Top 10 Best Foreign Films Of 2018

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With more and more countries from around the world getting involved in the movie-making business, there’s never been a better time to see the best that the international scene has to offer, with 2018 in particular proving a bumper year for foreign films. So, here are my picks for the top 10 best foreign films of 2018.

(NB: We’re only including films not in the English language, and originating from non-English-speaking majority countries.)


10. Shoplifters – Japan

We start with a film that’s been in the conversation all year long, from its Palme D’Or-winning appearance at Cannes in May to its successful box office runs across the globe, Hirokazu Koreeda’s intimate drama Shoplifters has undoubtedly been one of the most notable foreign films of 2018.

Following the story of a poor family who rely on shoplifting to make ends meet, the film has received acclaim for highlighting problems of homelessness and poverty, while Koreeda’s elegant directing style that lends a strongly intimate and emotional core to the film allows it to hold an immense power on a human level too.

While it isn’t my personal favourite from the director, the elegant, immersive and calm manner in which the film portrays a riveting and often even unpredictable story is hugely impressive, and it thoroughly deserves all the plaudits it has received throughout the year.

Read a full review here.


9. Nothing To Hide – France

Netflix have had a great year for foreign movies in 2018, taking domestic hits from abroad and offering them up to a wider international audience, and one of the biggest hits in that sphere is comedy-drama Nothing To Hide, from France.

A remake of the 2016 Italian smash hit Perfect Strangers, Nothing To Hide replicates the story once again in strong fashion, and although it doesn’t quite stand up to the original, nor the 2017 Spanish remake, it’s still a hugely entertaining and exciting watch throughout, and if you’ve never seen any of the Perfect Strangers movies before, then there’s no harm in starting with Nothing To Hide.

Funny, stylish and undeniably entertaining throughout, as well as featuring a stand-out performance from Suzanne Clément, the movie is a strong remake of a brilliant original, and if you’re looking for something to watch this evening, it’s easily one of the best foreign movies on Netflix at the moment.

Read a full review here.


8. On My Skin – Italy

The devastating true story of Stefano Cucchi, whose plight has proved a captivating scandal in his native Italy for years, now brought to life on film in the enthralling and very heavy-going drama On My Skin.

Following a man who is arrested for drug possession on a quiet night in Rome, the film transforms into a passionate and devastating account of what happens when the authorities abuse their power, and with an unrelentingly sad and powerful story throughout, as we see Cucchi’s situation deteriorate further and further as he spends time in custody, the movie offers up some stunning emotional power alongside its riveting political discourse.

It’s definitely not a film for the faint-hearted, and while it moves at a very slow pace, often even going through long periods of silence, the hard-hitting emotional depth is always there, making On My Skin a truly memorable, but decidedly heavy-going watch.

Read a full review here.


7. Mirai – Japan

Mirai is the newest film from Mamoru Hosoda, director of modern anime hits such as Summer Wars and Wolf Children, following the story of a young boy who meets the older version of his newborn baby sister, and finds himself travelling across time to see the history of his own family.

Visually splendid as only anime can be, Mirai is a beautiful film through and through, with an inventive and exciting story that culminates in an emotionally stunning finale, complete with all the depth and drama you’d expect from such an intimate story about family and growing up.

It’s not quite the best film we’ve ever seen from Hosoda, and its first two acts take a little getting used to, however there’s no denying the sheer beauty of this anime, and with such imagination and emotion going right to its core, the movie proves a thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable watch throughout.

Read a full review here.


6. 50 First Kisses – Japan

Here’s a film that you might not see on many other top 10 lists this year, 50 First Kisses, a Japanese remake of 50 First Dates, the Hollywood rom-com starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

I’ve always been a big fan of 50 First Dates, and 50 First Kisses does the original justice by retaining its wonderful combination of emotion and humour, often even rivalling the original thanks to elegant directing, even more beautiful scenery, and thoroughly likable characters and performances across the board.

While it may not be destined to be an all-time classic, 50 First Kisses is one of my favourite foreign comedies of the year, with genuinely hilarious humour from beginning to end, as well as a relaxed, innocent and sweet atmosphere that’s so often missing from many movies nowadays, making it the perfect watch for a delightful pick-me-up whenever you’re feeling low.

Read a full review here.


5. The Heiresses – Paraguay

You’ve likely never seen a film from Paraguay, but Marcelo Martinessi’s drama The Heiresses proves that a country with little international pedigree can still produce a fantastic piece of cinema.

