You know what doesn’t get enough attention? European cinema. There were so many good movies that came out in Europe this decade that may not have even gotten a theater release in your city. So, here’s what you should keep an eye out for when you’re browsing Netflix (or your other streaming service of choice). Here are the 12 best European Movies of the 2020s.
This is a Danish drama starring Mads Mikkelsen. In my opinion, that’s all I have to tell you about it to convince you to watch it, but if not — here we go!
Mads Mikkelsen won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his role as a kindergarten teacher whose whole life is made extremely complicated by the fact that one of his students has a crush on him. It’s as weird as it sounds. Viewer discretion is definitely advised. Nevertheless, I recommend this movie (and would be very wary of any lists that don’t include it as one of the best films of the decade).
I have a bias with this movie, but if this list was ordered, I’d put it at the #1 spot. This is a Ukrainian movie about the choir of a municipal heating company. As the heating season starts in the winter, the members of the choir have to balance their passion (song) with their job (keeping people warm). Sounds ridiculous, right? It is.
Oh, and have I mentioned it’s a documentary? Because it’s a documentary. At some point during the movie you think you’re watching a Parks and Recreations or Office-type documentary. You’re not. As someone who lives in Ukraine I can guarantee that the things shown in this movie are definitely true, which makes everything even funnier.
3. The Square
What happens when you make a pretentious artsy film about a pretentious artsy world? You get The Square — a movie about the curator of an art museum. The film is satirical, and it really tears the “art world” apart in the jokes it makes about it.
This movie won the Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
4. Personal Shopper
You know what I like about Kristen Stewart? She did her thing in a world-hit Twilight series and has since dedicated her acting career only to playing roles that she finds interesting. Her role (and her acting) in Personal Shopper is very interesting.
Stewart plays an American living in Paris, serving as a personal shopper for a celebrity. Pretty straight forward, right? But then you find out that she is also trying to communicate with her dead twin brother. And that’s when you realize that you’re watching a supernatural thriller, and understand that you’re in for a ride!
This is somewhat a slow movie, but worth every second of your time!
5. Holy Motors
This is probably the best weirdest movie on the list that I have seen. It’s about an actor who is acting, but there is no audience. It’s difficult to describe the plot of the movie, but it revolves around an actor who seems to be acting/improvising his way through #RealLife. It’s as strange as it sounds, but it’s also much much better than it sounds. If you’re into seeing actors do their thing and do it well — this movie is for you.
At some point, the plot seems almost secondary to the incredible transformations of the lead actor Denis Lavant.
This is not for the faint of heart. This French-Belgian horror drama is about a vegetarian’s first year at a veterinary school. Essentially, the entire movie is about the juxtaposition of someone’s vegetarian diet and raw animal meat. And then the main character tastes meat for the first time and things get very dark very quickly from that point on.
Definitely stay away from this if you are squeamish when it comes to blood.
7. The Lobster
This is probably my favorite European movie of the 2010s. It’s so depressing, yet incredibly humorous. In a world where everyone must have a loving partner, people who can’t find one are sent to special retreats as a “last chance” effort. If they fail — they get turned into an animal.
You might think this is a weird premise (and it is!), but the movie itself is even weirder. If you see one movie from this list — make it this one!
8. The Great Beauty
This Italian drama will definitely give you something to think about. It follows an old writer who used to be a #PartyAnimal but decides to calm down and look for true beauty after his 65th birthday. This movie will make you think about the things in life that make it worth living, the importance of taking time to enjoy beauty while you’re young, and how devastating it can be when one of your closest friends are mean to you.
Something many “Best European Films” have in common is that they’re serious and sometimes difficult to watch. Intouchables is the opposite of that. This is a very heartwarming French comedy about a delinquent-presenting caretaker for a differently abled, posh, and rich French man. They come from very different worlds, but their relationship with each other changes them both.
This is the movie I watch any time I’m sad and want to feel better. It’s amazing.
This French, German, and Austrian co-production of a French-language movie about love between two old people is the sweetest (and saddest) movie I’ve seen in the past decade. It won the Palme d’Or of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.
The movie starts with a heartbreaking scene of a dead woman adorned with cut flowers, and it only gets more romantic and more tragic from there.
The best thing about Youth is the sound design. The whole film is about a composer who refuses to pay (or conduct) his most famous musical composition. Nevertheless, the whole movie seems to hint at the fact that his entire life is still dedicated to music, and his dedication to music is just a facet for his never-ending love for his wife. The movie is set in a Swiss resort (populated mostly by old people, famous people, and old famous people), and each small interaction between its visitors seems to say something profound about life, love, and fame.
12. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
When I talked about The Hunt I said that Mads Mikkelsen is reason enough to watch it.
When it comes to A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence I think that the name should be all it takes.
This movie is basically a short collection of loosely-related stories. It’s a comedy-drama that’s the third installment of director Roy Andersson’s “Living” trilogy. It centers on the ideas of love and the general idea that “life is ridiculous”.