The 50 Best Foreign Movies of 2023 So Far

Updated June 2, 2024 • Staff

Film knows no borders, and true enough, these exceptional movies from around the world will whisk you away on an extraordinary international journey. Each one showcases a rich diversity of cultures, languages, and perspectives, inviting you to explore uncharted cinematic realms. As Parasite director Bong Joon-ho once advised, you shouldn't let the one-inch barrier of subtitles stop you from finding your next favorite film. So bookmark this page (which we'll update throughout the year) and read on to learn more about the best foreign-language movies of 2023. For your convenience, we've also added information on where and how to stream them online.

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50.

Bad Lands (2023)

Bad Lands isn’t exactly new. It has the romanticized con artist that manages to slip through the fingers of those more powerful than her, through quick wit and good sense. It has the successful con, and those that come out of the woodwork to take what they’ve stolen. The story isn’t even original, being based on Hiroyuki Kurokawa’s 2015 novel, Keiso. But it’s done well. It’s a well-executed character study focused on a grifter pushed into the business, and taking on a cold, ruthless mindset to survive. It juxtaposes her self-contained lifestyle with the skeevy, abusive tech billionaire ex and the police force he infiltrated. And it’s all the more powerful with Sakura Ando leading the story.

Our staff rating: 7.2/10
Genre: Action, Crime
Actor: Canon Nawata, Junichi Okada, Katsuhisa Namase, Ken Yamamura, Koki Maeda, Mitsuo Yoshihara, Namase Katsuhisa, Noriko Eguchi, Ryosuke Yamada, Ryudo Uzaki, Sakura Andô, Yasumasa Oba, Yasushi Fuchikami
Director: Masato Harada
49.

20,000 Species of Bees (2023)

As far as LGBTQIA+ stories go, 20,000 Species of Bees isn't the best at talking about its themes of identity and acceptance in a way that doesn't come off as clunky. But even with its on-the-nose dialogue and inconsequential subplots, director Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren gives everything the warmth and the softness it needs to feel sincere despite everything. And no matter what, the film is always drawn back to the lead performance by Sofía Otero, who provides such a vivid image of this young trans girl's interior life that the world around her character begins to feel either more suffocating or more beautiful to behold.

Our staff rating: 7.2/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Ane Gabarain, Itziar Lazkano, Martxelo Rubio, Miguel Garcés, Patricia López Arnaiz, Sara Cózar, Sofía Otero
Director: Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren
48.

Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry (2023)

We all know that remaining unmarried when middle-aged doesn’t mean one is lacking, but even when we can acknowledge how dated this idea is, for women, there’s still the societal pressure, the loneliness, and the feeling of having missed an opportunity to have children. Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry is centered on one such middle-aged woman living in a small town in Georgia, and she has a fairly peaceful life… until she nearly dies and shortly forms an attraction to another man. Director and co-writer Elene Naveriani takes her time to delve deep into Etero’s story, the complicated grief she has towards the men that have raised her, as well as the spite towards the arbitrary goals other women have reached and made fun of her for. The journey does take a rather slow burn, but it’s wonderful to see a film so empathetic and nuanced about this dilemma, and free from the judgment many women have encountered on this topic.

Our staff rating: 7.2/10
Genre: Drama, Romance
Actor: Eka Chavleishvili, Lia Abuladze, Piqria Niqabadze, Tamar Mdinaradze, Temiko Chichinadze
Director: Elene Naveriani
47.

The Conference (2023)

Familiarity breeds contempt, and Swedish Netflix’s new horror-comedy takes this idea to the extreme. Based on the novel by Mats Strandberg, who’s known as the Swedish Stephen King, The Conference is centered around a group of employees on their company retreat. With its ensemble, the film crafts a relatable dynamic, with the exact petty back-and-forth and the same exact corporate politics many adults have to deal with. It’s no wonder one of them snaps, and takes them out one by one. The film isn’t exactly new, with the decades’ collection of slashers all over the world, but this Swedish thriller is a fun take on it, with match cut transitions, quick paced sequences, and the gruesome murders of the group most adults spend time with - their colleagues. It’s an interesting watch as the world gets back to the office.

Our staff rating: 7.3/10
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller
Actor: Adam Lundgren, Amed Bozan, Bahar Pars, Cecilia Nilsson, Christoffer Nordenrot, Claes Hartelius, Eva Melander, Jimmy Lindström, Katia Winter, Lola Zackow, Maria Sid, Marie Agerhäll, Martin Lagos, Robert Follin
Director: Patrik Eklund
46.

The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future (2022)

The poetic title of this debut feature from Chilean filmmaker Francisca Alegría does not tell a lie: a cow does indeed sing. More than one, in fact, because the film uses an entire herd — plus a flock of birds and a school of fish — as a kind of Greek chorus to comment on human mistreatment of animals and the wider environment. The Cow Who Sang never approaches sanctimonious territory, gently weaving from these ideas an expansive and evenly empathetic worldview. The magical realism that allows the animals to speak is the same device that brings the long-dead Magdalena (Mia Maestro) back to life — and, as her family’s fraught history is gradually revealed, it’s movingly suggested that the objectification that the cows and the local polluted river are subjected to is part of the same culture of devaluation that marred the lives of Magdalena and her female descendants. If there’s one complaint to be had, it’s that the relatively short runtime limits the film's ability to really expound on its many threads — the bond Magdalena instinctively forges with her trans granddaughter, for example. Ultimately, though, its symbolic storytelling and emotionally articulate cast allow The Cow Who Sang to communicate much of its sweeping philosophy to profound effect.

Our staff rating: 7.4/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Alfredo Castro, Enzo Ferrada, Fernanda Urrejola, Leonor Varela, Luis Dubó, Marcial Tagle, Mía Maestro
Director: Francisca Alegría
45.

