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The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History 

Ranker Film
Updated May 26, 2020 7.4k votes 757 voters 22.9k views 311 items

List Rules Vote up the best movie from outside of the United States.

Hollywood may be the epicenter of the movie business, but many of the best films released each year hail from all over the world. The top world cinema movies feature classic stories of love, loss, and overcoming adversity. This is a list of the greatest and most famous foreign films, including everything from Life Is Beautiful to City of God to Let the Right One In.

What foreign films will you find on this list of the best movies in other languages? Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon combines mind-bending effects, beautiful cinematography, and dynamic story-telling in an entertaining, Oscar-winning package. Ang Lee directed the all-star cast, which included Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Zhang Aiyi. Jules and Jim is another fantastic non-English movie beloved by world cinema fans. The 2011 French film The Artist emulated the style of classic silent films, much to the delight of modern audiences. Other good foreign language movies featured on this list include Battle Royale, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro.

Do you have a favorite foreign film? Give the best movies a thumbs up to move them to the top of the list, and please add any great features that are missing.

 

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1
Seven Samurai is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Eijirō Tōno

Released: 1954

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese Jidaigeki adventure film co-written, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa. It follows the story of a village of farmers that hire seven ronin to combat bandits ...more

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2
Bicycle Thieves is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Lamberto Maggiorani

Released: 1948

Directed by: Vittorio De Sica

Bicycle Thieves, is a 1948 film directed by Vittorio De Sica. The film follows the story of a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the ...more

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3
The Exterminating Angel ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Silvia Pinal, Claudio Brook, Jacqueline Andere

Released: 1962

Directed by: Luis Buñuel

The Exterminating Angel, is the second Buñuel film of the Buñuel/Alatriste/Pinal film trilogy, written and directed by Luis Buñuel, starring Silvia Pinal, and produced by ...more

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4
Au revoir, les enfants ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Irène Jacob, François Berléand, Philippe Morier-Genoud

Released: 1987

Directed by: Louis Malle

Au revoir les enfants is an autobiographical 1987 film written, produced and directed by Louis Malle. The screenplay was published by Gallimard in the same year. The film won the Golden Lion at ...more

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5
Das Boot is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Uwe Ochsenknecht

Released: 1981

Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

Das Boot is a 1981 German epic film written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, produced by Günter Rohrbach, and starring Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Klaus Wennemann. ...more

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6
La Strada is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart

Released: 1954

Directed by: Federico Fellini

La Strada is a 1954 Italian drama film directed by Federico Fellini from his own screenplay co-written with Tullio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano. The film portrays a brutish strongman and the ...more

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7
M is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Peter Lorre, Theo Lingen, Georg John

Released: 1931

Directed by: Fritz Lang

M is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. It was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was the director's first sound film. Now ...more

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8
Raise the Red Lantern is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Gong Li, He Saifei, Baotian Li

Released: 1991

Directed by: Zhang Yimou

Raise the Red Lantern is a 1991 film directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Gong Li. It is an adaption by Ni Zhen of the 1990 novel Wives and Concubines by Su Tong. The film was later adapted into ...more
9
The Last Emperor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Peter O'Toole, Joan Chen, Vivian Wu

Released: 1987

Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci

The Last Emperor is a 1987 biographical film about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, whose autobiography was the basis for the screenplay written by Mark Peploe and Bernardo ...more

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10
Zulu is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Michael Caine, Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins

Released: 1964

Directed by: Cy Endfield

Zulu is a 1964 epic film depicting the Battle of Rorke's Drift between the British Army and the Zulus in January 1879. It depicts 150 British soldiers who successfully held off a force of 4,000 ...more

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11
District 9 is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Sharlto Copley, Jed Brophy, Vanessa Haywood

Released: 2009

Directed by: Neill Blomkamp

District 9 is a 2009 science fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp, released August 13, 2009. It takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa. District 9 is based on Alive in Joburg, a short film ...more

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12
The Girl with the Dragon... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Noomi Rapace, Marika Lagercrantz, Lena Endre

Released: 2009

Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a 2009 Swedish drama thriller film based on the novel of the same name by Swedish author/journalist Stieg Larsson. It is the first book in the trilogy known as ...more

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13
The Vanishing is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Johanna ter Steege, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets

Released: 1988

Directed by: George Sluizer

The Vanishing is a Dutch–French film adaptation of the novella The Golden Egg by Tim Krabbé, released on 27 October 1988. Directed by George Sluizer and starring Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, ...more

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14
City of God is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Alice Braga, Seu Jorge, Matheus Nachtergaele

Released: 2002

Directed by: Fernando Meirelles

City of God is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama film directed by Fernando Meirelles and co-directed by Kátia Lund, released in its home country in 2002 and worldwide in 2003. The story was ...more

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15
The Pianist is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
aliamiri added Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Emilia Fox

Released: 2002

Directed by: Roman Polanski

The Pianist is a 2002 historical drama film co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski, scripted by Ronald Harwood, and starring Adrien Brody. It is based on the autobiographical book The ...more

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16
Pan's Labyrinth is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
ShawnReynolds added Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero

Released: 2006

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Pan's Labyrinth is a 2006 Spanish-Mexican dark fantasy film directed by Guillermo del Toro. It was produced and distributed by Esperanto Films. In the Falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young ...more

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17
Rashomon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Machiko Kyō

Released: 1950

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa, working in close collaboration with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa. It stars Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Masayuki Mori ...more

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18
Parasite is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong

Released: 2019

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho

Parasite is a 2019 South Korean dark comedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho. An unemployed driver (Song Kang-ho) and his out-of-work family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and ...more

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19
Metropolis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Theodor Loos

Released: 1927

Directed by: Fritz Lang

Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist epic science fiction drama film directed by Fritz Lang. The film was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou, and starred Brigitte Helm, Gustav ...more

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20
The Seventh Seal is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Max von Sydow, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand

Released: 1957

Directed by: Ingmar Bergman

The Seventh Seal is a 1957 Swedish drama-fantasy film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Set in Denmark it tells of the journey of a medieval knight and a game of chess, who has come to ...more

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21
Malèna is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Monica Bellucci, Luciano Federico, Gaetano Aronica

Released: 2000

Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore

Malèna is a 2000 Italian romantic drama film starring Monica Bellucci and Giuseppe Sulfaro. It was directed and written by Giuseppe Tornatore from a story by Luciano Vincenzoni. It won ...more
22
The Tin Drum is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Charles Aznavour, Mario Adorf, Daniel Olbrychski

Released: 1979

Directed by: Volker Schlöndorff

The Tin Drum is a 1979 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Günter Grass. It was directed and co-written by Volker Schlöndorff. Stylistically, it is a surrealistic black ...more
23
Alexander Nevsky is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Dmitri Orlov, Nikolay Cherkasov, Sergei Blinnikov

Released: 1938

Directed by: Dmitri Vasilyev, Sergei Eisenstein

Alexander Nevsky is a 1938 historical drama film directed by Sergei Eisenstein. It depicts the attempted invasion of Novgorod in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire ...more

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24
Alphaville is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Anna Karina, Jean Piere Leaud, Akim Tamiroff

Released: 1965

Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard

Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution is a 1965 black-and-white French science fiction film noir directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It stars Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Howard ...more

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25
Audition is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History
Valdave added Eihi Shiina, Renji Ishibashi, Ren Osugi

Released: 1999

Directed by: Takashi Miike

Audition is a 1999 Japanese psychological horror-drama film, directed by Takashi Miike and starring Ryo Ishibashi and Eihi Shiina. It is based on a Ryu Murakami novel of the same title, from a ...more

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