The 50 Best Foreign Language Moviesby lankalion | created - 26 Jul 2014 | updated - 28 Jul 2014 | Public
When most of us hear the word “movie”, we think of Hollywood — fair, given the global domination of Hollywood-produced Spielberg and Harry Potter films, but perhaps a tad ignorant, considering India’s Bollywood produces twice Hollywood’s output every year and reaches a larger audience. As demonstrated by the quality of the films in our Streaming Cinephile piece, foreign films deserve a place in the spotlight. But while that list only featured foreign language films available for streaming on Netflix, this list features the top foreign language films,
Now, without further ado, grab some popcorn, sit back, and dim the lights. The show’s about to start.
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1. Yojimbo (1961)
Not Rated | 110 min | Action, Drama, Thriller
A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town.
Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Eijirô Tôno, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yôko Tsukasa
Yojimbo is a 1961 jidaigeki (period drama) film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of a ronin, portrayed by Toshiro Mifune, who arrives in a small town where competing crime lords vie for supremacy. The two bosses each try to hire the deadly newcomer as a bodyguard (yojimbo in Japanese).
Based on the success of Yojimbo, Kurosawa's Sanjuro (1962) was altered to feature a very similar lead character.
2. Throne of Blood (1957)
Not Rated | 110 min | Drama
A war-hardened general, egged on by his ambitious wife, works to fulfill a prophecy that he would become lord of Spider's Web Castle.
Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura
Throne of Blood (literally, "Spider Web Castle") is a 1957 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film transposes the plot of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth to feudal Japan, with stylistic elements drawn from Noh drama.
3. La strada (1954)
Not Rated | 108 min | Drama
A care-free girl is sold to a traveling entertainer, consequently enduring physical and emotional pain along the way.
Director: Federico Fellini | Stars: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart, Aldo Silvani
La Strada (The Road) is a 1954 Italian drama directed by Federico Fellini from his own screenplay co-written with Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano. The film portrays the journey of a brutish strongman (Anthony Quinn) and a naïve young woman (Giulietta Masina) whom he buys from her mother and takes with him on the road; their encounters with his old rival the Fool (Richard Basehart) cause their destruction.
Fellini has called La Strada "a complete catalogue of my entire mythological world, a dangerous representation of my identity that was undertaken with no precedent whatsoever." As a result, the film demanded more time, effort and suffering than any of his other films, before or since. The development process was long and tortuous; it was extremely difficult to secure financial backing; casting proved problematic; injuries, personnel changes and inclement weather disrupted the production schedule more than once; budget shortages constantly plagued the director and his production supervisor, forcing them to take extraordinary measures to keep going. Finally, just before shooting was completed, Fellini suffered a nervous breakdown that necessitated medical treatment in order to complete principal photography. Initial critical reaction was harsh, and the film's screening at the Venice Film Festival was the occasion of a bitter controversy that escalated into a public brawl between Fellini's supporters and detractors.
Subsequently, however, La Strada has become "one of the most influential films ever made", according to the American Film Institute. It won the inaugural Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1956. It was placed fourth in the 1992 British Film Institute directors' list of cinema's top 10 films.
4. The Rules of the Game (1939)
Not Rated | 110 min | Comedy, Drama
A bourgeois life in France at the onset of World War II, as the rich and their poor servants meet up at a French chateau.
Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parély
The Rules of the Game (original French title: La Règle du jeu) is a 1939 French film directed by Jean Renoir and starring Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parély, Marcel Dalio, Julien Carette, Roland Toutain, Gaston Modot, Pierre Magnier and Renoir. The film is a comedy of manners that depicts members of upper-class French society and their servants just before the beginning of World War II, showing their moral callousness on the eve of impending destruction.
Renoir used sophisticated cinematic techniques such as deep-focus cinematography and a constantly moving camera. The film's original budget of 2.5 million francs was increased to 5 million; it became the most expensive film made in France up to that time and additional funds had to be sought.
Renoir's career in France was at its pinnacle in 1939 and The Rules of the Game was eagerly anticipated. However, its premiere was met with anger and disapproval by film critics and the public. Renoir reduced the film's running time from 113 minutes to 85, but even then the film was a critical and financial disaster. In in October 1939, it was banned by the wartime French government for "having an undesirable influence over the young".
For many years, the 85-minute version was the only one available, but despite this its reputation slowly grew. In 1956, boxes of original material were rediscovered and a reconstructed version of the film premiered that year at the Venice Film Festival, with only a minor scene from Renoir's first cut missing. Since then, the film has often been cited as one of the greatest films in the history of cinema. Numerous film critics and directors have praised it and cited it as an inspiration for their own work.
5. Tokyo Story (1953)
Not Rated | 136 min | Drama
An old couple visit their children and grandchildren in the city, but receive little attention.
Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Chishû Ryû, Chieko Higashiyama, Sô Yamamura, Setsuko Hara
Tokyo Story (Tōkyō Monogatari?) is a 1953 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. It tells the story of an aging couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children. The film contrasts the behavior of their children, who are too busy to pay them much attention, and their widowed daughter-in-law, who treats them with kindness. It is often regarded as Ozu's masterpiece, and has appeared several times in the British Film Institute lists of the greatest films ever made.
