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Top 10 French Movies to Watch Before You Die

French Movies

It is a well known fact that France is considered as the cultural capital of the world. French filmmakers are known for their experimental-ism and realistic approach towards movies. From the legends of the big screen to today’s fresh concepts; the world of film-making has been widely inspired by the directors of French origin. We have compiled a list of Top 10 movies in French and it is just indicative in nature.



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imdb    Imdb:    7.7/10
meta    Metacritic:    84%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   94%
Release Date: 20 December 1963
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, Giorgia Moll, Fritz Lang
Distributed By: Marceau-Cocinor (France), Interfilm (Italy), Embassy Pictures(International)
Music By: France/US: Georges Delerue, Italy/Spain: Piero Piccioni
Language: French, English, German, Italian
Country: France and Italy
Running Time: 101 minutes
Budget: $1 million
Box Office: 1,619,020 admissions (France)
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

The movie “Contempt” released in the year 1963, French name “Le Mépris”. It is a drama film which was written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The movie is based on an Italian novel titled-Ildiprezzo written by Alberto Moravia. The movie stars Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, and Giorgia Moll.

A writer, Paul Javal is employed to sketch the script for a new film about Ulysses and he is recommended to write a commercial venture. This movie is supposed to be directed by Fritz Lang and Jeremy Prokosch takes up production part in this movie. As he leaves his wife Camille and Prokosch together and the ensuing drama that follows is brilliantly portrayed with such control and perfection. As expected the relationship comes to an end.

With Jean-Luc Godard’s direction, this is French cinema’s new wave contribution.


Last Year at Marienbad

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imdb    Imdb:    7.9/10
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rt    Rotten tomatoes:   95%
Release Date: 25 June 1961
Director: Alain Resnais
Cast: Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff
Distributed By: Cocinor
Music By: Francis Seyrig
Language: French
Country: France,Italy
Running Time: 94 minutes
Awards: Golden Lion Award
Budget: $28 million
Box Office: $25 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Last Year at Marienbad is a French- Italian movie titled “L’Année dernière à Marienbad” in French. In 1961, Alain Resnais directed the movie along with Alain Robbe-Grillet working on the screenplay.

The movie is quite popular for its exceptional narrative style. The movie travels between truth and fiction melded nicely together. It is presented as a dream work of art and the audiences are taken to the level of utmost fascination. People praise this movie as a masterpiece which remains incomparable to any other movie till now.

The simple plot of the story is how a strange man tries to convince a married lady to run away with him at a big, old sophisticated hotel. He stresses that they have known before and have met. However, the woman denies the fact and has hardly any thought or remembrance of having met him before. With its exceptional technical qualities and presentation style, it is definitely a must watch the movie in French.



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imdb    Imdb:    7.9/10
meta    Metacritic:    64%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   97%
Release Date: 16 March 1960
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg
Distributed By: UGC (France, original), StudioCanal (France, 2010 re-release), Films Around The World (USA), Rialto Pictures (USA, 2010 re-release)
Music By: Martial Solal
Language: French, English
Country: France
Running Time: 90 minutes
Awards: Prix Jean Vigo
Budget: FRF400,000
Box Office: $67,464
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

The movie “Breathless” released in the year 1960. The movie is also tagged as “À bout de soufflé” in French. Jean Luc Godard directed and wrote the script for this movie. The storyline is centered on a wandering criminal played by Jean-Paul Belmondo and his girlfriend; Jean Seberg. This movie is considered as first quality length script, a breakthrough for Belmondo as an actor.

Breathless holds pride in being one of the most influential cinemas of the early times and it is also a sample of French new wave movie. During that time the movie grasped much attraction for its strong visual effects, including jump cuts of the unconventional pattern. The movie had attracted more than 2million viewers in its first few days of release. The movie is about how a petty thief robs a car and murders a motorbike cop. The movie goes on with the thief being hunted down by the police and he reunites with his journalist girlfriend whom he persuades to run away with him.

With its modern touch and convincing screenplay, this movie is a perfect getaway to spend the weekend.


