Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming

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

It’s time to shake off the holiday lethargy and set your 2020 New Year’s resolutions: to watch more foreign films. Or at least, catch up on the 2019 ones to add as last-minute additions to your best of the year lists. It’s the perfect time to tackle some of those more arthouse releases — you’re feeling fired up from making all your resolutions, and you haven’t yet given up on that gym membership yet. So watch some of the best foreign movies and TV streaming now, including a German romantic thriller with a surprising sci-fi twist, a staggering technical achievement of a neo-noir, the vital first and last feature film from deceased director Hu Bo, as well as a Bollywood Netflix melodrama, and an anime samurai satire.

These are the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.

Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming Now

Transit – Amazon Prime

Country: Germany

Genre: Romantic thriller

Director: Christian Petzold

Cast: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer, Godehard Giese, Maryam Zaree, Ronald Kukulies.

An existential thriller that unfolds into a haunting romance, Transit surprisingly also happens to be a sci-fi film. Set in a vaguely contemporary time period, Christian Petzold‘s German thriller sneakily reveals itself to be a dystopic vision of a fascist state. Based on Anna Seghers’s 1944 novel set during Nazi-occupied France, Transit is startling relevant, though it doesn’t concern itself so much with its political themes or historical echoes. This is a romance, first and foremost, and a mesmerizing one at that. Franz Rogowski stars asa political refugee fleeing fascist-occupied France who assumes the identity of a dead author to attain a visa to escape for Mexico. Captivated by a woman (Paula Beer) in a floral dress who keeps mistaking him for someone else, he discovers the woman is the ex-wife of his new assumed identity, a political writer who had committed suicide. Surreal and filled with an anxious dread, Transit is one of the most uniquely captivating films of 2019.

Watch This If You Like: Children of Men, La Jetée, Cold War, Casablanca but kind of sci-fi.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night – Kanopy

Country: China

Genre: Noir drama

Director: Bi Gan

Cast: Tang Wei, Huang Jue.

Much has been written about Long Day’s Journey Into Night‘s final 50 minutes: an unbroken long take shot in 3D that is a staggering technical achievement on its own. But put into the context of Bi Gan’s whole dreamlike, memory trip of a movie, and it feels a little like a miracle. A gorgeous, beguiling mystery of a film, Long Day’s Journey Into Night follows Luo Hongwu (Jue Huang), a solitary man who returns to his hometown after years away, and begins the search for a woman who he once loved. Told in two parts — one a non-chronological puzzle, the second a dreamy journey down a man’s memory — Long Day’s Journey Into Night plays like a noir but feels like a long sad, regretful sigh.

Watch This If You Like: Vertigo, 50-minute unbroken long takes, baby!

An Elephant Sitting Still – Criterion Channel

Country: China

Genre: Drama

Director: Hu Bo

Cast: Peng Yuchang, Zhang Yu, Wang Yuwen, Liu Congxi.

A four-hour epic that sadly acts as director Hu Bo’s epitaph, An Elephant Sitting Still has an air of morbidity to it due to Hu’s suicide shortly after he completed it. But Hu’s first and final film is a remarkable achievement of cinema, even if the solemn and surreal drama at times feels like a four-hour long suicide note. But despite that persistent sadness underlying the film, An Elephant Sitting Still is an intensely vital and passionate portrait of life in modern China, interweaving the storylines of four protagonists searching for meaning in a semi-mythic elephant that sits outside a small town in northern China, indifferent to the world.

Watch This If You Like: This movie may be incomparable.

Gintama – Hulu

Country: Japan

Genre: Anime comedy

Director: Shinji Takamatsu

Cast: Tomokazu Sugita, Daisuke Sakaguchi, Rie Kugimiya

One of the greatest and most bizarre anime satires, Gintama somehow manages to take every shounen anime cliche there is, and turn it into a goofy gag. Created by Hideaki SorachiGintama is everything but the kitchen sink as an anime, with nearly every episode spoofing a different hit series or trope. And yet, despite the film’s nonsensical premise — a freelance samurai warrior named Gintoki Sakata living in an alien-controlled Edo period Japan who, along with two spunky sidekicks, takes on every task from the most menial (finding cats) to the world-altering — it somehow works. Gintama is a wildly popular franchise for its satirical send-up of anime, and yet it spoofs the genre with a light, loving touch. This is an anime for anime fans from anime fans, and God forbid anyone else try to understand it.

Watch This If You Like: Hot Fuzz, Shanghai Knights, dumb but fun satires.

The Sky Is Pink – Netflix

Country: India

Genre: Romance/biopic

Director: Shonali Bose

Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Ronnie Screwvala.

Marrying a weepy biopic with a quirky romantic-comedy seems like an odd choice, but The Sky is Pink (mostly) walks that line quite skillfully. Priyanka Chopra‘s big return to Bollywood after launching her career in the States, The Sky is Pink is a romantic melodrama based on the true story of Aisha Chaudhary, a young Indian author and motivational speaker who died from pulmonary fibrosis. The Shonali Bose-directed film tells the story of her parents, spanning the 25 years from when they fell in love to parenthood, when they discovered that a unique shared genetic deformity gave their children greater risks of being born with SCID. After grieving the death of their first daughter and birthing a healthy son, they find their third child, Aisha, to be diagnosed with SCID as well, but through the support of their community are able to prolong her life. Told from the point of view of Aisha after she has passed, The Sky is Pink is a sweet and joyful celebration of life.

Watch This If You Like: My Sister’s Keeper, A Walk to Remember, The Fault in Our Stars, sick but quirky teenagers.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: