Top 10 Successful Foreign Films

Script written by Craig Butler. A good film is a good film in any language. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 most successful foreign movies. For this list, we’ve chosen the most successful and amazing non-animated, movies made outside the United States that were released after 1980. We’ve based our rankings on the films’ awards and international reputation. Special thanks to our users PrivatePolski, Daan Passchier, Minkiaru, Mattyhull1, Lex Silvas, George Webster, Eoin O Donnell, misterdayofsun, Calipso Guerrero, Marie Scraeyen, Daniel Sánchez, Diego Cortes, Allison Kraus, musicboy181 and AmaanS for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Craig Butler.

Top 10 Successful Foreign Films


A good film is a good film in any language. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 most successful foreign movies.

For this list, we’ve chosen the most successful and amazing non-animated, movies made outside the United States that were released after 1980. We’ve based our rankings on the films’ awards and international reputation.

#10: “Ran” (1985)
Japan/France

Master Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa freely adapted Shakespeare’s “King Lear” into an action-packed, emotion-filled character study. Incisive and visually stunning, “Ran” is an epic that fills the screen with pageantry yet never strays far from the hearts of its characters. The film was rewarded with an Oscar for its costumes, as well as three more nominations, including one for Kurosawa’s visionary direction.

#9: “Wings of Desire” (1987)
West Germany/France

Director Wim Wenders created an exquisitely lyrical and beautiful look at the meaning and joy of humanity in this 1987 Franco-German film. Invisible angels inhabit our lives but only as observers, and Wenders delicately shows how that situation might play out for two of these heavenly servants. Remade in the U.S. as “City of Angels,” “Wings of Desire” was critically lauded and brought Wenders the Best Director award at Cannes.

#8: “Au Revoir Les Enfants” (1987)
France/West Germany

This is Louis Malle’s autobiographical remembrance of his time at school in World War II-era France. The film details the friendship that develops between a Gentile student and another who must hide the fact that he is Jewish. Tender and heartbreaking, the acclaimed film won two Oscar nominations and seven of France’s César Awards. Its moving and partly-true story also captivated audiences and critics, earning it success at the box-office.

#7: “Amélie” (2001)
France/Germany

Overflowing with charm, “Amélie” holds the record in the U.S. as the highest-grossing French language film. The whimsical romantic comedy about a shy waitress and the lengths she goes to in order to help others made a star out of Audrey Tautou. “Amélie” itself won four César Awards and was nominated for five Oscars thanks to its playful and quirky style.

#6: “The Lives of Others” (2006)
Germany

The intense invasion of privacy by the East German secret police is the subject of “The Lives of Others,” a 2006 German film that won the Best Foreign Film Oscar and set a record for the number of German Lola Award nominations it received. Hailed for being meticulously plotted and for recreating the era in perfect detail, the film is a haunting and evocative look at oppression and free will.

#5: “Cinema Paradiso” (1988)
Italy

A significant critical and commercial success, this coming-of-age tale helped re-establish Italy as a source of important filmmaking after a period of relative inactivity. Sentimental and touching yet never sappy, the film details the lovely friendship of a small-town boy and his mentor, who runs the local cinema. “Cinema Paradiso” won the Foreign Language Film Oscar and five BAFTAs. Nostalgic and realistic, it’s also a love letter to cinema.

#4: “City of God” (2002)
Brazil

Tense, taut and brutal, this Brazilian effort details the inexorable rise of organized crime in a section of Rio de Janeiro. Earning four Oscar nominations and won six Cinema Brazil Grand Prize Awards, the film centers on the ruthless and psychotic Li’ Ze, who rises to the top of the crime world. He gets his just desserts, but the film doesn’t promise hope: a rival gang will fill the void he leaves.

#3: “Life Is Beautiful” (1997)
Italy

Italy’s “La vita è bella” is both raucously funny and deeply touching, winning three Oscars – including Foreign Film and Actor – as well as eight of Italy’s David di Donatello awards. The film follows a Jewish Italian father and his family, who have been sent to a concentration camp during World War II. The father, played by director Roberto Benigni, devises elaborate schemes to protect his son from the dangers of the camp.

#2: “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)
Mexico/Spain

Guillermo del Toro’s enthralling, poetic dark fantasy, “Pan’s Labyrinth,” is set five years after the Spanish Civil War. It’s a fairy tale, partly in the real world and partly in a wild fantasyland, and monsters both human and mythical abound. Three Oscars, and several additional nominations, were the movie’s reward for its elaborate designs, while in Spain it won seven Goya Awards.

Before we award the top honors to our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Battle Royale” (2000) Japan
- “A Prophet” (2009) France/Italy
- “Hero” (2002) China/Hong Kong
- “Il Postino: The Postman” (1994) Italy/France
- “Monsoon Wedding” (2001) India/United States/Italy/France/Germany
- “Das Boot” (1981) West Germany

#1: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000)
Taiwan/Hong Kong/United States/China

The highest-grossing foreign language film in U.S. history, Ang Lee’s astonishing “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is a savvy combination of art and action. Set in 18th century China, the film is ostensibly about the search for a stolen sword called the Green Destiny; but it’s really about honor, love and destiny – as well as kick-ass fighting and flying. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was showered with well-deserved accolades, including four Academy Awards and 10 nominations.

Do you agree with our picks? What are your favorite foreign movies? For more enthralling top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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