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A list of the 100 best foreign-language films, there were 87 entries from the last century and 13 from this one. What makes them stand out as the greatest foreign-language films of the 21st Century?
Axar.az reports citing BBC.
Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001) – ranked 82 in poll
Romantic comedies don’t tend to do well in critics’ polls. They don’t tend to do well at the international box office, either, unless they’re in English: there’s something about love and laughter that gets lost in translation. Nonetheless, Amélie attracted audiences who would normally shun subtitles, as well as critics who would normally have an allergic reaction to whimsical tales of doe-eyed Montmartre waitresses. Audrey Tautou’s industrial-strength charm in the title role was a significant factor, of course, but it was Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whirringly inventive film-making that persuaded viewers that this wasn’t just another rom-com, but a cinematic event.
The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) – ranked 31 in poll
When The Lives of Others came out in 2006, it was a revelation. Despite being a debut film, it was so assured in its plotting and pacing that it could have been the work of a veteran. And despite the fact that its director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, was in his early thirties, his depiction of Communist-controlled East Berlin in 1984 was so precise and atmospheric that it could have been autobiographical. For most viewers who hadn’t lived in East Germany, this melancholy story of a Stasi agent (Ulrich Muhe) spying on a playwright (Sebastian Koch) was a chilling insight into a state where the secret police watched and listened to your every move. Not surprisingly, it won the Oscar and the Bafta for best foreign language film. More surprisingly, von Donnersmarck’s follow-up was The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.
Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, 2003) – ranked 29 in poll
Cinema-goers in 2003 might have been familiar with Quentin Tarantino’s stylised Asian-influenced shockers about guys in black suits slicing off each other’s body parts, but Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy was something else: a man (Choi Min-sik) being locked in a cell for 15 years, and then eating a live octopus, and then having a brutal three-minute one-shot corridor fight, and then being subjected to one of the darkest twists in film history. Jaws dropped, and stayed dropped. Years later, Spike Lee’s US remake of Oldboy flopped, but Park would win plaudits for The Handmaiden and The Little Drummer Girl.
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011) – ranked 21 in poll
Iranian film had already stepped onto the international stage by the start of the 21st Century, but its global audience was limited to devotees of art-house world cinema. Then came Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation, which didn’t shy away from the religious strictures and chaotic legal mechanisms peculiar to Tehran, but which was more accessible than any of its predecessors. Set largely in an ordinary flat in a bustling metropolis, its fast-moving mystery plot and its underlying marital break-up could be understood and enjoyed by everyone. A Separation won the Oscar for best foreign language film. Farhadi won the same award again last year for The Salesman, but boycotted the ceremony in protest against the US travel ban.
In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000) – ranked 9 in poll
Wong Kar-wai’s delicate romance charts a chaste yet achingly sensual relationship between two neighbours (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) in 1960s Hong Kong who realise that their spouses have been having an affair. What’s so mesmerising is that the director pays forensic attention to every downward glance, every drummed finger, every chunk of steak that’s dabbed into a blob of mustard – so the viewer pays attention, too. But there’s more to the film than its director’s perfectionism. Writing for BBC Culture, Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times said: “Never before has a film spoken so fluently in the universal language of loss and desire.”
2018.11.14 / 20:50