It was inspired by the American film Make Way for Tomorrow (1937).
6. Persona (1966)
Not Rated | 83 min | Drama, Thriller
A nurse is put in charge of a mute actress and finds that their personae are melding together.
Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand
Persona is a 1966 Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman and starring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann. Persona’s story revolves around a young nurse named Alma (Bibi Andersson) and her patient, a well-known stage actress named Elisabet Vogler (Liv Ullmann), who has suddenly ceased to speak. The relationship between the two women becomes strained and the border between dream and reality becomes blurred. By the end of the film the identities of Alma and Elisabeth appear to merge.
Persona has been labelled a psychological drama and modernist horror and was subject to cuts due to the film’s controversial subject matter. It is the sixth collaboration between influential cinematographer Sven Nykvist and director Ingmar Bergman and features their trademark minimalism. As with Bergman’s other works, the film is shot and set in Sweden and deals with the themes of illness, bleakness, death and insanity.
Persona is considered one of the major works of the 20th century by essayists and critics such as Susan Sontag who referred to it as Bergman's masterpiece. Other critics have described it as "one of this century’s great works of art". In Sight and Sound’s 2012 Greatest Films Poll it comes in at 17th in the critics poll (tied with Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai") and 13th in the directors poll. Persona won the award for Best Film at the 4th Guldbagge Awards and it was Sweden's entry to the 39th Academy Award category for Best Foreign Film. It currently holds a 92% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
The film was released on 31 August 1966, while the promotional premiere took place on 18 October 1966 at the Spegeln cinema in Stockholm. The film opened in the U.S. on 6 March 1967.
7. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
R | 155 min | Drama, Romance
A filmmaker recalls his childhood when falling in love with the pictures at the cinema of his home village and forms a deep friendship with the cinema's projectionist.
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore | Stars: Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili, Isa Danieli
Votes: 268,466 | Gross: $11.99M
Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (New Paradise Cinema), internationally released as Cinema Paradiso, is a 1988 Italian drama film written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. The film stars Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, Leopoldo Trieste, Marco Leonardi, Agnese Nano and Salvatore Cascio, and was produced by Franco Cristaldi and Giovanna Romagnoli, while the music score was composed by Ennio Morricone along with his son, Andrea.
8. Kagemusha (1980)
PG | 162 min | Drama, History, War
A petty thief with an utter resemblance to a samurai warlord is hired as the lord's double. When the warlord later dies the thief is forced to take up arms in his place.
Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken'ichi Hagiwara, Jinpachi Nezu
Kagemusha ("Shadow Warrior"?) is a 1980 film by Akira Kurosawa. In Japanese, kagemusha is a term used to denote a political decoy. It is set in the Sengoku period of Japanese history and tells the story of a lower-class criminal who is taught to impersonate a dying warlord in order to dissuade opposing lords from attacking the newly vulnerable clan. The warlord whom the kagemusha impersonates is based on daimyo Takeda Shingen, and the film ends with the climactic 1575 Battle of Nagashino.
9. High and Low (1963)
Not Rated | 143 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
An executive of a Yokohama shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped by mistake and held for ransom.
Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yutaka Sada, Tatsuya Nakadai, Kyôko Kagawa
High and Low (Tengoku to Jigoku?, literally "Heaven and Hell") is a 1963 police procedural crime drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai and Kyōko Kagawa. The film is loosely based on King's Ransom (1959), by Ed McBain.
10. Nostalgia for the Light (2010)
Not Rated | 90 min | Documentary
A documentary about two different searches conducted in the Chilean Atacama Desert: one by astronomers looking for answers about the history of the cosmos, and one by women looking for the remains of loved ones killed by Pinochet's regime.
Director: Patricio Guzmán | Stars: Gaspar Galaz, Lautaro Núñez, Luís Henríquez, Miguel Lawner
Nostalgia for the Light (Spanish: Nostalgia de la Luz) is a documentary released in 2010 by Patricio Guzmán to address the lasting impacts of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Guzmán focuses on the similarities between astronomers researching humanity’s past, in an astronomical sense, and the struggle of many Chilean women who still search, after decades, for the remnants of their relatives executed during the dictatorship. Patricio Guzmán narrates the documentary himself and the documentary includes interviews and commentary from those affected and from astronomers and archeologists.
As a filmmaker Patricio Guzmán's filmography has focused mostly on the political and social issues that have plagued Chile. He explored Chile under Salvador Allende and his government (Salvador Allende, 2004), and Pinochet’s dictatorship and his human rights abuses (See Batalla de Chile [The Battle of Chile trilogy, 1975-1979], Le cas Pinochet [The Pinochet Case], 2001) and others. The latter film deals more so with the aftermath of those human rights abuses.
11. Pather Panchali (1955)
Not Rated | 125 min | Drama
Impoverished priest Harihar Ray, dreaming of a better life for himself and his family, leaves his rural Bengal village in search of work.
