As much as I love American cinema (which isn’t easy), I have a strong, passionate love for world cinema as well. One of the differences between many American films versus foreign films is the intent and the motivation behind the making of them.

Film is art, and like everything in America, the corporate money making machine has added it to its list of “bottom lines.” Movies are cranked out in this country conveyor belt-style by committees of people who try to craft the ultimate product that appeals to everyone in order to maximize profit. Anyone with a passion for true art knows that this is not how true art is made. True art comes from the instincts of artists who were born to do what they do.

We still get genuine films by true artists in this country, but not as often as I would like. Which is why I have such an appreciation for foreign films.

Foreign films don’t lower themselves to the level of shame that most American films do. Foreign films have an edge to them, because they are true expressions from the artists that created them.

Below, I’ve listed several of my favorite foreign films that were made throughout this past decade. Some of them are well known, and you may have seen them. The ones you haven’t seen, you should do yourself a favor and see. If you watch these films and don’t like any of them, do me a favor and splash hot coffee in your own face so I don’t have to.



City Of God (Brazil) – In my opinion, this is one of the greatest films of all time. Directed by Fernando Meirelles and a four-time Academy Award nominee in 2004, City of God is an undisputed masterpiece. Everything from the direction, the acting, the cinematography, the locations and the innovative narrative style are what dreams are made of. If you don’t like this film, you are dead weight to the human race, and you should be fed to a school of bloodthirsty sharks.



Downfall
(Germany) – This film is an account of the last 10 days of the Third Reich and of Adolf Hitler’s life. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel did an amazing job with this film, but the most memorable aspect of it for me was the remarkable work of Bruno Ganz, who stars in the film as Ol’ Uncle Adolf. His performance is so intense and realistic, and he captures Hitler so well that at times I felt like I was looking through a window into what actually happened.



I Served the King of England (Czech Republic) – Directed by Ji?í Menzel, this film tells the story of a young Czech man who works as a waiter during World War II. I loved how beautifully crafted the visuals were in this film. This is one of those films that captures the time period it’s set in so well, you believe you’re actually there.



Oldboy (South Korea) – This film is one third of writer/director Park Chan-wook’s “revenge trilogy” and it's a masterpiece. The film follows a man who is kidnapped and imprisoned in a shoddy hotel room with no idea why or who his jailers are. He is kept there for 15 years at which point he’s mysteriously let go. Obviously a little pissed off, he sets out to find the people who imprisoned him. The film has an ending that no studio in America would ever have the balls to do. Never.



Tell No One (France): This is one of the best suspense mystery films I’ve ever seen. Directed by Guillaume Canet, the film tells the story of a doctor whose wife is mysteriously murdered and the killers were never caught. Years later, new evidence surfaces that incriminates him as his wife’s killer. As he becomes the prime suspect in the case, he discovers that his wife may in fact still be alive.



Timecrimes
(Spain) – Director Nacho Vigalondo has crafted one of the best time travel films I’ve ever seen. It takes an approach to time travel that is plausible and wildly entertaining. All I will say about the plot is that it’s about a man who goes back in time one hour. To say anything else would spoil it.



Tsotsi (South Africa) – Before he was hired by Hollywood to direct Rendition and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, writer/director Gavin Hood won an Academy Award for this film, about a hoodlum in a South African ghetto who steals a car only to discover a baby in the back seat. Fearing capture if he tries to return the child, he attempts to take care of it. I love when films have the balls to humanize criminals.