A list of French movies
Bonjour à tous !
People often ask how to practice their French outside of Duolingo and are answered they should watch movies and TV shows. And then, you see many similar posts asking for movies to watch.
I thought a list of movies could be of help to you, classified depending on what you might be looking for.
I didn’t really write summaries, it would have been far too long and unreadable! But you can find everything you need on Wikipedia ;)
Without any further ado, let’s begin!
[Last edit 27.03.17]
La Nouvelle Vague (aka the-movies-you-need-to-watch-if-you-want-to-sound-cultured)
By Jean-Luc Godard (in chronological order) : A bout de souffle, Une femme est une femme, Vivre sa vie, Le Mépris, Pierrot le fou, Masculin féminin
By Jacques Rivette (idem) : Paris nous appartient, Suzanne Simonin: la religieuse de Diderot (that's only one movie), Céline et Julie vont en bateau, La Belle Noiseuse
By François Truffaut (idem): Tirez sur le pianiste, Fahrenheit 451 (in English, but one of his major movies), La mariée était en noir, L’enfant sauvage, Le Dernier métro
Please note I only listed the « major » movies, they directed many others that you may want to discover, and they are not the only artists of the Nouvelle Vague.
Before the Nouvelle Vague: the great classics (30’s-40’s-50’s) (aka the-movies-we-hear-about-in-school-books)
Marcel Carné: Le Quai des brumes, Hôtel du Nord, Le Jour se lève, Les Enfants du paradis, Les Portes de la nuit
René Clément: Jeux interdits
Jean Cocteau: La Belle et la Bête
Jean Renoir: La Grande Illusion (about WW1), La Bête humaine (adapted from the novel by Emile Zola, about railways and the people working there), La Règle du jeu (the “movie of movies” according to Truffaut)
Cult comedies (aka the-movies-you-need-to-at-least-pretend-you-like-if-you-do-not-want-to-face-social-death)
With Louis de Funès: L’Aile ou la Cuisse, Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob, La Folie des grandeurs, La Grande Vadrouille
With Pierre Richard : Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire / La Chèvre
With « la troupe du Splendid » : Les Bronzés / Les Bronzés font du ski / (Les Bronzés 3 – Amis pour la vie) / Le Père Noël est une ordure
Le Dîner de cons
A little less known among the young generation :
Les Tontons flingueurs
Ne nous fâchons pas
La Septième Compagnie
(Very) Good, “serious” movies (aka if-you-want-some-drama)
Cyrano de Bergerac (you can find the entire movie on Youtube with English subtitles)
Ridicule (the French wit at its finest before the Revolution)
Adapted from Marcel Pagnol’s novels : Jean de Florette / Manon des sources (director : Claude Berri) ; La Gloire de mon père / Le Château de ma mère (Yves Robert)
L’Armée des ombres (about the Résistance during WW2)
La Reine Margot
Tous les matins du monde (about classical music)
Comedies (aka the-ones-that-are-more-recent-than-the-cult-ones)
La Vie est un long fleuve tranquille
OSS 117 Le Caire nid d’espions / OSS 117 Rio ne répond plus
La Cité de la peur
Astérix et Obélix contre César / Astérix et Obélix Mission Cléopâtre / Astérix aux Jeux Olympiques / Astérix et Obélix : Au service de Sa Majesté
(The only one you absolutely need to watch is the second one. Huge classic.)
Camping 1 et 2
Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au bon Dieu? (A very traditional and racist couple has four daughters who all marry a man from a different origin)
Dany Boon’s movies: Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (most successful French movie, even more than "La Grande Vadrouille"), Rien à déclarer, Supercondriaque
Le Prénom (very successful, lots of twists)
Tanguy (Tanguy is now the name we use to designate a young adult who still lives with their parents during their loooong studies. Example of use: “C’est vraiment un Tanguy” = He’s a real Tanguy)
More recent movies
La Vie d’Adèle (not for everyone, some scenes are very explicit)
Le premier jour du reste de ta vie
La Môme (English title: La Vie en Rose)
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (great great great one)
Un Long Dimanche de fiançailles
Les Aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec
Guillaume Canet’s movies : Ne le dis à personne, Les petits mouchoirs ; he played in Jappeloup, if you’re into horses.