Director: Satyajit Ray | Stars: Kanu Bannerjee, Karuna Bannerjee, Subir Banerjee, Chunibala Devi
Votes: 35,013 | Gross: $0.54M
Pather Panchali, English: Song of the Little Road) is a 1955 Bengali drama film directed by Satyajit Ray and produced by the Government of West Bengal, India. It is based on Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay's 1929 Bengali novel of the same name and is Ray's directorial debut. It features Subir Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee, Uma Dasgupta and Chunibala Devi in major roles. The first film in the Apu trilogy, Pather Panchali depicts the childhood of the protagonist Apu (Subir Banerjee) and his elder sister Durga (Uma Dasgupta), and the harsh village life of their poor family.
Production was interrupted due to funding problems and took nearly three years. The film was shot mainly on location, had a limited budget, featured mostly amateur actors, and was made by an inexperienced crew. The sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar composed its soundtrack using classical Indian ragas. Following its premiere in 1955 during an exhibition in New York's Museum of Modern Art, Pather Panchali was released in Calcutta the same year to enthusiastic reception. A special screening was attended by the Chief Minister of West Bengal and the Prime Minister of India. Critics have praised its realism, humanity and soul-stirring quality, while others have called its slow pace a drawback, and some have condemned it for romanticising poverty. Scholars have commented on the film's lyrical quality and realism (influenced by Italian neorealism), its portrayal of the poverty and small delights of daily life, and the use of what the author Darius Cooper has termed the "epiphany of wonder", among other themes.
The tale of Apu's life is continued in the two subsequent installments of Ray's Apu trilogy: Aparajito (The Unvanquished, 1956) and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959). Pather Panchali is described as a turning point in Indian cinema, as it was among the films that pioneered the Parallel Cinema movement, which espoused authenticity and social realism. The first film from independent India to attract major international critical attention, it won India's National Film Award for Best Feature Film in 1955, the Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, and several other awards, establishing Ray as a distinguished filmmaker. It features in several lists of great films.
12. Sansho the Bailiff (1954)
Not Rated | 124 min | Drama
In medieval Japan, a compassionate governor is sent into exile. His wife and children try to join him, but are separated, and the children grow up amid suffering and oppression.
Director: Kenji Mizoguchi | Stars: Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyôko Kagawa, Eitarô Shindô
Sansho the Bailiff (Sanshō Dayū?) is a 1954 Japanese period film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Based on a short story of the same name by Mori Ōgai, it tells the story of two aristocratic children sold into slavery. It is often considered one of Mizoguchi's finest films, along with Ugetsu and The Life of Oharu. It bears his trademark interest in freedom, poverty and woman's place in society, and features beautiful images and long and complicated shots. The director of photography for this film was Mizoguchi's regular collaborator Kazuo Miyagawa.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it is known by its Japanese title Sanshō Dayū.
13. Band of Outsiders (1964)
Not Rated | 95 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
Two crooks with a fondness for old Hollywood B-movies convince a languages student to help them commit a robbery.
Director: Jean-Luc Godard | Stars: Anna Karina, Claude Brasseur, Danièle Girard, Louisa Colpeyn
Votes: 26,060 | Gross: $0.04M
Bande à part is a 1964 Nouvelle vague film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It was released as Band of Outsiders in North America; its French title derives from the phrase faire bande à part, which means "to do something apart from the group."
The film is an adaptation of the novel Fools' Gold (Doubleday Crime Club, 1958) by American author Dolores Hitchens (1907–1973).
The film belongs to the French New Wave movement. Godard described it as "Alice in Wonderland meets Franz Kafka".
14. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
PG-13 | 120 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.
Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chang Chen
Votes: 275,654 | Gross: $128.08M
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a 2000 wuxia film. An American-Chinese-Hong Kong-Taiwanese co-production, the film was directed by Ang Lee and featured an international cast of ethnic Chinese actors, including Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen. The film was based on the fourth novel in a pentalogy, known in China as the Crane Iron Pentalogy, by wuxia novelist Wang Dulu. The martial arts and action sequences were choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping.
Made on a US$17 million budget, with dialogue in Mandarin, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became a surprise international success, grossing $213.5 million. It grossed US$128 million in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing foreign-language film in American history. It has won over 40 awards. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (Taiwan) and three other Academy Awards, and was nominated for six other Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film also won four BAFTAs and two Golden Globe Awards, one for Best Foreign Film. Along with its awards success, Crouching Tiger continues to be hailed as one of the greatest and most influential foreign language films in the United States, especially coming out of China. It has been praised for its martial arts sequences, story, and cinematography.
15. Three Colors: Red (1994)
R | 99 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance
A model discovers a retired judge is keen on invading people's privacy.
Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski | Stars: Irène Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Frédérique Feder, Jean-Pierre Lorit
Votes: 106,327 | Gross: $4.04M
Three Colors: Red (French: Trois couleurs: Rouge) is a 1994 film co-written, produced, and directed by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. It is the final film of The Three Colors Trilogy, which examines the French Revolutionary ideals; it is preceded by Blue and White. Kieślowski had announced that this would be his final film, which proved true with the director's sudden death in 1996. Red is about fraternity, which it examines by showing characters whose lives gradually become closely interconnected, with bonds forming between two characters who appear to have little in common.
16. Oldboy (2003)
R | 120 min | Action, Drama, Mystery
After being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days.
