15 International Films on Netflix to Watch While In Quarantine

Unfortunately, too many Americans are repelled by subtitles. There are so many INCREDIBLE foreign films out there that are easily accessible to us through streaming. With the well-deserved Best Picture win by Parasite at the Academy awards this year, we’ve fortunately seen an uptick in consumption of foreign properties. So, if you are looking to diversify your viewing catalog, here are 15 international films in no particular order to watch while you are responsibly self-distancing.

1. Like Water for Chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate via Miramax

This Mexican film, based on a novel by Laura Esquivel, is beautifully shot film about passion and the healing power of food. This film has been around since 1992 and at the time was the highest grossing Mexican film with a limited release in the United States. That said, not enough people had seen this beautifully shot film. Since we should all be cooking our meals in the coming months, this is a great film to curl up and watch while you eat your dinner. [Rated R for sexuality]

2. Y Tu Mama Tambien

If you think Last Tango in Paris is too provocative, this is NOT a film for you. This movie is steamy, passionate, and yet surprisingly, bittersweet. This coming-of-age film by Alfonso Cuaron manages to get you rooting for the two main raunchy teenage boys in this road trip to learn about life in the backdrop of 90’s Mexican government. As I said, this film is not for households with children or for people looking to watch a film with their parents. However, once you realize how the raunchier scenes move the plot and the characters, you are able to look past the initial provocative shock and see a beautiful film. [Rated R for strong sexual content involving teens, drug use and language]

3. Roma

Another fantastic Alfonso Cuaron film, 2018’s Netflix original Roma is regarded among a lot of critics as their favorite film of all time. While I find it a little slow, I cannot deny the beauty of this film. This family drama is wrapped in tragedy and comedy and offers such an intimate tale of family love in 1970’s Mexico. Highly recommend. [Rated R for graphic nudity, some disturbing images, and language]

4. Kon Tiki

Kon Tiki via Nordisk Film

This Academy Award nominated Norwegian film is a historical drama about the famous 1947 exhibition across the Pacific Ocean on a wooden raft by explorer Thor Heyerdahl. This is a very different film from every other on this list. This film is beautiful and awe-inspiring and digs deep into the story behind this dangerous voyage. [Rated PG-13 for a disturbing violent sequence]

5. My Life as a Zucchini

This wonderful film made my 20 Family Films on Netflix list this morning, so if you want to know my full thoughts, check it out there. I had to include this Swiss-French animated film because it needs all of the attention I can possibly give it. [Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and suggestive material]

6. Blue is the Warmest Color

This French film falls under the same category as Y Tu Mama Tambien: it does not try to censor the *ahem* scenes. Like that film, however, once you realize those scenes are necessary to the characters’ development and plot, you are transported to a beautiful LGBTQ+ story of love and loss that contains two of the most authentic and heart wrenching performances you will ever see. [Rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content]

7. I Lost My Body

I Lost My Body via Netflix

This French animated film was one of the best films from last year and was rightfully nominated for Best Animated Picture. This very odd story about a hand trying to make its way back to its owner is touching and moving. While a very off-script type of love story and odd animation style, this film is a must see for all fans of animation. [NR but recommended 15+]

8. Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Out of the vast catalog of foreign films, the ones that most people will say they’ve seen are those made by Studio Ghibli, such as Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro. However, there are plenty of films in the same vein as Ghibli that people just aren’t aware of. This film, while not a Ghibli film, looks, feels, and has the heart that the Ghibli films are known for. A beautiful film that also made my 20 Family Films list this morning. [Rated PG for some action and thematic elements]

9. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Via Sony Pictures Classics

This is a film that I deem a necessary watch for anybody who claims to be a film fan. An absolutely beautifully crafted wuxia film, this film delves into so much more than just the action as it is easily one of the greatest star-crossed lover stories to grace the screen. Also, the score is absolutely mind-blowing: if you are a fan of movie music, at the very least listen to this masterpiece by composer Tan Dun. An absolute masterpiece by director Ang Lee that has cemented him in the conversation of being one of the greatest directors today. [Rated PG-13 for martial arts violence and some sexuality]

10. Ip Man 1-3

These Donnie Yen martial arts films are based on the life of Ip Man, grandmaster of Wing Chun and teacher of Bruce Lee. Filled with great action choreography, these films may be some of the best martial arts movies of all time. Now in typical Chinese film fashion, I wouldn’t take the story as a bit of a chance to be accurate, but they are a lot of fun nonetheless. Unfortunately, the fourth and final film isn’t on Netflix yet as it just came out last year, but I would recommend you binge these three so when the fourth is eventually put out on streaming, you’ll be good to go. [1 & 2 Rated R for violence, 3 Rated PG-13 for sequences of martial arts violence and brief strong language. I would recommend for ages 10 and up however as they are all closer to really tame PG-13 movies here in the States]

11. Burning (Beoning)

This haunting and character driven Korean film is one of the best international films to come out in the last decade. This slow-burn mysterious drama leaves the audience with a lot to chew on. Highly recommend this character study film: it is amazing. [NR but probably in the vein of R with language, disturbing thematic elements, violence, and sexual situations]

12. Train to Busan

Let’s talk about zombies. Train to Busan is one of the craziest and suspenseful zombie flicks to grace the screen. A very unique take on the genre that speaks to moral compasses clashing and class rebellion all while the survivors are trapped on a moving train with the infected. One of the best horror films of 2016 and one of the best films on Netflix, I would highly recommend. [NR but has A LOT of violence and intense sequences]

13. Snowpiercer

Chris Evans in Snowpiercer. Via The Weinstein Company

From the director of Parasite, this film may surprise people that it is actually a Korean film. Starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, and Octavia Spenser, this post-apocalyptic class warfare film is a great sci-fi thriller. Not as good as Bong Joon-Ho’s Oscar winning film, it is still a great film that, despite the cast, a lot of people didn’t go to the theaters to see. [Rated R for violence, language and drug content]

14. The President’s Barber

Another fantastic Korean film that follows the personal barber of the Korean President and his family through four decades of Korean history. For those looking to learn more about Korean history through a lens that normally history isn’t told through, this is the movie for you. The performances are incredible in this very witty historical drama. [Rated R]

15. Shadow

Chao Deng in Shadow via Village Roadshow Pictures

A great Chinese action-filled period piece that takes place during the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history and follows a general that utilizes a body double to deceive and defeat his rivals. Being a great metaphor for what we see as the Yin-Yang symbol, Shadow is filled with fantastic and inventive classic Chinese action. A well-regarded International film from last year that unfortunately gets lost in the shuffle when scrolling through Netflix. [NR, the violence is on par with PG-13 but would probably be R for the amount of blood]

One thought on “15 International Films on Netflix to Watch While In Quarantine

  1. Pingback: The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang—Adaptability Review – Saving Movie Night

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