The 50 Best European Movies To Come Out Recently

The 50 Best European Movies To Come Out Recently

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You can’t talk about cinema without talking about its place of origin: Europe. Throughout the twentieth century, even as wars raged across the continent, Europe was crowned The Other Hollywood, and it’s easy to see why. From German expressionism, with masterpieces like Metropolis (1927), through to Italian Neo-realism and the New Wave of the swinging sixties, the continent turned out some of the world’s most diverse and influential film movements.

While cash-cow Hollywood blockbusters have come to define the eras that followed, contemporary European productions remain a driving force of cinematic innovation in spite of their comparatively modest budgets. To bring this point home, we present 50 of the best European movies to come out in the past ten years.

50. And Breathe Normally (2018)

7.8

Country

Belgium, Iceland, Sweden

Director

Female director, Isold Uggadottir

Actors

Ísold Uggadóttir, Babetida Sadjo, Bragi Arnason, Gunnar Jonsson

Moods

Slice-of-Life, Slow, Thought-provoking

Iceland is a country of vast lands but limited population – only about 300,000 people can call themselves Icelandic. On the other hand, 8 million people have connecting flights through Iceland every year. 

In this setting of mass movement, a single mother dealing with poverty is offered a chance to turn things around – a job as a border agent. One of her first days, she comes across an asylum seeker on a connecting flight from Guinea Bissau to Canada, trying to cross with a fake passport. 

Their stories don’t only intertwine as border agent and asylum seeker, but as two mothers. And Breathe Normally is about struggling with poverty both in Europe and coming from a place like Guinea Bissau. It’s a beautiful, plot-heavy statement on the importance of solidarity and of seeing the human behind the country of origin or race. 

49. My Name Is Emily (2017)

7.8

Country

Ireland

Director

Simon Fitzmaurice

Actors

Ally Ni Chiarain, Barry McGovern, Cathy Belton, Declan Conlon

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, No-brainer

Emily (Evanna Lynch), a strange, unique girl does not receive the long awaited letter from her father on her birthday. Sick of worrying, she decides to break away from home to visit him in the psychiatric institution where he stays. The plan requires the help of Arden (George Webster), a boy from school who is ready to drop everything and accompany her on a journey that quickly becomes as adventurous as it is heartfelt. In this film, director Simon Fitzmaurice take will take you on a trip through the beautiful Irish landscape to find nothing else but simple and true love.

48. Graduation (2016)

7.9

Country

Belgium, France, Romania

Director

Cristian Mungiu

Actors

Adrian Titieni, Adrian Văncică, Claudia Susanu, Constantin Cojocaru

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional

Graduation is a Romanian movie from the director of the Palme d’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (also number 15 in the BBC’s 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century.)

Romeo is a 49-year-old doctor in the city of Cluj-Napoca. He is immensely proud and dedicated to his daughter, Eliza, who gets awarded a scholarship to go to Cambridge provided that she does well in her last high-school exam.

The day before this exam, Elisa is sexually assaulted outside her school, and her wrist is broken. The event haunts the family and jeopardizes Elisa’s chances of succeeding in her exam.

Romeo, still determined to ensure his daughter’s success, vows to do anything to not let the assault ruin his daughter’s future. Graduation is about this father and daughter duo as they go against a corrupt but quickly changing Romanian system.

47. The Square (2017)

7.9

Country

Denmark, France, Germany

Director

Ruben Östlund

Actors

Anna-Stina Malmborg, Annica Liljeblad, Christopher Læssø, Christopher Laesso

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Grown-up Comedy, Original

The Square is a peculiar movie about a respected contemporary art museum curator as he goes through a few very specific events. He looses his wallet, his children fight, the art he oversees is does not make sense to an interviewer… Each one of these events would usually require a precise response but all they do is bring out his insecurities and his illusions about life. These reactions lead him to very unusual situations. A thought-provoking and incredibly intelligent film that’s just a treat to watch. If you liked Force Majeure by the same director, The Square is even better!