Director: Park Chan-wook | Stars: Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jeong, Kim Byeong-Ok
Votes: 596,357 | Gross: $0.71M
Oldboy (RR: Oldeuboi; MR: Oldŭboi) is a 2003 South Korean mystery thriller film directed by Park Chan-wook. It is based loosely on the Japanese manga of the same name written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya. Oldboy is the second installment of The Vengeance Trilogy, preceded by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and followed by Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.
The film follows the story of one Oh Dae-su, who is locked in a hotel room for 15 years without knowing his captor's motives. When he is finally released, Dae-su finds himself still trapped in a web of conspiracy and violence. His own quest for vengeance becomes tied in with romance when he falls for an attractive sushi chef.
The film won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and high praise from the President of the Jury, director Quentin Tarantino. Critically, the film has been well received in the United States, with an 80% "Certified Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Film critic Roger Ebert claimed that Oldboy is a "powerful film not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which it strips bare". In 2008, voters on CNN named it one of the ten best Asian films ever made. A remake with the same title was released in 2013 in the United States.
17. Flame & Citron (2008)
Not Rated | 130 min | Action, Drama, History
A drama centered on two fighters in the Holger Danske World War II resistance group.
Director: Ole Christian Madsen | Stars: Thure Lindhardt, Mads Mikkelsen, Stine Stengade, Peter Mygind
Votes: 19,365 | Gross: $0.15M
Flame & Citron (Flammen & Citronen) (Danish: Flammen & Citronen) is a 2008 Danish drama/action co-written and directed by Ole Christian Madsen. The film, a fictionalized account based on fact, is about two Danish resistance movement fighters nicknamed Flame and Citron, during the Nazi occupation of Denmark in World War II. The most expensive Danish film produced to that date, it was highly successful at the box office and won numerous awards.
18. 3 Idiots (2009)
PG-13 | 170 min | Comedy, Drama
Two friends are searching for their long lost companion. They revisit their college days and recall the memories of their friend who inspired them to think differently, even as the rest of the world called them "idiots".
Director: Rajkumar Hirani | Stars: Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Mona Singh, Sharman Joshi
Votes: 410,809 | Gross: $6.53M
3 Idiots is a 2009 Indian coming-of-age comedy-drama film co-written, edited and directed by Rajkumar Hirani, with a screenplay by Abhijat Joshi, and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. It was loosely adapted from the novel Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat. The film stars Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Omi Vaidya, Parikshit Sahni and Boman Irani. 3 Idiots went on to become the highest-grossing Bollywood film.
Upon release, the film broke all opening box office records in India. It was the highest-grossing film in its opening weekend in India and had the highest opening day collections for a Bollywood film. It also held the record for highest net collections in the first week for a Bollywood film. It also became one of the few Indian films to become a major success in East Asian markets such as China, eventually bringing its overseas total to more than US$ 25 million—the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time in overseas markets, before being overtaken by Dhoom 3. It was expected to be the first Indian film to be officially released on YouTube, within 12 weeks of releasing in theatres on 25 March 2010, but finally got officially released on YouTube in May 2012. The film also went on to win many awards, winning six Filmfare Awards including best film and best director, ten Star Screen Awards and sixteen IIFA awards.
The film also uses real inventions by little-known people in India's backyards. The brains behind the innovations were Remya Jose, a student from Kerala, who created the exercise-bicycle/washing-machine; Mohammad Idris, a barber from Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh, who invented a bicycle-powered horse clipper; and Jahangir Painter, a painter from Maharashtra, who made the scooter-powered flour mill. This film was remade in Tamil as Nanban (2012) which also received critical praise and commercial success. It has also been announced that there will be a Chinese remake of the film produced by Stephen Chow and that there are plans for a Hollywood remake produced in the United States.
19. And Your Mother Too (2001)
R | 106 min | Drama
In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip and learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Maribel Verdú, Gael García Bernal, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Ana López Mercado
Votes: 125,694 | Gross: $13.62M
Y Tu Mamá También (English: And Your Mother Too) is a 2001 Mexican drama film directed by Alfonso Cuarón, and co-written by Cuarón and his brother Carlos. The film is a coming-of-age story about two teenage boys taking a road trip with a woman in her late 20s; it stars Mexican actors Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal and Spanish actress Maribel Verdú in the leading roles. The film, a road movie, is set in 1999, against the backdrop of the political and economic realities of present-day Mexico, specifically at the end of the uninterrupted 71-year line of Mexican presidents from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, and the rise of the opposition headed by Vicente Fox.
The film is known for its controversial depiction of sexuality, which caused complications in the film's rating certificate in various countries. The film was released in English-speaking markets under its original Spanish title, rather than the literal translation to English, and opened in a limited release in the United States in 2002. In Mexico, the film took in $2.2 million in its first weekend in June 2001, making it the highest box office opening in Mexican cinema history. In the United States, the film went on to gain nominations for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards, as well as a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe Awards that year.
20. The Seventh Seal (1957)
Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Fantasy
A knight returning to Sweden after the Crusades seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.
Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe
The Seventh Seal (Swedish: Det sjunde inseglet) is a 1957 Swedish drama-fantasy film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Set in Sweden during the Black Death, it tells of the journey of a medieval knight (Max von Sydow) and a game of chess he plays with the personification of Death (Bengt Ekerot), who has come to take his life. Bergman developed the film from his own play Wood Painting. The title refers to a passage from the Book of Revelation, used both at the very start of the film, and again towards the end, beginning with the words "And when the Lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour". Here the motif of silence refers to the "silence of God" which is a major theme of the film.
The film is considered a major classic of world cinema. It established Bergman as a world-renowned director and contains scenes which have become iconic through parodies and homages.
21. 8½ (1963)
Not Rated | 138 min | Drama
A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.
Director: Federico Fellini | Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, Claudia Cardinale, Sandra Milo
Votes: 121,135 | Gross: $0.05M
8½ (Italian title: Otto e mezzo) is a 1963 Italian-French comedy-drama film directed by Federico Fellini. Co-scripted by Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, and Brunello Rondi, it stars Marcello Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi, a famous Italian film director. Shot in black-and-white by cinematographer Gianni di Venanzo, the film features a soundtrack by Nino Rota with costume and set designs by Piero Gherardi.
Its title refers to Fellini's eight and a half films as a director. His previous directorial work consisted of six features, two short segments, and a collaboration with another director, Alberto Lattuada, the collaboration accounting for a "half" film.
8½ won two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design (black-and-white). Acknowledged as an avant-garde film and a highly influential classic, it was among the top 10 on BFI The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time, ranked third in a 2002 poll of film directors conducted by the British Film Institute and is also listed on the Vatican's compilation of the 45 best films made before 1995, the 100th anniversary of cinema.
22. Z (1969)
M/PG | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
The public murder of a prominent politician and doctor amid a violent demonstration is covered up by military and government officials. A tenacious magistrate is determined not to let them get away with it.
Director: Costa-Gavras | Stars: Yves Montand, Irene Papas, Jean-Louis Trintignant, François Périer
Votes: 29,975 | Gross: $0.08M
Z is a 1969 French language political thriller directed by Costa-Gavras, with a screenplay by Gavras and Jorge Semprún, based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Vassilis Vassilikos. The film presents a thinly fictionalized account of the events surrounding the assassination of democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963. With its satirical view of Greek politics, its dark sense of humor, and its downbeat ending, the film captures the outrage about the military dictatorship that ruled Greece at the time of its making.
Z stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as the investigating magistrate (an analogue of Christos Sartzetakis, who 22 years later was appointed President of Greece by democratically elected parliamentarians). International stars Yves Montand and Irene Papas also appear, but despite their star billing have very little screen time compared to the other principals. Jacques Perrin, who co-produced, plays a key role. The film's title refers to a popular Greek protest slogan (Greek: Ζει, IPA: [ˈzi]) meaning "he (Lambrakis) lives".
The film had a total of 3,952,913 admissions in France and was the 4th highest grossing film of the year. It was also the 12th highest grossing film of 1969 in the U.S. Z is also one of the few films to be nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture.
23. La Dolce Vita (1960)
Not Rated | 174 min | Comedy, Drama
A series of stories following a week in the life of a philandering tabloid journalist living in Rome.
Director: Federico Fellini | Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée, Yvonne Furneaux
Votes: 75,515 | Gross: $19.52M
La Dolce Vita (Italian for "the sweet life" or "the good life") is a 1960 comedy-drama film written and directed by the critically acclaimed director Federico Fellini. The film follows Marcello Rubini, a journalist writing for gossip magazines, over seven days and nights on his journey through the "sweet life" of Rome in a fruitless search for love and happiness. La Dolce Vita won the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and the Oscar for Best Costumes.
24. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
Not Rated | 95 min | Action, Adventure, Biography
In the 16th century, the ruthless and insane Don Lope de Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado.
Director: Werner Herzog | Stars: Klaus Kinski, Ruy Guerra, Helena Rojo, Del Negro
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (German: Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes), known in the UK as Aguirre, Wrath of God, is a 1972 West German New Wave adventure art film written and directed by Werner Herzog. Klaus Kinski stars in the title role. The soundtrack was composed and performed by German progressive/Krautrock band Popol Vuh. The story follows the travels of Spanish soldier Lope de Aguirre, who leads a group of conquistadores down the Orinoco and Amazon River in South America in search of the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. Using a minimalist story and dialogue, the film creates a vision of madness and folly, counterpointed by the lush but unforgiving Amazonian jungle. Although based loosely on what is known of the historical figure of Aguirre, the film's story line is, as Herzog acknowledged years after the film's release, a work of imagination. Some of the people and situations may have been inspired by Gaspar de Carvajal's account of an earlier Amazonian expedition, although Carvajal was not on the historical voyage represented in the film. Other accounts state that the expedition went into the jungles but never returned to civilization.
Aguirre was the first of five collaborations between Herzog and the volatile Kinski. The director and the actor had differing views as to how the role should be played, and they clashed throughout the film's production, while Kinski's tantrums terrorized both the crew and the local natives who assisted the production. The production was shot entirely on location, and was fraught with difficulties. Filming took place in the Peruvian rainforest on the Amazon River during an arduous five-week period, shooting on tributaries of the Ucayali region. The cast and crew climbed mountains, cut through heavy vines to open routes to the various jungle locations, and rode treacherous river rapids on rafts built by natives.
