Entertainment
21 voters

Must-See German Movies of the 21st Century

Updated September 24, 2021 409 votes 21 voters 298.8k views74 items

What are the best German movies of the 21st cnetury? This list is an overview of some of the best German movies of the 21st century. Many of these movies, some of which can be found on Netflix or Amazon Prime, have helped carve the identity of German cinema since the turn of the century. So what is the best German movie from 2000 and beyond? Which German movies from the 21st century are a must-see? Which movies have defined German cinema?

German auteurs like Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck have made great films such as The Lives of Others and Never Look Away. Sebastian Schipper came onto the scene with Victoria. Christian Petzold has been making splashes with Phoenix and Undine. But what is the best German film?

Vote below and help decide the greatest German movie of the 21st century! Also, feel free to take a look at Best Foreign Legion Movies, Best Oscar-Winning Foreign Films, and Funny Foreign Film Title Translations

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  • 1
    Ulrich Tukur, Ulrich Mühe
    13
    0

    Released2006

    Directed byFlorian Henckel von Donnersmarck

    Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's insightful drama about the system of observation in the former Eastern Germany. Das Leben der Anderen is a powerful portrait of an opressive society as well as a moving character study.
  • 2
    Matthias Habich, Juliane Köhler
    13
    1

    Released2001

    Directed byCaroline Link

    Nirgendwo in Afrika , Caroline Link's Oscar-winning film, is the story of a Jewish family that emigrates to Kenya during World War II to escape the N***s. Filmed on location in Africa, Nirgendwo in Afrika was well received by critics and received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2003.
  • 3
    Hanna Schygulla, Erkan Can
    11
    0

    Released2007

    Directed byFatih Akın

    A widely praised film by Turkish-German director Fatih Akin. The complex and interwoven story of Auf der anderen Seite is set in Germany and Turkey and depicts various people with different cultural and social backgrounds whose paths meet in the course of life-changing events.
  • 4
    Tom Schilling, Sebastian Koch
    10
    1

    Released2018

    Directed byFlorian Henckel von Donnersmarck

    Never Look Away is a 2018 German drama film directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, inspired by the life of Gerhard Richter. In post-war East Germany, an art student (Tom Schilling) falls in...  more
  • 5
    Rainer Bock, Birgit Minichmayr
    9
    0

    Released2009

    Directed byMichael Haneke

    Michael Haneke's Oscar nominated film Das Weisse Band is a powerful tale about authority, guilt and violence. Shot in spellbinding Black & White, Das Weisse Band depicts family life and society just before the beginning of World War I and serves as a striking analysis of the origins of terrorism.
  • 6
    Nadja Uhl, Vadim Glowna
    9
    1

    Released2006

    Directed byChris Kraus

    A piano teacher gives lessons in a women's prison, where she meets the talented but overly aggressive girl Jenny. Step by step, Vier Minuten reveals the wounded souls of the two protagonists.
  • 7
    Peter Lohmeyer, Simon Verhoeven
    7
    0

    Released2003

    Directed bySönke Wortmann

    The Miracle of Bern is a 2003 film by Sönke Wortmann, which tells the story of a German family and the unexpected West German miracle victory in the 1954 World Cup Final in Bern, Switzerland. The...  more
  • 8
    Max Hubacher, Alexander Fehling
    7
    0

    Released2017

    Directed byRobert Schwentke

    The Captain (aka Der Hauptmann) is a 2017 German historical drama film directed by Robert Schwentke. In the last moments of World War II, a young German soldier fighting for survival finds a Nazi...  more
  • 9
    Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld
    10
    4

    Released2014

    Directed byChristian Petzold

    Phoenix is a 2014 German drama film directed by Christian Petzold, loosely adapted from the 1961 novel Le Retour des Cendres by French author Hubert Monteilhet, A disfigured concentration-camp...  more
  • 10
    Laia Costa, Frederick Lau
    7
    1

    Released2015

    Directed bySebastian Schipper

    Victoria is a 2015 German crime thriller film directed by Sebastian Schipper. It follows Victoria (Laia Costa), a Spanish woman who meets four men in Germany and gets embroiled in their shady...  more
  • 11
    Daniel Brühl, Chulpan Khamatova
    9
    4