Despite its appearance as a quiet, patient and measured drama throughout, there lies a burning tension beneath in this film, as we see an old woman finally rediscover her mojo when her partner is briefly sentenced to serve time in prison, and embark on a fascinating journey of self-discovery that makes for a thoroughly engrossing watch.

However, that description doesn’t entirely do the film justice, as The Heiresses is a film that’s all about the substance, and while it may have beautifully elegant directing from Martinessi, and a stunning lead performance from Ana Brun, the depth and subtle build of tension throughout is what really makes it not only an engrossing, but often genuinely exciting film, and one that still stands out in the mind clearly among the best films of 2018.

Read a full review here.


4. Roma – Mexico

As Netflix’s flagship original film this year, as well as the studio’s first real chance at awards glory, Alfonso Cuarón’s intimate drama Roma has proved incredibly popular across the world, and looks set to be a serious contender in the upcoming Best Picture race.

A semi-autobiographical account of life in Mexico City during the 1970s, Roma follows a middle-class family and their maid during a difficult part of their life, documenting their daily trials in the manner of a slice-of-life drama, while patiently building stunning emotional drama as we follow the story of the maid, Cleo, as she undergoes her first pregnancy while continuing her work with the family.

With deeply passionate directing from Cuarón at every moment, Roma is a stunning piece of work, with immense attention to detail taken as he portrays ordinary daily life in striking fashion, furthered by deeply immersive cinematography and audio, as well as the wonderful touch of black-and-white imagery for a nostalgic atmosphere.

Complete with an emotionally riveting and powerful story from beginning to end, Roma is one of the year’s most splendid and enthralling films, and with a uniquely personal approach to filmmaking that combines with brilliant performances (particularly from Yalitza Aparicio), it’s a film that you won’t be able to forget for a very long time.

Read a full review here.


3. Penguin Highway – Japan

Penguin Highway was easily the most delightful surprise I had all year, an anime that came completely out of the blue from a studio and director I’ve never come across before, yet proved to be my favourite anime not only of the year, but possibly even the decade.

Following the story of a studious young boy as he attempts to unravel the bizarre appearances of penguins all over his town, the film is a delightfully imaginative watch from beginning to end, complete with typically beautiful animation, and a sense of wonder and adventure that goes from strength to strength as it develops into something truly special.

Couple that with hilarious humour throughout, and you’ve got one of the year’s most wonderful films, and one that the entire family will easily love, whether it be thanks to its thrilling and unpredictable story, its boundless imagination, its gorgeous visuals, or that excellent humour, making Penguin Highway an undeniable delight at absolutely every moment.

Read a full review here.


2. U – July 22 – Norway

Rather coincidentally, there were two films this year dealing with the Norwegian terrorist attacks of 2011, and while Paul Greengrass’ Netflix production proved popular, there’s no beating the stunning thriller that is U – July 22.

A breathless, devastating and terrifyingly immersive thriller, the movie follows one girl as she desperately tries to survive while a madman senselessly mows down all those in sight on an isolated island, all filmed in one memserising, 90 minute-long take.

Capturing the sense of danger and fear like few films before, U – July 22 is an undoubtedly thrilling piece, but it combines that with a tender and appropriate story that respects the victims of the horrifying attacks, as you form a deep, almost unbreakable, bond with our main character, making the tragedy of the events all the more devastating, and making the film all the more emotionally powerful. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is a film that’s both a stunning technical achievement as well as a riveting and devastating watch from beginning to end.

Read a full review here.


1. Go-Go Sisters – Vietnam

In the end, however, there’s no movie this year that has enamoured me quite as much as the endlessly delightful and wonderfully nostalgic Vietnamese comedy-drama, Go-Go Sisters.

A beautiful look into the past, the story follows a group of women who reminisce about their days together at school during the 1980s, and with its bright colours, brilliant humour, delightful characters, fantastic soundtrack, and all-round lovely sense of nostalgia, Go-Go Sisters put a bigger smile on my face than any other film in all of 2018, and it’s truly the perfect film for anyone who longs for the memories of their childhood, as well as the strength of great friendship.

Starring a huge ensemble cast that features both younger and older portrayals of the same characters at different time periods, there’s such a brilliant energy and brightness to this film that I feel I haven’t seen in a very long time. It’s fun, it’s happy, it’s funny, and it’s wonderfully nostalgic, still sitting in my mind as one of the most perfect movies of the entire year, and that’s why it’s my choice for the very best foreign film of 2018.

Read a full review here.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com