The MoFo Top 100 Foreign Language Film Countdown

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I've been leaning Seven Samurai the whole countdown but just now theory: Parasite could steal it just based on the fact that everyone saw it since it won Best Picture, especially here (gotta check it off the list, watch all the nominees) and so it's on a very high number of ballots.
Could be on a huge number of ballots for sure. We have had a nice mix, and it’s a great list, there is definitely more lean towards the more current so de than I expected though. Could happen.

Yeah, I initially thought Parasite was going to place somewhere around the middle of the list, but I'll be definitely surprised to see it in the top 10. Overall, it's a terrific film which is easily one of my favorite films of the 2010's, but it didn't make my ballot. I bought the Criterion disc sometime ago, but I've yet to rewatch it for whatever reason. I wonder how it will fare with the surprise aspect gone.

8 1⁄2 was my number 15. I'm interested in how many people had the same experience that I did with it. Myself, I grabbed it and watched it with little regard as to the film's history, Fellini, or film in general - it's reputation drew me like a moth to the flame. With no context, 8 1⁄2 seemed like an impenetrable film that stretched me beyond my intellectual limits. At the time I had no regard for film as a canvas for art. I was like a person who had only ever read novels and short stories being confronted with poetry - confounded by it. Now, knowing about the film's history, Fellini, and film as more than a story-telling devise I can finally let the anxiety-riddled dream unfold in front of me - finding new meaning in scenes that apply broadly and yet sometimes personally. I never thought I'd ever enjoy it as much as I do. I've got a long way to go still, but I'm actually pretty excited that I do.

Pan's Labyrinth is up there among my favourite films, and would probably have cracked my top 50 favourite foreign language movies, but alas missed out on the top 25. Visually, it's pretty remarkable, and if it was showing without subtitles I could probably watch it and enjoy it just as much. My appreciation for Guillermo del Toro's work varies wildly, but this is one of around four of his features that I love.


Films I've seen : 31
Films that have been on my radar : 12
Films I've never even heard of : 45
Films I've heard of : 4

Films from my list : 10

#9 - My #15 - 8 1⁄2 - (1963) - Italy
#16 - My #7 - Downfall - (2004) - Germany
#18 - My #16 - Amélie - (2001) - France
#21 - My #20 - Oldboy - (2003) - South Korea
#25 - My #5 - Das Boot - (1981) - Germany
#43 - My #4 - Grave of the Fireflies - (1988) - Japan
#33 - My #10 - Wild Strawberries - (1957) - Sweden
#57 - My #21 - Memories of Murder - (2003) - South Korea
#70 - My #24 - Run Lola Run - (1998) - Germany
One pointer - My #25 - Audition - (1999) - Japan

Seen: 8
Heard of: 40
My list: 6
My posts here: 11

My List:
1. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
2. City of God (2003)
3. *
4. Let the Right One In (2008)
5. *
6. Amelie (2001)
7. Shoplifters (2018)
8. Oldboy (2003)
9. *
10. *

I'm the one who voted " Pan's Labyrinth" #1. Also it happens to be my overall favorite film. The blend of genres were meshed together brilliantly and after further viewings nothing has diminished that. Plus the beautifully haunting theme music is eternal. So dark, yet so hypnotic.

It's catch-up time again.

I watched Aguirre: The Wrath of God a few years ago for a HoF or movie tournament here, and I didn't like it, but it gets so much praise around here that I decided to rewatch it for this countdown. It's still not my type of movie, but I liked it more this time than I did the first time I saw it.

Rashomon is another movie that I had seen previously thanks to MoFo, and I wasn't really a fan of it after the first watch, but I rewatched it for this countdown. It still didn't make my list, but I'm glad that I rewatched it because I liked it much more this time around.

I watched Solaris a few years ago because I like the 2002 version with George Clooney, and I had heard that the original version was a far superior movie. While I liked the original movie, I still like the 2002 version more. I rewatched it for this countdown, and I liked it enough that it made my list at #10. (I haven't rewatched the 2002 version recently, but I suspect that I might still prefer it over the original version.)

I think M might have been the first foreign language movie that I ever saw. I watched it many years ago because I love Peter Lorre in Arsenic and Old Lace, and I wanted to see him in other movies. I liked it the first time I saw it, and I've seen it several times now, (including a rewatch for this countdown), and it just gets better every time I watch it. It was #7 on my list.

I saw Pan's Labyrinth many years ago because it was getting a lot of hype at the time, (and it was on one of the cable TV movie channels), but I don't remember much about it. If I remember correctly, I don't think I really understood it, and I don't think I liked it. I didn't get a chance to rewatch it for this countdown, but I doubt that it would have made my list anyway.

I haven't seen Downfall, City of God, or 8 1/2.

