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Added by johanlefourbe on 29 Dec 2010 03:06
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My favorite French movies

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People who added this item 1109 Average listal rating (620 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 7.9
Original Title: 'À bout de souffle'

Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard

With: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg

Plot: A young car thief kills a policeman and tries to persuade a girl to hide in Italy with him.

Note: It used to be a 5 star but and was probably my favorite but I watched it again and it dropped 1 spot because there were a few dull moments. But still it remains a great movie and one of my favorites.


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People who added this item 1168 Average listal rating (689 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.1
Original Title: 'Les quatre cents coups'

Directed by: Francois Truffaut

With: Jean-Pierre Léaud

Plot: Intensely touching story of a misunderstood young adolescent who left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Note: I always prefered 'À bout de souffle' but this one is a huge masterpiece aswell. Definitely Truffaut's best movie.


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Original Title: 'La Grande Illusion'

Directed by: Jean Renoir

With: Jean Gabin

Plot: During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.

Note: It is a such classic, a true masterpiece directed by Jean Renoir. It is one of the best movies about the 1rst World War and simply of the best movies produced back in the 30's. A must see for any real movie lover.


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People who added this item 645 Average listal rating (403 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.9
Original Title: 'Un prophète'

Directed by: Jacques Audiard

Plot: Malik El Djebena is just starting his six year prison sentence in Brécourt. Although he has spent the better part of his life in juvenile detention, this stint is his first in an adult prison. Beyond the division of Corsicans and Muslims in the prison (the Corsicans who with their guard connections rule what happens in the prison), he has no known friends or enemies inside. He is just hoping to serve his time in peace and without incident, despite having no prospects once he's out of jail since he's illiterate and has no support outside of the prison.

Note: It is such a masterpiece, one of the best French movies I have seen during the last decade. I was already impressed by Audiard's previous directing feature, 'De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté', but this was even better. It is one of the grimmest, dreariest jail drama I have ever seen.


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People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.5
Original Title: 'Assassin(s)'

Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz

With: Mathieu Kassovitz

Plot: An old professional killer called Wagner seeks someone to teach what he knows because he is dying. He finally chooses Max, young and passionless thief to be his successor.

Note: This is the 3rd movie directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (La Haine, Gothika) and I think it is actually his best one. It is thus my favorite French movie right now but I have to say I only saw it once when it came out (something like 13 years ago). So, if I watch it again, it may drop on this list. But still, it is a terrific movie and one of the best movie I have ever seen.


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People who added this item 1238 Average listal rating (681 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
Original Title: 'Delicatessen'

Directed by: Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Plot: Post-apocalyptic surrealist black comedy about the landlord of an apartment building who occasional prepares a delicacy for his odd tenants.

Note: It is a very original movie. Great visual, directing, acting. It is a great cult classic.


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People who added this item 40 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4
L.627 (1992)
Original Title: 'L.627'

Directed by: Bertrand Tavernier

Plot: This gritty police drama shows us the underbelly of the Parisian drug trade. Lulu is a tough streetwise narcotics cop who, despite the ruthless environment that he lives and works in every day, still manages somehow to maintain his humanity.

Note: One of my favorite cop movies (maybe my all time favorite). Anyway, I love it so much because it is really raw and realistic. There is no Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis or Wil Smith kind of guy, shooting bad guys and saving the day at the end of the movie. Just unknown actors who really look like cops. It is almost like a documentary.


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Original Title: 'Camille Claudel'

Directed by: Bruno Nuytten

With: Gérard Depardieu, Isabelle Adjani

Plot: Biography of Camille Claudel. Her enthusiasm impresses already-famous sculptor Auguste Rodin. He hires her as an assistant, but soon Camille begins to sculpt for herself and for Rodin. She also becomes his mistress.

Note: Back in those days, Isabelle Adjani was probably the best French actress. Here, she works with Gérard Depardieu, the best French actor of the last 30 years. So, the acting is just great and the story is really spellbinding.


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Original Title: 'Nikita'

Directed by: Luc Besson

Plot: Convicted felon Nikita, instead of going to jail, is given a new identity and trained, stylishly, as a top secret spy/assassin.

Note: I'm not a huge fan of Luc Besson. He is a great director in the sense that the direction is always top notch but the stories as usually less than average.... But not with this movie! As usual, the visuals are great but this time, the story rocks too! A great moody movie. I just love it. Definitely, my favorite movie directed by Besson (F*ck Léon!).


