Entertainment

The Best Foreign Movies to Stream on Netflix

Embrace subtitles.

CGV Arthouse
CGV Arthouse
CGV Arthouse

To find out what platform these movies are streaming on in Australia, head to flicks.com.au.

Heed the words of multi-Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho from his Golden Globes acceptance speech: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” Subtitles don’t need to be intimidating when they’re offering a¬†healthy culture fix from the comfort of your couch,¬†thanks to Netflix. Whether you’re trying to brush up on your foreign-language listening-comprehension skills or looking for a fresh new perspective, with titles ranging from comedy to drama to documentary, you won’t need a plane ticket to get a closer look at a far-off land. While some of these movies are in English, or made by American filmmakers, each one offers a glimpse at a different perspective from our own. So sit back, relax, and plan the cheapest weekend getaway ever.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

#Alive (2020)

Though #Alive was shot in 2019, director and co-writer Il Cho stumbled on a premise that couldn’t have resonated more in 2020. About Jun-u (Ah-In Yoo), a young man stuck inside his apartment and seeing the crumbling world through his phone while just outside of his door people are mutating into flesh-eating monsters, the Korean thriller strikes a chord with just about anyone experiencing anxiety over isolation during the pandemic. But beyond its timeliness, even with all of the carnage, this zombie movie is hopeful in the relatable, slacker of a protagonist’s fumbling in his fight for survival. True to Jun-u hiding behind his phone, #Alive never stops asking you to smash that like button.

Warner Bros. France
Warner Bros. France
Warner Bros. France

The Artist (2011)

Ever since Hollywood got its hands on technicolor, black and white has merely been a rare stylistic choice for filmmakers, and directors have moved even further away from silent films ever since “the talkies” made their debut in the late 1920s. That doesn’t mean film aficionados have fallen out of love with silent films or lost respect for them-and no better movie in recent history has immortalized their staying power as The Artist. The French film is both an Old Hollywood style movie and an homage to the craft, telling the love story between a rising young starlet (B√©r√©nice Bejo) looking forward to the modernization of movies and a silent film veteran (Jean Dujardin). The Best Picture winner is playful in its choices, meaning any lover of cinema should fall head over heels for it.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Atlantics (2019)

In¬†Atlantics, the entrancing debut feature from Senegalese-French filmmaker Mati Diop, a debt must be paid. To construct a large glass tower in the coastal city of Dakar, an unscrupulous construction manager leans on his employees and refuses to provide the backpay they are owed. One of the workers, a young man named Souleiman (Ibrahima Traor√©), is in love with Ada (Mama Bineta San√©), a young woman engaged to a rich family’s obnoxious, preening son. After establishing the tricky dynamics of this relationship, Diop’s story takes a number of startling turns, introducing supernatural elements and a noir-like detective subplot. As the events unfold, often in engrossingly shot and exquisitely paced night sequences, the movie retains an ethereal quality that unsettles the imagination. Rather than providing conventional dramatic catharsis,¬†Atlantics¬†mimics the rhythms of the ocean, drawing in the viewer with each new wave of tension.

Tiziana Puleio/Netflix
Tiziana Puleio/Netflix
Tiziana Puleio/Netflix

Brahman Naman (2016)

Truly, nothing can spice up a school quiz tournament like the quest to lose your virginity. This Netflix original set in India in the 1980s sends a Bangalore trio of teenage horndogs to Calcutta to win on both counts. What results is a charming, colorful, surprisingly raunchy portrait of the universal teenage experience.

CGV Arthouse
CGV Arthouse
CGV Arthouse

Burning (2018)

Some mysteries simmer; this one smolders. In his adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story, writer and director Lee Chang-dong includes many elements of the acclaimed author’s slyly mischievous style-cats, jazz, cooking, and an alienated male writer protagonist all pop up-but he also invests the material with his own dark humor, stray references to contemporary news, and an unyielding sense of curiosity. We follow aimless aspiring novelist Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in) as he reconnects with Shin Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), a young woman he grew up with, but the movie never lets you get too comfortable in one scene or setting. When Yeun’s Ben, a handsome rich guy with a beautiful apartment and a passion for burning down greenhouses, appears, the film shifts to an even more tremulous register. Can Ben be trusted? Yeun’s performance is perfectly calibrated to entice and confuse, like he’s a suave, pyromaniac version of Tyler Durden. Each frame keeps you guessing.

