1. Remembrance (Die verlorene Zeit) – Germany
Set in Nazi Germany, Remembrance is based on the true story of a Jewish woman, Hannah Sibberstein, and a Polish political prisoner, Tomasz Limanowski, who fall in love, then subsequently escape a German concentration camp. What makes this movie unique is its depiction of the couple’s life at the concentration camp in 1944 and Hannah’s life in New York in 1976 following her escape from Nazi Germany. Like any movie about the Holocaust, Remembrance is by no means uplifting. But Remembrance’s captivating plot twists and moving dialogue (in the form of subtitles) make it one of the best Holocaust movies I’ve seen.
2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wo hu cang long) – China
This classic film is great for anybody who wants to see some good old-fashioned butt-kicking scenes. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon follows martial arts master Li Mu Bai’s quest to avenge the death of his master and reclaim his stolen sword. Though the plot is pretty unoriginal, the martial arts action scenes make this a must see movie.
3. Like Water for Chocolate (Como Agua para Chocolate) – Mexico
If you’re in the mood for a good chick flick, look no further than Like Water for Chocolate. Based on a bestselling novel, Like Water for Chocolate tells the story of a young girl, Tita, who wishes to marry the love of her life, Pedro, but cannot because family tradition dictates the youngest daughter must stay single and take care of her mother. Though Tita suppresses her outward feelings for Pedro, her emotions manifest themselves through her cooking, influencing everyone who eats her food. The result is a fantastical story of love, betrayal and delicious Mexican cooking.
4. The Attack (L’Attentat) – France
The Attack gives a unique and personal perspective of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Set in modern Israel, the movie is about an Israeli Palestinian man, Amin Jaafari, whose life is forever changed when his wife is accused of setting off a bomb in a restaurant killing 19 people including herself. This suspenseful drama will keep you guessing until the very end.
5. Bliss (Mutluluk) – Turkey
Bilss tells the story of a young woman who is sentenced to death after she is accused of having sex before marriage. Before being killed, the young woman escapes with the man sentenced to kill her. This movie takes a provocative look at traditionalist Islamic laws and throughout the course of the movie shows the dire effects they can have on women. The acting is what sets this movie over the top and makes it a must see.
6. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge – India
If you’re looking for a classic feel-good Bollywood musical then look no further than Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ). This romantic comedy is about a young couple that meets and falls in love against their parents’ wishes. The movie is packed full of the upbeat song and dance numbers that are crucial to any successful Bollywood film and to date, DDLJ is the longest running film in Indian cinema history, showing nearly 1000 weeks straight.
7. The Chorus (Les Choristes) – France
The Chorus is an uplifting movie about a world-renowned music teacher who takes a teaching job at delinquent boys boarding school following his mother’s illness. Though it has a fairly predictable plot (teacher takes job at a troubled school and ends up inspiring students), The Chorus is still well worth a watch, especially for music fans.
8. Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi ni Naru) – Japan
Like Father Like Son is the perfect movie to watch if you’re looking for a real tearjerker. The movie is about two couples that discover that their now 6-year-old sons were swapped at birth. The couples then face a nearly impossible choice: keep the children they’ve been raising or switch back. The actors in this movie do such a great job that by the end, you’ll be completely invested in these families.
9. Sidewalls (Medianeras) – Argentina
Sidewalls is the story of two neighbors who are a seemingly perfect couple but have never met. Though it can be cheesy at times, I often found myself yelling at the screen when the couple came close to meeting but one thing stood in their way. If love stories don’t appeal to you, this movie’s footage of Buenos Aires and its depiction of city life make it worth a watch.
10. The Hunt (Jagten) – Denmark
Nominated for countless awards including a 2014 Oscar for best foreign language films, The Hunt is the story of a teacher, Lucas, who is wrongly accused of sexual assault by one of his students. Don’t watch this movie if you are looking for something uplifting. On the contrary, The Hunt will take you on an emotional rollercoaster that very rarely lifts you up.