Special Report

Best Foreign Films of All Time

Source: Courtesy of Lopert Films

40. La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1946)
> IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (26,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (67 reviews)
> Directed by: Jean Cocteau
> Language: French

Long before the blockbuster Disney adaptations there came Jean Cocteau’s dazzling take on the timeless fairy tale. Rife with dreamy visuals and mature themes, it tells the story of a young woman and her beastly captor.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer Getty Images

39. The Burmese Harp (1956)
> IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (5,800 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (11 reviews)
> Directed by: Kon Ichikawa
> Language: Japanese

Traumatized from the horrors of war, a soldier takes up the life of a Buddhist monk in this lyrical drama. It was nominated for Best Foreign Film in the category’s first year at the Academy Awards.

Source: Courtesy of Rank Film Distributors of America

38. Shoah (1985)
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (13,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (15 reviews)
> Directed by: Claude Lanzmann
> Language: German

Claude Lanzmann’s stunning documentary, which clocks in at over nine hours, portrays the Holocaust from multiple perspectives. Approximately 11 years in the making, it relies exclusively on interviews and features without a single frame of archival footage.

Source: Courtesy of Cine Classics

37. L’Atalante (1934)
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (15,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (37 reviews)
> Directed by: Jean Vigo
> Language: French

This French romantic dramedy chronicles the fledgling marriage between a boat captain and a small-town girl. Balancing poetic visuals with realistic characters and situations, the film remains impressively modern even many decades after its release.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

36. Napoleon (1927)
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (7,600 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 88% (41 reviews)
> Directed by: Abel Gance
> Language: French

A benchmark of the silent era, this historical epic depicts the early years of French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte. The film’s innovative camerawork and editing techniques were revolutionary for their time, as was its prevailing sense of spectacle.

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