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People who added this item 442 Average listal rating (249 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
Original Title: 'De rouille et d'os'

Directed by: Jacques Audiard

With: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts

Plot: Put in charge of his young son, Ali leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Ali's bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.

Note: What a very good movie and I really wonder how they came up with such a messed up but also intriguing story. At the center, you have two of the most spellbinding characters I have ever seen thanks to some flawless performances by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. Concerning the directing, Jacques Audiard once again pretty much blew me away and the guy is pretty much the best French director at work nowadays. Indeed, he manages to shot beautiful scenes without making them too much artsy and he gives enough room to develop some amazingly deep characters who were completely 3 dimensional.


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Original Title: 'La vie d'Adèle - Chapitres 1 et 2'

Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche

Plot: Adele's life is changed when she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair, who will allow her to discover desire, to assert herself as a woman and as an adult. In front of others, Adele grows, seeks herself, loses herself and ultimately finds herself through love and loss.

Note: I was quite blown away by the whole thing and, in my opinion, it was one of the most beautiful and intense love stories I have ever seen. Rightfully, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos were heralded for their performances and they were both just mesmerizing to behold.


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People who added this item 431 Average listal rating (254 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 8.2
Original Title: 'Le salaire de la peur'

Directed by: Henri-Georges Clouzot

With: Yves Montand

Plot: In a decrepit South American village, men are hired to transport an urgent nitroglycerine shipment without the equipment that would make it safe.

Note: It is almost 60 years old but it has aged pretty well. A fascinating picture.


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Original Title: 'Hiroshima, mon amour'

Directed by: Alain Resnais

Plot: A French young woman has spent the night with a japanese man, at Hiroshima where she went for the shooting of a film about peace. He reminds her of the first man she loved. It was during World War II, and he was a German soldier.

Note: This movie is all about mood. No real story, definitely no action scenes. It is more like a poem.


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Original Title: 'De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté'

Directed by: Jacques Audiard

Plot: Thomas wonders if he should follow his father (criminal) footsteps or if he should follow his dream of becoming a renowned pianist.

Note: Most of the time, French movies are remade in (very average) American versions. This time, we have a French movie which is actually a remake of (unknown) American movie ('Fingers' by James Tobak with Harvey Keitel). Quite surprising... Even more surprising is that this "remake" happens to be a great movie!


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Original Title: 'Il y a longtemps que je t'aime'

Directed by: Philippe Claudel

With: Kristin Scott Thomas

Plot: A woman struggles to interact with her family and find her place in society after spending fifteen years in prison.

Note: I always liked Kristin Scott Thomas. This is by far her best part. A great movie.


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People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 6
Original Title: 'Je vous aime'

Directed by: Claude Berri

With: Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu

Plot: A woman invites all four men she loved in her life for the dinner of New Year's Eve at the same time and unites them all in her house. In sentimental flashbacks they recall their common past.

Note: It is all about the difficulties of being in love. It is very dysfunctional and thus very French and I found it was great.


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People who added this item 77 Average listal rating (48 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 6.9
Original Title: 'L'adversaire'

Directed by: Nicole Garcia

With: Daniel Auteuil

Plot: The movie is based on an amazing true story. The main character is married with children. One day, he loses his job but instead of telling his wife, he keeps pretending he still has his job. Every morning, he lives the house and the evening, he comes back but actually he does nothing the whole day. For a couple of years, it goes actually fine. But he has to lie all the time, he has huge debts and his life gets more and more chaotic.

Note: This movie is so tense and intense. The directing and acting are just great. Again, French thrillers are so raw and realistic compared to Hollywood thrillers. I think they are usually much better, but it is a matter of taste.



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People who added this item 184 Average listal rating (102 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.8
Original Title: 'Bob le flambeur'

Directed by: Jean-Pierre Melville

Plot: Bob, a old gangster and gambler is almost broke, so he decides in spite of the warnings of a friend, a high official from the police, to rob a gambling casino in Dauville.

Note: This movie is really old but there is a very modern feeling about it. I'm pretty sure Steven Soderbergh saw this one before making Ocean's eleven. A great mesmerizing picture.


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Original Title: 'Comment j'ai tué mon père'

Directed by: Anne Fontaine

Plot: When his long-time disappeared father is entering his life again, Jean-Luc, a successful doctor, has no option but to face his own life story. Will he ever be able to forget and forgive?

Note: An intense movie which craftily combines thriller and drama. The directing and acting are very good. It has a deservedly high score here in Listal.


