“Amélie” and 5 More Movies to Learn French

March 03, 2022
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Amelie from 'The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain' watching a movie

YouTube / Miramax

Did you know that you can practice your French skills by watching movies? Oui, c'est correcte! Watching French films is an effective alternative to become familiar with the culture and language. 

Watching French films is a simple way to practice your French. Not to mention it has a lot of benefits. For example, you get to see the beauty of French culture in a different perspective. You get to also hear how the language is spoken in different settings. And you get to travel in time in the comfort of your own home. Doesn’t that sound nice?

If you’re concerned about not being able to understand French, don’t worry. You can always add subtitles whenever you want. If you are up for a challenge, then maybe say au revoir to the subtitles?

Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain – Amélie or The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain

Amélie Poulain is a shy waitress who works at a tiny Parisian café called “Café des 2 Moulins” in Montmartre. One day, Amélie made an unexpected discovery of a small treasure box full of memorabilia, stashed by a little boy who once lived in her apartment. As a result, she was determined in finding the rightful owner of the metal box. But, along the way, she found herself helping others in their pursuit of happiness. 

The romantic comedy garnered positive reviews and was nominated for two British Academy Film Awards, one of which was for Best Original Screenplay. The film received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Foreign Language Film. The French movie was a commercial blockbuster, and it remains the highest-grossing French film ever released in the United States and around the world.

Le Mépris – Contempt

Le Mépris is a French New Wave drama film. It stars Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, and Giorgia Moll and was written and directed by the great Jean-Luc Godard. The plot follows an unsuccessful playwright who is hired by an American producer to work on a film adaptation of the Odyssey.

Le Mépris is considered one of Godard's most important works as well as one of the most important films of the twentieth century. The film's simplicity and traditional format make it visually appealing, allowing the plot to take center stage. The 1963 picture is considered to be one of the best works made in postwar Europe by Sight & Sound critics. The film was ranked 60th on the BBC's list of the top 100 foreign language films in 2018, as chosen by 209 film reviewers from 43 countries.

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg – The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg otherwise known as Les Parapluies de Cherbourg is a musical romantic drama film. The movie is divided into three parts: Part One – The Departure, Part Two – The Absence, and Part Three – The Return. And the movie's whole dialogue is communicated through song.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg tells the story of a lovely French woman who works at her family's umbrella shop in a small town and falls in love with a mechanic named Guy. However, when the war in Algiers broke out, the young couple was forced to make a life-changing decision.

The melancholy musical won the 1964 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Furthermore, the movie received five Academy Award nominations including Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Original Screenplay, and Best Original Score. The movie’s theme song “I Will Wait for You” was also nominated for Best Original Song. And the film also became the inspiration for the 2016 musical La La Land.

Mon Oncle – My Uncle

Mon Oncle, or My Uncle in English, is a film about Monsieur Hulot, a socially awkward but endearing character who struggles with France's obsession with modern architecture and materialism. The dialogue in the comedy film is nearly silent, with only ambient noise, background conversations, and a fascinating soundtrack to underline the film's visual comedy.

Mon Oncle is directed by the French filmmaker, Jacques Tati. The comedy film is also one of the first of Tati’s films released in color. Tati's Mon Oncle received a number of prizes, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, a Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1958, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Les Diaboliques – The Devils

Les Diaboliques is a French psychological horror thriller based on the novel She Who Was No More. The plot centres around the wife and mistress of a frustrated school principal plotting his murder with what they believe is the flawless excuse. After the crime was done, his body disappeared and many strange things started happening.

In France, Henri-Georges Clouzot's thriller was the 10th highest grossing film of the year, and it won the Louis Delluc Prize in 1954. In addition, Les Diaboliques also influenced Alfred Hitchcock's famous film Psycho.

Intouchables – The Intouchables

After a horrible accident, a stuffy rich man named Philippe becomes quadriplegic and hires Driss, an ex-con from the projects, to care for him. Despite their differences, the two guys bonded and formed a close relationship, and even shared amazing adventures together.

Less than two months after the release, the movie became the biggest box office hit in France and was even voted as the country’s cultural event of 2011. The film won the César Award for Best Actor and was nominated for seven additional César Awards. Five percent of the film's proceeds were donated to Simon de Cyrène, a charity that supports paralyzed people.

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