The Mother and the Whore

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imdb    Imdb:    8.2/10
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rt    Rotten tomatoes:   96%
Release Date: 17 May 1973
Director: Jean Eustache
Cast: Bernadette Lafont, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Françoise Lebrun
Distributed By: VM Productions
Music By: Georges Van Parys
Language: French
Country: France
Running Time: 219 min
Awards: Grand Prix Award at Cannes film festival
Budget: 700,000 francs
Box Office:
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

The French movie of the year 1973, “The Mother and the Whore”, titled: La Maman et la Putain in French is a simple yet stunning movie ahead of its time. Jena Eustache directed the movie starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, Bernadette Lafont and Françoise Lebrun playing the major roles. The simple story line of the movie is about three persons and their relationship. The movie is considered to be a master piece in spite of being the first movie of Eustache. The screenplay of the movie is inspired from his own personal relationship. The movie was shot from May to July 1972.

The movie bagged the Grand Prix when it premiered at the Cannes film festival in the year 1973. It received quite a number of positive reviews.

The movie is about Alexandre who lives in an apartment in Paris with his roommate, Marie. Alexandre being a womanizer, changes partner frequently. After he ends his relationship with his ex-girlfriend libretto, he meets Veronica, a nurse by profession. How the threesome lives together in an apartment forms the main thread of the movie.  Love triangle, realistic performances from all the lead actors makes this movie an all time favorite.


Betty Blue

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imdb    Imdb:    7.4/10
meta    Metacritic:   
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   77%
Release Date: 9 April 1986
Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Cast: Jean-Hugues Anglade, Béatrice Dalle, Gérard Darmon, Consuelo de Haviland, Jacques Mathou, Clémentine Célarié, Vincent Lindon
Distributed By: Gaumont
Music By: Gabriel Yared
Language: French
Country: France
Running Time: 120 minutes (185 minutes - Director's cut 2004)
Awards: César Award
Box Office: $29.2 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Betty blue is a French film which released in the year 1986. “37° 2 le Matin”, in French; meaning “37.2°C in the morning”. The movie stars Béatrice Dalle and Jean-Hugues Anglade and was directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix. The movie is based on a novel written by Philippe Djian titled “Betty Blue”. The movie was the huge success in the box office and was ranked at eight positions for all time highest earning movie in that year in France.

The film was well recognized with awards and nominations at international film festivals and award ceremonies. The movie is about how a novelist who is at the start of his career, and how he tries to support his young girlfriend, who is mentally unstable. In spite of trying hard to bring her out of her wildness, she gets wilder. The movie goes on to answer whether Betty’s love is strong and secure and how they deal with the insane girl and so on. This is one of finest French film highly rated by viewers all around the world.


A Prophet

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imdb    Imdb:    7.9/10
meta    Metacritic:    90%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   97%
Release Date: 16 May 2009
Director: Jacques Audiard
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif
Distributed By: UGC Distribution
Music By: Alexandre Desplat
Language: French, Arabic, Corsican
Country: France, Italy
Running Time: 155 minutes
Awards: British Academy Film Awards
Budget: $13 million
Box Office: $17.9 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

“A prophet” is a French movie that is filmed in a prison. This 2009 movie is also titled as Un prophète in French. The movie was directed by Jacques Audiard and the script was co-written by Thomas Bidegain, Abdel Raouf Dafri, and Nicolas Peufaillit. The movie is centered on actor Tahar Rahim who plays the role of a prisoner. According to the movie, the prisoner being a petty thief is imprisoned and he works his way inside the prison is the main plot. The storyline, in brief, is that a prisoner aged about nineteen years is sentenced to six years in jail. He had spent most of his life at the juvenile home and is looking forward to spending the remaining part of his sentence in jail without any grave mishaps. He has no big aspirations in life and he is portrayed as an illiterate. The movie unravels the mind of a prisoner who has been committing crimes right from his young age.  A good movie with a good storyline.


Blue is the warmest color

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imdb    Imdb:    7.8/10
meta    Metacritic:    88%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   91%
Release Date: 23 May 2013
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Cast: Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos
Distributed By: Wild Bunch (France), Cinéart (Belgium), Vértigo Films (Spain)
Music By: Jean-Paul Hurier
Language: French
Country: France, Belgium, Spain
Running Time: 179 minutes
Awards: Palme d'Or Award and Golden Globe Award
Budget: €4 million
Box Office: $19.5 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

The movie “Blue is the warmest color” got released in the year 2013. The movie is an erotic drama which was co-written, co-produced and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. The movie has Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in the lead roles. The movie is centered on Adèle played by Exarchopoulos who acts as a young French teenager. The story begins with her character struggling to find emotional independence, and meanwhile, she meets an aspiring painter with blue hair. The movie shows three different stages of their relationship beginning with Adele’s high school, then her early adult period and finally as a school teacher.  The movie is based on the graphic novel which got released in the year 2010. The book was published in 2013 in North America.

