From your sofa to the world, we’ve found the best foreign language movies to watch right now.
While Hollywood has certainly made its fair share of some of the Best Golden Age Hollywood Classic Movies, sometimes it’s good to look elsewhere for your entertainment fix. From acclaimed classics to hidden gems, from heart-wrenching dramas to mind-bending fantasies, from thrilling action to hilarious comedy, there’s something for everyone in this list of the best foreign language movies to watch right now.
Whether you’re fluent in another tongue or happy to read subtitles, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most original, powerful and unforgettable stories ever told on screen. Here are our picks for the best foreign films of all time!
One of the Best Foreign Language Movies on Netflix Australia, Roma follows the life of an Indigenous live-in housekeeper in Mexico City and her relationship with an upper middle-class family. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, this semi-autobiographical work details his middle-class upbringing 1970s Mexico, tense with social unrest and class conflict. This black-and-white hard hitting international masterpiece takes the viewer on a deeply personal journey, letting them experience this unique time for Mexico through a perspective not often captured in film. Nominated for Best Picture at the 91st Academy Awards, this Spanish language drama is a rare gem that captures the heart and soul of a place lost to time, of a feeling indescribable yet palpable in every frame. Funded and ready to watch on Netflix; don’t miss one of the best Mexican films ever made.
Spirited Away (Japan)
One of the greatest Japanese anime films of all time, Spirited Away showcases the power and imagination of both animation and foreign films. Often titled as the ‘Walt Disney of Japan,’ director Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbour Totoro) takes the viewer on an enthralling adventure inspired by Japanese folklore and child-like wonder. A modern fairy-tale like no other, Spirited Away tells the story of 10-year-old Chihiro Ogino as she enters the land of spirits and monsters, where she must escape a magical bathhouse and rescue her parents. This thrilling plot is accompanied by richly detailed animation, making every frame a visual delight. Be swept away by Spirited Away, one of the best foreign language movies on Netflix.
For fans of romantic comedies, Amelie is a truly unmissable masterpiece. Nominated for five Academy Awards, it’s full of Parisian whimsy, with French actress Audrey Tatou taking centre stage. It tells the story of a shy and lonely waitress who, with a strong sense of justice, decides to make it her mission to help those around her, and on her way, encounters love. Plus, Amelie’s innocence and naivete call for some amusing and touching events along the way. It’s as French as they come, and as characterful and quirky as you could like it.
City of God (Brazil)
Few movie experiences are as holy as your first-time watching City of God. Released in 2002 by director Fernando Meirelles, this Brazilian film tells the story of growing organised crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio De Janeiro between the 60s and 80s. We’re talking a combination of gritty plot, gripping characters, all within a vintage 1970s aesthetic. Nominated for four Academy Awards, it’s a dark and captivating tale which will leave you reeling. One of the greatest foreign language films of all time.
Parasite (South Korea)
If you’re a movie fan, it’s unlikely that Parasite will have passed you by. When members of an unemployed family deceive a wealthier family in order to become their servants, it begins a tragicomic life of paranoia, jealousy and intimacy. Winning the Academy Award for Best Picture, Parasite blends black comedy and thriller conventions to hold a mirror to the class divide in Korean society and around the world. Artfully told and filled with the intricate details and skill, Parasite is an enchanting time for movie buffs and casual watchers alike.
The Lives of Others (Germany)
One of IMDB’s top-rated movies of all time, this German offering is set in 1984 East Berlin and tells the story of a secret police agent. As he conducts surveillance on a writer and his lover, he starts to become more and more absorbed in their lives. A gloomy but entrancing drama, it explores the tension between the severity of the communist state and the reality of being human. It’s tense, emotional and poignant, and the perfect watch for anyone who loves spy movies or human dramas. Paranoid and endlessly fascinating, The Lives of Others is an essential foreign language movie for any cinephile.
I Am Not an Easy Man (France)
As funny as it is feminist, this thought-provoking Netflix original imagines a parallel universe in which gender stereotypes are reversed. When a male chauvinist awakens in this new world, he learns to understand the everyday sexisms in the world around him, only now as the victim. The serious messaging of the film is balanced beautifully with high comic effect, as the dissonance is used to highlight the absurdity in some practices we take for granted. Although there is an underlying romance to keep the plot turning, I Am Not an Easy Man is a perfect watch for both men and women alike.
La Dolce Vita (Italy)
Translated as ‘The Sweet Life’, this Italian classic movie released in 1960 will impact the way you think about your day-to-day life more than you could ever imagine. Directed and co-written by legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini, La Dolce Vita follows the story of magazine gossip writer Marcello Rubini over seven days in Rome. A hit across the world in the 60s, La Dolce Vita explores the contrast between immorality and luxury, all with the plush and sigh-worthy indulgence of Hollywood glamour and cinema. Plus, it claims the coining of the term paparazzi, after the character Paparazzo, a magazine photographer.
The Intouchables (France)
This comedy-drama is one of the best feel-good films of all time. Based on a true story, it depicts the unlikely friendship between a paralysed multi-millionaire and his reluctant carer. On paper it might look like a story based on stereotypes, but the personability and care of this storytelling ensures the film is just as touching as it is amusing. It’s easy to imagine that the real figures who inspired the story are still friends to this day. If you’re looking for a film to gather the family around and genuinely laugh out loud, this is it!
In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong)
Set in neon-filled glare of Hong Kong, In the Mood for Love is one of the best foreign language movies of all time. This romantic drama film tells the story of two strangers, who, upon moving into the same apartment building, realise their spouses are both having extramarital affairs, building a friendship out of their unique situation. In the Mood for Love explores many universal concepts: love, betrayal, memory and loneliness. It’s frequently called on by film critics as one of the most masterful productions out there, so it’s a must-see for any movie fan. Poignant, touching and enthralling, you’ll find it the perfect companion to a glass of wine of an evening with In the Mood for Love.
For more great movie recommendations, check out our list to The 10 Best Movie Remakes Of All Time. And for those after the best movie watching experience, grab a ticket to one of Australia’s 14 Best Retro, Boutique and Most Unique Cinemas.