Sometimes Hollywood movies can be very predictable and cliche. Sometimes even movies that won Oscar or Golden Globes are just some overrated movies with little meat and average (and again overrated) acting (like The Blind Side!). But of course, to each his own. Now, if you are tired of those formulaic and predictable Hollywood movies, refresh your mind (and soul!) with some good foreign movies listed below.
The movies listed below are foreign movies that garnered fairly high rating on both IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, getting praised by movie critics as well as movie goers. To me these are the non-English movies that are really worth watching. Fret not, these movies are free from cliche and predictable plot. Enjoy the list, guys!
1. Tomboy (2011)
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Tomboy (2011) Movie Trailer
Release date: April 20, 2011
Running time: 82 minutes
This is probably my current favorite foreign movie out there. This is a movie that deals with a controversial topic in a tender and sweet way. A topic of gender identity, sexual identity and preference, that could usually lead to debates and controversies, was done in a subtle way that this movie could also be passed off as a family movie about childhood. However one might categorize this movie, there's no denying that this is a movie that will warm you at heart.
You don't need to worry about having to finish reading the subtitle on the screen before it's gone, because this movie has very minimal dialogues. What's very effective in this movie isn't the dialogues, but the amazing acting by each of the actors, especially the female child lead, Zoé Héran, as well as Malonn Lévana who played her sister. The chemistry between these two was just magical. It reminded me of my own childhood and my own 'friendship' with my sister throughout my childhood.
If you'd like to see a light-hearted movie that don't require you to be at the edge of your seat all the time, but at the same time has a very strong message and value, then this is the movie for you.
2. Lilja 4-Ever (2002)
Lilja 4-Ever (2002) Movie Trailer
Country: Sweden, Denmark
Release date: August 23, 2002
Running time: 109 minutes
This is a Swedish movie that took place mainly in Russia, with mainly Russian language being spoken throughout the movie. This is a very sad movie that will provoke you to think about what's going on around you that you aren't quite aware of. It's the kind of movie that will shake your soul and makes you reflect on your life.
If you used to throw tantrums when you can't connect to the Internet or complain when your bag of Lays is full of air and crumbs instead of chips, this movie will probably make you think twice the next time you're about to throw tantrums or complain.
This is a story about a 16 year old Russian teenage girl who was abandoned by her own mother because life was too hard and too harsh in the former republic of the Soviet Union, where people even sell their kidney in order to continue living.
If you're ready to see the other side of the world where there's a lot more things more important than worrying if your friends would "like" your Facebook status, then watch this movie.
3. Spirited Away (2001)
Spirited Away (2001) Movie Trailer
Release date: July 20, 2001
Running time: 124 minutes
Genre: Animation, fantasy
This is probably the best animated film by Studio Ghibli yet. I first watched this when I was not even a fan of 2D animated movies, but low and behold, I was beyond impressed with this movie. From the realistic characters movement and animation, to the bizarre fantasy created in this movie, it will just blow your mind. There's not a single thing to complain about this movie.
If I were a little kid, I suspect the whole story would stuck with me till adulthood (like Alice In Wonderland and Labyrinth did). And even if I was an adult when I first watched this, the story is still fresh in my mind to this day.
The film tells a story of Chihiro, a ten year old girl who was, together with her parents, on a car ride to their new house, when her father took a shortcut into the woods and ended up going through a tunnel that led them to an abandoned theme park. From there, you'll experience what is dubbed as the greatest of film-making. The story itself was very unique and original, giving its audience a very rich experience throughout the movie.
So if you're ready for something that is very different than your usual Hollywood heart-warming/funny animated films like Shrek or Surf's Up, then watch Spirited Away.
4. The Kid With A Bike (2011)
The Kid With A Bike (2011) Movie Trailer
Country: France, Belgium, Italy
Release date: May 15, 2011
Running time: 87 minutes
The kid with a bike is one angry kid. He was sent to a foster home by his father, who promised he only needed to stay in the foster home for one month. However, after a month, his father didn't come for him and soon he realized he had been abandoned by his own father. Still determined to find his father, he tried whatever he could to track him down. This, also includes throwing a fit at the foster home. He is one angry kid, remember?
At later time, a woman who sympathized with the boy showed an act of kindness by getting the boy's bike back (his father had sold it before). She later took him in and took custody of him. But it didn't go as easy as it sounded. An angry kid, after all, is hard to tame.
This is one of those few movies with simple plot and big message. One of those few movies that you need to dig deeper to find what each scene means. If you liked Tomboy (first movie in this list) you might like this one. Minimal dialogues, simple plot. Cécile de France, who played Samantha, the woman who sympathized with the boy, did a great job in her role. I think she's the strength of the movie.
Sometimes you don't need all the witty dialogues and flashy scenes to make a good movie. And this movie proves that.
5. Amélie (2001)
Amélie (2001) Movie Trailer
Country: France, Germany
Release date: April 25, 2001
Running time: 123 minutes
Genre: Romance, Drama
Another French movie gem. Amélie, or the original French title, "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain", which means "The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain" in English, is a movie about the main character, a beautiful and shy Amélie Poulain, who found her destiny and love while discovering the world in front of her.
The world of Amélie Poulain is the kind of world that is full of beautiful colors, quiet adventures, wonderful atmosphere, much like a dream world. A dream world that uniquely belongs to her. But thanks to her, you will now have an opportunity to invade this dreamworld of hers and experience it through her eyes.
What is presented to you in this movie is one of the finest film-making work in history. If you have one of those widescreen monitors or HDTV's, watch this movie on those, you'll appreciate it more. The cinematography in this movie is just brilliantly done. You don't need to be an expert to see that.
I could probably go on and on about the movie, but this is the kind of movie that you need to see for yourself to truly appreciate it. Words can't do justice to this movie, you just need to see it yourself!
nufoundglory (author) from Asia on May 17, 2013:
OK, I'll give it a try, why not, right? ;)
jklahlou on May 15, 2013:
I thought so too when I was exploring films but I gave City of God a go just because of its feedback. One of the better films I have seen. Got 90% on Rotten Tomatoes :). Looking forward to watching the others on your list when I have the time.
nufoundglory (author) from Asia on May 14, 2013:
@jklahlou, I've heard good things people said about Oldboy and City of God. I'm intrigued to watch Oldboy, but I'm not so sure about City of God, it looks like a typical thug/drug movie, but I could be wrong.
jklahlou on May 14, 2013:
I have seen Spirited Away and Amelie, great films.
Some of my favourite 'world cinema' films are:
City of God
Also heard good things about Seven Samuri, which I intend on getting round to watching sometime soon.