10 Foreign Films You Need to Watch Now

By Jenn Rose Smith

image: kira noble for bird is the word

I owe most of my foreign film viewing to my boyfriend, who’s a certified cinephile. These days we’re on a steady diet of new foreign flicks thanks to Netflix and great local cinemas like The Violet Crown and Alamo Drafthouse. Why are we so hooked? Because we’ve found that films made in foreign countries are more likely to surprise us, show us something new, or treat a story in a different way than we’re used to. Even better, foreign movies often give us a peek into the culture and values of different places around the world. (And as a result, a different vantage point of ourselves.)

Scroll down for our team’s quick list of favorite foreign films:

Tell No One, 2006.

This French film is the perfect mix of beautiful cinematography and edge-of-your seat suspense. A man is accused of killing his beloved wife, and – flash forward 8 years – things get really twisted when he begins to receive messages that hint she may be still alive. — Camille

Love Me If You Dare, 2003.

What starts out as a childhood game of dares turns into a fearless competition between Guillame Canet and Marion Cotillard in this French movie. As adults, they try to fight their love for one another through high-stakes dares and dangerous stunts. Cap ou pas cap? — Carmen

I Am Love, 2009.

If Tilda Swinton is in a movie we’re automatically interested, and this Italian film by Luca Guadagnino doesn’t disappoint. The movie follows a haute bourgeoisie family through their ups and downs, all shot at their gorgeous family manor outside of Milan. — Jenn Rose

The Embrace of the Serpent, 2015.

This Columbian film follows an Amazonian shaman as he aids two scientists in search of a sacred healing plant. The movie is trance-like and beautiful, and at the same time shines an intense light on the violence and destruction of western colonization. — Jenn Rose

La Vache, 2016.

Trouble abounds when a charming Algerian farmer pursues his dreams of taking his prized cow to the International Agriculture Fair. From one hilarious blunder to the next, La Vache is a reminder that foreign films don’t have to be so serious. — Chanel

Heartbeats, 2010.

This one is a favorite Netflix discovery of mine… a Canadian (but OH-so-French film) about a surprising love triangle between three best friends. It’s funny and modern and absolutely perfect for a night in with wine and pizza. — Jenn Rose

The Handmaiden, 2016.

Okay, so this intensely gorgeous South Korean film comes with a disclaimer: NOT a family film. As in, don’t take Grandma. Or mom. Especially not Dad. In fact, you might need to go it alone to watch this sensual period piece set in 1930’s colonial era Korea. But definitely go. You’ll love the mystery, the suspense, and the unbelievable scenery. — Jenn Rose

Water, 2005.

A true work of art, this Indo-Canadian film follows a young widow in 1930’s India as she attempts to escape poverty. The result is moving, artful and unforgettable. — Chanel

Good Day, Ramon. 2015

Follow a young man as he travels from his small Mexican village to Germany in search of work to support his family. This might be the only movie I’ve ever seen that’s half in Spanish and half in German. It will change the way you think about how we communicate, and totally restore your faith in humanity. It’s heartwarming and an all-around feel good movie.  — Jenn Rose

I’m Not Scared, 2003.

This Italian film by Gabriele Salvatores is part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age tale, and totally unique. When a local boy finds something unexpected in a nearby field, his whole world is turned upside down. — Jenn Rose