The Best Foreign-Language Films of 2014, According to Criticwire: ‘Winter Sleep’ and ‘Big Bad Wolves’

The Best Foreign-Language Films of 2014, According to Criticwire: 'Winter Sleep' and 'Big Bad Wolves'

Throughout 2014, members of Indiewire’s Criticwire Network — comprised of nearly 500 critics from around the world — have been adding their grades and reviews to our database of film pages. Below is a collection of those films released in theaters during that time that have a) received 10 or more reviews, b) maintained a grade average of "B+" or higher and c) unfold primarily in a language other than English. (A complete list of all the top-rated films can always be found here.) We’ll update this list as new additions surface and as fresh waves of feedback arrive. Averages and totals are subject to change (grade totals listed in italics below have changed since the last update), but for now, these are the titles that many members of the Criticwire Network suggest you should watch.

READ MORE: The Best Indies of 2014 So Far

Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan had been making films for over a decade before making a big splash in 2011 with his slow-burning crime drama "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia." Combined with the success of his "Climates" five years prior, Ceylan’s "Winter Sleep" was one of the most anticipated films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it eventually won the Palme D’Or. The award-winning film is now playing in New York and will expand to select theaters. It premieres on this list alongside fellow 2014 Cannes entrant "The Tale of Princess Kaguya."

"Big Bad Wolves" popped up on many cinephiles’ radar towards the end of last year, thanks in part to one particular supporter. But the film’s theatrical release opened up the film to a fresh set of eyes. Between its theatrical run and current Netflix availability, Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado’s tale of intertwining fates in the criminal underworld has gradually expanded out as a showcase for Israeli film. The film now stands at a "B+" average.

Elsewhere on the list, two films have supplanted "The Wind Rises" in the top slot. Two films recently settling in the ever-elusive "A" average range: Pawel Pawlikowski’s captivating black-and-white drama "Ida" and Lav Diaz’s latest theatrically-released saga "Norte, the End of History."

The Top-Rated Foreign-Language Films of 2014

1. Ida (Film Page), directed by Pawel Pawlikowski (2013 Telluride Film Festival; May 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A (60 grades)

2. Norte, the End of History (Film Page), directed by Lav Diaz (2013 Hong Kong International Film Festival; June 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A (22 grades)

3. The Wind Rises (Film Page), directed by Hayao Miyazaki (2013 Venice Film Festival; February 2014 theatrical release) 
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (59 grades)

4. Stranger by the Lake (Film Page), directed by Alain Guiraudie (2013 Cannes Film Festival; January 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (55 grades)

5. Force Majeure (Film Page), directed by Ruben Östlund (2014 Cannes Film Festival; October 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (52 grades)

6. Gloria (Film Page), directed by Sebastián Lelio (2013 Berlin International Film Festival; January 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (44 grades)

7. Like Father, Like Son (Film Page), directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (2013 Cannes Film Festival; January 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (43 grades)

8. Goodbye to Language (Film Page), directed by Jean-Luc Godard (2014 Cannes Film Festival; October 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (38 grades)

9. We are the Best! (Film Page), directed by Lukas Moodysson (2013 Toronto International Film Festival; May 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (36 grades)

10. Closed Curtain (Film Page), directed by Jafar Panahi & Kambuzia Partovi (2013 Berlin International Film Festival; July 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (32 grades)

11. Stray Dogs (Film Page), directed by Tsai Ming-liang (2013 Venice Film Festival; September 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (31 grades)

12. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Film Page), directed by Ana Lily Amirpour (2014 Sundance Film Festival; November 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (29 grades)

12. Winter Sleep (Film Page), directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2014 Cannes Film Festival; December 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (29 grades)

14. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Film Page), directed by Isao Takahata (2014 Cannes Film Festival/2013 Japanese theatrical release; October 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (28 grades)

15. Ernest and Celestine (Film Page), directed by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner (2012 Cannes Film Festival; February 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (25 grades)

16. The Strange Little Cat (Film Page), directed by Ramon Zürcher (2013 Berlin International Film Festival; August 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (23 grades)

17. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Film Page), directed by Sion Sono (2013 Venice Film Festival; November 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (16 grades)

18. Burning Bush (Film Page), directed by Agnieszka Holland (2013 Telluride Film Festival; June 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: A- (12 grades)

19. The Raid 2: Berandal (Film Page), directed by Gareth Evans (2014 Sundance Film Festival; March 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (48 grades)