The movie encountered countless controversies upon its premiere at Cannes and also after its release. With its bold adult content, this movie is a must watch for all French cinema lovers.


Jule and Jim

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imdb    Imdb:    7.9/10
meta    Metacritic:    65%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   97%
Release Date: 23 January 1962
Director: François Truffaut
Cast: Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre
Distributed By: Cinédis, Gala, Janus Films
Music By: Georges Delerue
Language: French
Country: France
Running Time: 105 minutes
Awards: Bodil Award
Box Office: 1,595,379 admissions (France)
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Jules and Jim is a romantic French movie which got released in the year 1962. Titled in French as “Jules et Jim”, it is a drama movie in which the direction, production and the script were handled by François Truffaut. The movie sets back to the First World War, involving a love triangle. The major roles are French Bohemian Jim played by Henri Serre, then his Austrian friend who is shy by nature (Jules) played by Oskar Werner, another character appears as Jules’s girl friend and finally, Catherine played by Jeanne Moreau.

The film is made in reference to Henri Pierre Roche’s novel which was written in 1953. It is an auto biographic story about the relationship of Franz Hessel, who is a young writer and Helen Grund who is married to Hessel. The novel somehow reached the hands of Truffaut as he was browsing at the second-hand book stall. The book kindled a curiosity in him and he contacted the author who released his first creation at the age of 74 and he graciously accepted to remake his story in the new medium.

Watch this movie to travel down the memory lane, and understand the importance of relationship and love.


Stolen Kisses

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imdb    Imdb:    7.8/10
meta    Metacritic:   
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   95%
Release Date: 14 August 1968
Director: François Truffaut
Cast: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claude Jade, Delphine Seyrig
Distributed By: United Artists
Music By: Antoine Duhamel Song: Que reste-t-il de nos amours? by Charles Trenet
Language: French
Country: France
Running Time: 91 minutes
Awards: Academy Award
Budget: $350,000
Box Office: $1.5 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Stolen Kisses is a French movie which released in the year 1968, meaning “Baisers voles” in French. The film is a romantic French movie which is also quite comical in nature.The direction of the movie was done by François Truffaut with Jean-Pierre Léaud and Claude Jade in the lead roles. The episodic movie Stolen Kisses is the third installment in Antoine Doinel series, beginning with The 400 Blows way back in the year 1959.  This movie starts with Antoine beginning his relationship with Christine Darbon, which is shown more significantly in the final two sequels of the film series Bed & Board and Love on the Run.

The movie was nominated for the academy awards and has received many accolades. The movie pictures how Antoine joins the army and how he faces life in a commanding manner. Another fantastic movie from the great director Truffaut.


Beauty and the beast

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imdb    Imdb:    8/10
meta    Metacritic:   
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   95%
Release Date: 29 October 1946
Director: Jean Cocteau
Cast: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély, Nane Germon, Michel Auclair, Marcel André
Distributed By: DisCina
Music By: Georges Auric
Language: French
Country: France
Running Time: 93 minutes
Awards: Rotten tomatoes Awarded, Certified Fresh Award
Budget: Low budget
Box Office: 4,202,951 (France)
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Beauty and the beast is a fantasy movie which released in the year 1946 in French. This romantic movie was directed by a famous French poet and film director Jean Cocteau. Josette Day played the main role “Belle” and Jean Marais also played a key role. The movie was based on the story “Beauty and the Beast” (1757), which was written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont that was published as part of the fairy tale anthology.

The simple plotline is how Belle’s father who picks a rose from the garden owned by the Beast is sentenced to death. Belle then gets ready to meet the Beast on behalf of her father. Later the beast starts loving Belle and wants to marry her but Belle refuses.

Beauty and the Beast are definitely a must watch French movie for its classical and lyrical portrayal of love in French cinema.

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