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    Updated on May 27, 2020. Posted on Apr 21, 2020

    35 International Movies You Should Really Stream ASAP

    There's never been a better time to queue up "Parasite" on Hulu.

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    The world might be feeling a bit small right now. In which case, these international films available for streaming might be exactly what you need to break free from your home (and brain) for a few hours. To borrow some wisdom from Bong Joon-ho's Golden Globes acceptance speech, "Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films."

    1. Parasite (2019)

    Neon

    Well, here's an obvious place to start. Last year's Best Picture winner from South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho shattered all-time records when it was added to Hulu on April 8. Not only did it become the most-streamed independent or foreign language film among all of Hulu's titles within a week's time, but it became the second most-watched movie ever on Hulu. If you missed this transcendent cinematic event in theaters, now is your chance to figure out what all the commotion is about.

    Country: South Korea

    Language: Korean

    Where to stream: Hulu

    2. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

    Neon

    Hulu's surprise announcement that it'd be exclusively streaming Céline Sciamma's recent Valentine's Day release (Incidentally, Valentine's Day 2020 now feels like ages ago — the late 18th century, even) was some of the best news to come out of a very bad month. I simply demand that you watch this essential French period film about a professional portraitist, Marianne (Noémie Merlant), who is commissioned to paint Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). I also urge you to clap back at anyone who makes fun of you for liking what is, yes, a very pretentious film on paper.

    Country: France

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Hulu

    3. Shoplifters (2018)

    GAGA Pictures

    This Palme d’Or winner (and Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee!) from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda follows a group of big-hearted scam artists existing together on society's fringes and will probably make you rethink the conventional notion of "family." Life-affirming, slow-burning, and tear-jerking (so do ration your paper products accordingly!). Kore-eda has basically never made a bad film, so this is a very good streaming rabbit hole to fall down if you find yourself craving more sympathetic portraits of deeply flawed people.

    Country: Japan

    Language: Japanese

    Where to stream: Hulu

    4. Toni Erdmann (2016)

    Sony Pictures Classics

    You've never seen a film quite like Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann. Or, at the very least: You've never seen a three-hour German gag comedy like this one. This wholly original story of a goofball father who creates an alter ego in an attempt to get closer to his serious, corporate-minded daughter is filled with unforgettable and surprisingly tender moments. Naked team-building exercises? Check! An earnest rendition of "Greatest Love of All"? Check!! It's no surprise that there's already an American remake with Kristen Wiig attached heading into production (if the crew can finally secure its namesake protagonist).

    Country: Germany

    Language: German, English, Romanian

    Where to stream: Kanopy (Criterion Channel is currently offering a "Directed By Maren Ade" series, though Toni Erdmann is not included)

    5. Yi Yi (2000)

    Kuzui Enterprises

    I am deeply embarrassed to say that it took signing up for the Criterion Channel to finally discover the Taiwanese auteur Edward Yang. Yi Yi was Yang's last film before he died at the young age of 59, and having now watched this sprawling family epic packed with the most beautifully composed images I've ever seen, I'm saddened to think of all the masterpieces we'll never see. If you're a sucker for coming-of-age stories, collage storytelling (i.e. Magnolia, Short Cuts), or tone poems you can sink into for a few (cough, three-plus) hours, this one is for you.

    Country: Taiwan, Japan

    Language: Mandarin, Taiwanese, Japanese, English

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel

    6. A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

    Cine Qua Non Films

    Another undisputed masterpiece (and family saga) from Yang's two-decade career. To quote Paul Dano's gushing interview with Criterion Channel, "it feels like it's as rich as a great novel." Depending on what type of filmgoer you are, you may want to also heed Dano's advice and read up on the real-life crime story that the film is based on.

