The Academy Awards ceremony is Hollywood’s biggest night of the year, celebrating the best that the film industry had to offer over the last 12 months. Of course, the Academy does not merely recognize the outstanding achievements of American filmmakers, but also those of filmmakers from around the globe. The most recent Oscars ceremony was no exception, with Parasite earning director Bong Joon-ho some impressive wins. Among the trophies that Joon-ho took home was the Award for Best International Feature Film. This did not catch many by surprise since the film is certainly a wonderful piece of filmmaking that ranks among Joon-ho’s best work.
With Parasite gaining further popularity since the Oscars, movie fans will likely be wondering what other Oscar-worthy international films they can check out after Parasite. Fortunately, the Academy has a long history of honoring international films, ever since it awarded Vittorio De Sica’s Shoeshine in 1947.
With decades worth of films to go through, there are certainly plenty of Oscar-caliber international films to choose from. To help narrow it down, here are the ten best Oscar-winning international films, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 The Official Story – 100%
Directed by Luis Puenzo, this 1985 Argentinian film follows a school teacher who is trying to determine the identities of her adopted daughter’s birth parents. With the reign of the Argentinian Military Dictatorship as the backdrop, The Official Story tells the tale of a mother’s quest to discover the truth and then goes a step further by asking her what she will do with the truth once she has found it.
Critics praised Puenzo for the way he weaves together elements of the drama and political thriller genres to create a deeply impactful motion picture. Add in a powerful performance from Norma Aleandro as the story’s heroine, and this film becomes a must-watch.
9 Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion – 100%
Gian Maria Volontè stars as a detective who murders his mistress to see if he can get away with it in this 1970 Italian crime drama. As the story progresses, Volontè’s character meddles with the investigation, presenting new suspects and even helping to cross them off the list, all in an attempt to prove that he is indeed a citizen above suspicion. Under the guidance of director Elio Petri, this character study offers a chilling look at police corruption.
The film garnered praise from critics for its writing and Volontè’s performance. Modern-day critics have made the case that the film still holds up today and carries the same gravitas that it did in the 1970s. For fans of character-driven mystery thrillers, Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion is necessary viewing.
8 The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis – 100%
Another Italian film, this 1970 literary adaptation follows Italian Jews who are facing persecution under Mussolini in the 1930s. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis opens with a group of upper-class Jewish friends who use their gardens to hold tennis matches, unaware of the impending persecution. As the government closes in, a romance between a young man named Giorgio and a young woman named Micòl begins to blossom.
Despite the fact that it was controversial upon its initial release, it was accepted by audiences and critics alike, so much so, the film has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It also marked yet another win for director Vittorio De Sica, as it was the fourth time one of his films won Best International Feature Film. All of this is for good reason, as the story packs a heavy emotional punch. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is well worth the time of any drama fan.
7 The Shop On Main Street – 100%
Another book adaptation, this 1965 Czechoslovakian film follows the unlikely friendship between an elderly Jewish woman and a carpenter who is tasked with running her store. Their relationship takes a tragic turn when the government makes plans to transport the Jews out of the city.
Under the guidance of directing duo Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos, The Shop On Main Street tells the beautiful and heartbreaking story of a man who finds a great treasure where he least expects it but then loses it.
Featuring solid performances from its two lead stars, Jozef Kroner and Ida Kamińska, this tearjerker is sure to melt even the coldest of hearts.
6 Forbidden Games – 100%
Yet another film set around the events of World War II, Forbidden Games tells the story of two children’s friendship as one of them wrestles with the death of her parents in a Nazi airstrike.
Directed by René Clément, Forbidden Games deals with the consequences of war and the toll it takes on the innocents on the sidelines. Critics generally praise Clément for his thoughtful handling of the subject matter. Aided by his decision to view the film’s themes through the lens of childhood as well as the performances of his child stars, Clément created a beautiful piece of art.
5 Closely Watched Trains – 100%
This 1966 Czechoslovakian film is one part coming of age comedy and one part war movie. It tells the story of Milos, who works at a train station, as he pursues his first sexual affair.
Along the way, however, Milos is caught up in a plot to sabotage a Nazi train carrying ammunition. This clever piece of satire delivers sharp-witted humor that still delivers laughs today. Jiří Menzel’s direction and the excellent script work with a talented cast to create a truly entertaining piece of cinema. For audiences seeking a more lighthearted viewing experience, this is an excellent pick.
4 War And Peace – 100%
Undoubtedly the longest film on this list, this Russian production of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel of the same name clocks in at a whopping 7 hours. Released in four parts, this ambitious epic tells a love story that is set against the backdrop of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. War and Peace is gorgeously shot, and the battle scenes are something to behold.
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Given the limitations of the time, it is amazing that director Sergey Bondarchuk pulled this film off, especially considering he was also pulling double duty by playing the film’s lead. The result certainly speaks for itself, standing as one of the greatest epic films ever made.
3 Through A Glass Darkly – 100%
Directed by Ingmar Bergman, this Swedish drama focuses on a schizophrenic woman named Karin as she relates to the rest of her family and grapples with her experiences of meeting God. Born out of Bergman’s experiences with his own parents, this movie explores the nature of love and its relation to exploitation.
It was praised by critics for its focused screenplay and for Harriet Andersson’s strong performance as Karin. Through a Glass Darkly is one of the more thought-provoking films on this list, and viewers that enjoy analyzing the ideas presented in a film will likely find this an interesting watch.
2 Day For Night – 100%
This 1973 French film is about filmmaking. It follows the experiences of the cast and crew of a film called Je Vous Présente Paméla as they navigate their personal and professional lives.
Day For Night has been hailed by many critics as the greatest film about filmmaking ever made and is also considered by many to be one of the best films made by director François Truffaut. The film is well-made and is incredibly entertaining. It is a funny movie with a big heart and is yet another solid pick for audiences looking for a more lighthearted film.
1 Fanny And Alexander – 100%
Another Ingmar Bergman film, Fanny and Alexander tells the story of two siblings whose father suddenly dies. When their mother marries an oppressive clergyman, the titular children must grow accustomed to their new living situation. Bergman had originally planned to make this his final film and included many autobiographical elements in the script.
His passion for the story paid off because critics hailed this film as a masterpiece. Here Bergman creates a charmingly beautiful narrative that is executed at every turn with near-perfection.
NEXT: The Oscars: 10 Lowest International Feature Film Winners, According To Rotten Tomatoes