Favorite Foreign Films

by Barry Drogin

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In 1983, I wrote a piece which included my favorite ten post-WWI modernist classical music works. Years later, I created a favorite song mix-tape. I met someone who said she liked foreign films, so I decided to compile this list of my favorite foreign films - using their American release titles, with the limitation, like the mix-tape, of one film per director. Here they are sorted geographically, with links to pertinent Amazon.com pages for purchasing the movies on DVD, as well as IMDb links where cast lists, stills, and trailers can be viewed.

1. 49 Up (British, Apted, 2005) - Of course, the entire series, not just the latest film, could be listed, starting with Seven Up - IMDb

2. Shadowlands (British, Attenborough, 1993) - Decided to not go with Gandhi, tough choice, guess I'm a bigger Debra Winger fan than Ben Kingsley fan - IMDb

3. Much Ado About Nothing (British, Branagh, 1993) - Lots of American actors in this, not sure it counts, could go with his earlier Hamlet or Henry V - IMDb

4. Amélie (French, Jeunet, 2001) - Usually I'd say The City of Lost Children, but I remember it as very dark, and this is so much more fun - IMDb

5. Run Lola Run (German, Tykwer, 1998) - Such a fun little film - IMDb

6. Fitzcarraldo (German, Herzog, 1982) - Hard to pick which Kinski film, this is the engineer in me I guess - IMDb

7. Juliet Of The Spirits (Italian, Fellini, 1965) - Could easily pick 5 more Fellini films, this has always been my favorite - IMDb

8. Cinema Paradiso (Italian, Tomatore, 1988) - One shot, don't really know any others by the director, but such a spectacular film - IMDb

9. Johnny Stecchino (Italian, Benigni, 1991) - Decided to go with this (only available from Amazon in VHS), rather than Life is Beautiful - IMDb

10. Strictly Ballroom (Australian, Luhrmann, 1992) - Love his stuff, but got to go with his first - IMDb

Runner-ups are Truffaut (The Wild Child) and De Sica (The Bicycle Thief), and comedies from Monty Python, Jacques Tati, and with Rowan Atkinson. I can't really put Godard, Renoir, Cocteau, or Bunuel on my top ten, and it's been too many years since I saw Almodovar's films for me to pick one.

Foreigners working in America (Hitchcock) and Americans working abroad (Welles) don't count...

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Last Updated: February 9, 2020