30 Best Anti-Capitalist Movies to Watch

30 Best Anti-Capitalist Movies to Watch

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The anti-capitalist movement has been swelling in recent years, especially as more workers realize their worth in an economy that continually denies it to them. The sentiment is so strong now that it’s manifested itself in mainstream media—a phenomenon that arguably reached its peak with the knockout win of Parasite in the 2020 Academy Awards. 

There’s been an outpouring of sharp class-conscious content since then, and we’ve gathered the greatest of them in this list. Some are bleak, some are funny, but all are rousing in their social commentaries. Read on to see the best anti-capitalist movies you can watch right now online. 

20. Vagabond (1985)

7.9

Country

France

Director

Agnès Varda, Female director

Actors

Agnès Varda, Macha Méril, Sandrine Bonnaire, Stéphane Freiss

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Depressing

Even before Agnès Varda pivoted to documentary filmmaking, she was a pioneer of French cinema. Her film Sans toit ni loi (Vagabond) is one of her most harrowing dramas. 

Varda’s sensibilities as a burgeoning documentarian are apparent as the film opens on the corpse of a woman lying dead in a snow-covered ditch. Through flashbacks, we trace the titular vagabond’s steps to uncover how she ended up alone and dead. The camera follows its subject from a safe distance, as if tracking a wild animal. Alongside the woman, we hitchhike across the French countryside, encountering hostile men, treacherous winter weather, and occasional glimpses of hope, connection, and familiarity. Vagabond succeeds at portraying a complicated woman—Varda understood that women, above all else, are people, with dark interiors, difficult choices, and uncertain impulses. 

19. Snowpiercer (2014)

7.9

Country

Czech Republic, Korea, South Korea

Director

Bong Joon-ho

Actors

Adnan Haskovic, Alison Pill, Chris Evans, Clark Middleton

Moods

Action-packed, Depressing, Dramatic

Snowpiercer is an under-the-rader post-apocalyptic thriller that offers the grittiness that many times only Asian cinema may achieve. South Korean director Joon-ho Bong forces audiences to forget that Chris Evans was ever a Marvel superhero, as he leads a revolt of his fellow “low-class” citizens against the self-appointed gentry in a train that contains all remaining members of the planet. With immersive environments and a layered script, this film melds together social commentary and moral discourse in a visually arresting and vastly entertaining package.

18. Okja (2017)

best

8.0

Country

Korea, South Korea, United States of America

Director

Bong Joon-ho, Joon-ho Bong

Actors

Ahn Seo-hyun, Ahn Seong-bong, Amber Snow, An Seo Hyun

Moods

Action-packed, Sunday, Thought-provoking

Director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) does something quite amazing with the $50 million budget Netflix gave him: he makes a simplistic movie. But man, is it good. Okja tells the story of a “super pig” experiment that sends genetically modified pigs to top farmers around the world. In Korea, a farmer’s granddaughter forms a special relationship with one of these super pigs (Okja). When the company who originally ran the experiment want their pig back (performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton) – the two find an ally in an animal advocacy group led by Jay (Paul Dano). This is a straightforward movie, but nevertheless it is entertaining and full of thought-provoking themes and performances from an excellent cast.

17. Wendy and Lucy (2008)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Female director, Kelly Reichardt

Actors

Ayanna Berkshire, David Koppell, Deirdre OConnell, Gabe Nevins

Moods

A-list actors, Challenging, Depressing

Wendy (Michelle Williams) is a drifter driving up to Alaska in hopes of finding work. When her car breaks down, she and her dog Lucy are stranded and forced to scrounge for food and repairs, hitting one roadblock after another on her path to an uncertain dream. This sympathetic and solemn look at poverty from director Kelly Reichardt serves as a reminder of how easy it is to fall through the fragile American safety net.   

Reichardt’s uncompromising approach paired with Williams’s restrained performance makes the experience authentic and intense, recalling the work of Ken Loach. This natural sharpness makes for an engrossing watch that builds in power until the emotional release of the film’s heartbreaking conclusion. 

16. If Beale Street Could Talk (2019)

best

8.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Barry Jenkins

Actors

Aunjanue Ellis, Brian Tyree Henry, Colman Domingo, Dave Franco

Moods

Slice-of-Life, Slow

Barry Jenkins’ follow up to his award-winning film Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk is a highly compelling tale that explores the extent of the emotional consequences of racial injustices through the lens of a young couple torn apart by the judicial system. Staying faithful to James Baldwin’s original novel while adopting Jenkins’ signature melancholic style, it fails to reach the brilliance of Moonlight, but still stands strong enough on its own and successfully tugs on your heartstrings.

