30 Amazing International Films You Shouldn't Miss

·8 min read

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the audience for international fare has grown exponentially as the barriers that kept American audiences from embracing them have slowly faded away.

Tenor / Via tenor.com

But while films like RRR and Drive My Car make waves and series like Squid Game and Dark have become full-on sensations for Netflix, there are plenty of extraordinary foreign films from yesteryear waiting to be discovered by these audiences. With that in mind, I've put together 30 films from around the globe that are absolutely worth your time.

1.Police Story [Hong Kong]

"Police Story"

Combining groundbreaking fight sequences and hilarious slapstick comedy, Police Story is esteemed as a can't-miss entry into the canon of international action films. Plus, star Jackie Chan also sings the theme song!

Collection Christophel / Golden Way Films Ltd / Paragon Films / Alamy

2.The Worst Person in the World [Norway]

"The Worst Person in the World"

A stylish and subversive dark romantic comedy for people who can't stand the tropes of romantic comedies, The Worst Person in the World made waves with audiences around the world for a good reason.

Neon / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

3.Bad Education [Spain]

"Bad Education"

Pedro Almodóvar's spellbinding and controversial meta-drama follows a filmmaker and the transgender sibling of his ex-lover as they make a film detailing their respective troubled pasts, which ignites hidden emotions, unbearable secrets, and an imposing figure from their past with a score to settle.

Warner Sogefilms / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

4.Klown: The Movie [Denmark]

"Klown: The Movie"

A hysterical and cringey Danish comedy based on the acclaimed comedy series of the same name, Klown follows a tightly wound man on holiday, during which time he finds himself torn between heartwarming bonding time with his girlfriend's son and sexually charged misadventures with his incorrigible best friend.

Drafthouse Films via YouTube

5.Tigers Are Not Afraid [Mexico]

"Tigers Are Not Afraid"

Issa López's dark and intense horror picture utilizes magical realism to tell the tale of a group of orphans who navigate the dangerous streets of Mexico City as they run afoul of cartel members, rival orphans, and ruthless human traffickers.

Videocine via YouTube

6.Gomorrah [Italy]

"Gomorrah"

Based on the book from Roberto Saviano, this sprawling and violent epic drama is told through five stories surrounding an unforgiving crime syndicate operating out of Campania, Italy.

Prod DB / Fandango-Rai Cinema / Alamy

7.Memories of Murder [South Korea]

"Memories of Murder"

Parasite filmmaker Bong Joon-ho instantly cemented himself as a filmmaker to watch with his sophomore movie, a breathtaking mystery-thriller loosely based on Korea's first confirmed serial killings.

CJ Entertainment / RGR Collection / Alamy

8.Run Lola Run [Germany]

"Run Lola Run"

A breakthrough hit in the United States, Run Lola Run follows a young woman desperately trying to find a way to save her boyfriend after he loses $100,000 of mob money, a visually dazzling picture that hits the sweet spot between pulse-pounding action and anxiety-inducing drama.

X-Filme Creative Pool / Photo 12 / Alamy

9.City of God [Brazil]

"City of God"

This heartbreaking tale takes place in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and depicts the intertwined lives of two impoverished young men as they descend deeper and deeper into a volatile criminal underworld, one who chooses to observe from the sidelines while the other rises in notoriety.

O2 Filmes / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

10.Rashomon [Japan]

"Rashomon"

Akira Kurosawa broke international barriers with this engrossing film about the murder of a samurai, which is told from the conflicting and unreliable point of views of various witnesses.

Daiei Film / Ronald Grant Archive / Alamy

11.Beau Travail [France]

"Beau Travail"

Director Claire Denis's tragic masterpiece about pride, jealousy, and betrayal among isolated members of the French Foreign Legion is, in the simplest terms, unforgettable.

Prod DB / S.M. Films / Tanais Productions / La Sept-Arte / Pathe Television / Alamy

12.Hunt for the Wilderpeople [New Zealand]

"Hunt for the Wilderpeople"

Taika Waititi's hilarious and touching rumination on grief and individualism remains one of his strongest cinematic efforts and eventually became the highest-grossing New Zealand film ever.

Piki Films / Album / Alamy

13.A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night [Iran]

"A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night"

Described by filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour as the first "Iranian Vampire Western," A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a moody and hypnotic horror picture about an overwhelmed young man who falls for an enigmatic young woman, whose mysterious nightly appearances coincide with a string of local murders.

Say Ahh Productions / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

14.Dogtooth [Greece]

"Dogtooth"

Yorgos Lanthimos commanded the attention of critics and audiences alike with his demented yet humorous brand of filmmaking in Dogtooth, which focuses on a family in which the parents have shielded their children entirely from the outside world, creating a strange culture and vocabulary of their own.

