The 23 Best French Movies for French Learners to Watch in 2020

In January 1896, the Lumières brothers invited a paying audience to watch their movie, and people panicked.

These people had never been to the cinema before and seeing a train moving on screen ovewhelmed them so much that they ran to the back of the room.

Whether this story is true or not remains uncertain, but one thing is certain: watching movies is an excellent way to learn French.

The French movies you’ll find on this page are movies French learners like you enjoyed the most and a few movies I personally love. But before getting to the movies themselves, let’s talk about subtitles!

If you don’t find the right movie for you, check out this page to discover even more French movies!

Should you watch French movies with or without subtitles?

People often ask me whether they should watch French movies with or without subtitles, and whether the subtitles should be in French or in English.

It actually depends on your level. The most important is that you actually understand what’s happening on the screen. Otherwise you’ll just get bored and give up.

  • If you’re a complete beginner, watch movies in French with English subtitles. You’ll get used to the sounds of the language and may even recognize a few words from your beginner French course. Don’t feel guilty about using English subtitles, it’s a necessary first step.
  • If you can understand written French, but struggle with spoken French, watching movies with French subtitles is a great idea. Hearing words you already know will help you improve your pronunciation and you’ll be able to expand your vocabulary and learn grammar naturally. Another possibility is to start by watching a movie with English subtitles and then watch it again with French subtitles.
  • If you can understand most of what is said in the trailers below, you can watch movies without subtitles at all. This will help you focus on spoken French and improve your listening skills.

Now, here are the French movie I recommend!

Intouchables

When a rich Frenchman in a wheelchair meets a young and dynamic Frenchman from la banlieue (the outskirt of Paris), you get Intouchables.

A very touching movie which highlights the clash between rich and poor suburbs, and shows the difficulties handicapped people face in their daily life.

This is also the story of a beautiful and unexpected friendship between two persons who seemed to have nothing in common.

Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain

One of the most famous romantic French movies, and one which gave many people the desire to visit Paris and discover the Montmartre district.

Amélie, a young and innocent girl working as a waitress in Paris does her best to help people around her and hopes to find love in the French capital.tclém

Her quest makes her realize she forgets about herself and she decides to take control of her destiny.

Les Choristes

Can a teacher change his students’ lives?

That’s what Clément Mathieu, a new teacher at a at a strict boys’ boarding school tries to do in the twentieth century.

He decides to use music and to create a chorus to positively change his students’ life.

The beautiful music, touching story and special atmosphere of this movie make it one of the most successful French movies of all time.

La Haine

If what’s going in the French suburbs interests you, La Haine is the movie you should watch.

After a fight with the police, Abdel, a young man falls unconscious  Riots follow and violence escalates.

La Haine is a particularly touching movie and a sadly accurate representation of what’s happening in some French suburbs.

Un prophète

Malik El Djebena, a young criminal is sent to prison where Corsican mafia forces him to kill another inmate.

He becomes a trusted ally of César Luciani, the Corsican mafia boss while working on his own secret plan.

Le concert

After being fired from the Bolshoi orchestra for hiring Jewish musicians, Andrei Simoniovich Filipov spends 30 years working as a janitor.

Everything changes when he finds an invitation to play in le Théâtre du Châtelet and decides to reunite his old orchestra and perform in Paris.

The Spanish Apartment

Xavier, a French student travels to Spain via the Programme ERASMUS, a programme which allows many European students to spend a few semesters in other European universities.

He quickly realizes that moving to a new country isn’t as easy as he imagined and faces many obstacles when he lands in Barcelona.

What was supposed to be a simple semester abroad turns out to be a truly life-changing experience.

L’auberge espagnole speaks to an entire generation of students who experienced a similar adventure and spent a semester abroad.

Once you’re done watching it, check out the two sequels Les Poupées Russes and Casse-tête Chinois.

Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis

After being caught trying to scam an inspector, Philippe is sent to the north of France for his job, a region said to be freezing cold and populated by unemployed alcoholics

Soon, Philippe discovers that all he heard about his new region is wrong and that beyond the prejudices hides a wonderful place to live.

This is a movie you should absolutely watch in French, because many of the jokes are based on the (exaggerated) differences between the ch’ti accent and the traditional French accent.

Unfortunately, the strong accent of most characters also make it a particularly challenging movie to watch for French learners, so don’t be frustrated if you don’t understand everything.