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People who added this item 61 Average listal rating (33 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 6.9
The Bait (1995)
Original Title: 'L'appât'

Directed by: Bertrand Tavernier

Plot: Three adolescents, a girl who serves as the priming and two boys, kill two men cold blooded who were known by the girl only for to steal the money of them.

Note: It bas been directed by one of the best French director, Bertrand Tavernier. The only director with 2 movies on this list. It is a great drama /crime movie giving a shocking view on how emotionless we have all become nowadays.


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People who added this item 162 Average listal rating (58 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.4
Original Title: 'Les valseuses'

Directed by: Bertrand Blier

With: Gérard Depardieu, Jeanne Moreau

Plot: Two whimsical, aimless thugs harass and assault women, steal, murder, and alternately charm, fight, or sprint their way out of trouble.

Note: In France, this is a huge classic. It was the start of a great career for Gérard Depardieu. A great movie which is also a lot of fun.


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Original Title: 'Ascenseur pour l'échafaud'

Directed by: Louis Malle

With: Jeanne Moreau

Plot: A self-assured business man murders his employer, the husband of his adulterer, which unintentionally provokes an ill-fated chain of events.

Note: It was Louis Malle's first movie and his first movie was already a masterpiece. A great film noir with a very famous soundtrack provided by Miles Davis.


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Original Title: 'Lacombe, Lucien'

Directed by: Louis Malle

Plot: A small town in the south-west of France, summer of 1944. Having failed to join the resistance, the 18 year old Lucien Lacombe, whose father is a prisoner in Germany and whose mother dates her employer, works for the German police. He then meets France Horn, the daughter of a rich jewish tailor.

Note: A classic French movie and a very good one about France during WWII. Instead of telling the story of a resistance hero, they decided to focus on a despicable young man who is everything but a hero. A fascinating picture.


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Original Title: 'Jeux Interdits'

Directed by: René Clement

Plot: A young French girl orphaned in a Nazi air attack is befriended by the son of a poor farmer, and together they try to come to terms with the realities of death.

Note: Oh gosh... With this one, I was fighting tears from the first 5 minutes and at the end, I was an emotional wresck... The acting provided by children was nothing short of amazing and the whole thing was just really well written with some realistic 3 dimensional characters.


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People who added this item 38 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.9
Original Title: 'J'embrasse pas'

Directed by: André Téchiné

With: Emmanuelle Béart, Philippe Noiret

Plot: A young man leaves his native town in southern France to discover Paris. Being too unexperienced and too naive, he drops into the reality of Paris 1991. He soon gives up his dream of becoming an actor and prostitutes himself.

Note: It is directed by André Téchiné, one of the best French directors. It is very bleak and kind of depressing but still very good.


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Original Title: 'La Grande Vadrouille'

Directed by: Gérard Oury

With: Louis de Funès

Plot: During World War II, two French civilians and a downed English Bomber Crew set out from Paris to cross the demarcation line between Nazi-occupied Northern France and the South. From there they will be able to to escape to England. First, they must avoid German troops.

Note: As a kid, I have seen this movie so many times. I just loved it. It is probably the best French comedy ever. I hope I will see it again one day.


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People who added this item 488 Average listal rating (265 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
Original Title: 'Entre les murs'

Directed by: Laurent Cantet

With: François Bégaudeau

Plot: Teacher and novelist François Bégaudeau plays a version of himself as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighborhood.

Note: I have seen a few hollywood movies dealing with the same subject, the relationship between teachers and students, and even though some of them may be entertaining, absolutely none of them are really convincing. Not this flick. It's just so raw and realistic, it feels like a documentary even if you know you're actually watching a fiction.


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People who added this item 89 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3
Original Title: 'Van Gogh'

Directed by: Maurice Pialat

With: Jacques Dutronc

Plot: In late spring, 1890, Vincent moves to Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris, under the care of Dr. Gachet, living in a humble inn. Fewer than 70 days later, Vincent dies from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. We see Vincent at work, painting landscapes and portraits. His brother Theo, wife Johanna, and their baby visit Auvers.

Note: I haven't seen many movies directed by Maurice Pialat but I really liked this one. Van Gogh is one of the most famous artist ever and they managed to make a movie as fascinating as him. Jacques Dutronc is quite famous in France but, as a singer, not as an actor but it didn't prevent him for giving a really impressive performance.


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Original Title: 'Les enfants du paradis'

Directed by: Marcel Carné

With: Arletty

Plot: This tragic tale centers around the ill-fated love between Baptiste, a theater mime, and Claire Reine, an actress and otherwise woman-about-town who calls herself Garance. Garance, in turn, is loved by three other men: Frederick, a pretentious actor; Lacenaire, a conniving thief; and Count Eduard of Monteray. The story is further complicated by Nathalie, an actress who is in love with Baptiste.

