Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro

Top 5: Foreign Language Films

Hero, Zhang Ziyi

Here’s a phrase that I hate hearing emerge from people’s mouths, “Ugh, I hate subtitles.  If I wanted to read, I’d have stayed home with a book.”  First off, no one who says that actually reads books, so don’t pretend.  Second, if you restrict yourself to only watching English-language films you’re missing out on some of the best films that have ever been made.  Yes, you may have to do a little work and access your brain (dusty up there, I know), but the payoff is completely worth it.  Most foreign films are poorly marketed in the States so one of the few things I actually depend on the Academy for is to identify foreign films for me to try out.  This, ironically, would not have worked for 60% of my top 5, which is why we’ll bring this thought full circle: the Academy is dumb.

Hero (2002)

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)


Intouchables (2011)

The Sea Inside (2004)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)


Honorable Mentions: Red Cliff, The Orphanage, The Secret in Their Eyes (not the remake coming out), Incendies, Ip Man, The Lives of Others and Kung Fu Hustle.

4 thoughts on “Top 5: Foreign Language Films”

  1. I love the French, but I blame them for the american aversion to foreign movies. Sit any average american down in front of Goddard’s Breathless, and that american will soon want to throttle everyone involved, right around the time the two protagonists sit in a hotel room discussing the meaning of life for 30 minutes. This is a shame, because so much brilliance has been created outside the confines of Hollywood.

    Pan’s Labyrinth was the best film of its decade, according to me. Del Toro does his best work in Spanish, and there is no excuse for anyone who professes to love his Hollywood stuff to not check it out. And no self-respecting genre enthusiast can afford to not know who Jean-Pierre Jeneut is, yet most geeks know him only as the guy who almost ruined the Alien franchise. This is sad, considering he also made cinema’s greatest black comedy about cannibalism. And Akira Kurosawa’s movies are so universally entertaining that several of them were turned into classic westerns, almost line by line. If people would only open their minds, they would discover that these movies are not so alien.

    Subtitles can be distracting. I get that. If I really love a foreign movie, my usual method is to watch it twice, or sometimes three times, then turn off the subtitles once I’m familiar with the dialogue, so I can focus more on the film overall. But man… people act like the USA is the center of the universe. A lot of worthy films are made in other places.


      1. The only one I haven’t seen is Intouchables, and now it’s on my list.

        All the other ones you listed are fantastic, though I found the Sea Inside to be very hard to watch.


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