    Country: Taiwan, Japan

    Language: Mandarin, Taiwanese, Japanese, English

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel

    7. Dogtooth (2009)

    Feelgood Entertainment

    Before gaining broader appeal (and Oscar recognition) with films like The Lobster and The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos was churning out some of his darkest and most offbeat material. Take for example this absurdist story of a father who pushes the "overprotective patriarch" archetype to its absolute limit — monitoring his children and wife's every move, what they eat, the culture they consume, the visitors they interact with, and teaching incorrect definitions of words he doesn't want them to know. Is it a cautionary tale of homeschooling? A study in the mediation of our learned behaviors? Or a maybe too-close-to-home examination of the psychological toll #stayingin can have on us all? You be the judge.

    Country: Greece

    Language: Greek

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel, Tubi

    8. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

    Kick the Machine

    With all due respect to the Shape Of Water heads out there, Uncle Boonmee is the most essential film about making love to a fish. But let's not be reductive here, okay? This film is about a few other things, too! It's a ghost story — not in the Westernized mode you're probably used to, maybe, but a ghost story nonetheless. Here, there's no clear delineation between life and death. Ghosts and humans are equals. And, Uncle Boonmee (Thanapat Saisaymar), a farmer who is dying of kidney failure, sees this firsthand when his departed wife begins visiting him at home.

    Country: Thailand

    Language: Isan, Thai

    Where to stream: Kanopy

    9. White Material (2009)

    Wild Bunch Distribution

    Nine entries in and not a single mention of Isabelle Huppert? Fear not, dear reader. I have not forgotten the Queen of International Cinema (which, let's be honest, is more than can be said for the Academy of Motion Pictures which only just nominated Huppert for her first Oscar in 2017.) While Elle is nowhere to be found on major streaming services I am relieved to share that White Material from the always-interesting director Claire Denis (High Life, Beau travail) is very much available! This small story about a French woman who refuses to leave her African coffee plantation despite an impending civil war opens up into a larger, devastating story of class and colonialism.

    Country: France

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel

    10. The Handmaiden (2016)

    Amazon Studios/Magnolia Pictures

    Did you miss this erotic thriller from Korean director Park Chan-wook of Oldboy fame? You're not alone. While it earned raves from critics at the time of release — notably for its positive representation of female sexual desire — many missed the chance to see it in its limited theatrical release. The time is now, folks!

    County: South Korea

    Language: Korean, Japanese

    Where to stream: Amazon Prime

    11. Burning (2018)

    Well Go USA

    Speaking of burning, my blood boils thinking about how this official entry from South Korea was shut out from the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 91st Academy Awards! Sure, trying to unpack the decisions made by the Academy's governing body can be a maddening and ultimately unproductive journey, but you'll understand why I'm still hung up on it when you experience Lee Chang-dong's lyrical, psychological drama about toxic masculinity and capitalism for yourself.

    Country: South Korea

    Language: Korean, English

    Where to stream: Netflix

    12. The Green Ray (1986)

    Janus Films

    Not to be confused with Blu-ray (okay he's a comedian!), this film from celebrated French director Éric Rohmer is the story of a newly single woman (Delphine; played to perfection by Marie Rivière!) who sets off on a solo holiday vacation when her friend bails on her at the last minute. The film gets its name from the elusive phenomenon in which the sun sets behind a clear horizon and emanates a beautiful emerald green flash of light as it disappears. Prepare to be crushed when the symbolism of this really starts to crystalize in the third act!

    Country: France

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel

    13. Three Colors: Blue (1993)

    Miramax

    Another story of a newly single French woman navigating life in the aftermath — although, a much different aftermath. In the first part of this beautifully shot Colors trilogy, Juliette Binoche plays a grieving wife who loses her husband (a renowned composer) and children in a car accident. This period of introspection leads to the uncovering of some harsh truths about her marriage and the forging of a new way forward. It's a meditation on the stages of mourning and roughly coincides with the French ideals of "liberty, equality, and fraternity" (blue in this case being her emotional liberation). This is the Binoche-iest of Binoche movies and by that I mean, her face does all the work!