Note: This is a huge classic of the French cinéma, directed by the great Marcel Carné and written by French poet Jacques Prévert. It is even more amazing as you think that they managed to make this flick during the height of the Nazi occupation and it seems that many members of the resistance where involved in the production.


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People who added this item 152 Average listal rating (70 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
Original Title: 'Un conte de Noël'

Directed by: Arnaud Desplechin

With: Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Melvil Poupaud, Hippolyte Girardot, Emmanuelle Devos, Chiara Mastroianni

Plot: The Vuillard family is no stranger to physical/mental illness, loss, and banishment. But when the matriarch becomes in need of a transplant, the whole family is forced to come together, emotional baggage and all, just in time for Christmas.

Note: It is basically one of those French dramas dealing with a dysfunctional familly. It is really talkative, unfocused and rather chaotic but I really enjoyed it. In the contrary with similar flicks coming from Hollywood, there is no formula here, ending-beginning, just some real, flawed, messed up and plain realistic characters.


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People who added this item 635 Average listal rating (352 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.1
Original Title: 'Les diaboliques'

Directed by: Henri-Georges Clouzot

With: Simone Signoret

Plot: The wife of a cruel headmaster and his mistress conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women.

Note: Back then to, the biggest rival to Alfred Hitchcock was the French director, Henri-George Clouzot. There were actually competing to make this movie but, eventually, Clouzot was the one who had the honour to adapt this bestseller and with great success as it became an instant classic.


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Special mentions

Original Title: 'La passion de Jeanne d'Arc'

Directed by: Carl Theodor Dreyer

With: Maria Falconetti

Plot: A chronicle of the trial of Jeanne d'Arc on charges of heresy, and the efforts of her ecclesiastical jurists to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.

Note: It is quite mind-blowing and it really deserves its reputation as one of the best silent movies. This movie is rather minimalistic and focuses on the trial of Jeanne D’Arc, so it is mostly indoors dominated by the dialogs between Jeanne and the juges and you barely get a glimpse of the (allegedly) really expensive decors ordered by Carl Theodor Dreyer. From the moment that Maria Falconetti shows up on the screen, I knew she was something else. Nowadays, her performance is still considered as one of the best ever given on the silver screen and it was indeed really impressive.

Special mention: It is a French production but the director, Carl Theodor Dreyer, is actually Danish.


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People who added this item 142 Average listal rating (70 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.3
Original Title: 'Amen.'

Directed by: Costa-Gavras

With: Mathieu Kassovitz

Plot: During WWII SS officer Kurt Gerstein tries to inform Pope Pius XII about Jews being sent to concentration camps. Young Jesuit priest Riccardo Fontana gives him a hand.

Note: This movie is not as known as 'Schindler's list' or 'The Pianist' but it's a pity because it is a great and fascinating picture.

Special mention: It is a French production but the director, Costa-Gavras, is actually Greek.


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People who added this item 809 Average listal rating (455 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
Amour (2012)
Original Title: 'Amour'

Directed by: Michael Haneke

With: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert

Plot: Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.

Note: Michael Haneke finally gives us the opportunity to dive in his vision of our world but, for once, he allowed us also to invest ourselves in the characters and the end-result was quite amazing.

Special mention: It is a French production but the director, Michael Haneke, is actually Austrian.


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People who added this item 821 Average listal rating (491 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.3
Hidden (2005)
Original Title: 'Caché'

Directed by: Michael Haneke

With: Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil

Plot: A married couple is terrorized by a series of videotapes planted on their front porch.

Note: A great thriller but totally different from what you would get from a typical Hollywood thriller. I just loved it but it is definitely not for everyone.

Special mention: It is a French production but the director, Michael Haneke, is actually Austrian.


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People who added this item 829 Average listal rating (446 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.8
Original Title: 'Belle de Jour'

Directed by: Luis Buñuel

With: Catherine Deneuve

Plot: A frigid young housewife decides to spend her midweek afternoons as a prostitute.

Note: Catherine Deneuve is a great actrice and this is probably her best performance. The directing is very good aswell and the story is just fascinating.

Special mention: It is a French production but the director, Luis Buñuel, is actually Spanish.


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French movies are not my speciality but still, being French, I eventually felt compelled to create a list about the subject.

I will add more movies in the future.

If you want to check another country, please check this list :
- My favorite movies from all over the world -

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