10 of The Best Foreign Language Films to Watch

Being stuck at home due to the current lockdown, you may find some extra time on your hands, you may be using that time to watch that movie you never got around to watching. If you’re a film buff there’s many foreign films that are worth watching. Sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy this list of 10 of the best foreign language films to watch. 

If you’re new to foreign language films here are some of the best foreign films out there to watch to get you started on your new obsession! There are so many brilliant foreign language films out there but this list includes my top 10 favourites. 

10 of the best foreign language films 

Best Foreign language films

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, directed by Ang Lee

This critically acclaimed film from 2000 is in Mandarin but has been subtitled to many international languages. It is a Wuxia style film which translates to “martial heroes” which is a Chinese genre of fiction. The film is based on the novel of the same name. When Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon premiered it was an international success garnering awards and positive press. It has been praised for its martial arts, cinematography and story. It’s a must watch whether you’re a fan of foreign language films or not! The film is available online and on Hulu. 

2. Mommy, directed by Xavier Dolan 

This French-Canadian film from 2014, is a coming of age drama which focuses on a widowed single mother, raising her violent son alone, who finds new hope when a mysterious neighbor inserts herself into their household. This film is perfect if you’re looking for a heavier family drama to watch. You can buy or rent this film on Amazon Prime.

3. Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho

This 2019 South Korean thriller film took home the Best Picture Academy Award in 2019. The plot follows two families, the Park family who are very wealthy and the Kim family who are not. The two families end up having a symbiotic relationship , greed and class division threatens them all.  In my opinion this is the best film I saw in 2019, definitely give it a watch if you haven’t already! This is available to watch on Amazon Prime

4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, directed by Céline Sciamma 

This is a French 2019 film. Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait. This is a romantic film with great LGBTQ+ representation. This film is available online and on Hulu. 

5. Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón

This is a Mexican drama film from 2018.  It is about a middle-class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Cleo is a domestic worker who helps Antonio and Sofía take care of their four children. Complications soon arise when Antonio suddenly runs away with his mistress and Cleo finds out that she’s pregnant. This empathetic and moving film is a little slower moving in its pacing, but it’s great for a lazy Sunday watch. It is available on Netflix. 

Best Foreign language films

6. The Handmaiden, directed by Park Chan-Wook 

This 2016 South Korean film is an erotic psychological thriller, set in 1930s Japan occupied Korea It centres on a woman hired to be a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a scheme to defraud her. This is available to watch on Netflix. 

7. House of Flying Daggers, directed by Zhang Yimou

This is a 2004, Chinese wuxia romance film. Set in the 9th century, during the reign of the Tang dynasty in China.  A secret organization called The House of Flying Daggers exists who oppose the current government. When two captains of the government army, Leo and Jin, investigate a young dancer named Mei for her ties to the Flying Daggers, things get complicated when they both fall for her charms. This has always been one of my favourite foreign language films, if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it! It is available to watch online. 

8. Pan’s Labyrinth, directed by Guillermo del Toro

This 2006 film is a Spanish-Mexican co-production. It is a dark fantasy that follows a young girl in Franco occupied Spain who moves into her step father’s house. At night, a fairy leads her to a faun who informs her that she is a princess and she needs to participate in three tasks to prove her royalty. The film blends fantasy with the dark realities of war. It is available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime.

9. City of God, directed by Fernando Meirelles

City of God, is a 2002 Brazilian crime film. The film takes place in 1970 in the slums of Rio, which separate the poor people from the rest of the city. The story follows two young men whose paths cross, one wants to be a photographer and the other a kingpin. This movie is extremely popular with some even calling it a cult classic. According to Vibe.com, ‘City of God’ Remains A Cult Classic 15 Years Later. This film is available to watch online. 

10. In the Mood for Love, directed by Wong Kar-wai

Lastly is probably the most subtle movie on this list. It is a 2000 Hong Kong romantic drama. In the Mood for Love frequently listed as one of the greatest films of all time and one of the major works of Asian cinema. The plot follows the relationship of two lonely neighbours trapped in unhappy marriages. This is a gorgeous and stylised film that you won’t regret watching. It is available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime.

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Cliona Perrick
Cliona Perrick


  1. A great selection of classic foreign language films some of which I’ve seen and the others I definitely want to see after reading this article.

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