Welcome to my list of the best foreign films of the year! In case you’re wondering why certain films appear to be missing there are a few factors to take into account. First, films like Mother, A Prophet, The Good the Bad the Weird, and The Secret In Their Eyes are movies that made previous lists. Second, I haven’t seen everything that was released this year. And third, your favorite foreign release from 2010 may actually have been a piece of shit.
But seriously, these are my picks for the ten best foreign language movies of the year in alphabetical order. As a bonus I’ve added in the five best English language foreign films for you as well. I know. You’re welcome. (Full reviews for all of the titles below can be found via our Reviews database, and my weekly excursions into foreign films can be found here.)
About Elly (Iran)
A group of friends take a weekend trip, but when one of them goes missing the truth about who she was gets lost in a haze of suspicion, judgment, and fear. Writer/director Asghar Farhadi’s film offers a suspenseful and beautifully-acted look into a society most of us know only from the nightly news, and it is an enlightening experience.
Bedevilled (South Korea)
An ugly incident in the city sends a woman home to the rural island where she grew up, but she discovers life there has become a living hell for her childhood friend. Cheol-so Jang’s film builds toward an extremely violent (and cathartic) finale, but it has a surprising emotional depth beneath its revenge-tale trappings.
A family lives in seclusion on a walled-in estate where the father raises his three children through fear of punishment and a complete misdirection of reality. Giorgos Lanthimos’ allegorical tale may be methodically paced, but it’s also blackly comic and thought provoking.
Enter the Void (France)
A young American in Japan dies, but his spirit continues on as he once made a promise to never leave his sister again. Gasper Noe’s film is over indulgent and poorly acted, but the artistry, effort, and innovation on display here overcome the faults to make it a must-see film.
Exit Through the Gift Shop (UK)
A man changes careers midlife to make a documentary about street artists, but when his interest in the topic takes a more personal bent the most infamous man in the field takes control of the film. Banksy’s movie may or may not be true, but there’s no doubt about it being an incredibly funny, smart, and insightful peek into the insanity of the modern art world.
Four Lions (UK)
Four wannabe jihadists plan to blow themselves up along with as many innocent victims as possible, but they’re not the sharpest knives in the Muslim bakery. Chris Morris accomplishes the impossible here by creating an extremely funny film with empathetic terrorists as the protagonists.
Golden Slumber (Japan)
A man is framed for an assassination and must go on the run to find out why it happened and who’s behind it all. Yoshihiro Nakamura follows up last year’s brilliant Fish Story with a film that echoes Alfred Hitchcock with a heart.