    Released2003

    Directed byWolfgang Becker

    Good Bye, Lenin was the most succesful film of 2003 in Germany. A heartwarming tragicomedy about a boy who, in the year 1990, tries to set up the GDR again for his mother, who just awoke from a coma and needs to avoid any excitement. Problem is, the world around her has changed completely in just a few months.
  • 12
    Maggie Grace, Forest Whitaker
    6
    1

    Released2010

    Directed byPaul Scheuring

    An exciting thriller inspired by the events of the Stanford prison experiment, Das Experiment was more appreciated by audiences than by the critics. The film was remade in 2010 in the US, starring Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker.
  • 13
    Alexandra Lara, Bruno Ganz
    6
    1

    Released2008

    Directed byUli Edel

    Another take on German history, Der Baader Meinhof Komplex depicts the early years of the West German militant group "Rote Armee Fraktion" (Red Army Faction, or RAF). The film by director Uli Edel and producer Bernd Eichinger is like a Who's-Who showcase of German actors. Der Baader Meinhof Komplex was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for the 81st. Academy Awards.
  • 14
    Nina Hoss, Rainer Bock
    3
    0

    Released2012

    Directed byChristian Petzold

    Barbara is a 2012 German drama film directed by Christian Petzold. The film competed at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2012, where Petzold won the Silver Bear for Best...  more
  • 15
    Tom Schilling, Katharina Schüttler
    4
    3

    Released2012

    Directed byJan-Ole Gerster

    A Coffee in Berlin, also titled Oh Boy, is a 2012 German tragicomedy film directed by Jan-Ole Gerster. A fateful day pushes an aimless college dropout (Tom Schilling) to stop wasting his time and...  more
  • 16
    Agust Diehl, Dolores Chaplin
    3
    1

    Released2007

    Directed byStefan Ruzowitzky

    This co-production of Austria and Germany won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Films (Austria). Based on true events, Die Fälscher centers on the Jewish counterfeiter Salomon 'Sally' Sorowitsch, who with other prisoners is forced to help the N***s on a secret operation in the concentration camp Sachsenhausen. Their plan was to destabilize British economy by flooding it with forged bank notes.
  • 17
    Burghart Klaußner, Imogen Kogge
    1
    0

    Released2006

    Directed byHans-Christian Schmid

    Requiem is a 2006 German drama film directed by Hans-Christian Schmid. It stars Sandra Hüller as a woman with epilepsy, Michaela Klingler, believed by members of her church and herself to be...  more
  • 18
    Roeland Wiesnekker, Julie Bräuning
    1
    0

    Released2007

    Directed byReto Caffi

    On the Line is a 2007 short, drama film written by Reto Caffi and Philippe Zweifel, directed by Reto Caffi....
  • 19
    Marthe Keller, Manfred Zapatka
    1
    0

    Released2004

    Directed byRomuald Karmakar

    Die Nacht singt ihre Lieder is a 2004 drama film directed by Romuald Karmakar....
  • 20
    Sabine Timoteo, Nicole Marischka
    1
    0

    Released2001

    Directed byMaria Speth

    In den Tag hinein is a film directed by Maria Speth released on November 15, 2001....
  • 21
    Eva Löbau, Robert Schupp
    1
    0

    Released2003

    Directed byMaren Ade

    The Forest for the Trees is a 2003 drama film directed by Maren Ade....  more
  • 22
    Ulrich Thomsen, Burghart Klaußner
    1
    0

    Released2010

    Directed byBaran Odar

    "A bicycle found in a wheat field. A missing teenager. Is history repeating itself? 23 years ago, a young girl named Pia was raped and murdered at this exact spot. Has the same happened again to...  more
  • 23
    Jürgen Vogel, André Hennicke
    1
    0

    Released2006

    Directed byMatthias Glasner

    The Free Will is a 2006 German drama film directed by Matthias Glasner. It premiered in competition at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2006 and was awarded two prizes: Jürgen...  more
  • 24
    Ilka Welz, Ilse Lausch
    1
    0

    Released2006

    Directed byValeska Grisebach

    Longing is a 2006 romantic drama film written and directed by Valeska Grisebach....  more
  • 25
    Birgit Minichmayr, Lars Eidinger
    1
    0

    Released2009

    Directed byMaren Ade

    "One of the most accomplished unraveling-couple films of recent years, writer-director Maren Ade’s second feature brilliantly captures the growing disconnect between mismatched young lovers Chris...  more