Boo Productions / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

15.The Night Comes for Us [Indonesia]

"The Night Comes for Us"

Timo Tjahjanto's hard-hitting and riveting action film does a fantastic job of building an entire lived-in world of unique criminals while offering frenetic fight scenes that will keep you glued to the screen.

Netflix / Lifestyle Pictures / Alamy

16.Amélie [France]

"Amélie"

A genuine classic of modern French cinema, Amélie follows a whimsical yet isolated young woman in Paris as she attempts to execute complex schemes to bring happiness into the lives of others.

Claudie Ossard Productions / United Archives GmbH / Alamy

17.Viy [Russia]

"Viy"

The first Soviet-era horror film to be released in Russia, this visually spectacular adaptation of a classic ghost story about a seminary student forced to watch over the body of a witch remains as fun and freaky today as it had been 55 years ago.

Severin FIlms via YouTube

18.Benedetta [France/Netherlands]

"Benedetta"

Paul Verhoeven proved that he is as sharp and provocative as ever with this jaw-dropping true story about a 17th-century nun whose intense visions cause her to quickly rise in stature at her convent, all the while secretly engaging in a forbidden love affair.

Pathé / Lifestyle Pictures / Alamy

19.The Devil’s Backbone [Spain/Mexico]

"The Devil's Backbone"

Guillermo del Toro's haunting (literally and figuratively) gothic horror film set in an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War balances its heavy themes of innocence corrupted by wartime with legitimate scares and stark brutality.

Canal+ España / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

20.Caché (Hidden) [Austria]

"Caché (Hidden)"

A posh French couple are driven to paranoia after they're harassed by an anonymous figure dropping secretly recorded videotapes of their everyday lives in Michael Haneke's skin-crawling, slow-burn thriller.

Wega Films / Entertainment Pictures / Alamy

21.The Handmaiden [South Korea]

"The Handmaiden"

Park Chan-wook's stellar erotic thriller has the highly regarded Korean filmmaker firing on all cylinders, crafting every twist and turn with enough mystique that you'll be questioning every next salacious reveal until the credits roll.

Amazon Studios / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

22.The Lure [Poland]

"The Lure"

Agnieszka Smoczyńska's incredible musical is a one-of-a-kind film depicting a pair of mermaids who try to circumvent their monstrous impulses and the rules of their lore as they navigate their complicated newfound fame as rock 'n' roll stars.

Platige Films / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy

23.Big Bad Wolves [Israel]

"Big Bad Wolves"

Lauded by Quentin Tarantino as "the best film of the year" in 2013, a desperate detective and ex-military interrogator kidnap a suspected child abductor in an effort to find the former's missing daughter and the latter's daughter's remains in this vicious, nail-biting thriller.

Collection Christophel / United Channel Movies / United King / Alamy

24.The Hunt [Denmark]

"The Hunt"

Mads Mikkelsen is a revelation in Thomas Vinterberg's astoundingly great drama about an altruistic schoolteacher who becomes the pariah of his community after being falsely accused of an unthinkable crime.

Pretty Pictures / Collection Christophel / Alamy

25.Phoenix [Germany]

"Phoenix"

A Holocaust survivor unrecognizable after medically reconstructive facial surgery returns home to the husband who she suspects may have sold her out to the Nazis in this tense and captivating drama from filmmaker Christian Petzold.

Prod DB / C. Schulz / Schramm Film Koerner & Weber / Alamy

26.Sonatine [Japan]

"Sonatine"

"Beat" Takeshi Kitano created a wholly unique kind of Yakuza film with this sardonic and occasionally combustible tale of gangsters who survive an assassination attempt and flee to a remote beach house in order to wait out their troubles.

Shouchiku Daichii Kougyo / RGR Collection / Alamy

27.Spoorloos (The Vanishing) [The Netherlands]

"Spoorloos (a/k/a The Vanishing"

George Sluizer's unsettling story about a man's obsessive journey to find his missing girlfriend, and the true horror he discovers along the way, remains one of the most acclaimed crossover hits of its time (and holds up really well nearly 35 years later).

Argos Films / Golden Egg / Photo 12 / Alamy

28.Zero [India]

"Zero"

This big-budget Bollywood romantic comedy has to be seen to be believed, as its over-the-top comedy, beautiful musical numbers, and outrageous turn of events will have you scraping your jaw off the floor.

Red Chillies Entertainment via YouTube

29.Atlantics [France/Senegal/Belgium]

"Atlantics"

In her directorial debut, Mati Diop's stunning supernatural drama is about a young woman who learns the spirits of men forced to sea, including her ex-lover, have returned to their suburban town in Senegal to address their unfinished business in the days leading up to her wedding.

Netflix via YouTube

30.Chungking Express [Hong Kong]

"Chungking Express"

Wong Kar-wai's beloved drama about lovesick policemen in Hong Kong is often considered to be among his most exhilarating and accessible works, as he brilliantly juxtaposes the innately human love stories with his vivid trademark visuals.

ICA / Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy