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The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces 

Ranker Film
Updated March 23, 2020 2.6k votes 603 voters 40.1k views 80 items

Artistic cinematography, romantic stories, and creative directing have made French films a favorite all over the world. The best French movies ever made feature characters seeking adventure and falling in love. This is a list of the top French masterpieces including everything from The City of Lost Children to The 400 Blows to Blue is the Warmest Color.

What other classics will you find on this list of the greatest French movies of all time? The offbeat romance Amélie won over audiences with its story of a quirky young lady who finds love in the most unexpected of places. It was nominated for a total of five Academy Awards in 2001. Jules and Jim is another beloved French film. In 2011, the French silent film The Artist made an international splash and took home the Oscar for best picture. Other good movies featured on this best French films list include The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Grand Illusion, and The Intouchables.

Do you have a favorite film from France? Give the best movies a thumbs up and add some of them to your queue with our list of the best French movies on Netflix.

 

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1
Amélie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus

Released: 2001

Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Amélie is a 2001 romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Written by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant, the film is a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, set in ...more

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#407 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #149 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies

2
The Intouchables is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Omar Sy, François Cluzet, Anne Le Ny

Released: 2011

Directed by: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano

The Intouchables is a 2011 French comedy-drama film directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano. After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young ...more

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#1,401 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #432 of 1,017 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #116 of 139 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

3
Breathless is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Jean Seberg, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Paul Belmondo

Released: 1960

Directed by: Jean-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 ...more

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#68 of 113 The Best Mafia Films #51 of 139 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

4
The 400 Blows is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Jeanne Moreau, Jean Piere Leaud, Jean-Claude Brialy

Released: 1959

Directed by: François Truffaut

The 400 Blows is a 1959 French drama film, the debut by director François Truffaut; it stars Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, and Claire Maurier. One of the defining films of ...more

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#364 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies #19 of 46 Every Single Movie On Rotten Tomatoes With 100% Approval, Ranked

5
Belle de Jour is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
MaltheTuxen added Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli

Directed by: Luis Buñuel

Belle de Jour is a 1967 French drama film directed by Luis Buñuel. A frigid young housewife (Catherine Deneuve) decides to spend her midweek afternoons as a prostitute.
6
Three Colors: Red is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
MaltheTuxen added Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irène Jacob

Released: 1994

Directed by: Krzysztof Kieślowski

Three Colors: Red is a 1994 film co-written, produced, and directed by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski. It is the final film of The Three Colors Trilogy, which examines the French ...more

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7
Les Diaboliques is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Conker added Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse

Released: 1955

Directed by: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Les Diaboliques, released as Diabolique in the United States and variously translated as The Devils or The Fiends, is a 1955 French black-and-white psychological thriller feature film directed ...more

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8
Three Colors: Blue is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
MaltheTuxen added Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Emmanuelle Riva

Released: 1993

Directed by: Krzysztof Kieślowski

Three Colors: Blue is a 1993 French drama film written, produced, and directed by the acclaimed Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Blue is the first of three films that comprise The Three ...more

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#676 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #120 of 151 The Most Utterly Depressing Movies Ever Made

9
The Passion of Joan of A... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Antonin Artaud, Michel Simon, Renée Jeanne Falconetti

Released: 1928

Directed by: Marie 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 ...more

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#1,474 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #4 of 12 12 Pretty Accurate Movies Set In Medieval Times #47 of 139 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

10
Le Samouraï is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Lucy Hall added Alain Delon, François Périer, Cathy Rosier

Released: 1967

Directed by: Jean-Pierre Melville

Le Samouraï is a 1967 French-Italian crime film directed by French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville, starring Alain Delon as Jef Costello.
11
The Rules of the Game is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
nickflames added Jean Renoir, Marcel Dalio, Julien Carette

Released: 1939

Directed by: Jean Renoir

The Rules of the Game is a 1939 French film directed by Jean Renoir and starring Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parély, Marcel Dalio, Julien Carette, Roland Toutain, Gaston Modot, ...more

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12
Blue Is the Warmest Colo... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Alma Jodorowsky

Released: 2013

Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche

Blue Is the Warmest Colour is a 2013 French romantic coming-of-age drama film directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, based on the graphic novel by Julie Maroh. French teenager Adèle ...more