Jung Jae-gu/Netflix
Jung Jae-gu/Netflix
Jung Jae-gu/Netflix

The Call (2020)

Take a slice of the “people communicating across different time lines” premise from movies like Frequency and The Lake House-only this time one of the temporal communicators is a psychotic serial killer who is using the situation for very nefarious deeds. This unpredictable Korean export from Chung-Hyun Lee juggles more than a few tones and subtexts, and does it quite craftily.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Divines (2016)

Thrillers don’t come much more propulsive or elegant than Houda Benyamina’s¬†Divines, a heartwarming French drama about female friendship that spirals into a pulse-pounding crime saga. Rambunctious teenager Dounia (Oulaya Amamra) and her best friend Maimouna (D√©borah Lukumuena) begin the film as low-level shoplifters and thieves, but once they fall into the orbit of a slightly older, seasoned drug dealer named Rebecca (Jisca Kalvanda), they’re on a¬†Goodfellas-like trajectory. Benyamina offsets the violent, gritty genre elements with lyrical passages where Dounia watches her ballet-dancer crush rehearse his routines from afar, and kinetic scenes of the young girls goofing off on social media. It’s a cautionary tale told with joy, empathy, and an eye for beauty.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

First They Killed My Father (2017)

Few Hollywood movies have detailed the horrors of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge’s rise to power in Cambodia in 1975-the genocidal revolutionary movement isn’t exactly the backdrop for the next¬†Titanic. But Angelina Jolie, who developed a close connection to the country when she first visited during the shoot for¬†Tomb Raider, brings the gloss of big-budget movies to this horrifying-but-tender adaptation of Loung Ung’s memoir of the same name. Like Spielberg’s¬†Empire of the Sun,¬†First They Killed My Father¬†tracks the Cambodian diaspora from city living to makeshift, military-run farm communes, all from the perspective of 7-year-old Loung. Jolie rarely wavers from the POV, witnessing violence from down low and leaving reality behind in moments of escapism.¬†Jolie pours her heart into telling the story, and it shows.

Piki Films/Madmen Entertainment
Piki Films/Madmen Entertainment
Piki Films/Madmen Entertainment

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

This New Zealand backwoods adventure roughs up every single coming-of-age clich√©. Julian Dennison’s Ricky is an absent-minded, hip-hop-obsessed, rebellious orphan. His grizzled foster father Hec (Sam Neill) would like nothing more than to ship the little [expletive] back to government care. When the two find themselves stranded in the woods, mistaken for on-the-lam criminals, they decide to own it. Wilderpeople is a generous genre blend, with Taika Waititi, director of the wacky, vampiric mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows¬†and the best of the Marvel movies in Thor: Ragnarok, finding cheeky jokes in the duo’s perilous journey. Backed by a synthy, horror-esque score and lush backdrops in the Kiwi bush, Wilderpeople is a wonderful, transportive comedy with a sincere tenderness for its main characters.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

I Lost My Body (2019)

A loose adaptation of Academy Award nominee Guillaume Laurant’s (Amelie) 2006 novel,¬†Happy Hand,¬†I Lost My Body¬†is one of the most unodorothox and surreal animated feature in recent history. In short, this French film is about a severed hand attempting to reunite with the rest of its body, but it’s more a meditation on humanity and wholeness than it is a gross-out horror film. Netflix acquired the movie after it premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim, and it’s another sign that the streaming giant’s creative ambition will push it into exciting new territory.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

The Invisible Guest (2016)

Spain tends to churn out captivating thrillers, but this mystery in particular was a huge success overseas, spawning a handful of other international remakes. Why? The twists are that good. The confined thriller from Oriol Paulo is about a successful businessman named Adri√°n Doria, accused of killing his lover after waking up next to her dead body, and must lay out his story for defense attorney Virginia Goodman in a matter of hours before standing in front of a judge. Pay attention from the second you press play because there are twists and turns aplenty, leaving you guessing what’s really the truth until the very end.

Pegasus Motion Pictures
Pegasus Motion Pictures
Pegasus Motion Pictures

The Ip Man movies

There aren’t many biopics that also pass for decent action movies. Somehow, Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen and director Wilson Yip have made three separate movies based on the life of Chinese martial arts master Yip Kai-man, who famously trained Bruce Lee. What’s their trick to keeping this series fresh? Play fast and loose with the facts, up the melodrama with each film, and when in doubt, cast Mike Tyson as an evil property developer. The third movie in the series isn’t necessarily the best-that’s probably still the first film-but the fights are incredible, and Yen’s portrayal of the aging master still has the power to draw a few tears from even the most grizzled tough guy.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Les Affamés (2017)

