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 now in that part of January where it’s too cold and windy to step outside. So much for New Years resolutions, but at least that leaves you plenty of time to watch more foreign-language films, especially on the heels of the exciting showing of foreign films among the Oscar nominees. You can expect an Oscar-themed column in the next few weeks, but for now we have an Argentinian Nazi drama, a gritty Hindi-language crime drama, a lush French drama as beautiful as the painter at its center, an Israeli war series with an intriguing central mystery, and the last of Netflix’s Godzilla anime films.

So without further ado, here are the best foreign movies and TV streaming across digital platforms.

Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming Now

The German Doctor – Hulu

Country: Argentina

Genre: Historical drama

Director: Lucía Puenzo

Cast: Florencia Bado, Natalia Oreiro, Diego Peretti, Elena Roger, Guillermo Pfening.

You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking of The German Doctor as simply a coming-of-age melodrama at first glance. Director Lucía Puenzo‘s historical drama unfolds in such a methodical way that when the revelation of real-life Josef Mengele’s identity as a Nazi war criminal is downright bone-chilling. The 2013 film follows a mysterious German doctor who meets an Argentinian family on their way to a small town where they’re set to open a hotel. The doctor (played with unnerving charm by Alex Brendemühl) takes an interest in their youngest daughter, Lilith (Florencia Bado), an angelic-looking girl whose growth was stunted by her premature birth. As the two bond, the doctor persuades her to participate in his human experiments, all the while Israeli agents are hunting the escaped Nazi war criminal. Puenzo’s restrained direction lets the film unfold until this rich family drama transforms into a political thriller, and ultimately, a horror movie. It’s an unusual approach to the Nazi post-World War II drama, and one that defies categorization.

Watch This If You Like: The Reader, The Remains of the Day, Green Room, Brad Pitt saying “Killin’ Nazis.”

Soni — Netflix

Country: India

Genre: Crime drama

Director: Ivan Ayr

Cast: Saloni Batra, Vikas Shukla, Mohit Chauhan, Geetika Vidya Ohlyan.

The tough-as-nails cop genre gets a fresh take in the context of gender-divided India. Ivan Ayr’s subdued but powerful drama follows hotheaded police officer Soni (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan), who constantly butts head with her superior officer Kalpana Ummat (Saloni Batra), the head of the operation that uses female cops as decoys to arrest sexual assaulters. Soni is brash and violent where Kalpana is calm and diplomatic. But despite their clashing personalities, the two women strike up a tangible bond — Kalpana often getting reprimanded for her friendly treatment of Soni despite the latter’s frequent run-ins with trouble. The film’s focus on complex female characters and their dynamics help drive the film’s minimalist plot and slow pace. Thanks to a brilliant, subtle script, Soni delivers an unflinching snapshot of India’s regressive gender politics while working simultaneously as an affecting character study of the lives of ordinary women.

Watch This If You Like: Persepolis, A Separation, watching complex women live complex lives.

Renoir – Hulu

Country: France

Genre: Historical drama

Director: Gilles Bourdos

Cast: Michel Bouquet, Christa Theret, Thomas Doret, Vincent Rottiers.

“The Renoirs refuse to paint the world black,” aging impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir ponders to his son, the future legendary filmmaker Jean Renoir. “A painting should be something pleasant and cheerful. There are enough disagreeable things in life. I don’t need to create more.” Much like Renoir’s adage here, the film is much the same — sun-dappled, beautiful, dreamy. This is a warm bath of a film with little conflict except for the drama of young love. But the film’s slight story is given life by the electric central performance from Christa Théret, who plays both Renoirs’ forgotten muse Andrée Heuschling, also known as Catherine Hessling. With her flaming hair and passionate personality, Andrée captured the attention of both Pierre-August Renoir and his son, becoming the elder’s final model before his death in 1919 and Jean Renoir’s first film star and wife. Though the film is ostensibly about these great French artistes, the real draw of this film is Théret’s complicated, mercurial Andrée, who aside from providing a window into this world, proves that she was an important figure in French cultural history who deserves to be remembered.

Watch This If You Like: At Eternity’s Gate, A Room With a View, Call Me By Your Name, basking in the sun and pretending you’re the obsession of two influential French artists.

When Heroes Fly — Netflix

Country: Israel

Genre: War drama series

Director: Omri Givon

Cast: Tomer Kapon, Ninet Tayeb, Michael Aloni, Nadav Netz, Moshe Ashkenazi.

Though labeled as a dramatic thriller, When Heroes Fly is both an intimate exploration of PTSD as well as an intriguing mystery series. The Israeli series follows four Israeli military veterans who reunite 11 years after a traumatic final mission leaves them bitterly at odds. But a mystery draws them back together when they discover that a woman who had been the former lover of one man and a sister of another, may not have died as they had long presumed. Based on a book of the same name, When Heroes Fly employs a flashback format that toggles between the regiment’s time at war and their current lives. The format keeps the narrative moving and keeps the drama between the four former friends interesting, but most importantly, keeps you on edge with that central mystery that points to a larger conspiracy that traces back to the Colombian jungle.

Watch This If You Like: Homeland, Quantico, The Americans, soldiers that all have TV star good looks.

Godzilla: The Planet Eater — Netflix

Country: Japan

Genre: Kaiju anime

Director: Kobun Shizuno, Hiroyuki Seshita

Cast: Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Tomokazu Sugita, Yuki Kaji.

Toho Animation and Polygon Pictures wrap up their Godzilla anime trilogy with the best of the bunch, if only for how weirdly metaphysical it gets toward the end. On the heels of the unsatisfying Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017) and its even less-satisfying sequel, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018), Godzilla: The Planet Eater brings this strange, ambitious series about the king of the kaiju to an end. Unlike the other films, we spend most of this time in space and exploring fifth dimensions as Haruo and the final survivors of humanity divide into factions between the militant and the religious. The religious cult end up playing a part in summoning the god-like Ghidorah from another plane of reality to consume Godzilla and the entire planet Earth. Despite some annoying anime tropes (did that telepathic being truly have to try to sleep with our hero?) Godzilla: The Planet Eater is out-of-this-world.

Watch This If You Like: Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Colossal, Cloverfield, your kaiju movies with a dose of the metaphysical.

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