The 18 Best European Movies on Netflix Right Now

The 18 Best European Movies on Netflix Right Now

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Europe has a long history with film – the French New Wave, Italian Neorealism, and the great Swedish movies of Ingmar Bergman. And what’s happening today is equally as exciting: French thrillers, Scandinavian dramas, Irish comedies… there is just so much to discover. 

This list has past Oscar nominees like I Lost My Body, a past winner of the Berlin Film Festival (On Body and Soul), and other award-sweepers. But you might be asking yourself why you haven’t heard of some or all of them. The answer depends on each movie but it’s often either bad marketing or that fear of subtitles. Both have nothing to do with the quality of the movies themselves. 

So, friends, let’s try something new. Below are the best European movies on Netflix right now.

 

 

18. On My Skin (2018)

7.7

Country

Italy

Director

Alessio Cremonini

Actors

Aleksandros Memetaj, Alessandro Borghi, Alessio De Persio, Andrea Lattanzi

Moods

Depressing, Touching, True-story-based

This Netflix production is based on a case that rocked public opinion in Italy. Stefano Cucchi was arrested for a minor drug charge and died five days later from police brutality.

The movie takes its time to expose what Cucchi went through, which might lead some viewers to find On My Skin slow, and rightfully so. Thinking about the issues at hand here, it’s easy to understand why the director made that choice. In fact, Italians’ complex relationship with the Carabinieri, a division of the Italian army that carries out domestic policing, is delicate to explain and requires meticulous unveiling.

Nominated to nine David di Donatello Awards (the equivalent of the Academy Awards in Italy), of which it won three.

17. 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. 

16. 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.

15. The Hand of God (2021)

8.0

Country

Italy

Director

Paolo Sorrentino

Actors

Alessandro Bressanello, Betti Pedrazzi, Birte Berg, Cristiana Dell'Anna

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.

14. Official Secrets (2019)

best

8.0

Country

China, Switzerland, UK

Director

Gavin Hood

Actors

Adam Bakri, Andrew Marr, Angus Wright, Brett Allen

Moods

Instructive, Suspenseful, True-story-based

Keira Knightley stars in this incredible true story of an Iraq War whistleblower who remains relatively little-known in the U.S. Katharine Gun was working for the communications office for the British government when she received a memo in the months leading to the war that showed that the U.S. requested illegal wiretapping assistance from the U.K. on U.N. diplomats. In a heroic act, she chooses to share this memo, hoping that it would stop her government (then led by Tony Blair) from going to war. Spoiler alert: didn’t happen, but this decision, which first seemed like a personal sacrifice, has severe implications on her family as the government finds out that she was behind the leak. A compelling political mystery of a case that deserves much more attention than it once got.

13. The Young Offenders (2016)

8.0

Country

Ireland, United Kingdom

Director

Peter Foott

Actors

Alex Murphy, Chris Walley, Ciaran Bermingham, Dominic MacHale

Moods

Funny, No-brainer, Quirky

The Young Offenders is a comedy about two Irish teenagers who go on a 160km bicycle trip to salvage 7 million euros worth of lost cocaine. As they sit on a hill overlooking their city, they imagine what they would do with that money. The answer is building a house that has lava lamps, “big gold walls”, Spanish girls, and an English butler to wake them up every morning with the phrase “what’s happenin’?”. You get the vibe. It’s is a silly movie, although the premise is actually based on a real-life event where cocaine from a capsized smuggling boat washed up on the Irish coast. The Young Offenders wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s a sweet funny movie, half slapstick and half plot, which sports an infinity of highly quotable one-liners.

12. Handsome Devil (2016)

best

8.0

Country

Ireland

Director

John Butler

Actors

Amy Huberman, Andrew Scott, Ardal O'Hanlon, Ardal O'Hanlon

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Slice-of-Life

I can’t get a song out of my head from this movie: the 1985 UK hit Desire As from Prefab Sprout.

It plays when the two main characters, a sensitive kid who’s bullied by his school for not liking rugby, and the school’s rugby star; talk over the “Berlin Wall” that separates their dorm room.

The song echoes “It’s perfect as it stands, so why then crush it in your perfect hands?”. These two seemingly incompatible personalities form a friendship that comes under threat from their school’s traditional authority, especially as one of them is revealed to be gay. 

It might seem like a tough premise, but Handsome Devil is actually a comedy. It’s a sweet and easy coming-of-age comedy.

11. 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.

10. Like Crazy (2011)

best

8.0

Country

UK, United States of America

Director

Drake Doremus

Actors

Alex Kingston, Amanda Carlin, Anton Yelchin, Ben York Jones

Moods

Depressing, Dramatic, Raw

See, low budget films do work! Like Crazy schools other romantic films on what they should all be: cute and sweet but also frustrating and nerve-wracking. Felicity Jones is absolutely fantastic here, she stars as a British girl who falls in love with an American, Jacob, while in college. On a whim, she overstays her visa to be with him, and then return to England to face the consequences. The intimacy this film explores really distinguishes it from others and makes for an authentic experience, as it is based on its writer/director’s own 8-year long-distance relationship. A great option if you’re in the mood for the type of suspense that pulls at your heartstrings.

 

9. I Lost My Body

best

8.2

Country

France

Director

Jérémy Clapin, Jérémy Clapin

Actors

Alia Shawkat, Dev Patel, George Wendt, Hakim Faris

Moods

Smart, Thought-provoking

Two storylines take place in this Parisian animation: one of a Moroccan immigrant who works as a pizza delivery guy, and the other of his hand, somehow no longer part of his body, but also going on a trip around Paris.

The hand storyline is not gory by the way, except for one or two very quick scenes. Mostly, this is a film about loneliness and not being able to find your way back, both as an immigrant who misses how they were raised and as a hand who misses its body.

Sporting some of the most beautiful animation work this year, this movie premiered at Cannes where it became the first-ever animated film (and Netflix film) to win the Nespresso Grand Prize.

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