Belle et Sébastien (the remake of a TV series of the 60’s; for kids)
Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table!
Prête-moi ta main (rom com)
L’Auberge espagnole / Les Poupées russes / Casse-tête chinois (the first one is a classic, about students going abroad to study ; the sequels are a bit less known)
L’Arnacœur (rom com)
De battre mon cœur s’est arrêté
Coco avant Chanel
L'Odyssée (on Jacques Cousteau)
Ernest et Célestine
By Michel Ocelot : Kirikou et la sorcière / Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages / Kirikou et les hommes et les femmes ; Azur et Asmar
Persépolis (about Iran)
Minuscule (the series is available legally on their official YouTube channel; no dialogues but it's worth a watch)
Jack et la mécanique du cœur (adapted from a novel)
La Prophétie des grenouilles
Les Triplettes de Belleville (almost no dialogue)
Le Chat du rabbin
There ! :D This list is obviously not exhaustive but I hope it will be a good introduction. There may be some mistakes here and there, just, please, don’t hate me if there are some!
Don’t hesitate to add your personal favourites in the comments (or point out any mistakes). Feel free to save the list if you want to :)
You missed several of my favourite ones (not picking necessarily their most important ones but the ones I have seen and liked)
Jacques Demy: Les parapluies de Cherbourg, Les demoiselles de Rochefort, Peau d'ane (great-looking musicals and fairytales with self-conscious and dark undercurrents)
Alain Resnais: L' année dernière à Marienbad, Hiroshima mon amour (artsy art)
Louis Malle: Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, Zazie dans le métro (one noirish thriller, one absurd comedy, and Malle seems to have a long career with many appreciated titles...)
Also Les quatre cents coups is a must for Truffaut.
Before the Nouvelle vague:
Henri-Georges Clouzot: Le salaire de la peur, Quai des Orfèvres, Le corbeau, Les diaboliques (thrillers on par with good Hitchcock)
Max Ophuls: Madame de..., La ronde, Le plaisir, Letter From an Unknown Woman (last in English and done in his Hollywood period) (gorgeous epoch pieces, think Maupassant and Balzac)
François Ozon: 5x2, Swimming Pool, 8 femmes, Le temps qui reste (artsy dramas or in case of 8 femmes, bizarre musical comedy).
And just as individual titles approved by yours truly: À la folie... pas du tout, L' Atalante, Le bal, Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie, Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut, Copie conforme, Delicatessen, Du rififi chez les hommes, Irma Vep, Léon, Les yeux sans visage.
Yeah, French have made a lot of great movies over the years, still plenty of titles I need to see...
Absolutely amazing list if you ask me. You have missed a couple really good recent ones though.
Delicatessen Micmacs à tire-larigot
Both of them are fantastic works done by Jean-Pierre Juenet.
Looks like there are a few new movies I must see. I just noticed, you have left out La Femme Nikita. That movie is what got me started in French to begin with.
I recently watched a beautiful short film called Le Ballon rouge (1956). It's about a boy who finds a red balloon that becomes his friend and follows him around. There is very little dialogue and it reminded me a little of Jacques Tati's films. Interestingly it is the only short film to win the Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay). You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhGLI7yyzYM
Don't forget all the great cinema of Quebec. C.R.A.Z.Y., Le Decline de L'Empire Americain, Monsieu Lazhare, Incendie, Jesus de Montreal and many more. I would argue that Quebec has a richer cinematic culture than all the rest of Canada, and I'm a film-loving anglophone living in Montreal.
Great list! I just finished watching an amazing French television series "Les Revenants" on Netflix - at 8 hour-long episodes, it's a bit more of an investment than a movie, but completely worth it. The cinematography, the acting... it's all brilliant and I definitely recommend checking it out.
