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The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

Updated June 7, 2021 12.6k votes 1k voters 28.8k views476 items

List RulesVote 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, Bicycle Thieves, Oldboy, and The Lives of Others.

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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  • 26
    Valdave added

    Apu trilogy

    Subir Banerjee, Pinaki Sen Gupta
    87
    50

    Released1955 - 1959

    Directed bySatyajit Ray

    The Apu Trilogy comprises three Bengali films directed by Satyajit Ray: Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar. They are based on two Bengali novels written by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay: Pather...  more
  • 27

    La Dolce Vita

    Nico, Anita Ekberg
    84
    47

    Released1960

    Directed byFederico Fellini

    La Dolce Vita is a 1960 Italian comedy-drama film written and directed by Federico Fellini. The film follows Marcello Rubini, a journalist writing for gossip magazines, over seven days and nights on...  more
  • 28

    Wings Of Desire

    Peter Falk, Bruno Ganz
    67
    32

    Released1987

    Directed byWim Wenders

    Wings of Desire is a 1987 Franco-German romantic fantasy film directed by Wim Wenders. The film is about invisible, immortal angels who populate Berlin and listen to the thoughts of the human...  more
  • 29

    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

    Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover
    68
    36

    Released1920

    Directed byRobert Wiene

    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 German silent horror film, directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist...  more
  • 30

    Tokyo Story

    Setsuko Hara, Chishū Ryū
    66
    35

    Released1953

    Directed byYasujirō Ozu

    Tokyo Story is a 1953 Japanese film directed by Yasujirō Ozu. It tells the story of an aging couple who travel to Tokyo to visit their grown children. The film contrasts the behavior of their...  more
  • 31

    Wild Strawberries

    Max von Sydow, Bibi Andersson
    57
    27

    Released1957

    Directed byIngmar Bergman

    Wild Strawberries is a 1957 Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman about an old man recalling his past. The original Swedish title is Smultronstället, which literally means "The wild...  more
  • 32

    Battleship Potemkin

    Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov
    52
    24

    Released1925

    Directed bySergei Eisenstein

    Battleship Potemkin, sometimes rendered as Battleship Potyomkin, is a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and produced by Mosfilm. It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that...  more
  • 33

    Le Samouraï

    Alain Delon, François Périer
    50
    23

    Released1967

    Directed byJean-Pierre Melville

    Le Samouraï is a 1967 French-Italian crime film directed by French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville, starring Alain Delon as Jef Costello....  more
  • 34

    The Passion of Joan of Arc

    Antonin Artaud, Michel Simon
    51
    25

    Released1928

    Directed byMarie Losier, Carl Dreyer

    The Passion of Joan of Arc is a 1928 silent French film based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc. The film was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and stars Renée Jeanne Falconetti as Joan....  more
  • 35

    Solaris

    Anatoly Solonitsyn, Natalya Bondarchuk
    59
    32

    Released1972

    Directed byAndrei Tarkovsky

    Solaris is a 1972 Russian science fiction art film adaptation of Polish author Stanisław Lem's novel Solaris. The film was co-written and directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The film is a meditative...  more
  • 36

    In The Mood For Love

    Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai
    79
    53

    Released2000

    Directed byWong Kar-wai

    In the Mood for Love is a 2000 Hong Kong film directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. The film premiered on 20 May 2000, at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, where it was...  more
  • 37

    Run Lola Run

    Franka Potente, Armin Rohde
    69
    46

    Released1998

    Directed byTom Tykwer

    Run Lola Run is a 1998 German thriller film written and directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Franka Potente as Lola and Moritz Bleibtreu as Manni. The story follows a woman who needs to obtain 100,000...  more
  • 38
    Valdave added

    Lawrence of Arabia

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole
    31
    7

    Released1962

    Directed byDavid Lean

    Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E. Lawrence. It was directed by David Lean and produced by Sam Spiegel. The film stars Peter O'Toole in the...  more
  • 39

    Harakiri

    Tatsuya Nakadai, Tetsurō Tamba
    35
    12

    Released1962

    Directed byMasaki Kobayashi

    Harakiri is a Japanese jidaigeki film directed by Masaki Kobayashi. The story takes place between 1619 and 1630 during the Edo period and the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate. It tells the story of...  more
  • 40
    Valdave added

    Das Boot

    Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer
    27
    4

    Released1982

    Directed byWolfgang Petersen

    Das Boot is a 1982 German epic film written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, produced by Günter Rohrbach, and starring Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Klaus Wennemann. It has been...  more
  • 41

    Breathless

    Jean Seberg, Jean-Luc Godard
    51
    29

    Released1960

    Directed byJean-Luc Godard

    Breathless is a 1960 French film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard about a wandering wrong doer and his American girlfriend. It was Godard's first feature-length work and represented Belmondo's...  more
  • 42
    Valdave added

    M

    Peter Lorre, Theo Lingen
    25
    1

    Released1931

    Directed byFritz 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 considered a...  more
  • 43

    Three Colors

    Juliette Binoche, Zbigniew Zamachowski
    53
    32

    Released1993

    Directed byKrzysztof Kieślowski

    The Three Colors trilogy is the collective title of three films directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, two made in French and one primarily in Polish: Three Colors: Blue, Three Colors: White, and Three...  more
  • 44

    The Battle of Algiers

    Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef
    48
    27

    Released1966

    Directed byGillo Pontecorvo

    The Battle of Algiers is a 1966 film based on occurrences against the French government in North Africa, the most prominent being the titular Battle of Algiers. An Italo-Algerian production, it was...  more
  • 45

    Rashomon

    Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura
    105
    87

    Released1950

    Directed byAkira 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 and...  more
  • 46
    Valdave added

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach
    29
    7

    Released1966

    Directed bySergio Leone

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. The screenplay was written by Age &...  more
  • 47
    Valdave added

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail

    John Cleese, Terry Gilliam
    26
    4

    Released1975

    Directed byTerry Gilliam, Terry Jones

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a 1975 British comedy film written and performed by the comedy group of Monty Python, and directed by Gilliam and Jones. It was conceived during the hiatus between...  more
  • 48

    All About My Mother

    Penélope Cruz, Fernando Fernan Gomez
    51
    30

    Released1999

    Directed byPedro Almodóvar

    All About My Mother is a 1999 Spanish comedy-drama film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. The film deals with complex issues such as AIDS, homosexuality, transsexualism, faith, and...  more
  • 49

    Let The Right One In

    Lina Leandersson, Tom Ljungman
    66
    48

    Released2008

    Directed byTomas Alfredson

    Let the Right One In is a 2008 Swedish romantic horror film directed by Tomas Alfredson. A 12-year-old boy (Kåre Hedebrant) develops a friendship with a vampire child (Lina Leandersson) in...  more
  • 50

    Farewell My Concubine

    Gong Li, Leslie Cheung
    42
    22

    Released1993

    Directed byChen Kaige

    Farewell My Concubine, a 1993 Chinese drama film directed by Chen Kaige, is one of the central works of the Fifth Generation movement that brought Chinese film directors to world attention. Similar...  more