    Country: France, Poland, Switzerland

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel

    14. Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)

    Sundance Selects

    Okay, we have another "blue" French movie in town! And it's one of the very few queer love stories I can think of that has been described as "exhausting" and "glorious" in the same breath. Yes, it is three hours long. Yes, it has drawn criticism for its never-ending sex scenes. But some will find this film to be incredibly effective as a sensory experience. I urge you to find out for yourself where you stand (and at least watch up until the Lykke Li dance!).

    Country: France

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Netflix

    15. Wings of Desire (1987)

    Argos Films

    Bruno Ganz stars in this Wim Wenders masterpiece as a guardian angel who watches over the people of Berlin. The plot thickens when he finds himself falling for a lonely trapeze artist (and longing to join the material world). The film features one of the most memorable live performances in cinema history, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds playing “From Here to Eternity" in an underground goth club. A little something for everyone!

    Country: West Germany, France

    Language: German, English, French, Turkish, Hebrew, Spanish

    Where to stream: Kanopy, Criterion Channel

    16. Atlantics (2019)

    Netflix

    If you love a genre-defying film then Mati Diop’s Cannes prize winner will be right up your alley. Polygon described it as equal parts romance, ghost story, and social commentary which should give you a good idea (or maybe even less of an idea) what you're getting yourself into. Criterion Channel is currently offering a "Five Films by Mati Diop" showcase so you can really go deep on this singular filmmaker if you so wish.

    Country: Senegal

    Language: Wolof, French

    Where to stream: Netflix, Criterion Channel

    17. Roma (2018)

    Netflix

    Listen, I get it if you're bored of male directors making movies that are like, "yeah, this is a sweeping epic but also a nod to the power of cinema." I am too! But that didn't stop me from falling under the spell of Alfonso Cuarón's direction and cinematography. Roma is Cuarón's most personal work to date and the specific details he mines from his own childhood in Mexico City are what ultimately make this "epic"-feeling movie (covering war and class struggle) feel within reach. Oddly, the story is not told from the POV of a Cuarón stand-in character but rather, from that of a nanny played by Yalitza Aparicio (who earned her first-ever Oscar nomination for the role) and is patched together from his own early memories of having a live-in domestic worker.

    Country: Mexico

    Language: Spanish

    Where to stream: Netflix

    18. Force Majeure (2014)

    TriArt Film

    Ruben Östlund's Swedish cerebral comedy-drama asks us to consider a heavy question: If you saw an avalanche heading toward you and your family, how would you respond? Would you: ensure everyone got to safety or panic and run? In Force Majeure, one father's knee-jerk reaction to flee the scene has unexpected and irreconcilable consequences on his marriage. Do not be misled by Downhill, the recent English-language remake starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell that's been panned by critics — the original is actually very good! (It's almost as if...perfect foreign-language films do not need to be remade for American audiences!)

    County: Sweden

    Language: English, French, Norwegian, Swedish

    Where to stream: Hulu

    19. On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)

    Contents Panda

    If you're familiar with the South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo you know that what you're signing up for is not a straight-ahead, linear story. On the Beach at Night Alone (the director's most personal film and a coming clean of sorts) is very much in keeping with this tradition: It's structured in two parts, one in Hamburg, Germany, the other in Gangneung, South Korea. The closest thing to a "story" here is that an enigmatic Young-hee has left Korea to distance herself from an affair with a married film director. Much like a blackout poem, though, it's the redactions that propel the work.

    County: South Korea

    Language: Korean

    Where to stream: Kanopy

    20. Chungking Express (1994)

    Ocean Shores Video

    Like On the Beach at Night Alone, this stylish cult-favorite from Wong Kar-wai is structured in two parts. Unlike On the Beach at Night Alone (and most collage films we're accustomed to seeing, for that matter) the female protagonists are different in each part (a quirky waitress at a fast-food bar, a drug-dealer who has gone incognito) and never intersect at any point in the film. Instead, we're left with a handful of motifs and set pieces to draw connections between. For what it's worth, Quentin Tarantino once said that he wept the first time he watched this film on video, stating "I'm just so happy to love a movie this much." I dunno, maybe he was crying because he just loves the song "California Dreamin" a lot (played no less than three thousand times throughout the film)!