My list so far:
3. Wings of Desire (1987)
4. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
5. High and Low (1963)
6. Run Lola Run (1998)
7. M (1931)
10. Solaris (1972)
11. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
15. Sundays and Cybele (1962)
23. Diabolique (1955)
25. Ivan Vasilyevich Changes His Profession (1973)
If I answer a game thread correctly, just skip my turn and continue with the game.

Not on my ballot but I do like/love/respect both films and Pan’s Labyrinth, pleasantly surprised they're this high on the list. The top ten is off to a great start!

1963 Federico Fellini

Movies Seen: 52/92
My Ballot: 14/25
25. Mongol (1-pointer)
22. The Wages of Fear (#67)
21. Fireworks (#78)
19. In The Mood For Love (#34)
17. High and Low (#41)
13. Downfall (#16)
11. Le Samouraï (#30)
7. Samurai Rebellion (#79)
6. The Battle of Algiers (#56)
5. War and Peace (#59)
4. Das Boot (#25)
3. Cinema Paradiso (#20)
2. La Haine (#53)
1. City of God (#14)

mofos is so high with pansu labirin
"Фильм призван вызвать духовную волну, а не взращивать идолопоклонников."

minds his own damn business
I watched Solaris a few years ago because I like the 2002 version with George Clooney, and I had heard that the original version was a far superior movie. While I liked the original movie, I still like the 2002 version more. I rewatched it for this countdown, and I liked it enough that it made my list at #10. (I haven't rewatched the 2002 version recently, but I suspect that I might still prefer it over the original version.)
Critics and audiences both were way too unkind to this film. Soderbergh made the admirable choice to refuse to compete with Tarkovsky, and stylistically and structurally made a film which isn't comparable in any good faith way. That didn't stop critics from slagging it for not being Tarkovsky. It's a great modern sci-fi take on the original novel that is more explicit in narrative and emotional resonance but retains intelligence that it lacks in ambiguity.

minds his own damn business
8 1/2 was my, I dunno, 3 or 4 or 5. It's up there. Dolce Vita is better known because it came first and made the bigger international splash, but 8 1/2 is Fellini at his peak powers. I may be one of the few here who enjoys such later work as Juliet of the Spirits, Satyricon, Roma and Cassanova, as some see this period as overindulgence or even self-parody. I would like to personally thank him for indulging.

Pan's Labyrinth is an incredible neo-fable. I'm honestly not sure if I were to devote a space on my list for del Toro whether I would choose it over Cronos or Devil's Backbone but they're all terrific films. Let's hope del Toro finally gets around to making another one of those.

No, I haven't gotten around to any Fellinis yet. Including 8 1/2.

Pan's Labyrinth is my number 6. At once a compelling tale of a girl getting lost in a fantasy world and a drama about a girl losing her innocence in the Spanish Civil War. Ofelia is largely forgotten as her mother grows ill and her father is obsessed with eliminating those who oppose the Franco regime. So it makes plenty of sense when a fairy draws her into the world of fauns, pale men and potential destiny. But the real world doesn't stop happening while she works on her difficult tasks. Beautiful imagery from director del Toro combined with a compelling story leads to a great film.

Rashomon was the first Kurosawa film I ever saw and is the film that really opened me up to foreign films. It was my fav foreign language film after I first watched it and remains there today. Up until this, pretty much the all foreign language I had ever watched were movies that you really didn't need subtitles to understand (Emmanuelle series, Thriller, Men Behind the Sun). Everything about Rashomon impressed me.

Pan's Labyrinth was also on my ballot, #6. It's still the best fantasy film for people who don't like fantasy, one of the best looking films ever and brutal!

As proof that I still can't read the room I thought the chances of M (14) and City of God (19) making it at this point were pretty slim. Glad to see both as both were on my ballot. City of God I just watched again not too long ago and it was top ten going in but I ended up dropping it a little. Not that it's gotten worse, I've just seen a lot of really good foreign films in the past couple decades. Still, top 20 is no slouch especially on my all star ballot. Biggest surprise is going to be when Man Bites Dog makes the top five.

  1. Yep (Rashomon)
  2. Yep (The Cranes are Flying)
  3. The Virgin Spring
  4. Yep - This turned into a big NO!
  5. Probably a solid no
  6. I'm still thinking YES (Pan's Labyrinth)
  7. Yep
  8. Better luck playing pick up sticks with our butt cheeks than this making it.
  9. No
  10. Doubt it
  11. Maybe, probably not.
  12. yeah, no
  13. Yojimbo
  14. I thought it would for sure, now not so sure (M)
  15. Rififi
  16. Diabolique
  17. Still think this will make it (Oldboy)
  18. Porco Rosso
  19. Kinda leaning no (City of God)
  20. Still possible (Das Boot)
  21. Thought it would have shown up by now (Downfall)
  22. 50-50 on this one, of course there's only a 1% chance of that
  23. To quote Shep Proudfoot - nope
  24. Dear god no!
  25. No way in hell

Professional horse shoe straightener
81/2 is obviously peak Fellini.

