I went through a phase in high school during which I watched indie films—some were foreign—because I thought I was better than everyone and my tastes were so refined. I still think this way and have consumed even more foreign films since then. Mostly, it’s because I enjoy staying at home and sitting in front of my computer for hours. My sad, pathetic life can be more deeply analyzed in a future article.

As native English speakers, we mistakenly take for granted that all best and most popular movies are spoken in English.

It is a bit of a chore to read subtitles, but these movies allow us to experience something experienced by someone from a different part of the world. Someone from halfway around the world with  completely different life experiences made this movie.  That blows my mind.

With that in mind, here are some recommendations:

 

“Amelie” (France)

A whimsical French girl decides to improve the lives of the people around her while she tries to cope with her own life. Did I mention how whimsical and how French this movie is? It’s a lot of both.

 

“Journey to the West” (China)

I recently watched this movie and it was awesome. The description that got me to watch this random movie was “a bit of ‘Stardust’ with a bit of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.’” It pays homage to the classic novel of the same name but with tons of humor, beautiful sets and even some unexpected heartfelt moments.

 

“Oldboy” (Korea)

An American version of this movie directed by Spike Lee and starring Thanos himself, Josh Brolin was recently released. Do not watch that movie. Go and watch this movie right now. This is one of my favorite movies ever. The score is hauntingly beautiful.

This movie is akin to some weird alternate universe where Alice from “Alice in Wonderland” is a middle-aged Korean man out for revenge. So it’s really not at all like “Alice,” but the story is kind of like going down a rabbit hole, so there is that.

Plus, this ultraviolent film will show you some new ideas on alternative uses for a hammer.

 

“Trollhunter” (Norway)

This is one of the best monster movies I have ever seen. Granted, now that I think about it, I feel like I’ve seen, like, two monster movies ever—can I count Dreamworks Animation’s “Aliens vs Monsters?”—but I can’t remember how something as stupid as trolls could be done so realistically. If I saw a troll in the woods, I would poop my pants instantly and…well, I’d probably be eaten after that.

 

“The Vanishing” (Dutch)

The movie was stuck in my head for weeks after I saw it. This is not a horror film in the typical sense, but my god, it is one of the most suspenseful movies I have ever seen. The dictionary definition of “slow build-up” must have this movie in there somewhere.

 

“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (Japan)

An anime centered around a girl who can leap through time. Wait, damn, the title basically said that. This movie is a light-hearted look at time travel that suddenly turns much more personal and emotional without ever feeling too “heavy.”

As a fan of time travel and romance, this was right up there with “About Time.”

Diversity of experience is so important; being open to exploring the unfamiliar is basically a requirement for being a good person. So, go watch some of these films!