Top Five Foreign Films

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

You don’t have to speak the language to enjoy the story. This week, we rundown (some) of our favorite foreign films.

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Dan Langsdale on

    My five as of today:

    5) Flirting – Australian film with a young Nicole Kidman in a supporting role. This is a tale of young love/attraction in 1965 between two students flourishing against opposion. Set at a lake with boarding schools on opposite shores, this is a re-watchable coming-of-age story that isn’t simply “by the numbers.” i.e., characters are more than archetypes, well-written and -acted, with a story that goes in believeable and interesting directions.

    4) Wind That Shakes the Barley – Historically set during the early days of the fight for Irish independence, this tale features Cilian Murphy (Scarecrow from Batman Begins) as one of a pair of brothers who end up on opposite sides of the issue.

    3) Time Bandits – Terry Gilliam has to make the list. While this doesn’t have the cult status & quotability of things like Monty Python & the Holy Grail, my young self loved the quirky blend of serious, humorous, and fanciful elements of this. Dwarf actors and David Warner; John Cleese’s Robin Hood and Sean Connery’s Agamemnon; and Kenny Baker acting without an R2D2 shell.

    2) Pan’s Labyrinth – This list’s entry for Guillermo del Toro, because something had to. This one wins the honor because of the balance of fantasy, history, and traditional drama coupled with beautiful effects and cinematography

    1) Ikiru (To Live) – Kurosawa could make a whole list on his own, but this one takes top honors because it was as relevant to society when watched in the 2010’s as it was when released in 1956. When a man who’s lived his live entrenched in the bureaucracy of government learns he’s terminal with cancer, he makes the most of his time left by using his familiarity with the system of red tape to make a positive and lasting contribution to his community. The best of Kurosawa & Mifune.

  2. Simon Gosselin on

    I’m one of those weird canadians lol and Matthew, your french is horrible! Better speak giant!

    My top 5:

    5 – Dogville, by Lars Von Tiers. Wonderful and beautiful movie.
    4 – Amelie, Jean-Pierre Jeunet greatest. An hymn to life!
    3 – Les triplettes de Belleville. Rodrigo was right. Just adding that the music is awesome!
    2- La femme Nikita, Luc Besson at his best!
    1- La vita e bella. Wonderful movie. Story wise and acting wise!

  3. Here are some of my favorites. I´m not from U.S. but i´m excluding North American and Finnish movies, because I don´t count those “foreign”.

    5. Metropolis, German grandfather of science fiction. Just as relevant today as it was in 1920´s
    4. Nosferatu, Another German one, best vampire film ever made.
    3. Ong Bak, Incredible Thai Boxing movie, no wires, just most impressive athleticism I´ve ever seen maybe besides Bruce Lee on film.
    2. Yojimbo, Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune were perhaps the best director/actor duo there ever was.
    1. Seven Samurai. What can I say, either one of these could have been number 1 or 2.

    Honorable mentions for couple of movies I´m not sure if they counts as american: Léon, Jean Renos best film, besides comedy Visitors. (the original French, not American remake) The Good, the Bad and The Ugly. This can be either American or Italian, im not sure.

    Shameless advertising mention: Tuntematon Sotilas (Unknown Soldier, 1955) Finnish movie about machine gun company during World War 2 tells the tale of Finlands last days before the end of war against Soviet Union. the most influential piece ever created in our history, its still referenced almost daily even today and Antti Rokka, one of the main characters has become an archetype and symbol of bravery of Finnish soldiers.

  4. 5.) Troll Hunter- A Norwegian found footage movie about a college film crew who follows around an aging Troll Hunter on his quest to control the troll populations.
    4.) Akira- The most iconic Anime film of all time
    3.) Let The Right One In- A great Norwegian horror movie about a outcast boy who befriends a young vampire girl.
    2.) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon- The first film I saw in theaters that had subtitles. This film was so beautifully put together that even if you didn’t keep up with the subtitles it was clear what was happening.
    1.) Pan’s Labyrinth- Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece about a little girl in war torn Spain who finds herself wrapped up in a fantasy world where she may be housing the lost soul of the fantasy kingdom’s princess.

  5. 5.) Troll Hunter
    4.) LaFemme Nakita
    3.) Leon
    2.) Akira
    1.) Life Is Beautiful.. I saw this in Singapore on deployment in 1998. It had four different language subtitles (English, Chinese, French, and Japanese) and it is one of the only films ever that has made me tear up in the movie. I knew nothing about it (was living in Japan, only saw English speaking films that had come out on VHS, this was pre-cable on the Navy base I lived on) and was just blown away..

    • RIchard D. Coyote on

      When I first saw the title of this top 5, the first movie that came to mind was Life Is Beautiful. WHich is really 2 great movies stuck together. WHen it first got put on pay per view, I was stealing cable at the time, so I got all the movies free, but I must of watched it 20 times in the first week.

  6. In no particular order…
    Time Crimes
    – It’s an amazing time travel movie that has you saying “what is this guy going to do next” from start to finish. The way time travel is handled is great. it’s a movie you can really escape into for an hour and a half it’s just really fun.
    – I’ve liked Akira since before I have seen it. My uncle had a framed movie poster that I always thought was the coolest thing ever. It blew my mind even more that there existed cartoons that I wasn’t allowed to watch. once I did see it, I thought the years of looking at that poster, wondering what it was paid off.
    13 Assassins
    – I came across this movie when I was slashing though every samurai movie I could get my hands on (happens from time to time). It’s a tale of courage and justice. If someone told me they didn’t like foreign films, I would show them this. It has an amazing build, great character development, and an unbelievable final battle that clocks in at a half hour or so.
    The Good the Bad and the Ugly
    -I’m not sure if this qualifies, but it’s on my list regardless. it’s epic. it’s got great characters. the music just builds into this grand sandstorm of epicness. The movie takes a lot of detours. some fun, some sad. a lot of people will say that this movie suffers from being over long. I disagree. I think the detours are fun and add to the tales epic feel. Epic, Epic, EPIC EPIC EPIC. you can’t get me to describe this movie without over using that word.
    Funny Games
    – Ok, so it’s kind of this mean spirited little horror film, but it does things you don’t see in horror films very often. it breaks the fourth wall, a character grabs a remote and reminds the movie in an interesting bit, and it’s got some dark but funny moments of tension. I like horror films, but I usually enjoy a good haunt. I’m not very big into the slasher/human on human violence, but this movie is clever and really makes terrorizing a poor family a lot of fun.. as terrible as that sounds.

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