Sometimes subtitles do not matter if the content of the movie or show is remarkably good, which we have observed with the likes of shows such as Netflix’s Lupin, which is in the French Language– or then in everyone’s favourite Spanish show Money Heist. However, while TV shows in foreign languages tend to reach big audiences through popular streaming platforms – such as Netflix – films often get heavily ignored.
This is why I would like to present to you 6 foreign language movies that broke major ground in the English-speaking parts of the world! And this doesn’t just apply to the English-speaking world, but anywhere these mentioned languages are not widely spoken, such as Pakistan.
Parasite (2019) – in Korean
A film that captures the major disparity of wealth and poverty in South Korea, Parasite has been heavily praised for its harrowing portrayal of low-income groups in the slums of Seoul. Having won the award for Best Motion Picture, it is without a doubt the top choice in this list as well.
Roma (2018) – in Spanish
Netflix's transformational Roma (2019's Best Picture nominee and Foreign Language Film winner) follows the life of a live-in housekeeper of an upper-middle-class family during the early '70s. Alfonso Cuarón's film does not just boast impressive cinematography but also a pinnacle overview of complex Latin history.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) – in French
This powerful and raw drama captures the relationship between an aristocratic relationship and her commissioned painter-ess in 18th Century France. A vital piece of LGBTQ+ relationships at more morally dictated times has earned this film a place among other groundbreaking works on human sexuality.
Life is Beautiful (1977) – in Italian
A three time Oscar winner, this film follows the lives of a Jewish family living in Italy during the highly volatile 1930’s. Entertaining and extremely creative, this Italian Best Foreign Language Film fully transforms its heavy, sensitive subject into a lighter, captivating, and somewhat comical storyline.
The Handmaiden (2016) – In Korean
Another masterfully created Korean film, The Handmaiden addresses the role and characteristics of East Asian women in their astonishingly patriarchal society. Set in the period of Japanese occupation of Korea, the film also relies heavily on the knowledge of geo-political tensions of this time, creating a phenomenal foreign language period piece.
Amélie (2001) – In French
Amélie, a young woman in Paris navigates her place in life through this engaging and aesthetically riveting comedy. The film serves as a support for the idea that it is important to take a look at the world with a positive lens while focusing on the element of touching the lives of those around you.