Whether you’re zombie-addicted or not,¬†Les Affam√©s¬†(The Ravenous) is worth checking out. Robin Aubert’s arty French-Canadian thriller picks up after the outbreak of a mysterious plague, which has ravaged rural Quebec and decimated its population. The scenario might sound familiar, but the scenes often unfold with fresh rhythms and punctuation marks.¬†The survivors you meet along the way, for example-likely unknowns to most stateside viewers, but talented as hell-are not ordinary heroes, and truthfully they’re concerned less with rebuilding their community or finding answers and more with simply surviving. Also, the zombies are not¬†just¬†zombies. That said,¬†Les Affam√©s¬†might have more in common with the¬†underrated romp¬†Wyrmwood¬†than something like¬†The Walking Dead. It’s slightly more grounded than the former, to be sure, but it’s likewise¬†a unique, and at times surreal, spin on the genre we were pleased to find.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

My Happy Family (2017)

At 52, Manana (Ia Shughliashvili) packs a bag and walks out on her husband, son, daughter, daughter’s live-in boyfriend, and elderly mother and father, all of whom live together in a single apartment in Georgia. The family is cantankerous and blustery, asking everything of Manana, who spends her days teaching better-behaved teenagers about literature. But as Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gro√ü’s striking character study unfolds, the motivation behind Manana’s departure is a deeper strain of frustration, despite what her brother, aunts, uncles, and anyone else who can cram themselves into the situation would like us to think. Anchored by Ia Shughliashvili’s stunningly internal performance, and punctured by a dark sense of humor akin to Darren Aronofsky’s¬†mother!¬†(which would have been the perfect alternate title),¬†My Happy Family¬†is both delicate and brutal in its portrayal of independence, and should get under the skin of anyone with their own family drama.

Beijing Enlight Pictures
Beijing Enlight Pictures
Beijing Enlight Pictures

Ne Zha (2019)

American audiences may not be totally familiar with this movie or the mythology it’s based on, but this Chinese film broke all kinds of box offices records overseas. It’s even been hailed as one of the best Chinese animated movies in recent history, bringing to life the country’s classic fable about a boy warrior sent from the heavens to save the world, but is accidentally reincarnated as a demon. Set in the world of almighty gods and villainous demons, this foreign feature is full of spectacle and action sequences-the kind that can get just about anyone revved up and feel empowered.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Okja (2017)

Bong Joon¬†Bong’s Netflix movie¬†is a wild ride: part action heist, part¬†Miyazaki-like¬†travelogue, and part scathing satire. It’s fueled by fairy-tale whimsy-but the Grimm kind, where there are smiles¬†and¬†spilled blood. Ahn Seo-hyun plays Mija, a young South Korean girl living in the mountains who has raised an adorable “super-pig,” a breed, unbeknownst to Mija, developed by a food manufacturer to be the next step in human-consumption evolution. When the corporate overlords come for her roly-poly pal, Mija hightails it from the farm to the big city to break him out, crossing environmental terrorists (including ones played by Paul Dano and Steven Yeun), a zany Steve Irwin-esque type (Jake Gyllenhaal), and the icy psychos at the top of the food chain (including Swinton’s childlike CEO) along the way.¬†Okja¬†doesn’t pluck your heartstrings like, say,¬†E.T., but there’s grandeur in its frenzy, and the film’s cross-species friendship will strike up every other emotion with its empathetic, eco-friendly, and eccentric observations.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

On Body and Soul (2017)

This Hungarian film earned an¬†Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film, and it’s easy to see why. The sparse love story begins when two slaughterhouse employees discover they have the same dream at night, in which they’re both deer searching the winter forest for food. Endre, a longtime executive at the slaughterhouse, has a physically damaged arm, whereas Maria is a temporary replacement who seems to be on the autism spectrum. If the setup sounds a bit on-the-nose, the moving performances and the unflinching direction save¬†On Body and Soul¬†from turning into a Thomas Aquinas 101 class, resulting in the kind of bleak beauty you can find in a dead winter forest.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Guillermo Del Toro’s dark odyssey Pan’s Labyrinth takes a fantasy setting to mirror the horrible political realities of the human realm. Set in 1940s Falangist Spain, the film documents the hero’s journey of a young girl and stepdaughter of a ruthless Spanish army officer as she seeks an escape from her war-occupied world. When a fairy informs her that her true destiny may be as the princess of the underworld, she seizes her chance. Like Alice in Wonderland if Alice had gone to Hell instead of down the rabbit hole, the Academy Award-winning film is a wondrous, frightening fairy tale where that depicts how perilous the human-created monster of war can be.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

The Platform (2020)

It’s difficult to watch The Platform, a cannibalistic prison freak-out from Spain and not imagine a producer sitting in a conference room or a coffee shop and musing, “What if Snowpiercer but vertical?” The debut feature from Spanish filmmaker Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia boasts an appealing high-concept premise, an oddly affable leading man in actor Iv√°n Massagu√©, and a series of brutal twists that should intrigue anyone currently watching the news and thinking about the possible end game of rampant inequality. Instead of a train, The Platform takes place in a prison-like structure called the “Vertical Self-Management Center” where inmates live two to a floor. Those on the top get first dibs on a giant platform of food that descends from the ceiling everyday; those on the bottom get the scraps-or nothing at all. Dismantling the system of this socioeconomic experiment unravels through David Desola and Pedro Rivero’s knotty, exposition-packed script.