15. Mustang (2015)

best

8.1

Country

France, Germany, Qatar

Director

Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Female director

Actors

Ayberk Pekcan, Bahar Kerimoğlu, Bahar Kerimoğlu, Burak Yiğit

Moods

Depressing, Emotional, Thought-provoking

Five orphaned sisters are put under house arrest by their uncle and grandmother after they are seen horsing around with local boys from school. While their actions were purely innocent, their behavior is viewed as scandalous and shameful by the conservative elders in their small Turkish village. After this incident, their grandmother turns her attention towards marrying off her granddaughters. Each of the five sisters rebel in their own way, but it is the youngest and rowdiest sister, Lale, who is the central protagonist of the film. She watches helplessly as each of her older sisters is married off with an increasing sense of dread and desperation. While this may sound hopelessly depressing, the movie is equal parts beautiful and tragic and floats across the screen in a dreamlike manner. Not all of the sisters escape their oppressive surroundings or their assigned fate, but the message is clear: it’s crucial to try.

14. La Haine (1995)

best

8.1

Country

France

Director

Mathieu Kassovitz

Actors

Abdel Ahmed Ghili, Andrée Damant, Benoit Magimel, Bernie Bonvoisin

Moods

Intense, Mind-blowing, Original

At the risk of being cliché, I’m going to state that only the French could have made a movie about racial issues and the troubles of youngsters in the suburbs and still make it elegant. I’ve tried looking for other adjectives, but I couldn’t find one that better describes those long takes shot in a moody black and white. But despite the elegance of the footage, the power of the narrative and the acting makes the violence and hate realistic as hell, dragging you into the story and empathizing with the characters until you want to raise your arm and fight for your rights. Aside from this unusual combination of fine art and explicit violence, the most shocking thing about La Haine is how much the issues it addresses still make sense right now, even though the movie was released 20 years ago.

13. A Hidden Life (2019)

8.2

Country

Germany, Italy, United States of America

Director

Terrence Malick

Actors

Alexander Fehling, Alexander Radszun, August Diehl, Bernd Hölscher

Moods

Slow, True-story-based

Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) is back in full form with this three-hour movie based on a true story. His creation has one of the most beautiful depictions of happiness ever seen in film, portraying the simple yet joyous life of a farmer in the Austrian mountains. You’d have to see it for yourself to understand, but how Malick depicts this character’s love for his wife (and her love for him), their children, and even their farming rituals are nothing short of cinematic wizardry. 

This peaceful existence changes when World War 2 intensifies and this farmer is called to serve for the Nazis. He refuses to enroll out of principle and puts himself and his family at great danger and alienation from their village. The question at the center of the film is one that other villagers and the church ask him a lot: what good can his actions do? And the title of the movie is taken from A George Eliot quote: “The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

12. Sorry to Bother You (2018)

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Boots Riley

Actors

Armie Hammer, Danny Glover, David Cross, Ed Moy

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Funny, Smart

In the year of the Netflix TV Show Maniac, another absurdist title stole critics’ hearts. Sorry to Bother You is a movie set in an alternate reality, where capitalism and greed are accentuated. Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) is a guy called Cassius who struggles to pay his bills. However, when at a tele-marketing job an old-timer tells him to use a “white voice”, he starts moving up the ranks of his bizarre society. A really smart movie that will be mostly enjoyed by those who watch it for its entertaining value, and not so much for its commentary. It is like a Black Mirror episode stretched into a movie.

11. 99 Homes (2015)

best

8.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Ramin Bahrani

Actors

Andrew Garfield, Ann Mahoney, Carl Palmer, Clancy Brown

Moods

Depressing, Slice-of-Life

Andrew Garfield is a single father living with his own single mother in their family home. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, they find themselves evicted from their home by a businessman – Michael Shannon in a role as intriguing as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, if not more. Desperate for work, Garfield’s character starts working for the same businessman, ultimately evicting other people. A star-packed, gritty and sobering tale on capitalism and our the lengths to which we’re ready to go to save face – while at the same time risking our most important relationships.

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