Top 10 Best Foreign Films Of The Decade

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Hollywood may still dominate the movie world, but the 2010s saw more and more of the best films from around the globe hit screens everywhere.

So, in celebration of ten years full of glorious international hits, here are my picks for the top 10 best foreign films of the decade.

(Note: we’re counting only films with a majority of dialogue not in the English language).


Honourable Mentions

Force Majeure (Sweden) – A devilishly dark comedy filled with bubbling tension throughout.

Kahaani (India) – Breathlessly unpredictable throughout, complete with exhilarating twists and turns at every moment.

Train To Busan (S. Korea) – Enormously entertaining, emotionally moving and jam-packed with exhilarating zombie thrills.

Welcome To The South (Italy) – Laugh-out-loud hilarious and a surprisingly touching bridging of class divides.

Toc Toc (Spain) – A witty, rapid-fire comedy with great heart and a fantastic ensemble cast.

Perfect Strangers (Italy) – Tense, hilarious and unpredictable, and the origin for countless international remakes.

U – July 22 (Norway) – A devastating recreation of the 2011 terror attacks, all shot in one exhilarating take.

Penguin Highway (Japan) – Visually delightful, optimistic and boundlessly imaginative anime for all the family.


10. The Illusionist (2010) – France

A gorgeous tale of self-discovery, The Illusionist is a true delight, featuring moving emotion, elegant animation and a striking minimalist style that packs a powerful punch without even saying a word.

With a near total lack of dialogue throughout, it’s a beautifully reserved film that tells the story of an unlikely friendship between an ageing French magician and a shy young Scottish woman, as they venture to the city of Edinburgh together on a trip that will change both of their lives.

Its beautiful, calming visuals are reminiscent of the likes The Triplets Of Belleville, and further the film’s gorgeous emotional depth, as it paints a warm and tender portrait of a crossroad in two people’s lives. It’s short, sweet and simple on the surface, but delivers unforgettable power come the finish.

Read a full review here.


9. The Skin I Live In (2011) – Spain

Pedro Almodóvar’s breathless, deranged Hitchockian thriller The Skin I Live In is horrifying and devastating, but for all the right reasons.

Complete with slick cinematography, rapid pacing and a career-best performance from Antonio Banderas as a brilliant but disturbed plastic surgeon, the film is a stunning homage to classic body horror as it delivers a powerfully unsettling and claustrophobic rollercoaster ride throughout.

With devastating and unpredictable twists right the way through, it’s difficult to look away from despite featuring moments of deeply uncomfortable, almost squeamish horror. Never letting up in its intensity, it blends shocking emotion with non-stop thrills, making for a truly exhilarating watch from start to finish.

Read a full review here.


8. Goodnight Mommy (2014) – Austria

Another devastating watch that plays on body horror with claustrophobic thrills throughout, Goodnight Mommy is an exceptional watch, but packs such a heavy punch that you’ll struggle to go through it all again.

The story of two boys who begin to suspect their mother is someone else after she returns from cosmetic surgery, it’s an unrelenting and bleak depiction of the break-up of a family, as the dynamic in a cold, isolated house begins to turn sour in dramatic fashion.

Complete with exhilarating twists that deepen the impact of its heart-wrenching drama, the film is almost unbearably dark at times, but with such stunning unpredictability and striking emotion throughout, it’s an unbelievably difficult watch, but one that’s truly worthy your while. But only once. And never again.

Read a full review here.


7. Bad Genius (2017) – Thailand

One of the sharpest thrillers of the decade, Bad Genius isn’t just edge-of-your-seat excitement all the way through, but a riveting and gloriously entertaining celebration of cunning ingenuity just on the edge of the law.

Based on the true story of a group of star students that cheated a major international exam, the film plays out in the style of a high-wire heist movie as the characters plan the impossibly intricate operation with a stunning eye for detail.

Its rapid-fire thrills make for fantastic excitement right the way through, but the film proves even more impressive with riveting character depth, brilliant humour and excellent performances across the board. With a quartet of immensely entertaining anti-heroes at the centre, there’s never a dull moment with Bad Genius, easily one of the decade’s most exciting films.

Read a full review here.


6. Go-Go Sisters (2018) – Vietnam

As delightful as cinema has been over the last ten years, the gorgeously nostalgic Vietnamese comedy-drama Go-Go Sisters is funny, heartfelt and undeniably lovable in every way.

