50 Best Foreign Movies on Netflix Right Now

50 Best Foreign Movies on Netflix Right Now

April 17, 2024

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“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” as Parasite director Bong Joon-ho is now famous for saying.

Here are our curated recommendations for the best non-English-language movies streaming on Netflix. Like all lists on agoodmovietowatch, this one is updated every month to remove expiring movies and add new ones, so make sure you bookmark it!

Happy watching. 

21. Contratiempo (2016)

best

8.0

Country

Spain

Director

Oriol Paulo

Actors

Ana Wagener, Annick Weerts, Barbara Lennie, Betsy Túrnez

Moods

Action-packed, Suspenseful, Thrilling

This movie is like thriller-candy. It is full of twists, it is very atmospheric, and in nicely predictable fashion it will deliver that excitement rush we (most of us) love. Accused of murder, a wealthy entrepreneur hires the best witness preparation expert he can find. They have three hours before the trial to come up with the most solid, plausible defence. But ?, a new witness surfaces. Don’t expect anything overly original, but expect to be entertained.

22. The Hand of God (2021)

8.0

Country

Italy

Director

Paolo Sorrentino

Actors

Alessandro Bressanello, Alfonso Perugini, Betti Pedrazzi, Birte Berg

Moods

Grown-up Comedy, Lovely, Slice-of-Life

The Hand of God is the autobiographical movie from Paolo Sarrantino, the director of the 2013 masterpiece The Great Beauty. He recently also directed The Young Pope with Jude Law and Youth Paul Dano, both in English. He is back to his home Italy with this one. 

More precisely, he’s in his hometown Naples, in the 1980s, where awkward teenager Fabietto Schisa’s life is about to change: his city’s soccer team Napoli is buying the biggest footballer at the time, Diego Maradona.

Sarrantino, who is also from Naples, made this movie that is half a tribute to the city and half to what it meant growing up around the legend of Maradona.

The Hand of God is to Sarrantino what Roma was to Alfonso Cuarón, except it’s more vulgar, fun, and excessive. It is equally as personal though, and it goes from comedy to tragedy and back with unmatched ease.

23. The Falls (2021)

best

8.0

Country

Taiwan, United States of America

Director

Chung Mong-hong

Actors

Alyssa Chia, Chen Yi-wen, Chen Yiwen, Gingle Wang

Moods

Dramatic, Emotional, Slow

All the synopses going around the internet won’t fail to let you know that The Falls takes place at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. The film is certainly marketed that way, with commercial posters featuring the leads in ubiquitous face masks, socially distanced from the blurred crowd. 

But interestingly, The Falls is not just a situational, pandemic-era story. More than anything else, it tells the story of Pin-wen and Xiao Jing, mother and daughter who, despite previously living a life of comfort, are now dealt with unfavorable circumstances (exacerbated but not entirely caused by the pandemic). Now, they are forced to navigate life with only each other, and it’s in the isolation they instate from the rest of the world do they forge a genuine and heartwrenching bond any and all family members will immediately recognize and perhaps even sympathize with. 

24. Wingwomen (2023)

7.9

Country

France

Director

Female director, Mélanie Laurent

Actors

Adèle Exarchopoulos, Annick Roux, Aurélien Gabrielli, Camille Verschuere

Moods

Action-packed, Character-driven, Dramatic

An all-female action comedy that doesn’t get self-serious about the way it’s subverting the genre — Wingwomen feels like a breath of fresh air. It wisely grasps that plot isn’t paramount for a movie like this, and so it joyously dunks on cerebral scenarios with its unabashedly silly story convolutions, like when its professional thieves take a brief pause from their momentous One Last Job™️ to sail to Italy and exact bloody, flamenco-delivered revenge on the gangsters who killed their beloved rabbit. Exotic Mediterranean location-hopping isn’t the only way Wingwomen milks Netflix’s finance department for all it can get, either: director-star Mélanie Laurent also packs in all manner of stunts, from spectacular base-jumping sequences to dramatic drone shootouts. 

For all its breezy style, though, there is real heart here, and not the kind that feels crafted by an algorithm. It’s true that a late twist unwisely uses the movie’s embrace of implausibility for emotional ends, but otherwise, the relationship between its professional thieves — ostensibly platonic but very much coded otherwise (a la Bend It Like Beckham) — has surprisingly sincere warmth. Thanks to the cast’s natural chemistry and characters that feel human despite the ridiculous plot, Wingwomen is much more moving than you might believe possible for a Netflix action-comedy.

25. Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (2021)

7.9

Country

Japan

Director

Keishi Otomo

Actors

Eiki Narita, Eita Okuno, Emi Takei, Hoshi Ishida

Moods

Character-driven, Depressing, Dramatic

You don’t need to be familiar with the rest of the Rurouni Kenshin live-action movie series—or the original manga and anime, for that matter—to appreciate The Beginning as a powerful period drama in its own right. This is a story that courses its historical context about a tumultuous time in Japan’s past through a stoic, fearsome protagonist who can’t seem to escape the violence that’s become his only function. And even more impressively, as a prequel, the film keeps a heavy sense of dread about it, even if you’re sure about which characters are meant to survive in order to appear in the previous films. It’s the mark of any great tragedy that even the things that are destined can still feel so painful.