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

This parody of James Bond shows a French spy full of himself, sexist and racist who makes mistake after mistake and finally ends up looking almost sweet.

This movie won’t make you think too much, which makes it ideal to relax after a long day of work.

OSS 117 Lost in Rio

If you enjoyed watching OSS 117 Cairo Nest of Spies, its sequel won’t disappoint you.

This time our “hero” is looking for a former nazi and desperately tries to seduce the charming Mossad agent he is working with while insulting her without even realizing it.

Le dîner de cons

Bring the biggest idiot to the dinner party, that’s the challenge Pierre and his friends set for each others.

Unfortunately for them, the idiot is not the one the one they thought he was and the dinner party ends up being a disaster.

Le Placard

François Pignon, an accountant, is about to get fired.

Luckily for him, a rumor saying he is homosexual spreads in the company and the management decides not to fire him, fearing this would be seen as a discrimination.

Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopatre

Cleopatra decides to build a palace in the middle of the desert in only 3 months to show Caesar how great the Egyptian civilization is.

She gives this crazy task to Numerobis, an architect, who decides to look for a magic potion that’ll help him accomplish the impossible.

Le prénom

How are you going to name your child?

The answer to this question wreaks havoc on what started as an innocent meeting between old friends and family members who can’t accept the scandalous name they heard.

Old problems resurface and the party ends up being a hilarious battlefield.

This is the movie to watch if you enjoy theatre and would like to learn all the vocabulary you need to argue in French.

Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au bon Dieu ?

This movie tells the story of two Catholic parents who feel less than comfortable when they learn their three daughters want to marry immigrants.

When everybody meets, chaos ensues and the parents wonder: what did we do to God?

L’arnacoeur

10 days to break up a couple about to get married.

That’s the mission Alex and his sister are hired for.

Unfortunately things are never that easy and the result is not what the dad expected…

La cité de la peur

A terrible horror movie is supposed to be shown at the Festival de Cannes, but each time, the projectionist is murdered, exactly like in the movie.

This entertaining movie is also a terrible idea if you want to learn proper French, because the characters regularly and purposely make grammar and spelling mistakes.

Starbuck

After making several donations at a sperm bank, David Wozniak ends up having 533 children, 142 of which have joined a class action lawsuit to force the sperm bank to reveal their father’s identity.

Kirikou

Kirikou has to be brave and clever in order to fight the sorceress.

This children’s movie is idea for French learners, because the characters speak more slowly than average. It’s also a good way to discover the French African accent.

Taxi

When a crazy taxi driver meets a loser police inspector, he has no other choice but to help him…or explain his numerous speedings to the court.

Ensues a hilarious car chase between the not so talented policemen and German robbers.

Over to you

Did you watch any of these movies? What is your favorite French movie? Tell us in the comments below!

Quel est votre film français préféré ?

80 thoughts on “The 23 Best French Movies for French Learners to Watch in 2020”

  1. Thank you very much for this list! There are many films here which I had not heard of which I am now interested in watching! I have seen Amelie, in film and at the theatre, is one of my favourites, and studied La haine for my A-level. Your updates by email are so helpful for my progress in french. Merci 🙂

    Reply
  2. Thank you so much for this list – you have clearly put a lot of thought into it.
    We recently binge-watched Balthazar! I plan to watch this series again it was so well done. Can’t wait for season 2. Highly recommend.

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  3. Dear Benjamin,
    MERCI BEAUCOUP for this list! “Taxi” was the first French film I saw in which I actually understood a joke! It was about the taxi driver going through a bureaucratic process (to register as a taxi driver?) and each time he goes to the woman in charge, she tells him he’s missing something. Towards the end of the film, he goes back to her confident that he has everything and after they go down the list, she says to him: you brought 3 photos? He answers yes. She says, you need 6, and then, just before he appears ready to explode in rage, she says the French equivalent of “gotcha!” — something EVERYone in the audience could relate to!
    FOR LEARNERS IN PARIS: look for “Lost in Frenchlation” online and on Facebook. At least one movie a week with English subtitles. (It’s where I saw “The Spanish Apartment”) — I highly recommend them.