I'm not surprised Pan's Labyrinth is high up this list as it's regarded very highly here. But it's nowhere near top 10 material in my humble opinion. I don't even think it's del Toro's best film.

277 points, 16 lists
8. Come and See


Elem Klimov, 1985


Aleksei Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevicius, Vladas Bagdonas

278 points, 14 lists
7. Stalker


Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979


Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Nikolay Grinko, Alisa Freyndlikh

Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Only one point separated these Russian big hitters.

Come and See placed: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 6th, 8th, 8th, 11th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 13th, 14th, 23rd

Stalker placed: 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 6th, 7th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 20th

Both films made my ballot.

Come and See was #6 on my ballot. Hearing about its reputation of being one of the most horrifying films ever made may set someone up with the expectation that it's going to be an extreme film, but the greatness of the film lies in the fact that its horror doesn't cause you to look away. It blends the expressionist, the surreal, and the ugliness of war in such a way that no other war film I've seen has ever been able to top. It truly makes war look like a nightmare with the disturbing imagery, framing, sound design, and all the artful shots of ugly things.

Stalker was #1 on my ballot and is also #1 on my all-time favorite's list. I expected it to be a bit higher, but oh well. Here's the review I wrote for it for the Russian Language HoF;

Always happy to rewatch my number 1 favorite film (I'm sure you all can tell which film will top my ballot for this HoF). When I first watched Stalker, this was before I was fully accustomed to slow pacing, so I struggled somewhat with it, but I still appreciated it quite a lot. I couldn't explain why, but something about the film felt so alluring and kept inviting me back for more, whether it was the ethereal beauty found in the deserted environments or some various sequences which seemed to have otherworldly qualities. Everything about the pacing should've made me grow bored back then, but while this somewhat happened, I also felt strangely drawn to it for a reason I couldn't put my finger on. I didn't love the film after my first viewing, but what I knew was that Tarkovsky was a director who I should keep an eye out for in the future. Though I struggled with a few of his other films after that, like The Mirror and Solaris, both of which I need to revisit soon, I eventually got around to rewatching this film, which was when I fell in love with Tarkovsky.

In many ways, this is more of a feel than a film. Initially, the transition from sepia to color when they enter the Zone makes the area seem like a haven as opposed to the drab outside world they're stuck in. However, the more we learn about the Zone and the various people who had ventured there prior to the film (like a previous guide named Porcupine who killed himself after becoming rich in the Zone), the more dangers the area is revealed to have, and the more omens they witness as they make their way through it (a group of abandoned army tanks, a black dog which recurs throughout their time in the Zone, or a human skeleton they pass by), the more apparent it is that the room isn't as fulfilling as it appears, thus making the initial jump from sepia to color a façade which conceals many darker undertones. This film has its fair share of ambiguity and every time I watch it, it always leaves me with some unanswered questions, but I never feel unsatisfied by what I don't know about the Zone or the characters. Contrariwise, part of me feels changed every time I finish watching it as the mysterious beauty the film gives off throughout their time in the Zone and, specifically, the tragically beautiful final shot (which would make a short list of my favorite film endings), is more than enough to move and devastate me. I also find many sequences in the film quite moving, like the initial railway car ride into the Zone which has some great, minimalist sound design, the dream sequence which doesn't actually show their dreams, but still feels surreal, and the inexplicably excellent tunnel sequence. Topped with an undercurrent of nuclear disasters and fallouts bubbling underneath the surface of various scenes (this undercurrent is heightened by how the toxic chemicals in the area this film was shot in arguably lead to the deaths of Tarkovsky and two of the three main actors in the film), this film makes for a profound experience every time I rewatch it.

Also, here's my updated ballot that I forgot to include:

Updated ballot:

1. Stalker (1979, Tarkovsky) #7
2. Late Spring (1949, Ozu) #26
6. Come and See (1985, Klimov) #8
7. Andrei Rublev (1966, Tarkovsky) #23
10. Le Samouraï (1967, Melville) #30
12. Sansho the Bailiff (1954, Mizoguchi) #50
13. M (1931, Lang) #11
16. The Battle of Algiers (1966, Pontecorvo) #56
19. The Mirror (1975, Tarkovsky) #86
21. Red Desert (1964, Antonioni) #64
23. Vampyr (1932, Dreyer) #84
25. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972, Herzog) #15

Please Quote/Tag Or I'll Miss Your Responses
There were some good lines in "Stalker" but it's not a movie I liked.

I turned off "Come And See" after 30 minutes.. I couldn't stand that growling voice of the 10-year old, especially. And when he meets the girl, it just went downhill...

I appreciate the experimentation of The Mirror and Solaris much more than the slow world-building of Stalker. Stalker had excellent points of discussion and the sets and cinematography were phenomenal, but the ending felt a little thrown together for the sake of a world-building plot twist that never got explored.

Come and See was a gloriously tense and depressing wonder to behold. I need to watch it again soon.

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