, André Dussollier, Kristin Scott Thomas

Votes: 42,621 | Gross: $6.18M

12. Lamerica (1994)

116 min | Drama

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Two Italian racketeers come to Albania just after the fall of the communists to set up a fictive firm and pocket the grants. They need a stooge. They choose an old one in a jail : Spiro. ... See full summary »

Director: Gianni Amelio | Stars: Enrico Lo Verso, Michele Placido, Piro Milkani, Carmelo Di Mazzarelli

Votes: 1,836 | Gross: $0.44M

13. Open Your Eyes (1997)

R | 117 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A very handsome man finds the love of his life, but he suffers an accident and needs to have his face rebuilt by surgery after it is severely disfigured.

Director: Alejandro Amenábar | Stars: Eduardo Noriega, Penélope Cruz, Chete Lera, Fele Martínez

Votes: 56,442 | Gross: $0.37M

Remade as "Vanilla Sky"

14. La Haine (1995)

Not Rated | 98 min | Crime, Drama

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

24 hours in the lives of three young men in the French suburbs the day after a violent riot.

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz | Stars: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui, Abdel Ahmed Ghili

Votes: 117,150 | Gross: $0.31M

15. Delicatessen (1991)

R | 99 min | Comedy, Crime

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
66 Metascore

Post-apocalyptic surrealist black comedy about the landlord of an apartment building who occasionally prepares a delicacy for his odd tenants.

Directors: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Stars: Marie-Laure Dougnac, Dominique Pinon, Pascal Benezech, Jean-Claude Dreyfus

Votes: 70,886 | Gross: $1.79M

16. The Celebration (1998)

R | 105 min | Drama

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
82 Metascore

At Helge's 60th birthday party, some unpleasant family truths are revealed.

Director: Thomas Vinterberg | Stars: Ulrich Thomsen, Henning Moritzen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Paprika Steen

Votes: 69,885 | Gross: $1.65M

17. Karakter (1997)

R | 122 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Jacob Katadreuffe lives mute with his mother, has no contact with his father who only works against him and wants to become a lawyer, at all costs.

Director: Mike van Diem | Stars: Pavlik Jansen op de Haar, Jan Decleir, Fedja van Huêt, Betty Schuurman

Votes: 9,552 | Gross: $0.71M

18. A Very Long Engagement (2004)

R | 133 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
76 Metascore

Tells the story of a young woman's relentless search for her fiancé, who has disappeared from the trenches of the Somme during World War One.

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Stars: Audrey Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jodie Foster, Dominique Pinon

Votes: 65,690 | Gross: $6.17M

19. Run Lola Run (1998)

R | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
77 Metascore

After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.

Director: Tom Tykwer | Stars: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri

Votes: 170,606 | Gross: $7.27M

20. Let the Right One In (2008)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
82 Metascore

Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.

Director: Tomas Alfredson | Stars: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl

Votes: 185,170 | Gross: $2.12M

Remade as "Let Me In"

21. L'ultimo bacio (2001)

R | 115 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
65 Metascore

Carlo's life is thrown into a tailspin when his longtime girlfriend Giulia announces she's pregnant. As Carlo faces up to his anxieties about adulthood, his buddies Paolo, Adriano and ... See full summary »

Director: Gabriele Muccino | Stars: Stefano Accorsi, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Stefania Sandrelli, Claudio Santamaria

Votes: 7,144 | Gross: $1.05M

Remade as "The Last Kiss"

22. Dayereh (2000)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
85 Metascore

Various women struggle to function in the oppressively sexist society of contemporary Iran.

Director: Jafar Panahi | Stars: Maryiam Palvin Almani, Nargess Mamizadeh, Mojgan Faramarzi, Elham Saboktakin

Votes: 4,934 | Gross: $0.67M

23. Audition (1999)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
69 Metascore

A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all.

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura

Votes: 60,404

24. Train of Life (1998)

R | 103 min | Comedy, Drama, War

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
62 Metascore

In 1941, the inhabitants of a small Jewish village in Central Europe organize a fake deportation train so that they can escape the Nazis and flee to Palestine.

Director: Radu Mihaileanu | Stars: Lionel Abelanski, Rufus, Clément Harari, Michel Muller

Votes: 7,802 | Gross: $0.15M

25. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)

R | 129 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
80 Metascore

A retired legal counselor writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior - both of which still haunt him decades later.

Director: Juan José Campanella | Stars: Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Carla Quevedo

Votes: 152,123 | Gross: $20.17M

26. The Aura (2005)

Unrated | 134 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
78 Metascore

A deluded taxidermist plans the perfect crime.

Director: Fabián Bielinsky | Stars: Ricardo Darín, Manuel Rodal, Dolores Fonzi, Pablo Cedrón

Votes: 11,623 | Gross: $0.06M

27. I Stand Alone (1998)

Not Rated | 93 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A horse meat butcher's life and mind begins to breakdown as he lashes out against various factions of society while attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

Director: Gaspar Noé | Stars: Philippe Nahon, Blandine Lenoir, Frankie Pain, Martine Audrain

Votes: 15,714 | Gross: $0.05M

28. The Lives of Others (2006)

R | 137 min | Drama, Thriller

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
89 Metascore

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck | Stars: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur

Votes: 289,756 | Gross: $11.29M

29. Amélie (2001)

R | 122 min | Comedy, Romance

8.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
69 Metascore

Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love.

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Stars: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta

Votes: 594,146 | Gross: $33.23M

30. [Rec] (2007)

R | 78 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

7.5
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A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.

Directors: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza | Stars: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso

Votes: 142,854

Remade as "Quarantine"