Carlos Somonte/Netflix
Carlos Somonte/Netflix
Carlos Somonte/Netflix

Roma (2018)

Alfonso Cuar√≥n’s latest film dives back into the Oscar-winning director’s own childhood as a kind of study of and tribute to the inner life of his family housekeeper. Set in Mexico City in the 1970s during a period of civil unrest,¬†Roma¬†is a mesmerizing, tender veneration of the kinds of people who are so easily taken for granted. Distributed by Netflix itself, the piece, which is shot beautifully in black and white, features extremely intimate sound work and sincere shots as if torn from a family photo album.¬†Roma¬†is a masterpiece in the purest form and a game changer for the streaming platform.

RADiUS-TWC/The Weinstein Company
RADiUS-TWC/The Weinstein Company
RADiUS-TWC/The Weinstein Company

Snowpiercer (2013)

Did people go overboard in praising Snowpiercer when it came out? Maybe. But it’s important to remember that the movie arrived in the sweaty dog days of summer, hitting critics and sci-fi lovers like a welcome blast of icy water from a hose. The film’s simple, almost video game-like plot-get to the front of the train, or die trying-allowed visionary South Korean director Bong Joon Ho to fill the screen with excitement, absurdity, and radical politics. Chris Evans never looked more alive, Tilda Swinton never stole more scenes, and mainstream blockbuster filmmaking never felt so tepid in comparison. Come on, ride the train!

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Space Sweepers (2021)

Right from its first, electrifying sequence involving a bunch of bounty hunting spaceships chasing after a careering piece of garbage, Space Sweepers spins a far-future of multicultural, multilingual human life in space that’s as exhilarating as it is crushingly dystopian. Tae-ho is a pilot aboard the freighter Victory, along with Captain Jang, engineer Tiger Park, and loudmouthed robot Bubs, all of them part of an outer-space trash-collecting bounty-hunter guild known as the Space Sweepers, who capture space junk and sell it for parts. After a particularly harrowing chase, the crew finds a little girl hiding in a derelict spaceship, who just happens to be a nanobot-filled android that a group of space terrorists have fitted with a hydrogen bomb. At first the Victory crew plans to sell the “little girl” back to the terrorist group who lost her, before they realize that she’s much more special than she seems.

Netflix
Netflix
Netflix

Time to Hunt (2020)

Unrelenting in its pursuit of scenarios where guys point big guns at each other in sparsely lit empty hallways, Time to Hunt is a South Korean thriller that knows exactly what stylistic register it’s playing in. A group of four friends, including Parasite and Train to Busan break-out Choi Woo-shik, knock over a gambling house, stealing a hefty bag of money and a set of even more valuable hard-drives, and then find themselves targeted by a ruthless contract killer (Park Hae-soo) who moves like the T-1000 and shoots like a henchmen in a Michael Mann movie. There are dystopian elements to the world-protests play out in the streets, the police wage a tech-savvy war on citizens, automatic rifles are readily available to all potential buyers-but they all serve the simmering tension and elevate the pounding set-pieces instead of feeling like unnecessary allegorical padding. Time to Hunt uses its elongated runtime to build sequences in a meticulous, considerate way that should appeal to viewers who have seen Heat, Collateral, and Miami Vice too many times to count.

Film Factory
Film Factory
Film Factory

Verónica (2017)

Ver√≥nica, a Spanish ghost thriller in the vein of The Conjuring, is inspired by a terrifying true story about a girl dabbling with the powers of a Ouija board. A young girl named, what else, Ver√≥nica (Sandra Escacena) uses the board to conjure bad spirits with her friends during a solar eclipse while lodging an attempt to contact her dead father; they end up waking up some truly sinister forces. Whether or not it’s actually scary is up for you to decide.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on¬†Instagram,¬†Twitter,¬†Pinterest,¬†YouTube,¬†TikTok, and¬†Snapchat.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef,¬†Cuong Nguyen¬†will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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