The Five Best Foreign Movie Making Countries

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I recently received an email asking me for an opinion on the five best foreign movie making countries. Since I’m a big fan of films made outside the United States, this was one query I was more than happy to answer. My thoughts are listed below, and most of the movies listed can be rented through Netflix. You can also rent foreign films from Netflix, and clicking here allows you to take part in their free trial membership.

Of course, you may disagree with my opinions, especially if I left your country off the list. Feel free to make your voice heard in our comments section and let me know what a swine I truly am.

Also, don’t forget that Netflix carries movies from all these countries and many more. Sign up for their free trial offer, or go ahead and get yourself a membership for as little as $7.99 per month.

Now here are my choices for the five best foreign movie making countries in no particular order:

South Korea – Starting in the late 1990s, South Korean cinema began growing in leaps and bounds, and they’re now one of the few countries on the planet where Hollywood films don’t make up the majority of the domestic box office take. Much of this is due to films that explore important social issues (especially the tensions between North Korea and South Korea) and also provide moviegoers with unpredictable plots and endings. With Hollywood becoming increasingly cookie cutter in their approach to cinema, pictures made in South Korea are like a cinematic breath of fresh air. If you’re new to films from this county, here are a few recommendations to get you started:

France – When it comes to quality and variety, the French have been in a class all their own for decades. From the French New Wave to the modern crop of gruesome horror films, the French continue to turn out thoughtful meditations on life, love and the human condition. The French also flourish in the action genre, with directors such as Pierre Morel and Jean-Francois Richet making exciting films both at home and abroad. If you’re looking to experience the magic of French cinema, here are a few films to try:

Japan – The Japanese have been turning out films since 1897, and it shows in the diversity that they bring to the art of cinema. From the artistic highs of Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai) to the sensationalistic works of Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer), film lovers in the land of the rising sun have plenty of options to choose from. And let’s not forget about feature-length anime films and the legacy of Godzilla. Often riddled with sex and violence, Japanese cinema takes no prisoners, yet it also delivers emotional peaks and valleys far beyond that of most Hollywood movies. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:

India – It would be impossible to leave the cinema of India off this list, as it’s both prolific and diverse. Just look up Bollywood in the Encyclopedia Britannica and check out the following description: “Formulaic story line, expertly choreographed fight scenes, spectacular song-and-dance routines, emotion-charged melodrama, and larger-than-life heroes.” That about sums it up. Many of the Bollywood films are also shameless rip-offs of Hollywood movies, but their adoring audiences don’t seem to mind one bit. For newcomers to the Bollywood style, here are a few films to get acquainted with:

Italy – The Italian film industry has been around since the early days of the 1900s, and it’s still going strong after suffering through a dry period in the late 70s and mid-1980s. Early contributions included neorealism, the sword and sandal films, spaghetti western, and the horror films of Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Italy is also noted for its high concentration of film auteur, including Fellini, Bertolucci, Leone and Rossellini. If you’re exploring Italian cinema for the first time, try the following classics on for size:

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That’s not to say that many other countries aren’t turning out quality films. For other nations which qualify as the best foreign movie making countries, try sampling the films of Russia (12, Night Watch), China (Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Serbia (Pretty Village, Pretty Flame), Hong Kong (Kung Fu Hustle), Hungary (Kontroll), Brazil (City of God), Germany (The Lives of Others), Spain (Volver) and Bosnia (No Man’s Land). And there’s plenty more where that came from.

Also recommended:

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 6:44 pm and is filed under Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 Responses to “The Five Best Foreign Movie Making Countries”

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April 27, 2010


I should say I totally agree, except for India! What is the position of UK and Germany here? India makes too many movies and only very few are really good.
As I am Iranian I would also like to know your view about Iranian movies. I could not find an official ranking anywhere on internet but I believe Iran could be in top 20.

May 12, 2010


I know we often group the UK in with American cinema, but they really do have an entirely separate film industry over there and it certainly ranks among the best in the world. Certainly better than South Korea and India.

June 11, 2010


I totally agree with this. I’m from the philippines and i really think that skorean movies are one of the best. It’s a fact that asian stories are a lot better than some of the other regions can offer.

August 17, 2010


I would also recommend films from the 6th generation of Chinese filmmakers, in addition to those you have mentioned (ie 5th generation, Beijing film academy graduates). I particularly favour the films of Jia Zhangke and think that many followers of this blog will like them as well!

August 18, 2010


Thanks for the recommendation, Sparkle. Always nice to see the 6th generation filmmakers getting a little love.

December 12, 2010


I definitely wanted to see India in this list. They produce lot more movies though very few of them are good, however those few (appx 10 every year) are must watch movies. I definitely want to see Iran, Israel in this list. Just adore them. Simple, elegant, natural yet powerful.

December 12, 2010


My list will be – 1. Iran/Israel 2. France 3. South Korea 4. India 5. Sweden

December 14, 2010


Ken, could you recommend some good Iranian or Israeli movies for those of us who are less familiar with the region?

December 16, 2010


Take any movie by Majid Majidi (Color of Paradise, Children of Heaven, Baran) or Abbas Kiarostami. Some others include – Bashu, the Little Stranger etc

Check these links… I haven’t seen all of them and those I have seen don’t even feature in this list. Most of the time I watched those in film festival. I’ll try to send that list some other time.

Take my word, you will love the simplicity and altogether new story line.

March 16, 2011


Nice Movie Blog! If you wanna check some of the best movie reviews from entire Asia, check this blog! It’s really GREAT!

Jusst take a glimpse, u’ll love it! 🙂


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