    County: China

    Language: Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Japanese, Hindi

    Where to stream: Criterion Collection

    21. Amour (2012)

    Les Films du Losange

    Possibly (definitely?) Michael Haneke's most pure and tender examination of humanity. Amour is, at its core, a love story about an elderly couple (played by Jean-Louis Trintignant and the late Emmanuelle Riva). You can still see Haneke's touch here in the way it lays bare the brutal realities of old age. In the history of the Oscars, only 11 international films have ever broken into the Best Picture category (Parasite was the first to win it) and Amour is among this small list — also earning major nominations for its lead actress, screenplay, and directing.

    County: Austria

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Kanopy

    22. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)

    IFC Films

    The film that put Alfonso Cuarón on American film-goers's radars! This coming-of-age story earned an Original Screenplay nomination for the Mexican filmmaker back in 2003 and follows two teenage boys (baby Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal) as they hit the road with an older woman who educates them on some of the harder-to-swallow truths of life. Ah, to be young again!

    County: Mexico

    Language: Spanish

    Where to stream: Netflix, Criterion Channel

    23. Close-Up (1990)

    Celluloid Dreams

    Don't talk to me about "meta" until you've watched Close-Up! Abbas Kiarostami's densely layered film is a blend of fiction and documentary that is also a powerful critique of filmmaking itself. It centers around a real-life event (the story of a young man impersonating the filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf) and casts the real-life people involved in this case to play fictionalized versions of themselves. If you're like me, you will have that moment of pure awe while watching this film, wondering simply how did this film get made?

    County: Iran

    Language: Persian

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel, Kanopy

    24. Certified Copy (2010)

    MK2 Diffusion

    One of the last feature length films from Kiarostami, Certified Copy is just as disorienting as Close-Up. Consider this one a thought experiment: What if character relationships weren't fixed but rather shape-shifted without warning sometimes even within a single scene? Are the two characters in this film (played by Juliette Binoche and William Shimell) complete strangers? A married couple? Does it even matter? You, the viewer, are tasked with calling the shots.

    County: France

    Language: French, English, Italian

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel

    25. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

    Filmverlag der Autoren

    This melodrama from the controversial director Rainer Werner Fassbinder follows the budding romance between two outsiders —  a Moroccan immigrant working as a mechanic and a German cleaning lady nearly twice his age — and a prejudiced community insistent upon keeping them apart. It's considered one of the major works of New German Cinema, and its influence is felt in so many contemporary films today (including Todd Haynes', who has spoken about the importance of this film's vision of "outsiders" on him personally.)

    County: Germany

    Language: German

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel, Kanopy

    26. Personal Shopper (2017)

    Les Films du Losange

    Two things we have to thank Olivier Assayas for: making ghost stories kind of hot and for showing us a new way to text in movies that doesn't feel dumb and dated! Personal Shopper is a film about a young professional shopper named Maureen (Kristen Stewart) living in France and supporting high-profile celebs with their wardrobe needs. But the real tension in the film is that Maureen believes she can communicate with her departed twin brother, Lewis, and that he is trying to send her a message. Does this film feature one of the most bone chilling, blink-and-you'll-miss-it renderings of a ghost on screen? It does!

    County: France

    Language: English, French, Swedish

    Where to stream: Kanopy

    27. Honeyland (2019)

    Neon

    This foreign language documentary from Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska is the culmination of three years spent with a Macedonian beekeeper studying her labor, and it's an unexpected environmental plea to all. It's a rarity for a documentary to collect Oscar nominations in both the Documentary Feature category and International Feature Film (North Macedonia) category, but these accolades will probably make sense to you once you've given it a watch.

    County: North Macedonia

    Language: Balkan Turkish

    Where to stream: Hulu

    28. The Kid With a Bike (2011)

    Diaphana Films

    From the consistently good Dardenne brothers, is the Grand Prix-winning film about a 12-year-old boy in search of his father. Do you love a quiet, slow-burning story that becomes an effective parable by its end? Then this one — and the entirety of the Dardenne brothers' work for crying out loud — is for you!