Aguirre opened to widespread critical acclaim, and quickly developed a large international cult film following. It was given an extensive arthouse theatrical release in the United States in 1977, and remains one of the director's best known films. Several critics have declared the film a masterpiece, and it has appeared on Time magazine's list of "All Time 100 Best Films". Aguirre’s visual style and narrative elements had a strong influence on Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film Apocalypse Now.
25. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
PG-13 | 80 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
When her grandson is kidnapped during the Tour de France, Madame Souza and her beloved pooch Bruno team up with the Belleville Sisters--an aged song-and-dance team from the days of Fred Astaire--to rescue him.
Director: Sylvain Chomet | Stars: Michèle Caucheteux, Jean-Claude Donda, Michel Robin, Monica Viegas
Votes: 55,722 | Gross: $7.00M
The Triplets of Belleville (French: Les Triplettes de Belleville) is a 2003 animated comedy film written and directed by Sylvain Chomet. It was released as Belleville Rendez-vous in the United Kingdom. The film is Chomet's first feature film and was an international co-production among companies in France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Canada.
The film features the voices of Michèle Caucheteux, Jean-Claude Donda, Michel Robin, and Monica Viegas; there is little dialogue, the majority of the film story being told through song and pantomime. It tells the story of Madame Souza, an elderly woman who goes on a quest to rescue her grandson Champion, a Tour de France cyclist, who has been kidnapped by the French mafia for gambling purposes and taken to the city of Belleville. She is joined by the Triplets of Belleville, music hall singers from the 1930s, whom she meets in the city, and her obese hound, Bruno.
The film was highly praised by audiences and critics for its unique style of animation. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards — Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for "Belleville Rendez-vous". It was also screened out of competition (hors concours) at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.
26. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
Not Rated | 121 min | Drama, War
In the 1950s, fear and violence escalate as the people of Algiers fight for independence from the French government.
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo | Stars: Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Samia Kerbash
Votes: 62,421 | Gross: $0.06M
The Battle of Algiers is a 1966 war film based on occurrences during the Algerian War (1954–62) against the French government in North Africa, the most prominent being the titular Battle of Algiers. An Italo-Algerian production, it was directed by Gillo Pontecorvo and shot on location. The film, which was shot in a Rosselini-inspired newsreel style - in black and white with documentary-type editing - is often associated with Italian neorealism cinema.
The film has been critically celebrated and often taken, by insurgent groups and states alike, as an important commentary on urban guerilla warfare. It occupies the 48th place on the Critics' Top 250 Films of the 2012 Sight & Sound poll as well as 120th place on Empire magazine's list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.
Algeria gained independence from the French, a matter which Pontecorvo portrays in the film's epilogue. The film concentrates on the years between 1954 and 1957 when the guerrilla fighters regrouped and expanded into the Casbah, which was met by French paratroopers attempting to regain territory. The highly dramatic film is about the organization of a guerrilla movement and the methods used by the colonial power to contain it.
A subject of socio-political controversy, the film wasn't screened for five years in France, where it was later released in 1971.
27. In the Mood for Love (2000)
PG | 98 min | Drama, Romance
Two neighbors form a strong bond after both suspect extramarital activities of their spouses. However, they agree to keep their bond platonic so as not to commit similar wrongs.
Director: Kar-Wai Wong | Stars: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Maggie Cheung, Siu Ping-Lam, Tung Cho 'Joe' Cheung
Votes: 156,811 | Gross: $2.73M
In the Mood for Love is a 2000 Hong Kong film directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. The film premiered on 20 May 2000, at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Palme d'Or.
The film's original Chinese title, meaning "the age of blossoms" or "the flowery years" – Chinese metaphor for the fleeting time of youth, beauty and love – derives from a song of the same name by Zhou Xuan from a 1946 film. The English title derives from the song, "I'm in the Mood for Love". Wong had planned to name the film Secrets, until listening to the song late in post-production. The film forms the second part of an informal trilogy, together with the first part Days of Being Wild (released in 1991) and the last part 2046 (released in 2004).
28. Au hasard Balthazar (1966)
Not Rated | 95 min | Drama
The story of a mistreated donkey and the people around him. A study on saintliness and a sister piece to Bresson's Mouchette.
Director: Robert Bresson | Stars: Anne Wiazemsky, Walter Green, François Lafarge, Jean-Claude Guilbert
Votes: 21,576 | Gross: $0.04M
Au hasard Balthazar meaning "Balthazar, At Random"), also known as Balthazar, is a 1966 French film directed by Robert Bresson, starring Anne Wiazemsky.
29. Rashomon (1950)
Not Rated | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
The rape of a bride and the murder of her samurai husband are recalled from the perspectives of a bandit, the bride, the samurai's ghost and a woodcutter.
Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura
Votes: 172,723 | Gross: $0.10M
Rashomon (羅生門 Rashōmon?) is a 1950 Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa, working in close collaboration with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa. It stars Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyō and Takashi Shimura. The film is based on two stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa: "Rashomon", which provides the setting, and "In a Grove", which provides the characters and plot.