20. Omar (Film Page), directed by Hany Abu-Assad (2013 Cannes Film Festival; February 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (32 grades)

21. The Lunchbox (Film Page), directed by Ritesh Batra (2013 Cannes Film Festival; February 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (30 grades)

22. Abuse of Weakness (Film Page), directed by Catherine Breillat (2013 Toronto International Film Festival; August 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (27 grades)

23. The Blue Room (Film Page), directed by Mathieu Amalric (2014 Cannes Film Festival; October 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (25 grades)

23. Child’s Pose (Film Page), directed by Calin Peter Netzer (2013 Berlin International Film Festival; February 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (25 grades)

25. Vic + Flo Saw a Bear (Film Page), directed by Denis Côté (2013 Berlin International Film Festival; February 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (24 grades)

26. The Dance of Reality (Film Page), directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky (2013 Cannes Film Festival; May 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (22 grades)

27. Big Bad Wolves (Film Page), directed by Navot Papushado & Aharon Keshales (2013 Tribeca Film Festival; January 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (19 grades)

28. Wetlands (Film Page), directed by David Wnendt (2013 Locarno Film Festival; September 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (18 grades)

29. Bethlehem (Film Page), directed by Yuval Adler (2013 Venice Film Festival; March 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (16 grades)

29. Zero Motivation (Film Page), directed by Talya Lavie (2014 Tribeca Film Festival; December 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (16 grades)

31. Jealousy (Film Page), directed by Philippe Garrel (2013 Venice Film Festival; August 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (15 grades)

32. Life of Riley (Film Page), directed by Alain Resnais (2014 Berlin International Film Festival; October 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (13 grades)

32. Policeman (Film Page), directed by Nadav Lapid (2011 Jerusalem Film Festival; June 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (13 grades)

34. Gebo and the Shadow (Film Page), directed by Manoel de Oliveira (2012 Venice Film Festival; May 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (12 grades)

34. In Bloom (Film Page), directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Groß (2013 Berlin International Film Festival; January 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (12 grades)

34. The Rocket (Film Page), directed by Kim Mordaunt (2013 Berlin International Film Festival; January 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (12 grades)

37. Bad Hair (Film Page), directed by Mariana Rondón (2013 Toronto International Film Festival; November 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (11 grades)

38. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead (Film Page), directed by Tommy Wirkola (2014 Sundance Film Festival; October 2014 theatrical release)
Average Criticwire Rating: B+ (10 grades)

READ MORE: The Best-Reviewed Documentaries of 2014

This Article is related to: Features and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Comments

IRV KRASNOPOLER

excellent

Mike

1. Ida
2. Force Majeure
3. LFO
4. We are the Best
5. Big Bad Wolves

Eco

Norte, The End of History is my #1.

Rodney Perkins

Matar a un hombre (To Kill A Man) from Chile should be on this list.

Daniela

Are they all fiction foreign films?
It should say "best fiction foreign language films", IMO.

Achmad Chafid Chabibi

how about two days one night, one of my fav this year

Shor

Ida!

Priya

Haider is one fine movie. It needs to travel out of India so that people in the west do not always associate Indian films with melodrama and song-dance routines. Because, Haider is not Bollywood.

Rise

VIKTORIA by Maya Vitkova

Pierre Rasamoela

Abderrahmane Sissako’s film TIMBUKTU

Daniel Delago

‘Ida’ is brilliant.

shannon

Wow, once again. Two solo women directors on a list of 22 foreign films. Is this the best the reviewers can do to watch films directed by women?

Mohammad

I like a lot of this ranking. I’d put Stranger By the Lake at #1, and while The Wind Rises is one of my favorites of last year I do prefer Kaguya — and I think this ranking will adjust for that once more people see the latter. Then I’d include stuff like Closed Curtain and Manuscripts Don’t Burn before getting to Gloria and Ida. But I’m glad that many of my favorites (sans Manuscripts — which is weird considering the metacritic score) all figure into this list.

Lastrada

Haider, a version of Hamlet from India is excellent, riveting, a burn in your brain film. Hope it finds an audience.

Missy Busty

Yimou Zhang’s film COMING HOME (starring Gong Li) should be on this list

mana

"La dictadura perfecta" (México)

joes

I love THE WIND RISES – one of my Top 5 films from LAST year. It officially got a December 2013 release. IDA would be number one for films actually released this year that I have seen.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *