best foreign movies and tv streaming

(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)

We’re 25% of the way through 2019 now. Which means you have 75% of the year left to brush up on your foreign movies and impress your friends. You’re in luck with this week’s Pop Culture Imports, as the collection of best foreign movies and TV streaming now is led by Cold War, the achingly beautiful Polish Best Foreign Picture nominee that wowed at this year’s Oscars. Joining it is the surreal Ghanian fable from Ava Duvernay’s distribution company, Array, The Burial of Kojo, a twisted French historical dramedy, the wildly popular satirical anime One-Punch Man, and an irreverent early 2000s French comedy.

Fire up those subtitles and let’s get streaming.

Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming Now

Cold War – Amazon Prime

Country: Poland

Genre: Romantic historical drama

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

Cast: Tomasz Kot, Joanna Kulig, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cédric Kahn, Jeanne Balibar.

Clocking in at a lean 88 minutes and filmed in a stark black-and-white aesthetic, it’s astonishing how rich and vibrant Pawel Pawlikowski‘s Oscar-nominated Cold War is. A sumptuous portrait of a doomed romance in free fall, Cold War is filled with so much unbridled yearning and naked emotion that it almost feels like you’ve watched something obscene. Loosely inspired by the story of Pawlikowski’s parents, Cold War follows a Polish composer Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and an aspiring singer (Joanna Kulig) who meet as he is holding auditions for a state-sponsored folk music ensemble in post-war Poland. They soon strike up an affair and fall in deep, passionate love, eventually planning to flee Poland as bureaucrats increasingly put pressure on the ensemble to include Communist propaganda. But missed connections and misguided actions reign in a tragic romance that spans two decades, into the 1960s. Sparse and meticulously crafted, Cold War is a brisk film that still manages to bleed humanity and heartache.

Watch This If You Like: Like Crazy, In the Mood for Love, the Before trilogy, Call Me By Your Name, pining.

The Burial of Kojo – Netflix

Country: Ghana

Genre: Magical realist fantasy

Director: Blitz the Ambassador

Cast: Ama K. Abebrese, Joe Addo, Henry Adofo, Kobina Amissah-Sam.

Mythic in scale and intimate in scope, The Burial of Kojo is a hell of a debut from first-time director Blitz the Ambassador. The Ghana-born musician takes to filmmaking like its second nature, delivering an exquisitely lyrical fable that is both timeless and modern. Taking many cues from the magical realism genre, The Burial of Kujo is narrated by a young woman named Esi, who tells the story of how her birth “was supposed to bring prosperity and good fortune to my family.” Instead, the family is wracked by conflict as a young Esi receives strange visions of a visiting crow and a sacred white bird, and her father and mother frequently clash over money issues. When her father’s brother suddenly appears with a get-rich-quick scheme, Esi’s father takes up the offer, only for their partnership to expose deep-seated problems between the two brothers. The striking colors, discordant score, and surreal imagery — from a burning car on a beach, to a vision of young Esi under a shower of sparks — all point to Blitz the Ambassador being the next visionary filmmaker to watch.

Watch This If You Like: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Red Turtle, very confusing beachside walks.

Lady J – Netflix

Country: France

Genre: Historical comedy/drama

Director: Emmanuel Mouret

Cast: Cécile de France, Édouard Baer, Alice Isaaz, Natalia Dontcheva.

Don’t let this film’s slow start fool you, Lady J is one of the most delightfully twisted period dramas to be recently released. A romantic revenge tale that is as catty and cruel as it is satisfying, Lady J is as if Gone Girl met Heathers and decided to put its French baby in a corset. Directed by Emmanuel Mouret with razor-sharp precision, Lady J follows a wealthy widow Madame de la Pommeraye (Cecile de France), who becomes taken with the serial womanizer Marquis des Arcis (Edouard Baer). But after he shows his true colors, Madame vows revenge by employing a formerly aristocratic mother and daughter pair who have fallen from grace and have been forced into prostitution. Promising the pair a handsome fee and the chance to regain their honor, Madame plans to use the angelic beauty of the daughter, Mademoiselle de Joncquieres (Alice Isaaz), to ensnare the Marquis and teach him a lesson. Though she at first acts under the pretense of breaking down society’s double standards, Madame’s machinations become increasingly cruel, at the expense of the less well-off mother and daughter. Ice cold and sneakily funny, Lady J is a period drama that you shouldn’t overlook because for its lavish setting.

Watch This If You Like: Dangerous Liaisons, Love & Friendship, The Favourite, Phantom Thread, females helping females.

One-Punch Man – Hulu

Country: Japan

Genre: Superhero anime comedy series

Director: Shingo Natsume, Chikara Sakurai.

Cast: Makoto Furukawa, Kaito Ishikawa.

Plenty of non-anime fans have written off the entire medium because of “the anime face” — that dumb, blank expression that threatens to take the viewer out of the experience. Well, their loss, because the outrageously funny and weird superhero anime One-Punch Man revolves around that face. Based on One’s viral webcomic of the same name — a name that is itself worldplay on the long-running children’s character Anpanman — One-Punch Man straddles the line between satire and sincerity in a series centered around a superhero who has become so insanely strong that he can defeat any villain with a single punch. But bored by the absence of challenging foes, the titular hero Saitama is instead fixated on the mundane trivialities of life: sales at the grocery store, what he’ll have for dinner, the crushing ennui of an adult life unfulfilled. It’s hilarious stuff, complemented by the few times that the series does go balls-out on its fight scenes, allowing Saitama to show off his true power — even if it’s just for one punch.

Watch This If You Like: My Hero Academia, Gintama, Deadpool, superhero satire that’s not from Marvel or DC.

The Closet (Le Placard) – Hulu

Country: France

Genre: Comedy

Director: Francis Veber

Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu, Michel Aumont, Michèle Laroque.

No one can do irreverent comedy like the French, and The Closet is as irreverent as you can get — if a little creaky since its 2001 release. Written and directed by Francis Veber, The Closet is about an accountant named Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil) who everyone has written off to be a dullard, including his ex-wife, his coworkers, and his company, which is preparing to fire him. But in a last-ditch attempt to keep his job, Francois pretends to be gay, in a sort of reverse premise from La Cage aux Folles/The Birdcage. Absurd misunderstandings and shenanigans ensue. While The Closet hasn’t aged quite that well in terms of how it treats homosexuality, Auteil gives a charming performance and the supporting cast, including a very game Gérard Depardieu elevate the broad comedy.

Watch This If You Like: The Birdcage, Dinner for Schmucks, Tootsie, Gérard Depardieu doing anything.

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