    County: France

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel

    29. Stranger by the Lake (2013)

    Les films du losange

    Tilda Swinton recently shared a list of nine movies she believes every movie-goer should see in their lifetime. Among that list: 2013's chilling gay-romance thriller Stranger By the Lake. I'll just let her do the talking here because, really, I couldn't say it better myself: "Exquisitely atmospheric summer cruising. Boys looking for boys and the idyll of abandon. A breathtakingly swoony study in wicked tension, the romance of danger, and real erotic yearning.” Thanks, Tilda!

    County: France

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel

    30. The Salesman (2016)

    Memento Films

    Perhaps you missed this foreign-language film submission from Iran when it was in theaters — but did catch some of the political controversy that surrounded it in media coverage. As a refresher: Its director Asghar Farhadi boycotted the Oscars ceremony following President Trump's immigrant ban, so when the film won the Foreign Language category, a powerful statement was made in his stead. See for yourself the masterful command of cinema that earned this the big prize of the night and solidified Farhadi (The Past, A Separation) as one of the greatest working directors in the game.

    County: Iran

    Language: Persian

    Where to stream: Amazon Prime

    31. Equinox Flower (1958)

    Shochiku

    Yasujiro Ozu's first color film has been regarded as one of his most sympathetic portraits of the younger generation. It deals with a daughter (Setsuko) who defies her parents' demands for an arranged marriage and seeks out her own spouse. In its exploration of "chosen family," Equinox Flower makes a great double feature with Shoplifters.

    County: Japan

    Language: Japanese

    Where to stream: Criterion Channel, Kanopy

    32. Border (2018)

    TriArt Film

    Strange, unsettling, and deeply profound. Those are just three words among many I could use to describe this Swedish film from Ali Abbasi. Tina, our protagonist, works in airport security and possesses the dog-like ability to sniff out anyone toting illegal substances. Weirder, she can quite literally sniff out guilt. When she meets a man physically and behaviorally much like herself, it forces her to re-examine the truth of her identity. That's about as much as one can say without entering "spoiler" territory. Get ready for some jump scares and a handful of images that'll be imprinted on your brain for life.

    County: Sweden

    Language: Swedish

    Where to stream: Hulu

    33. BPM (2017)

    Memento Films

    Recently, Mark Schoofs wrote about the parallels of living through the AIDS epidemic and the coronavirus. To that end, watching Robin Campillo's "process"-heavy film about a group of young French AIDS activists that make up Paris's "Act Up" chapter might help contextualize our current moment. Or, if nothing else: watch because it stars Adèle Haenel, your new favorite actress from Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

    County: France

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Hulu

    34. My Life As a Zucchini (2016)

    GKids

    This moving film about a young boy who loses his mother and is sent to a foster home with other orphans, is packed with some of the most stylish and interesting animation from the last decade. For all of its heavy subject material, the film is surprisingly light in its approach to story and design. There's even a fun-as-hell dance scene to the music of Grauzone's "Eisbär." Try denying this film into your heart, I dare you!

    County: France

    Language: French

    Where to stream: Netflix

    35. Nobody Knows (2004)

    IFC Films

    Long before Shoplifters, Hirokazu Kore-eda directed this brutal and true coming-of-age story of a neglectful mother (played by You, who you might be familiar with from Terrace House) who abandons her four children, forcing them into a life of independence in Tokyo. It's a tough watch that can feel like a claustrophobic nightmare at times — but, hey, maybe this is exactly the catharsis you're looking for in these times. It was for me!

    County: Japan

    Language: Japanese

    Where to stream: Hulu

    For $5.99 a month (or $11.99 if you don’t want ads), you can now have access to all of these movies on Hulu. Not ready to commit? You can test it for free for 30 days. Ready to cut your cable cord? You can have access to Hulu and Live TV for $54.99. Happy binge-watching!

    For the latest news, binge-watching suggestions, tips for caring for your mental health, and more, check out all of BuzzFeed's coronavirus coverage.

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