The film is known for a plot device which involves various characters providing alternative, self-serving and contradictory versions of the same incident. The name of the film refers to the enormous city gate of Kyoto.
The film was released in the United States on December 26, 1951 by RKO Radio Pictures in both subtitled and English dubbed.
Although the film was released to only a small number of cinemas internationally, Rashomon introduced Kurosawa and the Japanese film to Western audiences. It is considered a masterpiece and has won numerous awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and an Academy Honorary Award at the 24th Academy Awards.
30. Life Is Beautiful (1997)
PG-13 | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
When an open-minded Jewish waiter and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.
Director: Roberto Benigni | Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano
Votes: 711,103 | Gross: $57.60M
Life Is Beautiful (Italian: La vita è bella) is a 1997 Italian tragicomedy comedy-drama film directed by and starring Roberto Benigni. Benigni plays Guido Orefice, a Jewish Italian book shop owner, who must employ his fertile imagination to shield his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp. Part of the film came from Benigni's own family history; before Roberto's birth, his father had survived three years of internment at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The film was a critical and financial success, winning Benigni the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 71st Academy Awards as well as the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
31. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Not Rated | 89 min | Drama
In post-war Italy, a working-class man's bicycle is stolen, endangering his efforts to find work. He and his son set out to find it.
Director: Vittorio De Sica | Stars: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Elena Altieri
Votes: 167,554 | Gross: $0.33M
Bicycle Thieves (Italian: Ladri di biciclette), also known as The Bicycle Thief, is director Vittorio De Sica's 1948 story of a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family.
Adapted for the screen by Cesare Zavattini from a novel by Luigi Bartolini, and starring Lamberto Maggiorani as the desperate father and Enzo Staiola as his plucky young son, Bicycle Thieves is one of the masterpieces of Italian neorealism. It received an Academy Honorary Award in 1950 and, just four years after its release, was deemed the greatest film of all time by Sight & Sound magazine's poll of filmmakers and critics; fifty years later the same poll ranked it sixth among greatest-ever films. It is also one of the top ten among the British Film Institute's list of films you should see by the age of 14.
32. Ikiru (1952)
Not Rated | 143 min | Drama
A bureaucrat tries to find meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.
Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Shin'ichi Himori, Haruo Tanaka
Votes: 81,812 | Gross: $0.06M
Ikiru "To Live" is a 1952 Japanese film directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa. The film examines the struggles of a minor Tokyo bureaucrat and his final quest for meaning. The script was partly inspired by Leo Tolstoy's 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich, although the plots are not similar beyond the common theme of a bureaucrat struggling with a terminal illness. It stars Takashi Shimura as Kanji Watanabe.
33. The 400 Blows (1959)
Not Rated | 99 min | Crime, Drama
A young boy, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.
Director: François Truffaut | Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier, Guy Decomble
The 400 Blows (French: Les quatre cents coups) is a 1959 French drama film, the debut by director François Truffaut; it stars Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, and Claire Maurier. One of the defining films of the French New Wave, it displays many of the characteristic traits of the movement. Written by Truffaut and Marcel Moussy, the film is about Antoine Doinel, a misunderstood adolescent in Paris who is thought by his parents and teachers to be a troublemaker. Filmed on location in Paris and Honfleur, It is the first of several films in which Léaud played a character standing for the filmmaker.
The 400 Blows received numerous awards and nominations, including the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Director, the OCIC Award, and a Palme d'Or nomination in 1959. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing in 1960. The 400 Blows had a total of 3,642,981 admissions in France, making it Truffaut's most successful film in his home country.
34. La haine (1995)
Not Rated | 98 min | Crime, Drama
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: 181,439 | Gross: $0.31M
La Haine (Hate) is a 1995 French black-and-white drama/suspense film written, co-edited, and directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. It is commonly released under its French title in the English-speaking world, although its U.S. VHS release was entitled Hate. It is about three young friends and their struggle to live in the banlieues of Paris. The title derives from a line spoken by one of them, Hubert: "La haine attire la haine !", "hatred breeds hatred."
35. M (1931)
Passed | 99 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.
Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut, Otto Wernicke
Votes: 161,679 | Gross: $0.03M
M is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. It was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was Lang's first sound film. He had directed more than a dozen films previously.
The film has become a classic which Lang himself considered his finest work.
36. The Red Balloon (1956)
Not Rated | 34 min | Short, Comedy, Drama
A red balloon with a mind of its own follows a little boy around the streets of Paris.
Director: Albert Lamorisse | Stars: Pascal Lamorisse, Sabine Lamorisse, Georges Sellier, Vladimir Popov
The Red Balloon (French: Le Ballon rouge) is a 1956 fantasy featurette directed by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse.
The thirty-four minute short, which follows the adventures of a young boy who one day finds a sentient, mute, red balloon, was filmed in the Ménilmontant neighborhood of Paris.
It won numerous awards, including an Oscar for Lamorisse for writing the best original screenplay in 1956 and the Palme d'Or for short films at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. The film also became popular with children and educators. This is the only short film to win the Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay).
Lamorisse used his children as actors in the film. His son, Pascal Lamorisse, plays Pascal in the main role, and his daughter Sabine portrays a little girl.