A remake of the fantastic South Korean hit Sunny, the film follows a woman reuniting her school friends decades after their exploits together at school. And with such a passion and fervour for looking back to the past with rose-tinted glasses, there’s nothing to dislike about the film.

Combining wonderful humour with moving emotion that emanates from fantastic character depth, the film juggles a huge ensemble cast of six characters in both childhood and adulthood without even breaking a sweat, thrilling with its boundlessly joyful, relatable and touching look at the strength of friendship and the lifelong power of childhood memory.

Read a full review here.


5. Two Days, One Night (2014) – Belgium

A social drama that strips cinema down to its barebones, the Dardenne brothers’ devastating Two Days, One Night is an unexpectedly spectacular watch at every moment.

Looking at themes of modern poverty and the innate selfishness of humanity, the film follows Marion Cotillard as a woman trying to drum up support among work colleagues ahead of a company vote that could see her lose her job, and packs an almighty punch with its frank depiction of reality.

Slow and quiet it may be, but thanks to a strikingly stripped-down style that features a career-best performance from Cotillard, minimalist dialogue, honest drama and plenty of room for thought, Two Days, One Night is an eye-opening and deeply powerful film in every sense of the word.

Read a full review here.


4. Elle (2016) – France

Earning legendary actress Isabelle Huppert an entirely deserved Best Actress nomination at the Oscars, Paul Verhoeven’s magnetic thriller Elle is a devastatingly unpredictable rollercoaster of emotions.

Following a woman coping in the aftermath of being raped, it’s a brutal watch right from the start, and with tension-filled family drama and thrills playing alongside riveting character development throughout, it’s difficult to take your eyes off even for a second in a slow-burn thriller where anything can happen at any moment.

Ruthlessly dark and uncompromising throughout, Elle is far from an easy watch, but with Huppert’s mesmerising lead turn and an ingenious pace that sees suspense reach unbearable levels towards the finish, it’s a merciless, exhilarating thriller that will have you cowering and biting your nails throughout.

Read a full review here.


3. Wild Tales (2014) – Argentina

An intoxicating anthology of ordinary people totally losing their rag, Wild Tales delivers six eternally memorable and breathlessly entertaining tales of everyday rage.

From a plane trip gone wrong to the world’s most chaotic wedding and much more, it’s a darkly hilarious and explosive watch that maintains a stunning energy and pace through all six of its stories, culminating in one of the decade’s most spectacular sequences.

With a fantastic rewatchability factor, Wild Tales is a film to put on, sit back and revel in whenever the mood takes you, thrilling at every moment as tempers fly and insults are hurled. Hilariously relatable in the darkest sense, and often an immensely satisfying piece of schadenfreude, it’s an unforgettably enjoyable watch at every moment, and undoubtedly one of the decade’s very best films.

Read a full review here.


2. Parasite (2019) – South Korea

Pushing to become the first foreign-language Best Picture winner of all time, Bong Joon-ho’s deliriously entertaining thriller Parasite is a masterpiece of unpredictability and biting social themes.

The tale of a poor family who gradually take over the mansion of a rich family with a sinister plan, the film offers up a riveting and passionate assessment of the modern socio-economic divide, and the devastating realities it can lead to. Furthered by thrilling character depth and pitch-perfect performances, Parasite is brilliantly intelligent throughout, providing arresting and thought-provoking drama at a spectacular pace.

With rapid intensity from the very first moment, the film thrills with twists upon twists upon twists, morphing maniacally into something you’d never expect at first, leaving you hanging on tenterhooks as it builds towards a delirious conclusion.

Read a full review here.


1. The Handmaiden (2016) – South Korea

The glorious highlight in a decade where South Korean cinema thrilled the world, legendary director Park Chan-wook’s psychotic thriller The Handmaiden is an absolute masterpiece.

Bathed in gorgeous visuals that bring the exquisite majesty of the imperial rule in Korea in the 1930s to life in bewitching fashion, the film is difficult to take your eyes off from the start, and that’s a good thing, because it’s a breathless, non-stop thrill ride that stuns with immensely unpredictable twists and ingenious drama.

Furthered by psychotic intensity, epic emotion and an astounding erotic and sensual atmosphere, the film is a pure shot of adrenaline that flies by over the course of two and a half electrifying hours, leaving you wheezing after an immense, wild ride of spectacular thrills.

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