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  4. I love La Gloire de mon père and Le Château de mon mère, both of which are charming. Also Day for Night (La Nuit américaine) by Truffaut. La Vie devant soi (Madame Rosa in English) is both funny and sad. It made a friend of mine, who had grown up a tough guy in Belleville, cry! The novel is also wonderful. Vivement dimanche (Confidentially Yours in English) with Fanny Ardent and Jean-Louis Trintignant is an enjoyable comedy thriller. Mon oncle d’Amérique, one of Gérard Depardieu’s early films, is very funny. And Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire will make anybody laugh 😀

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  5. Are there any good sites for watching these movies with subtitles? My French is somewhat advanced, but my listening is not as good as I would like it to be. I have been told about voirfilm, but I assume that’s only French subtitles. I can’t really go out and buy a bunch of DVD’s. It’s not practical for me. I don’t really know much about watching movies on-line, to be honest.

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    • I have been recommending the film
      “ Case Depart “ since I first watched it many years back. It’s a funny, clever, and thought provoking film that looks at racism( historical and current) and the weakness of human nature ( pride greed etc. )
      Starring stand up comedian Fabrice Éboué the film is very watchable in French.
      My next favourite is Attila Marcel.

      Reply
  6. About 15 years ago I saw a film I loved (a French romantic comedy) about the adventures of a man who wrote lit en polar under another person’s name. He meets a girl and they have a road trip. I want to see it again but cannot remember the title. Can you help me?

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  7. I tend to like Diabolique, The 500 Blows, Le Beau Serge and other classics better although I do also like Amelie.

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  8. Hello Benjamin
    I have tried previously to stream french movies but there was nothing on Netflix available in South Africa. I am not sure if this list that you recommended would be euther, but I will try.
    Can you advise what movies I would be able to have access to in South Africa
    Regards
    Dianne

    Reply
  9. Hello ! I just have a question which you may be able to answer ?? Do you know a French film in which a man looses his job and pretends that he hasn’t, then invests his father in laws money in a non existent scheme (instead using the money for himself ?? 90’s
    Thank You/ Merci !

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  10. Jusqu’à présent j’ai regarde un film en Francais qui s’appelle Inch’allah Dimanche but il est très magnifique et un film d’inspiration. N’importe qui donne moi le nom du site-web pour regarder le film. Ça me rend plaisir .

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  11. « These people had never been to the cinema before and seing a train moving on screen ovewhelmed them so much that they ran to the back of the room. »

    Ha ha, I wish I could see the scene! 😉 And oh, “seeing” is misspelt.

    Reply
      • De rien. 🙂 Un film que j’aime beaucoup est Tout en Haut du Monde (Long Way North). L’animation est très artistique et belle. Comme Picasso ? Peut-être.

        <<>>
        1892, Saint-Pétersbourg.
        Sacha, une jeune fille de l’aristocratie russe, a toujours été fascinée par la vie d’aventure de son grand-père, Oloukine. Explorateur renommé, concepteur du Davaï, son magnifique navire de l’Arctique, il n’est jamais revenu de sa dernière expédition à la conquête du Pôle Nord. Et maintenant son nom est sali et sa famille déshonorée.
        Pour laver l’honneur de la famille, Sacha s’enfuit. En route vers le Grand Nord, elle suit la piste de son grand-père pour retrouver le fameux navire.

        1892, St.Petersburg.
        Sasha, a young girl of the Russian aristocracy, has always been fascinated by the adventurous life of her late grandfather, Oloukine. He was a renowned explorer, designer of his splendid Arctic ship, the Davaï, but he never came back from his last expedition to conquer the North Pole. And now, his name is being tarnished and his family disgraced.
        To save the family honor, Sasha runs away. Going a long way towards the Great North, she follows in the footsteps of her grandfather to find the famous ship.

        I bought the Blu-ray from Amazon.fr and it was totally worth it!

        Another one that I just watched a few minutes ago was La Belle et la Bête [2014], a Franco-German film that’s probably better than Beauty and the Beast [2017] (which I’m going to watch and compare).
        I rate La Belle et la Bête 9.6/10

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        • J’aime La Belle et La Bete l’originale, sauf le fin du film qui toujours me semble stupide n’importe quoi de fois je vois ce film et m’en enjoue la pluparte.

          Regardant les films noir-et-blanc mes favorites sont La Grande Illusion et Les Enfants du Paradis.

