It’s time to expand our horizons, to other places in the cinematic universe! And no, we are not talking about Pandora or Gotham City. While Hollywood Avatar films and Superhero franchises are wonderful to say the least, there are just as many foreign films out there that are equally as–if not more– exciting, interesting, and memorable. From Asia to Australia, South America to the UK and Scandinavia to the rest of Europe, here is a list of seven movies that will deepen your palette for foreign films.
The title is almost as compelling as the story. This Brazilian movie, which had a handful of Oscar Nominations in 2004, takes place in the dangerous slums of Cidade De Deus (City Of God) of Rio De Janeiro during the 1970’s. The story follows a young photographer named Rocket who’s images capture the crime, drug violence, and depravity of the streets he lives in. In the meantime two opposing drug dealers, Jose and Ned, take advantage of Rocket’s images as a measure to popularize their own businesses. The third perspective from Rocket’s camera combined with the perspective of two drug dealer’s lives in a city where survival has very little room for moral choices, challenges the audience to think deeply about how far humans are willing to go when inaction is not an option; overcoming heavy obstacles requires a serious level of courage.
The UK has plenty of films to offer, and one that stands out is filmmaker Steve McQueen’s psychological erotic drama film Shame. The story follows Brandon, a successful and good looking New Yorker who’s lucrative life takes a turn when his younger sister abruptly visits him for some time. The film slowly examines Brandon’s deeply troubled issues as a sex addict, as he struggles within the boundaries of love, romance, and intimacy within New York City’s dating scene. His encounters with single women, hookers, and even larger groups at underground orgies exemplify his problem at the surface, but what makes this film multidimensional is McQueen’s brooding soundtrack and his use of psychologically provocative writing. Not only an examination of sex addiction, Shame makes you forget about Brandon’s problems due to the film’s impressive cinematography, acting, and setting. It’s a film worth watching without needing an exact reason for its originality, and it can leave you with more questions than answers.
You might assume Australia is mainly known for its wildlife documentaries, but don’t let those kangaroos and critters deceive you! Lion, which won the oscar for best picture in 2017, documents a little boy named Saroo who falls asleep on a train and finds himself thousands of miles away from his family. Twenty five years later, we learn that Saroo has been saved and adopted by an Australian couple. At this point in time, he decides to return to India to find his long lost family. What makes this film so utterly endearing and impactful is the fact that it is based on a true story.
Asian cinema is becoming increasingly globalized for their incredibly artistic styles of storytelling and profound interpretations of complex issues. South Korea has produced more and more highly acclaimed films these last several years. A perfect example would be Parasite (2019), which won six Academy Awards in 2020, including Best Picture and Best International Feature Film. This Black Comedy Thriller follows the economically poor Kim family who take up odd jobs working for the wealthy Park family as tutors, a personal driver, and a housekeeper. The catch is that the Parks are oblivious to the fact that their household workers are one family. The story becomes even more hysterical, but behind absurdity is a profound message that explores the themes of greed and poverty which makes every single character essentially a “parasite”. A must see!
The French New Wave in the 1950’s is perhaps one of the most crucial turning points in cinema history, for this era marked the time where conventional approaches of storytelling began to shift into more experimental approaches, and subject matters became much more creative. One such approach is portrayed in TheIntouchables, which touches on existentialism and strokes through the true story about the way an uber wealthy Parisian quadriplegic aristocrat named Philippe hires an impoverished criminal named Driss as his personal caregiver. The work requirements for Driss, as awkward as they can be, completely take his hot-head personality down to earth, yet his shameless and sometimes offensive treatment towards others makes Philippe feel less marginalized and more “ordinary” considering his impairment. All in all, the duo’s bonding blends order and chaos together, and what we have left before our eyes is a beautiful story about friendship.
Also known as the Golden Age post World War II, Italian Neorealism brings compelling and more realistic approaches that carry through into modern Italian cinema. TheHandofGod includes elements of the Italian lower working class family living under difficult hardships, and films through a common neorealist technique where the protagonist and point of view is observed through a younger adult (in this case Fabietto). After his parents die from a carbon monoxide accident in their hometown Naples, Fabietto’s love for football slowly brings him less joy in life as he loses himself in an identity crisis filled with loss, pain, and uncertainty. He finds a sense of control and purpose when he meets his mentor, Antonio Capuano, who sparks his interest in filmmaking, and even generates a philosophical and artistic focus on the meaning of interchangeability between hope and conflict. This Oscar nominated film is a must-see for those who want to experience a story that examines a character who transcends from alienation and despair to self understanding and awareness.
The Hunt is a Danish film that was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of the year for the Academy Awards and for the Golden Globes in 2012. Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, stars as a man named Lucas who works as a childcare employee in a suburban town. At the surface, his character depicts nuanced characteristics of shyness, kindness, and innocence. After a profound misunderstanding, the entire town accuses Lucas of molesting one of the children. His innocent facade is framed into the illustration of a perverted and sick man regardless of the lack of evidence that ultimately leaves him innocent. Yet, the story evokes the ideas of hypocrisy, judgment, and harm that stems from community social norms and ignorance, which results in a psychological thriller that is both ethically informative and disturbing.
The 95th Academy Awards is set to be held on the 12th of March, and this week the nominees for the various categories have been announced. The award for Best Picture is often regarded as one of the most prestigious ones, so naturally, we are super excited to take a look at the nominees. Although many are still playing at the cinema, a handful of the nominees are already available to stream. In this article, we list the nominees for Best Picture and show you which ones are on streaming.