Thank you so much for this wonderful post, lazouave! I’m definitely going to bookmark the page. Here are a few more to add to the mix:
Cousin Cousine (1975), which critic Roger Ebert called “the story of an impossible love affair, and the two people who make it gloriously possible.”
The films of Éric Rohmer including:
Pauline à la plage (1983)
Le Genou de Claire (1970)
Ma nuit chez Maud (1969)
To Truffaut’s films, I would also add: Jules et Jim (1961) as well as the Antoine Doinel cycle (Les aventures d’Antoine Doinel) including but not limited to:
Les quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows) (1958) — Already mentioned but word repeating.
Baisers volés (Stolen Kisses) (1968)
Domicile conjugal (Bed and Board) (1970)
L’Amour en fuite (Love on the Run) (1979)
And to the list of Louis Malle’s work:
1974 Lacombe, Lucien
Here are a couple of documentaries that are both fascinating (well, if you find their subjects interesting) and easier to follow than more ‘conversational’ films:
2010 Deux de la Vague (Two in the Wave ), Emmanuel Laurent’s film about Truffaut, Godard and the history of New Wave cinema.
2010 L’Amour fou, Pierre Thoretton’s look at the life of Yves Saint-Laurent and his relationship with Pierre Bergé.
As for tv, several seasons of this gritty police procedural are available on Netflix, at least in the US:
puppy7989 has just suggested to me to "Try http://www.filmfra.com - free French films with French subtitles. They aren't necessarily well-known films - you have to subscribe for access to the recent ones. Don't need a release pass either, just good internet and lots of data…"
He has also recommended "it's far better for your French to watch films with French subtitles. "
And if you are in Melbourne, Victoria Australia - check out Palace Cinema (Como), http://www.palacecinemas.com.au/ !
Thank you puppy7989 !
I have my 'learning loom' linked to this post of yours - and thus I am also adding anything relevant to this thread - related to movies / TV threads :) Thanks for the lingot lazouave. And ESPECIALLY - thanks for creating this fantastic thread - resource ! You can check out other links to all sorts of other things in my 'learning loom' here .
Thank you for the excellent list.
La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc by the Danish director Carl Dreyer is probably one of the greatest movies every made (for me it's in the same league as Tokyo Story by Ozu Yasujiro and Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love). Renee Falconetti's performance as Jeanne is shattering. It has been beautifully restored by Criterion with French intertitles and a fine score by Richard Einhorn. The French is fairly simple!
Thanks for putting up this list! Have a lingot. Many of the films you mention sound great.
For Truffaut let me suggest Les quatre cent coups and L'argent de poche, although they at times may be a bit preachy. (I love L'argent de poche for some of the scenes.)
Manon des sources was originally a film of Pagnol's before he wrote the two novels from it, which were later refilmed, as you say. He was elected, when a filmmaker, to L'Académie française, so his films are probably excellent (I haven't seen them), and may be worth a mention here.
After some digging, I have found this site that has French movies with French subtitles. The choice is not awesome but you have a few hours of French waiting for you!
I heard about opensubtitles.org although I have no idea how the quality is.
There's also subtitleseeker.com which seems quite good.
Another solution: Amazon or Netflix. The quality will be good (on the Internet, it's very common to find awful spelling mistakes in subtitles. I'm thinking about the subtitles for American shows made by fans) but it can quickly become expensive.
I hope this will help!
hey I get the title now (just finished watching this)- but I hate to be the one to tell a family member or ANYBODY for that matter that something like this is going to happen to them- but that's just me...and missing out on a important moment in the next generation (mine)even like the ending of this...I hate that too...If i could shed a tear or two I would...except I wouldn't want my father asking questions about my sex life when it comes time to meet the family... but it's something different from the lessons,right...I could kick myself for not doing this sooner!
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the excellent comedy La Cage aux Folles.
Plotter summary from IMDB Two gay men living in St. Tropez have their lives turned upside down when the son of one of the men announces he is getting married. They try to conceal their lifestyle and their ownership of the drag club downstairs when the fiancée and her parents come for dinner.