best foreign language films i've seen

  • tier one
  • red
  • amelie
  • blue
  • a sunday in the country
  • run lola run
  • ponette
  • diary of a country priest
  • camille claudel
  • dekalog
  • city of lost children
  • tier two
  • ma vie en rose
  • crouching tiger, hidden dragon
  • talk to her
  • wings of desire
  • my mother's castle
  • my father's glory
  • raise the red lantern
  • to live
  • the apple
  • tier three
  • the princess and the warrior
  • chung king express
  • jesus of montreal
  • horseman on the roof
  • all about my mother
  • central station
  • before the rain
  • il postino
  • persona
Author Comments: 

this list is based on levels of rewatchability and lasting impression.

also, tier one is in order but the others are just grouped.

Since you like All About My Mother, you should catch Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a hysterical film by Almodovar. Also, rent Delicatessan by the same director Of City of Lost Children. Decalogue is a phenomenal addition to the list. Also, the followin are 5 classic foreign films that I love: Diabolique, Wages of Fear, M, The Bicycle Thief, and Belle Du Jour.


thanks for the suggestions. some of them have been on my mental need-to-see list for quite a while, but your recommendation will bump them up. (the main problem is that my tv's tube is maladjusted, cutting off any kind of text at the bottom of the screen--so until i get a new one or become fluent in other languages, i have to view foreign films elsewhere... sad, i know.)

I'm glad to see someone else who likes ponette. I didn't know that diary of a country priest had been made into a movie. Do you know how old it is? I'll try and track it down. Is the dekalog by a polish producer? I just recently heard about it. Is it worth seeing?

Diary of a Country Priest (or Journal d'un curé de campagne) was made in 1950--very powerful.

Also, Dekalog was directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski (who went on to create the Three Colours trilogy: Blue, White, & Red). He's my all-time favorite and *definitely* worth checking out. Dekalog was originally created for Polish television--it has 10 parts, which each correspond to one of the Ten Commandments--and it was only recently released on video in the US. Let me know what you think of it if you do check them out.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: i just got a new TV for christmas, which means i'm throwing out the old one with the maladjusted tube that prevented me from reading subtitles, weather warnings, and school closings... just wanted to forewarn you that this list *will* be expanding in the near future!

That three colors trilogy are some of the best foreign-language films I've seen as well. I love the fact that they are unified in certain ways, but really stand up on their own. A rare series that didn't feel like a film and its sequels rather than three complete films...

Johnny Waco

yes, kieslowski's death was a great loss to film; it also greatly saddened me to hear that he was planning another trilogy (on the concepts of heaven/purgatory/hell, no less) and didn't get to finish it.

have you seen his decalogue series? ten one-hour films loosely based on the ten commandments. they were completely amazing and i recommend them if you haven't caught em already. (you can rent them on video now, like 3 or 4 episodes on a tape.)

Haven't seen the Decalogue series yet, but a friend did and loved it, so I've been meaning to see it at some point. Unfortunately, although I live in a college town, which theoretically should offer me access to all manner of great foreign movies, I have yet to find that great indie video store that must be lurking about somewhere. Sigh...

Johnny Waco

i think i saw it at blockbuster, so it may be easier to find than you think--but then that would depend on the town i suppose.

not to brag, but i was fortunate enough to get them on DVD for my birthday last week--i'd loan em to ya, but i haven't even had the opportunity to watch em again! ;)

NetFlix, yeah, yeah, yeah!

I agree with all of these on your list, but it is hard for me to beleive that you've left out "Life is Beautiful" and "Das Boot" two of the very best foreign films I have ever seen. If you haven't seen them, I HIGHLY recommend that you check them out.

i don't know much about Das Boot, but Life is Beautiful has definitely been on my To See list for quite a while. i think i was worried at first that all the Oscar hype might affect my viewing, but it's been over a year so i should probably give it a shot. thanks for your recommendations!

Taryn, you might like Jesus of Montreal if you haven't seen it already...

this movie has been recommended to me many times--and by people who know me well, too. i'll definitely bump it up the To See list thanks to your recommend. thanks for bringing it back to my attention. :)

Movies that I can recommend are "Like Water for Chocolate", "Trois hommes et un couffin" (French version of 3 men and a baby--much funnier), "La Boum", and "Au Revoir les Enfants." I enjoyed "Life is Beautiful" as well.

i liked Like Water For Chocolate, but i can't say it was a favorite, and i'm pretty sure i've seen Au Revoir, but i'd have to see it again to refresh my memory... thanks for the other recommends too!

You should watch "Jules and Jim". That is one of the best foreign films I've seen in a while. Also, anything by Bermgan and Fellini that you can get your hands on is definetly worth watching.

I've never seen dekalog but im planning to check it out. you had some really phenominal movies on your list.