Films to learn foreign languagesThis week the Academy Awards announced their short list for the Best Foreign Language Film of 2013. While the following films are not officially in the final decision, they are in the running to win Best Foreign Language Film:

  • Belgium, The Broken Circle BreakdownFelix van Groeningen, director
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, An Episode in the Life of an Iron PickerDanis Tanovic, director
  • Cambodia, The Missing PictureRithy Panh, director
  • Denmark, The HuntThomas Vinterberg, director
  • Germany, Two LivesGeorg Maas, director
  • Hong Kong, The Grandmaster, Wong Kar-wai, director
  • Hungary, The NotebookJanos Szasz, director
  • Italy, The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino, director
  • Palestine, Omar, Hany Abu-Assad, director

The announcement from Hollywood made me think about some of my favorite foreign language films of all time that are also proud winners in the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category. If you have a few nights at home this during this winter holiday and find yourself just wanting to snuggle by the fire rather than head to the theater, here are a few of my personal favorite foreign language films:

1. Amour (2012)

Amour is a French film that follows the lives of an elderly married couple in their 80’s. Anne and Georges have always had a good marriage and now they are enjoying retirement. In an unexpected turn of events, Anne suffers a series of strokes that eventually leave her unable to communicate. The film is a picture into the hardship of getting older and the strain it places on the remaining spouse when having to serve as caretaker. It won Best Picture in the Foreign Language Film category at the 2012 Academy Awards.

2. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Before you watch this movie you must do one thing: keep a box of tissues close by as you will be weeping by the end of the film! The movie is from Italian director and actor Roberto Benigni who plays a Jewish man, Guido,  married to an Italian woman named Dora. It is set in Italy around the time of World War II and speaks to a tale of deep love and commitment. When Guido is forced into a concentration camp with their son, Dora refuses to be left behind and voluntarily enters to suffer with her family. It is a beautiful story and a good one to watch during the holiday season. Life Is Beautiful also won Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards.

3. Babette’s Feast (1987)

Babette’s Feast is a Danish film that was written by Karen Blixen, the woman behind the famous book and movie Out of Africa. The movie was also the first Danish film to ever win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. While the plot of this film is very detailed, in a nutshell it is about a housekeeper who enters the world of three aging spinster sisters and brings light and love to their village. It truly is a heartwarming film that is perfect to watch with friends and family over the holiday break.

As you gather with those you love, spread an enthusiasm for foreign language, pull up a great film, and appreciate the greatness that directors from all over the world have created.

 

 

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