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#361 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies #509 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #38 of 40 The Best R-Rated Comic Book Movies

13
Eyes Without a Face is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
MaltheTuxen added Alida Valli, Pierre Brasseur, Édith Scob

Released: 1960

Directed by: Georges Franju

Eyes Without a Face is a 1960 French-Italian horror film adaptation of Jean Redon's novel, directed by Georges Franju, and starring Pierre Brasseur and Alida Valli. During the film's production, ...more

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#645 of 816 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #6 of 15 15 Obscure Horror Movies from the '60s You Need to See Right Now

14
The Grand Illusion is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Erich von Stroheim, Jean Gabin, Marcel Dalio

Released: 1937

Directed by: Jean Renoir

La Grande Illusion is a 1937 French war film directed by Jean Renoir, who co-wrote the screenplay with Charles Spaak. The story concerns class relationships among a small group of French ...more

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#219 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #16 of 136 The Best Prison Movies

15
Beauty and the Beast is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
madfrenchwoman added Jean Cocteau, Jean Marais, Josette Day

Released: 1946

Directed by: René Clément, Jean Cocteau

Beauty and the Beast is a 1946 French romantic fantasy film adaptation of the traditional fairy tale of the same name, written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and published in 1757 as part ...more
16
The Battle of Algiers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
MaltheTuxen added Jean Martin, Saadi Yacef, Gene Wesson

Released: 1966

Directed by: Gillo 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 ...more

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#57 of 139 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History #143 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

17
Jules and Jim is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Michel Subor

Released: 1962

Directed by: François Truffaut

Jules and Jim is a 1962 French film directed by François Truffaut. Set around the time of World War I, it describes a tragic love triangle involving French Bohemian Jim, his shy Austrian ...more

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18
The Wages of Fear is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
MaltheTuxen added Yves Montand, Darío Moreno, Peter van Eyck

Released: 1953

Directed by: Henri-Georges Clouzot

The Wages of Fear is a 1953 French-Italian thriller film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Yves Montand, and based on a 1950 novel by Georges Arnaud. When a South American oil well ...more

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19
A Trip to the Moon is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
martinhitchens21 added Georges Méliès, Jehanne d'Alcy, Bleuette Bernon

Released: 1902

Directed by: Georges Méliès

A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. Inspired by a wide variety of sources, including Jules Verne's novels From the Earth to the Moon and ...more

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#31 of 47 The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movieslisted on List of Silent Movies

20
Rocco and His Brothers ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Lucy Hall added Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon, Annie Girardot

Released: 1960

Directed by: Luchino Visconti

Rocco e i suoi fratelli is a 1960 Italian film directed by Luchino Visconti, inspired by an episode from the novel Il ponte della Ghisolfa by Giovanni Testori. Set in Milan, it tells the story ...more
21
Amour is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva

Released: 2012

Directed by: Michael Haneke

Amour is a 2012 French-language drama film directed by Michael Haneke. The narrative focuses on an elderly couple, Anne and Georges, who are retired music teachers with a daughter who lives ...more
22
The Red Circle is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Lucy Hall added Yves Montand, Bourvil, Gian Maria Volonté

Released: 1970

Directed by: Jean-Pierre Melville

Le Cercle Rouge is a 1970 crime film set in Paris, France. It was directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and stars Alain Delon, Andre Bourvil, Gian Maria Volonté and Yves Montand. It is known ...more

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#352 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #27 of 40 The Best Cop Movies of the 1970s

23
Manon of the Spring is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
madfrenchwoman added
24
Contempt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance, Jean-Luc Godard

Released: 1963

Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard

Contempt is a 1963 film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, based on the Italian novel A Ghost at Noon by Alberto Moravia. It stars Brigitte Bardot.

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25
Army of Shadows is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best French Movies That Are Absolute Masterpieces
Simone Signoret, Lino Ventura, Jean-Pierre Cassel

Released: 1969

Directed by: Jean-Pierre Melville

Army of Shadows is a 1969 French film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. It is a film adaptation of Joseph Kessel's 1943 book of the same name, which blends Kessel's own experiences as a member ...more