The MoFo Top 100 Foreign Language Film Countdown

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288 points, 17 lists
4. The Seventh Seal


Director

Ingmar Bergman, 1957

Starring

Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe









305 points, 23 lists
3. Parasite


Director

Bong Joon-ho, 2019

Starring

Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik






The quick love of Parasite to this degree is quite the phenomenon. Good for Bong, good for the movie. I think it’s very good and gave it a 3.5. Definitely will be rewatching at some point.

My boy Bergman got two in the top five l, and they are my two favorite of his. Seventh Seal isn’t the one I voted for though.

If Persona pulls the upset you will hear me screaming wherever you may be.



The Seventh Seal didn't make my list as I went with another from Bergman. Parasite did at #19 and yeah it's impressive it's ranking so high and just a couple years old. Come on Hollywood! English language remake? TV series? Both!

1. Stalker (1979)
2. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
3. Rashomon (1950)
5. Close-Up (1990)
6. Chungking Express (1994)
7. Playtime (1967)
8. La dolce vita (1960)
13. Sonatine (1993)
14. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
15. The Mirror (1975)
17. Red Desert (1964)
19. Parasite (2019)
21. Caché (2005)
22. Pather Panchali (1955)
24. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
25. Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2004)
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"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."



Neither The Seventh Seal nor Parasite were ever in contention for a spot on my ballot, can understand the former being Top Ten but the latter this high is ridiculous imo. It is what it is though.

Seen: 75/98 (Own: 43/98)


Faildictions ((バージョン 1.01):
10. Det sjunde inseglet [The Seventh Seal] (1957)
9. La Grande Illusion [The Grand Illusion] (1937)
8. Le jour se lève [Daybreak] (1939)
7. Ladri di biciclette [Bicycle Thieves] (1948)
6. Onibaba (1964)
5. Idi i smotri [Come And See] (1985)
4. Stalker (1979)
3. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi [Spirited Away] (2001)
2. 8½ (1963)

1. Shichinin no samurai [Seven Samurai] (1954)
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The Seventh Seal only had one more point than Spirited Away and Bicycle Thieves. It really couldn't have been closer. Nobody had it first, though.

Parasite was on the most lists of any film on the countdown, including the top two. 23 out of 74 people voted for Parasite somewhere on their ballot.

Neither of these two films featured on the 2020 Top 100 Refresh.

The Seventh Seal: 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 9th, 10th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 21st, 21st

Parasite: 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 10th, 11th, 11th, 12th, 12th, 12th, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 21st, 22nd, 22nd



The quick love of Parasite to this degree is quite the phenomenon. Good for Bong, good for the movie. I think it’s very good and gave it a 3.5. Definitely will be rewatching at some point.

My boy Bergman got two in the top five l, and they are my two favorite of his. Seventh Seal isn’t the one I voted for though.

If Persona pulls the upset you will hear me screaming wherever you may be.
Autumn Sonata is angry with you.



23 lists. That's why I knew Parasite would make it so far. Not that it isn't worthy, but the outreach that that film has had outside of the cinephile circles and into mainstream is something that I've seen in few films. So I knew it would find its place to a lot of lists.

Anyway, I think the film is great. I think that Bong manages a perfect balance between the tragic/drama of the story, his quirky humor, and the socio-political subtext he wants to get across. Still, not my favorite Bong, but probably #2... and I had it at #21 on my list.

As for The Seventh Seal, it was my first Bergman back in 2008. I had some issues with it which I explain a bit in my Letterboxd review here, but maybe it would fare better now that I've seen more of his films and I'm more used to his style.



My Summary:

Seen: 49/98
My list: 13/25

My List  
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I had Parasite at 5, which is impressive because I've only seen it once and was blown away by it.



Autumn Sonata is angry with you.
God, love that one too. So many good Bergman. I only watched Sonata once, and it was for the HOF, so you know it was a long time ago. Another rewatch way overdue.



Entering the Top 2, France and Japan are tied at 23. A tie that will undoubtedly end with Japan squeaking into the lead by the smaller margin. That is unless Uganda pulls an upset with Who Killed Captain Alex. C'mon, Nabwana!



Also, as far as directors with multiple entries, Kurosawa is tied with Miyazaki (both with 5), but the former will end at the top for sure. Meanwhile, Miyazaki will tie with Bergman with 5 entries both.

Also, CALLED IT

It's gonna be a tight race with Bergman, and Miyazaki will probably be close behind, but yeah. [Kurosawa] probably takes it.



I think The Seventh Seal is a very well made film and I respect it a lot, but I don't actually like it and it didn't get my vote.

I quite enjoyed Parasite and was surprised by how funny it was. I considered it for my ballot but in the end decided that I didn't enjoy it quite enough to vote for it and I figured it didn't need my help anyway.



I watched The Seventh Seal a while ago and was fairly underwhelmed, but I have a feeling I'd like it more if I were to revisit it. Back then, it was the only Bergman film I'd seen, but I've now seen 10 of his films and have a better grip on his style.

