10 Best International Movies of 2020

2020 was a great year to rediscover the joy of watching (international) movies. 

I was lucky enough to have a housemate with a projector, a big white wall, and a Cineville pass (which is a Dutch subscription to arthouse movie theaters). 

Due to Corona, Cineville launched a platform with approximately 6 new movies per week that we religiously watched. 

I wanted to share some of my favorites from last year and – since this blog is about cultural diversity – I included the countries of origin.

1. Bacurau (2019) – Brazil

It’s difficult to capture Bacurau in single genre. 

It can probably be best described as a black-comedy thriller, with horror elements and political twist. 

The movie is about the usually peaceful village of Bacurau that has fallen victim to inexplicable killings. 

After a confusing start, the story gradually unfolds.

2. Corpus Cristi (2019) – Poland

Corpus Cristi is definitely one of the most original foreign movies of 2020. 

The twenty-something year old ex-prisoner, Daniel, is living a tough and somewhat depressing life until he decides to become a priest (without the church’s permission). 

As his community is starting to take him more seriously, his life seems to be reaching a positive tipping point, but will he be able to get rid of his past?

3. The Kingmaker (2019) – Philippines

Imelda Marcos was the Philippines’ first lady from 1965-1986 and famous for her wealth and large collection of shoes (~3,000 pairs). 

This seemingly innocent hobby turns out to have a shadow side, which is her way of accumulating these riches. 

The Marcos family has been estimated to have accumulated $10bn while in office and are still a major political force in the Philippines. 

This documentary is a frightening eye-opener to the latest political era in the Philippines.

4. Deerskin (2019) – France

Director Quentin Dupieux’s work is known for his absurd sense of humor and Deerskin is no exception. 

Georges (the protagonist) becomes obsessed with his jacket made of deerskin and is convinced that the world would be a better place if his jacket were to be the only one on the planet. 

If you’re into dark humor, bizarre killings and a movie with a strange story line, this is your pick.

5. Citizen K (2019) – Russia/US

Citizen K is a documentary about Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s life. 

Khodorkovsky is an exiled Russian millionaire (former billionaire), who was part of the infamous 7 oligarchs who amassed their wealth directly after the fall of the Soviet Union. 

This exciting documentary walks the viewer through Russia’s recent history and the rise of Putin’s leadership.

6. Metro Manila (2013) – Philippines

Metro Manila is a famous Filipino movie about a poor farmer who moves his family to the big city of Manila in search of a better life. 

What starts as a rough journey full of deceit, gradually transforms into what seems to be a success story. 

However, deceit and instability are still lurking around the corner.

7. Les Misérables (2019) – France

The movie Les Misérables shouldn’t be confused with the 2012 Hollywood Movie/Musical starring Hugh Jackman. 

Les Misérables (2019) takes place in Montfermeil, a commune in the suburbs of Paris that is known for its violent battle over the banlieues

The director Ladj Ly, who grew up in the neighborhood himself, depicts a tough region depleted of opportunities for its youth. 

He does, however, manage to combine this bleak picture with the exciting high pace of a police movie.

8. Black (2015) – Belgium

Black is a movie about the impossible love between two 15-year old’s. 

They’re part of rival gangs and their relationship will have a devastating effect on their lives and that of their friends. 

Once you start watching, it’s difficult to stop due to the electrifying pace and the impressive performance from these relatively unexperienced young actors.

9. Capharnaüm (2019) – Libanon

In 2019, the Lebanese drama, Capharnaüm, became the winner of the IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam) audience award. 

The start of the trailer, shows the young protagonist (Zain) suing his parents in court for his own birth. 

Although an interesting concept, the strength of the movie lies in the strong imagery that depicts the harsh reality of Lebanon’s poor and immigrants.

10. Parasite (2019) – South Korea

Parasite came out in 2019 and immediately turned into a huge hit. 

It became so popular, that Bong Joon Ho’s movie ended up winning 4 Oscars (which is highly unusual for an international movie). 

If you somehow did miss it, schedule in some time next weekend, because you’re going to want to watch this one. 

Parasite is about a poor South-Korean family infiltrating a rich one (hence the name Parasite), by gradually introducing more family members as staff. 

Besides the beautiful setting, the hilarious conversations and exciting twists, Parasite is a movie about inequality in South Korea and contains a lot of hidden symbolism.

Want More Tips?

If you’re more of a reader than a movie fan, check out my book recommendations from 2020.

For more movie tips, check out the posts on the home page


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