Beyond 'Parasite': 15 Foreign-Language Films From The Last Decade

We're hoping the Korean drama won't be the last international movie to win Best Picture.

The 2020 Oscars surprised everyone on Sunday by awarding a movie that truly deserved it. Korean drama “Parasite” won Best Picture, the first time in the ceremony’s 92-year history that a foreign-language movie has ever taken home the top prize.

It can be easy to to fall into the trap of thinking of foreign films as inaccessible (but are you really not going to watch a film because it has subtitles?); more chore than entertainment. But that would mean missing out on so much incredible storytelling — some of it slower and more ambiguous than Hollywood movies, some fast-paced and action packed, some hilarious.

If you were encouraged by “Parasite’s” big win, here are 15 more foreign-language films worth checking out.

Pain and Glory

Spain, 2019

Don’t let “Parasite’s” victory convince you that it’s the only movie in the Foreign Language category worth a watch. “Pain and Glory” is the most personal movie to date by acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who rose to fame with movies like “All About My Mother” and “Talk to Her.”

This movie, about a film director meditating on his past, scored a Best Actor nomination for Antonio Banderas and has an impressive 97 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Roma

Mexico, 2018

“Roma” walked so “Parasite” could run. Not that the two movies are similar by anything but the loosest definitions — they’re both about family and how people are impacted by economic systems. But “Roma” takes a much more impressionistic look at growing up in Mexico City, with a black-and-white palate and a dreamy, meditative feel.

Shoplifters

Japan, 2018

A “family” of like-minded outsiders rely on shoplifting to get by, but their way of life soon gets tested. The movie’s director, Hirokazu Kore-eda, is a legend in Japan for his humanistic dramas.

Burning

South Korea, 2018

Like “Parasite,” “Burning” is also a Korean drama centred on the country’s wide gap between haves and have-nots. But it’s more of a mystery, with a more ambiguous narrative, and takes influences from a short story by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami and “The Great Gatsby.”

The Square

Sweden, 2017

Firm proof that foreign movies aren’t always serious and heady, “The Square” takes on the contemporary art world in a funny, absurdist, thought-provoking but entirely entertaining way.

A Fantastic Woman

Chile, 2017

“A Fantastic Woman” tells a moving story about a young trans woman dealing with the grief of her partner’s death, and the bigotry she faces while trying to mourn.

It was Chile’s entry to the Foreign Language category at the Oscars, and its impact includes spurring a conversation about the country’s treatment of trans people.

Toni Erdmann

Germany, 2016

This whimsical comedy is a bit of a German take on “Mrs. Doubtfire”: a dad who loves practical jokes tries to connect with his hard-working, no-nonsense adult daughter by pretending to be her CEO’s life coach.

Timbuktu

Mauritania, 2014

The story, set in Mali amid torn-from-the-headline cases of bigotry and violence, is often a punishing one. But it’s saved from being too dreary by strong performances and a look at the humanity behind some of the world’s cruelty.

Force Majeure

Sweden, 2014

A total 180 in tone from “Timbuktu,” “Force Majeure” is a dark comedy about a marriage that comes under scrutiny after the husband seemingly abandons his family when they’re momentarily threatened by an avalanche.

It might not sound like a funny premise, but Ruben Östlund (who also directed “The Square”) brings out the comedy inherent in marital disharmony.

The Great Beauty

Italy, 2013

A journalist in Rome looks back at the beauty and absurdity of life in this reflection on luxury.

No

Chile, 2012

In the late 1980s, the people of Chile were given a vote: did they want the reign of dictator Augusto Pinochet to continue for another eight years, or should he be ousted in favour of a democratic election? This charming drama focuses on the advertising campaign behind the “No” vote.

A Separation

Iran, 2011

The end of a marriage plays out in compelling, suspenseful, and intensely complicated ways in contemporary Iran.

Holy Motors

France, 2012

A mysterious man spends his day seemingly playing a role, like an actor — but there are no cameras. Part David Lynch, part French New Wave, part complete and utter chaos.

Dogtooth

Greece, 2009

Quick warning: this intensely strange movie features both violence and incest. If you can deal with the discomfort, though, it’s a fascinating and idiosyncratic family drama by Yorgos Lanthimos, who went on to make “The Favourite” and “The Lobster.”

The Secret In Their Eyes

Argentina, 2009

The psychological thriller, about a murder and its aftermath, spawned an American remake that was nowhere near as good. Take Oscar winner Bong Joon-ho’s advice, and watch it with subtitles.

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