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The Top 25: Best International Feature Winners


Alright, ladies and gentlemen. Here we go again with another Top 25 today. This time around I’ll be taking a break from the technical categories (partially because there’s only one more of those left to hit), this time going with a mini-major, as it were. What would that be, you ask? Well, this would be the rather eclectic Best International Feature (formerly known as Foreign Language Feature) field. The category is one that usually has a more interesting list of nominees than the eventual winner that’s chosen, but there’s still lots more to it than that and plenty to like. The winners over the years have been very unique, with certain choices being almost downright inspired on the part of Oscar voters. I have a few specific titles I’ll be citing below in detail, but I know how the game works here. You all mostly just want to see the lists I do anyway, so I have no problem obliging you there in that particular regard once again. All you have to do is just be patient over the next few paragraphs and you’ll get the goods…

This time around, I’m once again going to be taking the overview route, especially since a handful of these Oscar winners I haven’t seen in some time. Also, it really just comes down to taste again, with your opinion depending on what sort of winner you’re partial to here, or if there’s a certain country’s work that you’re extra fond of. There are all different sorts that have won the Academy Award here for this category, so it’s pretty much a matter of taste once again. I know at least one of my selections is fairly controversial, especially when you see how high I ranked it. It’s a film that has become a love it or hate it sort of winner. You’ll see in a second though.

As always, I’ll basically just discuss my top ten a bit here now. To me, the best winner of this category so far to date has been Cinema Paradiso. Maybe some of that has to do with my grandfather being a movie projectionist for a good portion of his life and my youthful experiences there, but I stand by it as a masterpiece. Not far behind would be another masterpiece in 8½, with my top half dozen also including Fanny and Alexander, Life is Beautiful (I stand by my love for this flick), Parasite, (the most recent winner on this list), Rashoman, and A Separation. All brilliant works, no doubt about that in my eyes. I’d round out the top tier of my list with the likes of All About My Mother, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Lives of Others, and Roma, with Day for Night and The Sea Inside getting to the top baker’s dozen. Your mileage on these winners may vary somewhat, and I’m sure that some of my other selections would be higher on a few of your own lists (not to mention inclusion of some of the titles that I excluded), but that’s how these lists always work. We can hopefully at least all agree that the majority of these movies are terrific works of art, right? Good. Glad to hear it.

Here now is how I’d rank the 25 top winners of the Best International Feature Oscar:

25. Ida
24. Babette’s Feast
23. Z
22. War and Peace
21. La strada
20. Black Orpheus
19. Amour
18. Nights of Cabiria
17. The Barbarian Invasions
16. The Bicycle Thief
15. Son of Saul
14. The Virgin Spring
13. Day for Night
12. The Sea Inside
11. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
10. The Lives of Others
9. All About My Mother
8. Roma
7. Fanny and Alexander
6. Rashoman
5. A Separation
4. Life is Beautiful
3. 8½
2. Parasite
1. Cinema Paradiso

Honorable Mentions: Amarcord, A Fantastic Woman, The Great Beauty, Pelle the Conqueror, The Secret in Their Eyes, and Tsotsi

Stay tuned for another one of these Top 25 installments next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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