Friday Night Plan (2023)

Friday Night Plan resembles many a classic teen film (most notably, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Booksmart), but it also doubles as a thoughtful inquiry into the delicate bond between siblings who could not be more different from one another. Sid and his younger brother Adi (Amrith Jayan) have different ideas of what matters most in life, ideas that get tested when their mother’s car gets towed away during their night of fun. Sid thinks it’s only right to come clean and retrieve the car no matter what, but Adi believes this can all wait until tomorrow morning: tonight is Sid’s night to celebrate and finally connect with peers he’s shut off all his life. This tension comes as a surprise in what otherwise looks like an ordinary teen movie, but it’s also a welcome addition that helps Friday Night Plan stand out from the rest. 

Our staff rating: 7.4/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Actor: Aadhya Anand, Amrith Jayan, Babil Khan, Juhi Chawla, Juhi Chawla Mehta, Ninad Kamat
Director: Vatsal Neelakantan
Rating: TV-14
44.

In My Mother’s Skin (2023)

There's a cruelty to In My Mother's Skin that may seem off-putting at first, but one must reckon with the sheer scale of the violence already occurring before these characters are even introduced to us. The Japanese occupation of the Philippines was a particularly vicious period in the country's history; if Filipinos weren't fighting or hiding from their invaders, many of them were trying to maintain a precariously submissive, neutral existence, or they were being turned against each other due to the conflict of war trickling down between the social classes. All these things are implicit throughout Kenneth Dagatan's film, which doesn't try to reenact World War II but capture the total absence of hope during this period.

Dagatan's style of horror insists on a very slow pace, emphasizing every footstep leading to a horrifying reveal, and not just the main scare itself. This choice doesn't always work, especially as certain beats begin to repeat themselves, but the film's incredibly confident visual style fills every moment with an eerie paranoia. Gothic, shadowy interiors, nasty gore, and one opulently costumed fairy make everything perpetually unsettling—gradually forcing us to accept that these contradictions are just the reality of life under war.

Our staff rating: 7.4/10
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, War
Actor: Angeli Bayani, Arnold Reyes, Beauty Gonzalez, Brian Sy, Felicity Kyle Napuli, James Mavie Estrella, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Ronnie Lazaro
Director: Kenneth Lim Dagatan

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43.

Filip (2023)

War makes animals of men, and Filip is no exception. The film portrays a lone Jewish survivor who walks the streets of Frankfurt as if he doesn’t have anything to lose. He’s able to get away with it, with his work at a luxury hotel, but he’s unable to escape his trauma. He relieves this through trysts with the local women, treating them cruelly, the same way they would treat his people. It’s a uniquely stunning take on the ugly side of war, with its country club glamor and Filip’s lust for life. But it’s also a grim character study of an unlikeable, yet understandable protagonist, whose moral ambiguity comes purely from his own survival.

Our staff rating: 7.4/10
Genre: Drama, History, War
Actor: Caroline Hartig, Eryk Kulm, Eryk Kulm jr, Gabriel Raab, Julian Świeżewski, Jürg Plüss, Karol Biskup, Kinga Jasik, Mateusz Rzeźniczak, Nicolas Przygoda, Nicolo Pasetti, Robert Więckiewicz, Sandra Drzymalska, Victor Meutelet, Zoë Straub
Director: Michał Kwieciński
Rating: R
42.

Yannick (2023)

It can be very frustrating to watch something, hoping that the show, play, or film would be worth watching, and find yourself feeling worse after the experience. Most of us end up just changing the channel, leaving the theater, or finding something else to watch, but instead of doing any of this, Yannick depicts the titular audience member interrupting the show with a gun. You can already imagine how tense the situation is, but Quentin Dupieux infuses a comedic, meta touch in the way Yannick questions and holds the audience hostage, as his conversations with them and the cast reveal the different expectations we have from art.

Our staff rating: 7.4/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Agnès Hurstel, Blanche Gardin, Caroline Piette, Charlotte Laemmel, Félix Bossuet, Jean-Paul Solal, Laurent Nicolas, Mustapha Abourachid, Pio Marmaï, Raphaël Quenard, Sava Lolov, Sébastien Chassagne, Stéphane Pezerat
Director: Quentin Dupieux
41.

Aloners (2023)

The emotional sterility of modern life comes under the microscope of this understated Korean drama in which a young woman who has built self-preserving walls around her lonely existence begins to wonder if the trade-off is worth it. Outside of the soul-sucking call center job at which Jina (Gong Seung-Yeon) excels, her interactions with others are purely parasocial: she streams mukbangs on her phone as she eats alone, wakes up to the blare of her always-on TV, and checks in on her aging father via the security camera she’s surreptitiously installed in his home. When she reluctantly agrees to train the chatty, warm newbie (Jeong Da-eun) at work, Jina is confronted with a direct challenge to her aloofness, but the provocation is easily ignored until a similarly withdrawn neighbor is discovered long after his death.

This triggers a quarter-life crisis for Jina that’s predictably resolved, but Aloners transcends the neatness of this arc thanks to its quietly persistent challenging of the instinct to contort oneself to fit an inhumane world. Hong Sung-eun’s thoughtful first-time direction and Gong’s nuanced performance as a young woman waking up to the creeping dehumanization of herself make Aloners a genuinely thought-provoking reflection on 21st-century life.

Our staff rating: 7.5/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Ahn Jeong-bin, Geum Hae-na, Gong Seung-yeon, Jeong Da-eun, Ju Seok-tae, Kim Hae-na, Kwak Min-kyu, Park Jeong-hak, Seo Hyun-woo
Director: Hong Sung-eun

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