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The Best Foreign Film of All Time

What has been known for years as the “Best Foreign Language Film” Oscar was first given in 1956. Today it is called the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film. Most of the winners have been from European nations, and a fairly large number were made in Japan. Often subtitles have made these accessible to American audiences.

Far less risk-averse than the standard Hollywood fare, history’s best foreign films offer a refreshing sense of artistic purity. To watch these enduring classics is to give up the need for rote formulas and happy endings, submitting yourself to a world of raw emotion and unpredictable outcomes. It’s then no surprise that some of the most groundbreaking American films were directly preceded by international movements like the French New Wave or Japan’s Golden Age.

Of course, viewers are also welcome or even encouraged to enjoy these films as mere vessels of entertainment. Take Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai,” for example, which established early benchmarks for the action genre. Then there’s the silent era masterpiece “Nosferatu,” which still manages to elicit scares nearly a century after its release.

24/7 Tempo’s picked the best foreign films of all time. We made our decision by developing an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. All ratings were weighted equally. Only films included in Movieline’s “100 Greatest Foreign Films” were considered. Data directorial credits and language also came from IMDb. English-language titles are given, except in cases where the film is best-known by its original name.

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