12 Most Watchable Foreign Flicks

Thursday, June 10 by

It’s hard for most American moviegoers to get into reading subtitles, so here are 13 movies that make reading the subtitle cards worth it. This way the masses can enjoy a film from another part of the world and feel superior to their friends. Plus, Gael Garcia Bernal deserves more recognition from people who only speak English. 



Imagine Goodfellas in Brazil. The rapid fire editing, music, and action sequences make this almost 2 and half hour movie in the streets of Rio de Janero a sensational piece of cinema. You’ll never turn your attention toward the clock while watching it. Portuguese hasn’t been this engaging since your housekeeper got in a fight over the phone with her brother.


A raw, down and dirty exploration into the Danish underworld. This 1996 underground hit from filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn gives a fly on the wall perspective of a day in the life of drug dealer Frank (Kim Bodina, Denmark’s answer to Tom Sizemore). We are also introduced to several colorful characters like Tonny and Milo, who end up having their own Pusher storysequels in 2005.



This Swedish vampire movie is one of the most interesting explorations into growing up and never growing at all movies. For those who are sick and tired of all the Twilight hype, this a movie that will make you remember how great a vampire story can be, full of good scares and gore in the ice cold terrain of Sweden.



The ultimate road trip movie from Alfonso Cuaron. A lot of skin, sex, pot, and sun supply this Mexican drama. The road trip movie is a genre that stateside audiences always enjoy, plus the political undercurrent from the movie’ unknown narrator suggests a movie that isn’t just about skin deep interactions, but a country and a time fading away.



The movie that inspired the last 20 years of action movies. Director John Woo stages some of the most electrifying gun battles on screen. With each action sequence topping the next, you’ll never see a church or a dove fly during your next Mexican standoff the same way again.



The dystopia of the modern Italian gangster movie. From the wannabe teenage gangsters to the low wage bag men and fashion industry, we see the city of Naples, Italy torn inside out by corruption and startling acts of violence. A must see for fans of the gangster and crime genre.



A total wild and crazy ride on the streets and alleys of Seoul, Korea. The revenge movie to end all revenge movies, as a man played by Korean bad ass actor Min-sik Choi has three days to find out who has imprisoned him for over 10 years. He bites, fights, and slices his way through the Korean underground as the film delivers one of the most shocking climaxes ever put on celluloid. It will literally leave you speechless. I tongue you not.



Three interconnecting stories centered around Mexico City and the pets that each character loves. A blistering amount of energy and heart is put together by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and writer Guillermo Arriga, as they take us through the lower class and upper class lifestyles of each character and their broken dreams. (Gael Garcia Bernal’s second appearance as the down on his luck teenager Octavio.)


8 1/2

This Italian cinema classic from Federico Fellini may not have a linear story like all of the other movies on here, but the visuals and the kinetic chaos of a movie about making a movie keeps the audience glued to their seats. Fast, sexy, and fun for a black and white foreign film made in the 60s. Whatever you do, don’t watch the musical remake Nine before you watch this original. I wouldn’t recommend watching Nine after either.



Though I personally don’t care for this film, The Lives of Others has been one of the most acclaimed German movies ever made, and I’m sure I’d get b*tched at if I didn’t include it.  It’s one of the warmest movies to come out of German cinema, when ironically it’s about the Cold War and the disconnection between people. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2006 over the well-favored Pan’s Labyrinth.



France’s answer to the popular torturer porn genre. A fast and bloody movie with plenty  of gory money shots, and surprisingly very little dialogue, which lazy (illiterate) stateside audiences will appreciate. This also started the career of filmmaker Alexander Aja, who will be directing the remake Piranha 3D this summer.



Guillermo Del Toro‘s epic children fantasy war flick, combining historical events and Brothers Grimm-style. As we follow the story of a young girl Ofilia and her journey into a bizarre forest of monsters and fascist soldiers, the storytelling blend of fantasy and reality creates a world that is both frightening and beautiful. Plus the dude with eyeballs in the palms of his hands freaks me the f*ck out. How does it not constantly have an eye infection?

What other foreign films do you not mind sitting through? 

Do you like this story?

More about...


  1. June 10, 2010 8:33 am

    Benji C.

    You mention some great filmmaking names like Miike and Beat Takeshi. But in my opinon they are true cult and art house name directors.

    Have you ever seen the Pusher series or Gomorrah yet? If not , put down your Kurosawa  elitism.  

    What’s the matter of not mentioning a lot flicks before 1990? 



  2. June 10, 2010 8:33 am


    Hey, great list!
    I also think that african cinema should be given their due respect, especially the south-african movie culture.

    My favs are:
    Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema: Based on the true story of a south-african crime boss who started occupying apartment blocks in the zone of Jerusalema.

    Tsotsi: Oscar awarded flick about a young criminal who, after hijacking a car, find the owners newborn child in the back seat.

    District 9: A partly hilarious, but also gripping sci-fi movie directed by Peter Jackson (Lord Of The Rings) which takes place in Johannesburg

    Hijack Stories: The story of an aspiring actor who tries to gain experience for his role as a criminal in a tv show by tagging along his former school friend who hijack cars.

    I just hope these movies get the respect and audience they deserve!

  3. June 10, 2010 8:33 am


    good list, would’ve liked to see Amelie on there!

  4. June 10, 2010 8:33 am


    good list, would’ve liked to see Amelie on there!

  5. June 10, 2010 8:33 am


    Nueve Reinas by Argentinian director Fabien Bielinsky is a great movie about two con men in Argentina trying to swindle a stamp collector into buying counterfeit stamps. Unforgettable ending. Intelligent, but easy to follow for foreign audiences.

  6. June 10, 2010 8:33 am


    Nueve Reinas by Argentinian director Fabien Bielinsky is a great movie about two con men in Argentina trying to swindle a stamp collector into buying counterfeit stamps. Unforgettable ending. Intelligent, but easy to follow for foreign audiences.

  7. June 10, 2010 8:33 am


    not a bad list. I would also add Thirst and The Baader Meinhof Complex. those are my favorite ones to come out in recent years besides the girl with the dragon tattoo trilogy

  8. June 10, 2010 8:33 am


    An interesting and, I suspect, dead useful list for all us champions of variety and versatility and such. I was particularly proud to see ‘Let the Right One In’ up there, as it is fantastic. (As is the book, but that is another story entirely.)
    I would only hope to add the Korean action/western film ‘The Good, the Bad, the Weird’, which is one of the things I like best in the history of things I like. As the name suggest, it is indeed partly based on the classic ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, but I find it is original enough to stand on its own, and simply too good to be tossed away for that reason. Brilliant actors, brilliant filming and an absolutely luminous row of purely epic action sequences.
    On a similar note; the Swedish ‘Millennium-trilogy’ (also known as ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-series) is also very good, as are, of course, most everything from Studio Ghibli.

  9. June 10, 2010 8:33 am


    Where’s La Femme Nikita?

  10. June 10, 2010 8:33 am

    Danny M Thompson

    District 9 is in English, did you read the title of the article?

  11. June 10, 2010 8:33 am

    Gustavo H. Razera

    What a condescending piece of trash; instead of ‘best’, it’s ‘watchable’, because the sucker who write this probably thinksm ost non-American films are unwatchable.


$this_cat_breadcrumbs = get_the_category(); $this_cat_name_breadcrumbs = $this_cat_breadcrumbs[0]->name; $parent_cat_id_breadcrumbs = $this_cat_breadcrumbs[0]->category_parent;