          Regardants les films plus recent,j’aime aussi L’Intouchables qui se fait d’ une vrai histoire. Un autre favorite. Ne Dit Personne, un policier avec le meme acteur excellent, Francois Cluzet.

          Merci pour votre list des autres bons films, Benjamin, et pour tous vos valables mails pour les etudiantes du francais. La prochain fois vous deciderez offrir votre genereux discount pour votre trois courses j’espere que vous donnerez un peu plus de temps pour que tous votres fans pouverent voir votre notice avant le deadline! Je veux obtenir tous les trois pour m’ aider avoir les conversation normales.

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      • Thank you for the list of movies. I agree that watching movies will help. I’ve seen “The Dinner Guest” and enjoyed it immensely! One other film thst is unforgettable, “Mon Oncle” . . . . . .

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  12. Singapore Airlines always has a fantastic list of (mainly) current and classic french films. Flying with them every month, I get to see many. Here are some of my favourites.
    – L’attesa
    – Un homme idéal
    – In Peu, beaucoup, aveuglément !
    – Chic !
    – La Famille Beilier
    – Papa ou Mamam
    – Samba
    – La prochaine fois je viserai le coeur
    – Bande De Filles
    – La Vie en Rose (2007)
    – Les femmes du 6e étage
    – Elle S’en Va

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  13. Merci Benjamin. Je vraiment aime ta sélection. J’ai déjà regardé Intouchables, Le Placard et Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopatre.
    J’aime Mission Cléopatre pour l’humour, mais Intouchables ça me touche beaucoup. Un peu étrange parce que je ne suis pas une personne qui aime des films avec des sentiments, mais ça me fait plaisir..
    Et puis maintenant je veux regarder Taxi, Le dîner de cons et La cité de la peur. .

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  14. Some French favourites agathe clery- racist lady turns black, a funny musical

    Better than pirates of the Caribbean I loved Le prince du pacifique

    Le diner des cons, Un indien dans la ville, tanguy, trois hommes et un couffin, les visiteurs, mon pere Ce heros – six films that got remade in English but were better in French

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    • Un autre film, Pour Elle, avec Francois Linden, etais re-faire par les Americans, avec Russell Crow, The Next Three Days, mais a mon avis le mieux c’est l’original en francais.

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  15. Thanks for the list. I have seen a few and heard about others. I would like to recommend “Le Dîner de Cons”. Its hilarious, easy to understand and french colleagues went crazy when i told them that I saw it!

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  16. Bonjour !
    Je suis une française aussi tombée sur ce site par hasard (en cherchant à améliorer mon anglais, paradoxal…) et j’aurais deux ou trois films à rajouter (et non, quatre au final !). En sachant que le nombre de film français que j’ai vu ne représente pas grand chose face au nombre de films tout autre pays confondu que j’ai regardé. Tout d’abord “De battre mon coeur s’est arrêté” d’Audiard m’a énormément plus, de plus l’acteur principal (Romain Duris) est vraiment bon. Il s’agit en fait d’un remake de “Fingers”. Je pense que c’est le film français que je conseillerais le plus avec “Un prophète” du même réalisateur qui est vraiiiiment exceptionnel et… à voir ! Ce sont vraiment les deux films français que j’ai le plus apprécié à mes souvenirs. J’ai aussi beaucoup aimé “La French” avec Jean Dujardin, sorti récemment. Après en film plutôt comique, j’aurais tendance à conseiller “Babysitting” (le deux est sorti il n’y a pas très longtemps mais je n’ai pas encore eu l’occasion de le voir). Voilà voilà, je suppose que j’en ai oublié certains mais bon, j’espère dans tous les cas que cette “liste” (enfin si on peut appeler quatre une vraie liste) aura pu aidé certains d’entre vous. Bonne journée ! (ou soirée d’ailleurs) 🙂
    Et je tiens aussi à encourager ceux qui désirent apprendre le français car c’est une langue vraiiiiiiiment compliquée. Pour dire, une bonne partie des français ne parlent pas bien français, c’est pour dire…

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  17. Benjamin – if I watch a French movie I tend to read the English subtitles. I just cannot understand the fast spoken French. So I feel the movie does not help. What do you suggest.