26. Under the Shadow (2016)

7.8

Country

Iran, Jordan, Qatar

Director

Babak Anvari

Actors

Aram Ghasemy, Arash Marandi, Avin Manshadi, Babak Anvari

Moods

Intense, Suspenseful

Horror movies have always been creepier to me when they play on our fear of the “unknown” rather than gore. Under The Shadow does exactly that. The story is based around the relationship of a woman, Shideh, and her daughter, Dorsa, under the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq war. As widespread bombings shake the ground beneath their feet, the two grapple with a more insidious evil that is faceless and traceless, coming and going only with the wind. The movie’s dread-effect plays strongly on feelings of isolation and helplessness. The scares are slow and it’s obvious the director takes great care in making every single second count and in raising the unpredictableness of the action. Like the bombs, the audience never knows when or how the next apparition will materialize. The former is always on the edge of fear, wondering what is no doubt there, but is yet to be shown on the frame. In terms of significance, Under The Shadow features too many symbolisms to count and will most likely resonate with each person differently. But one thing remains relatively unarguable: this is a wonderful movie.

27. Aquarius (2016)

7.8

Country

Brazil, France

Director

Kleber Mendonça Filho

Actors

Allan Souza Lima, Arly Arnaud, Bárbara Colen, Bruno Goya

Moods

Sunday, Thought-provoking, Thrilling

If you’ve never heard of Sonia Braga, you’re in for a ride with this movie. She is, in my opinion, one of the best actresses alive today. In Aquarius, she stars as a 65-year-old trying to keep the home in which she pledged to die. In a quiet, yet stoically powerful performance, she reminds us that identity often intersects with the spaces in which we live.

28. Doi Boy (2023)

7.8

Country

Cambodia, Thailand

Director

Nontawat Numbenchapol

Actors

Arak Amornsupasiri, Awat Ratanapintha, Bhumibhat Thavornsiri, Ornjira Lamwilai

Moods

Challenging, Character-driven, Discussion-sparking

After years of documentaries covering Thailand’s controversial issues, some of which have been temporarily banned by the Ministry of Culture, Nontawat Numbenchapol takes a step into feature film in Doi Boy. The plot covers plenty of the topics he’s previously depicted– immigration, prostitution, and corruption– but it unfolds naturally into a slow-paced, but moving drama where an undocumented sex worker tries to find home. Awat Ratanapintha as Sorn excellently leads this journey, but Arak Amornsupasiri as reluctant cop Ji, and Bhumibhat Thavornsiri as passionate activist Wuth also make their mark. While the film doesn’t delve into the intricate intersectionality, it feels like that’s part of the point. The notion of a nation doesn’t care about people’s dreams, even if that dream is for the nation to be better.

29. Bheed (2023)

7.7

Country

India

Director

Anubhav Sinha

Actors

Aditya Srivastava, Ashutosh Rana, Bhumi Pednekar, Dia Mirza

Moods

Challenging, Dark, Depressing

COVID-19 raised concerns about sanitation and cleanliness, but in a society that just banned discrimination against “impure” castes seventy years ago, these concerns feel reminiscent of previous caste prejudice. Writer-director Anubhav Sinha presents this social inequity through Bheed, a black-and-white drama set in a fictional checkpoint as the lockdown restricted travel between different Indian states. As the people in the checkpoint wait for the updated government regulations, tensions rise between the officers and the travelers, as the stuck migrants worry about hunger, thirst, and infection. While it’s definitely a heavy film to watch, this film doesn’t exploit the pandemic as fodder for drama. Instead, Bheed realistically portrays how a crisis like COVID-19 exacerbates existing social inequity.

30. Forgotten Love (2023)

7.7

Country

Poland

Director

Michał Gazda

Actors

Adam Nawojczyk, Agata Łabno, Alicja Jachiewicz, Anna Szymańczyk

Moods

Character-driven, Emotional, Heart-warming

After two adaptations, with the 1982 version considered a Christmastime classic for Polish families, Forgotten Love can seem like a redundant take on the iconic Polish novel. With twenty more minutes, it seems like the new Netflix adaptation could only improve its take through better production design, and sure, it certainly delivers that pre-war aesthetic through period-accurate costumes, props, and sets. However, Forgotten Love takes a more streamlined approach to the novel’s plot, through changing certain character choices. Without spoiling too much, some choices paint certain characters in a better light, while other changes prove to add an entertaining twist, such as the humorous way the villagers defend Kosiba. Znachor takes the 1937 story into the present, bringing a new generation through the emotional journey of the cherished Polish tale.

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