I thought of including Parasite, but since I've only seen it once, I ultimately decided not to include it in my ballot. Here's what I wrote on it a while ago though:

WARNING: spoilers below
I love how Parasite symbolizes the hierarchical positions of the Parks, Ki-taek's family, and the man in the basement by whether they're above, underground, or, in the case of Ki-taek's family, partly underground indicating that they're about at the bottom rung in terms of hierarchy (I mean, in addition to their house being partly underground, they also have to descend several flights of stairs to get to it as well). I like to think of the man in the basement as the lowest rung of hierarchy, perhaps symbolic of North Korea. As where Snowpiercer used a train to symbolize the differences between the hierarchies of the characters, this film flips the train upright and has it act as a ladder. It also details how the lower classes leech off the upper classes in order to get by (hence the film's title), which is represented in a number of moments which are both major and even minor such as the WiFi or the pest control scenes near the beginning segments of the film. The lower classes often move around the upper classes with almost surgery-like position so they won't be discovered as, if they get too close, violence and mayhem will ensue as it does throughout the second half and, especially, the final act.



Also, hot take, but I kind of feel like we should've done this countdown before last year's top 100. That way, we could've perhaps given some more foreign films a chance of making it on there. However, this is a minor nitpick. I'm really loving this list so far



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
I love The Seventh Seal for being one of Bergman's most-audacious, blending iconic imagery of death with some wicked black comedy. Max von Sydow is in some of the most iconic scenes. A great spoof of this era Bergman.

Nothing much to say about Parasite except that it was my #10.

Tell No One, my #9, is a tense French movie-movie, which plays out as both a compelling mystery and an action-thriller, tells the story of Dr. Alexandre Beck (François Cluzet) whose wife is murdered. Although the doctor is a prime suspect, he's cleared and the death is attributed to a serial killer although things never really did add up. Eight years later, at just about the time that two bodies are found near the crime scene, Beck receives an e-mail which seems to be from his wife. Eventually, Beck is forced to take it on the lam, but he's aided by several unusual compatriots in trying to prove his innocence and find out if his wife is still alive.

What sets this flick apart from the usual paint-by-numbers thriller is that it has a strong plot and characters so that it's difficult to solve the mystery but it's easy to sympathize with the characters. Then, when you're totally drawn into the mystery, the film throws in one of the most-impressive chases by foot ever recorded (probably only topped by the one in Point Break) and adds a new level of characters to make everything even more complex and seemingly-unravellable (how's that for a word?). I thoroughly enjoyed the unusual characters and the way their fates played out. The only thing I'm worried about is that this is apparently going to be remade in English, but as far as I can tell, it hasn't happened.

Rene Clair's Entr'acte, my #7, is a dadaist classic with Erik Satie's iconic score that's so original and funny that even after almost a century, should be watched by all and is one I honestly won't say anything more about. But you can check it out here.


My List

1. War and Peace
2. Z
5. Downfall
6. Night and Fog
7. Entr'acte (Did Not Place)
8. Pan's Labyrinth
9. Tell No One (Did Not Place)
10. Parasite
12. Allegro non troppo (Did Not Place)
13. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
14. Letters from Iwo Jima (Did Not Place)
15. The Shop on Main Street (Did Not Place)
16. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Did Not Place)

17. The Celebration [Festen]
18. Underground (Did Not Place)
19. My Father's Glory - make sure to watch My Mother's Castle since it's Part 2 of the same film (They Both Did Not Place)
20. The Marriage of Maria Braun (Did Not Place)

21. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
22. Europa Europa - should have been Olivier, Olivier (They Both Did Not Place)
23. Love Exposure (Did Not Place)
24. Buffet Froid (Did Not Place)

25. Das Boot
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Also, here's my full ballot:

1. Stalker (1979, Tarkovsky) #7
2. Late Spring (1949, Ozu) #26
3. Persona (1966, Bergman) Either #2 or #1

4. A Moment of Innocence (1996, Makhmalbaf)
5. The Travelling Players (1975, Angelopoulos)
6. Come and See (1985, Klimov) #8
7. Andrei Rublev (1966, Tarkovsky) #23

8. Man With a Movie Camera (1929, Vertov)
9. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965, Parajanov)
10. Le Samouraï (1967, Melville) #30
11. Holy Motors (2012, Carax)
12. Sansho the Bailiff (1954, Mizoguchi) #50
13. M (1931, Lang) #11

14. The House is Black (1963, Farrokhzad)
15. The Phantom Carriage (1921, Sjöström)
16. The Battle of Algiers (1966, Pontecorvo) #56
17. The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967, Demy)
18. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005, Puiu)
19. The Mirror (1975, Tarkovsky) #86
20. The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (1987, Hara)
21. Red Desert (1964, Antonioni) #64
22. Los Olvidados (1950, Bunuel)
23. Vampyr (1932, Dreyer) #84
24. Throne of Blood (1957, Kurosawa)
25. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972, Herzog) #15



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The Seventh Seal was my #15. A medieval folktale that manages to be both starkly nightmarish and comically absurdist, all while meditating on what a higher power truly means (whether it be God or Death or the gift of visions bestowed upon a fool) in a world like this. Naturally, this is my jam.

Parasite is definitely good and I've seen it a few times now, but I never thought to vote for it. Not to get all matt72852 on everyone but I have just checked my ballot again and was intrigued by how 2001's Spirited Away was the most recent film on it so I have to wonder how much of that choosing of (relatively) old titles was a deliberate choice (much like how Sight and Sound has a 10-year probation period before a film can be eligible for their all-timer poll) or just how my preferences would've fallen anyway. I'm sure other users had much older films as their "newest" picks, though.
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The Seventh Seal is my number 3. I fell in love with it the first time I watched it (the only time a Bergman film has done that). Trur cinematic poetry.


Parasite was pretty awesome, but I might need to watch it again, because I thought the genre switch made it a little inconsistent. But the ending was perfect. It didn't make my list. My favorite Korean film is Oldboy, my number 1.

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