37. Viridiana (1961)
Not Rated | 91 min | Drama
Viridiana, a young nun about to take her final vows, pays a visit to her widowed uncle at the request of her Mother Superior.
Director: Luis Buñuel | Stars: Silvia Pinal, Francisco Rabal, Fernando Rey, José Calvo
Viridiana (pronounced: [βiɾiðiˈana]) is a 1961 Spanish-Mexican motion picture, directed by Luis Buñuel and produced by Mexican Gustavo Alatriste. It is loosely based on Halma, a novel by Benito Pérez Galdós.
Viridiana was the winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival.
38. The Lives of Others (2006)
R | 137 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
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: 396,654 | Gross: $11.29M
The Lives of Others (German: Das Leben der Anderen) is a 2006 German drama film, marking the feature film debut of filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, about the monitoring of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi, the GDR's secret police. It stars Ulrich Mühe as Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler, Ulrich Tukur as his superior Anton Grubitz, Sebastian Koch as the playwright Georg Dreyman, and Martina Gedeck as Dreyman's lover, a prominent actress named Christa-Maria Sieland.
The film was released in Germany on 23 March 2006. At the same time, the screenplay was published by Suhrkamp Verlag. The Lives of Others won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film had earlier won seven Deutscher Filmpreis awards—including those for best film, best director, best screenplay, best actor, and best supporting actor—after setting a new record with 11 nominations. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 64th Golden Globe Awards. The Lives of Others cost US$2 million and grossed more than US$77 million worldwide as of November 2007.
Released 17 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall marking the end of the East German socialist state, it was the first noticeable drama film about the subject after a series of comedies such as Goodbye, Lenin! and Sonnenallee. This approach was widely applauded in Germany even as some criticized the humanization of Wiesler's character. Many former East Germans were stunned by the factual accuracy of the film's set and atmosphere, accurately portraying a state which had merged with West Germany and subsequently vanished 16 years prior to the release.
39. The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)
R | 129 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance
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: 214,139 | Gross: $6.39M
The Secret in Their Eyes (Spanish: El secreto de sus ojos) is a 2009 Argentine crime thriller film directed, produced and edited by Juan José Campanella and written by Eduardo Sacheri and Campanella, based on Sacheri's novel La pregunta de sus ojos (The Question in Their Eyes). The film, a joint production of Argentine and Spanish companies, stars Ricardo Darín and Soledad Villamil.
The story unearths the buried romance between a retired judiciary employee and a judge who worked together a quarter century ago. They recount their efforts on a still-unsolved 1974 rape and murder that manages to cast a spell — not only on them, but on the victim's husband and the killer. The double setting frames the period of Argentina's Dirty War (1976–1983), a violent time when criminality often went unpunished.
In 2009, it was the recipient of awards in both Hollywood and Spain. The picture won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards, and, with 1985's The Official Story, made Argentina the first country in Latin America to win it twice. Three weeks before, it had received the Spanish equivalent with the Goya Award for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film. As of 2010, it is only surpassed at the Argentine box office by Leonardo Favio's 1975 classic Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf (Nazareno Cruz y el lobo).
40. Memories of Murder (2003)
Not Rated | 132 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
In a small Korean province in 1986, two detectives struggle with the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown culprit.
Director: Bong Joon Ho | Stars: Song Kang-ho, Kim Sang-kyung, Roe-ha Kim, Jae-ho Song
Votes: 195,811 | Gross: $0.01M
Memories of Murder (Sarinui chueok) is a 2003 South Korean crime-drama film directed by Bong Joon-ho. It is based on the true story of the country's first known serial murders, which took place between 1986 and 1991 in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. Song Kang-ho and Kim Sang-kyung star as Detective Park and Detective Seo, respectively, two of the detectives trying to solve the crimes.
The film was the second feature film directed by Bong Joon-ho, following his 2000 debut film Barking Dogs Never Bite. The screenplay was adapted by Bong and Shim Sung-bo from Kim Kwang-rim's 1996 stage play about the same subject. The film's cinematography, as well as Song Kang-ho's performance, earned it wide praise.
41. Good Bye Lenin! (2003)
R | 121 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
In 1990, to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma, a young man must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared.
Director: Wolfgang Becker | Stars: Daniel Brühl, Katrin Sass, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas
Votes: 149,246 | Gross: $4.06M
Good Bye, Lenin! is a 2003 German tragicomedy film. Directed by Wolfgang Becker, the cast includes Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, and Maria Simon. Most scenes were shot at the Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin and around Plattenbauten near Alexanderplatz.
42. Run Lola Run (1998)
R | 80 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
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: 202,345 | Gross: $7.27M
Run Lola Run (German: Lola rennt, literally "Lola Runs") is a 1998 German sci-fi action thriller , written and directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Franka Potente as Lola and Moritz Bleibtreu as Manni. The story follows a woman who needs to obtain 100,000 Deutsche Mark in twenty minutes to save her boyfriend's life. The film's three scenarios are reminiscent of the 1981 Krzysztof Kieślowski film Blind Chance; following Kieślowski's death, Tykwer directed his planned film Heaven.
43. The Conformist (1970)
R | 113 min | Drama