The 5 Best Foreign Films You Didn’t Know Were on Netflix

There are a lot of options on Netflix. In fact, there are so many movies available to stream that it can be difficult to pick which one to watch first. Sifting through the hundreds of movies and shows Netflix has to offer can be a daunting task. Especially since Netflix has a rich selection of foreign films on top of all their domestic flicks. Watching internationally produced movies can be eye-opening, and inspiring. So here’s a list of the five best foreign films you didn’t know were on Netflix. 

Netflix logo is seen displayed on phone screen
Netflix logo is seen displayed on phone screen in this illustration photo | Jakub Porzycki/Getty Images

1. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Spain 

Although Guillermo Del Toro is one of Mexico’s most treasured directors, his dark fairy tale masterpiece is set in Spain. The movie follows a young girl as she travels through a fantasy world full of the most creative and horrifying monsters imaginable. She’s on a quest to save her mother. Although she encounters many terrible creatures in the hidden world, the true villain is her evil stepfather. His sociopathic madness will give viewers nightmares for years after finishing Pan’s Labyrinth. The film came out in 2006 but became an instant classic thanks to Del Toro’s boundless imagination. 

2. ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ – China

This Cantonese language film is not your every day Kung Fu movie. A young nobody takes on one of the biggest Kung Fu gangs around, mostly by accident. Kung Fu Hustle is hilarious, iconic, and memorable. Directed by the acclaimed Stephen Chow, it fits his usual martial arts comedy trope to a T. This engaging comedy came out in 2004, to critical acclaim. The movie is often referenced in memes and other internet gags, just one more reason it is a must-see. 

3. ‘He Even Has Your Eyes’ – France  

With race being at the forefront of American public discourse, it’s important to know that other countries have some of the same issues. This movie highlights France’s racial tensions, without being too heavy or depressing. In He Even Has Your Eyes, a young Black Parisian couple adopt a white baby. As if being new parents wasn’t difficult enough, the two need to deal with the societal implications of their new multiracial family. But director and star Lucien Jean-Baptiste still managed to make this 2017 film feel somewhat light and funny, despite the difficult subject matter. 

4.  ‘Burning’ – Korea

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Although this film is distinctly Korean, there are global inspirations hidden in its plotline. Director Lee Chang-Dong’s masterpiece is based on a novel by renowned Japanese author Haruki Murakami, who in turn based his work in part off Barn Burning, a short story by William Faulkner. Essentially at least three great writers from three different countries came together to make this captivating film happen. In it, a young man returns to his hometown to find a girl he taunted for being ugly as a child is now extremely beautiful. Unfortunately, she’s also erratic and unpredictable, and quickly becomes entangled with someone else. That doesn’t stop Lee Jong-Su, the main character, from pursuing her. What happens next will stay with viewers for a long time after Burning ends. 

5.  ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’ – Mexico 

Before there was Romathe academy award-winning Netflix original from Alfonso Cuarón, there was Y Tu Mama Tambien. The Mexican drama has some of the same themes as Roma but in a completely different setting. One of Cuarón’s earlier works, Y Tu Mama Tambien was a must-see when it came out in 2001, and it still holds up today. The film stars some names that may be familiar to lovers of U.S. cinema. Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal play two teenagers road-tripping across Mexico with an older woman, played by Maribel Verdu. Much like in Roma, the characters are forced to grapple with questions of identity and belonging. Luna has since gone on to star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Storywhich was filmed entirely in English. Garcia Bernal has had a few English-speaking roles as well, including as Hector in Disney’s Coco