46. Toni Erdmann (2016)

7.9

Country

Austria, France, Germany

Director

Female director, Maren Ade

Actors

Alexandru Papadopol, Andrei Mateiu, Bryan Jardine, Dana Marineci

Moods

Character-driven, Grown-up Comedy, Long

Good movies usually aren’t lengthy movies, unless we’re talking about cases like Toni Erdmann. It’s a supremely smart German-Austrian comedy that depicts the story of a Father-Daughter tandem in light of life’s weirdest, most inconvenient moments. Deciding to visit his daughter on a whim after his dog dies, Winfried (Peter Simonischek)—a man known for his outrageous pranks and many a disguise—flies to Bucharest. Ines (Sandra Huller), the daughter, buzzing with work to the brim in a very challenging job, to say the least, isn’t impressed. This leads to even more uncomfortable encounters as the estranged father poses as the title character, life coach to the disapproving daughter’s boss. On top of being a shrewdly observed and relevant movie, the brilliant writing by Maren Ade crafts something thoroughly enjoyable and heartfelt here, highlighting the importance of family bond in an oddly sweet way, and criticizing modern-day work ethic and the toll its taking on us. The beginning is a bit slow, but if you’re a bit patient you will be surprised how much this movie will reward you.

45. Human Capital (2013)

7.9

Country

France, Italy

Director

Paolo Virzì

Actors

Bebo Storti, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Fabrizio Gifuni, Federica Fracassi

Moods

Dramatic, Thrilling

Human Capital is a rich and absorbing tale of two families tied together by love, money and a hit-and-run accident. One family is wealthy, the other struggling to get by in the days after the 2008 economic meltdown. Human Capital dexterously contrasts the social calculations the characters make about who can afford to step outside the lines of law and morality. The story is told from different perspectives, a device that serves to give the tale and the characters greater depth. In Italian with English subtitles.

44. A Hijacking (2012)

7.9

Country

Denmark

Director

Tobias Lindholm

Actors

Abdihakin Asgar, Amalie Ihle Alstrup, Andre Royo, Clancy Brown

Moods

Thrilling, True-story-based

A Danish cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The pirates demand millions of dollars in ransom and from there on, a psychological drama between the pirates and the ship owner develops, as they negotiate the price for the ship and its crew. A really great thing about this film is the fact that it doesn’t get tangled up in the weepy feelings of the families back home – but instead focuses on the shrinking hope of the ship’s crew and the psychological consequences of the brutal negotiation, that drives the ship owner to the edge of madness. Inspired by a true story. Brilliantly acted.

43. Phoenix (2015)

7.9

Country

Germany, Poland

Director

Christian Petzold

Actors

Claudia Geisler, Claudia Geisler-Bading, Daniela Holtz, Eva Bay

Moods

Intense, Raw, Thrilling

Nelly is a concentration camp survivor who undergoes reconstructive facial surgery, and comes back to question whether her husband (unable to recognize her) was the one who betrayed her to the Nazis. Heavy, heavy stuff. But in Phoenix you will also see something else, as the story takes you beyond the subject matter to become almost a celebration of film: elements of Hitchcockian cinema intertwine with the realism of the likes of David Ayer are added to perfect performances to create a stunning, compelling, and exceptional film.

42. Song of the Sea (2014)

7.9

Country

Belgium, Denmark, France

Director

Tomm Moore

Actors

Brendan Gleeson, Colm ÓSnodaigh, Colm O'Snodaigh, David Rawle

Moods

Heart-warming, Original, Uplifting

This animated movie is absolutely wonderful. It’s an Irish production, and the drawings/graphics are so beautiful and different from what you usually see in this genre. This alone, along with the music, would be good reasons to watch this.

But what really makes this worth your time is the story – it’s about a boy dealing with the loss of his mother. He embarks on an adventure into a parallel world of feelings to save his sister.

I found it to be refreshingly original, sometimes quite intense (I cried, but I easily cry), and heartwarming. The details are great. And I love the way the story was interwoven with Irish mythology, making it magical.

41. The Guard (2011)

7.9

Country

Ireland, UK

Director

John Michael McDonagh

Actors

Brendan Gleeson, Darren Healy, David Pearse, David Wilmot

The Guard played by Brendan Gleeson is a new character in cinema that appeals to the funny bone inside all of us. A character like this can make any movie lovable. It also features Don Cheadle playing an FBI agent who is in town to solve a crime under Gleeson’s jurisdiction. An overall great movie with great writing. Please note, for those who have a hard time understanding different accents, subtitles are advised.

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