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8 Must-See Foreign Films Of The 21st Century

Babbel U.S. staffers weigh in on their favorite foreign films released in the 2000s. Have you seen any of these movies?
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8 Must-See Foreign Films Of The 21st Century

If you’re looking for a fun way to brush up on your language skills, watching a movie in the language you’re learning can help you practice your comprehension and pronunciation — not to mention the cultural knowledge you can gain. But there are so many great foreign films out there, how do you choose which one to watch? Eight staffers from Babbel’s U.S. office picked their favorite foreign films from the 21st century and told us what they love about them.

1. Pan’s Labyrinth (Spanish)

“Set in post-war Spain, Ofelia is a young girl with an active imagination who is struggling to adapt to life with her new stepfather. Part fantasy, part realism, Pan’s Labyrinth is not what you expect. You’re transported with Ofelia to a mythical land of her own making that is magical, terrifying, poignant, and unforgettable. This movie will stay with you for weeks after you watch it.”

foreign films pan's labryinth

2. Good Bye, Lenin! (German)

“After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Alexander, the film’s lead character, creates an elaborate deception to reconstruct East Germany. His mother, a fervent supporter of the Socialist Unity Party, has been in a coma for eight months, and the shock of finding out the truth could kill her. Equal parts funny and sentimental, Good Bye, Lenin! is about the lengths we’ll go to for love and family, and has a soundtrack that’s as beautiful as the film itself.”

foreign films goodbye lenin

3. City of God (Portuguese)

“This movie gained international attention for its beautiful cinematography and striking scenes of violence. Set in the 1970s in Rio de Janeiro’s most notorious favela, it portrays the day-to-day life of two friends, Buscapé and Zé Pequeno, whose lives take very different paths. The film is also a beautiful coming-of-age story that explores sexuality and inequality, and reveals many aspects of Brazilian culture.”

foreign films city of god

4. Oldboy (Korean)

Oldboy starts off as a typical revenge film but will leave you feeling unhinged with its tenderly crafted brutality. It’s one of three films from Chan-wook Park’s Vengeance trilogy and definitely outshines the others by far. Bonus: check out the gorgeous original soundtrack!”

foreign films oldboy

5. La Graine et le Mulet (French)

The Secret of the Grain, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, follows a shipyard worker from an immigrant Arab community in the French Mediterranean port of Sète. After being laid off, he decides to revitalize his career and open a couscous restaurant. There is an unexpected level of complexity to the film as it delivers unsentimental commentary on the politics of family and food.”

foreign films secret of the grain

6. Y Tu Mamá También (Spanish)

“This is such an irresistible coming-of-age story that explores the depths of friendship, sexuality, and the political/socioeconomic divide of Mexico in 1999. It’s beautiful, raw, and complex, and the on-screen chemistry is undeniable.”

foreign films y tu mama tambien

7. Three Idiots (Hindi)

Three Idiots is a satire of the Indian education system and society’s attitude toward learning versus vocation. The movie is a total laugh riot, but packed with so much punch and meaning that each time you watch it (I’ve seen it four times), you walk away inspired to be an instrument of change in India’s education system.”

foreign films three idiots

8. Head-On (German and Turkish)

“The German title is Gegen die Wand what means something like ‘Hitting the wall’. It is an intense, raw and disturbing movie about a German-Turkish couple whose deteriorating lives collide. I believe this film has changed the course of German cinema by showing its characters in a more brutally honest way than ever before.”

foreign films head-on

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