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  18. Bonjour, je suis une française et je suis tombée par hasard sur votre site. Cette liste montre effectivement certains des films importants de la culture cinématographique française mais j’aurais également rajouté certains films de Louis de Funès (un acteur comique très célèbre en France notamment pour ses mimiques hilarantes) comme “La Grande Vadrouille” ou “L’aile ou la cuisse”. Comme film plus récent, on pourrait proposer “Jeux d’enfants”, qui raconte une histoire d’amour plus qu’émouvante.
    Si quelqu’un a des questions sur la culture française n’hésitez pas !

    Reply
  19. Mon favori est “Paris, je t’aime” mais récemment j’ai vu “Mon meilleur ami”, “Comme un chef”, “Les petits mouchoirs” ils étaient bons. Il n’y a pas beaucoup de façons de voir les films français sans traduction dans la région où j’habite. J’étudie français alors vous pouvez corriger mes fautes 🙂

    Reply
    • Ah j’ai beaucoup aimé “les petits mouchoirs” :).

      Vous avez une seule faute, bien joué 🙂

      J’étudie français => j’étudie LE français.

      Reply
  20. A ajouter à mon précédent post: La Vie en Rose, Cyrano, Jean de Florette, The Artist (presque tous les films de Jean Dujardin, en fait). Mon mari aime “Loulou”. Pas moi. 🙂

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    • The Artist looks pretty cool. But the idea of watching a silent movies scares me a little bit. Didn’t you find it strange to watch?

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      • Pas de tout … en fait, je l’ai regardé nombreuses de fois (j’adore tellement toutes les scènes de danse). Mais, j’ai regardé aussi Chaplin et Fairbanks et Keaton (et autres) … le film muet n’est pas étrange pour moi.

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    • It’s probably a great movie, but I only included movies I watched. Cyrano de Bergerac will probably be added to the list at some point :).

      Reply
  21. What about “Le Dîner des Cons”, “Jean de Florette / Manon des Sources”, “Les Visiteurs”, “Cyrano de Bergerac”? La Grande Vadrouille not to be missed either.

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    • I haven’t watched the other movies, but Le Dîner des Cons, Les Visiteurs and La Grande Vadrouille are all great movies I will add to the list :).

      Thanks for sharing.

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      • They are all classic films, but any list is going to be highly subjective. I could watch those films time and time again.

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  22. Je trouve qu’il y a beaucoup de films qui m’interessent ! Pour moi, Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au bon dieu etait aussi un bon film. Je ne peux pas tout comprendre ce film mais.. bon. Merci ! Votre site est super sympa 🙂

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  23. Nice list 🙂 I’ll watch it all for sure 🙂 I love Amilie movie 🙂 And other French movies I have watched are 8 femmes, The Tourist (it was remade in English too.. But I liked French version.)

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  24. “Two autumns three winters” is a good movie to practice listening skills. There is a lot of talking to the camera and they dont talk to fast.

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  25. Wow. Je veux à regarder tant le premier film! (not sure if there’s supposed to be a preposition before ‘regarder’)
    J’ai joui du film L’argent de Poche.
    I have a feeling I made mistakes, so excuse me for that :$. I don’t take French in school anymore, but I very much would like to continue learning it. Please feel free to correct my French if you found errors!

    Reply
      • L’argent de Poche est un vieux film. Je l’ai regardé dans l’école, et c’est des enfants en France.

        Actuellement, je sais que le mot a cette connotation. J’ai pensé que je l’ai utilisé correctement parce que le phrase a un objet, though now I learned that it’s best not to use it!

        Merci beaucoup pour votre aide!!! ^__^

        Reply
  26. Check out a couple of comedies from about 40 years ago – “La Grande Vadrouille” and “La Grande Bouffe” – the former is light viewing for everyone, the latter contains much darker humour.
    And I liked “Artemesia” (1997) – I don’t normally do serious films, but this one is especially well done.

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    • Thanks for sharing :).

      These are great comedies. I loved La Grande Vadrouille. It may be a bit hard to understand for French learners though.

      Reply
  27. J’aime les comédies. Les films de Francis Veber, surtout “Le Doubleur”. “OSS117, Caire, Nid d’Espions”. Aussi, “Paris, Je T’aime” et “Danton” (Gérard Depardieu).

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    • Ça s’appelle “la môme” en Français j’y pense…just en cas quelqu’un veut-il trouver 🙂 c’est mon film préféré en français (après les intouchables!!)

      Reply

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