Top 10 French Movies of 21st Century (Part I) : Ranked #5 to #1

The Class (aka. Entre Les Murs) - 2008

Entre le Murs aka The Class'The Class' (Entre Les Murs) is a French drama by Laurent Cantet that won the prestigious Palme d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. The movie was also nominated for the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category. The Class (Entre Les Murs) is based on a Novel of the same name by French Author François Bégaudeau (also starring), and is largely inspired by his experiences as a French Language teacher in a middle school in Paris. The literal translation of 'Entre Les Murs' is 'Between the Walls', it's an apt title' as the entire movie takes place mostly in the class-room, staff room of the teachers with a few outside scenes in the school compound.  

François Marin (François Bégaudeau) plays his natural self as a teacher in the movie, which only elevates the realism of the drama. The movie offers a fresh and realistic perspective to teacher-student dramas and at times would leave you wondering if you are actually watching a documentary. A definite recommendation for anyone who's looking for a fresh and realistic movie experience. (Read Review)

Persepolis - 2007

Persepolis is an intense and complex animation drama, with intellectual depth, based on the best-selling graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. Written and directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis is Marjane's autobiographical account of growing up as a young girl, in the midst of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Even before it's debut at the 2007 Cannes Film festival, the movie was heavily criticized by the Iranian government as Persepolis, in their opinion, undermined the significant achievements of the Islamic revolution. Despite the controversy, the movie instantly garnered widespread critical acclaim upon it's release. Persepolis won the Jury Prize and was nominated for a Palme d'Or at the Cannes. The movie was also nominated for an Oscar in the best Animated film category, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Film. At home, it was nominated for 6 Caesars, eventually winning for Best Writing and Best First Work. (Read Review)

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Based on the memoir's of Jean-Dominique Bauby, or Jean-Do as he's lovingly called, the editor of internationally reputed French Fashion Magazine Elle,The Diving Bell and the Butterfly depicts Bauby's life after he suffered a massive stroke, and developed a rare condition known as 'Lock-In Syndrome' leaving his entire body paralyzed, with the exception of his left eye, his only mean to communicate with the world.

Directed by Julian Schnabel, this extraordinary piece of cinema was nominated for 4 Oscars (the movie however wasn't considered for the Best Foreign Feature Film category as it was produced by an American Company; the award it would've most likely won). The Diving Bell and the Butterfly did however win major awards across the globe including two Caesars and a Bafta, Also, Julian Schnabel won the Best Director award at the Golden Globe and the Cannes Film Festival. The movie was also nominated for a Palme d'Or at the Cannes. (Read Review)

A Prophet aka Un Prophete
I got to know of 'A Prophet' as another one of the Oscar contenders in the "Best Foreign Feature Film" category. Though it lost the Oscar race to the brilliant Argentinian film "The Secret in their Eyes", it had already made it's mark as one of the best crime thrillers of recent times.
   Tahar Rahim stars as 'Malik', a young Franco Arab man, serving his time for an undisclosed crime. A petty criminal, Malik just wishes to serve his six year sentence in the prison dominated by the rivalry between the powerful Corsicans (with their influence on the guards and other authorities) and the fighting Muslims. Malik's plan to mind his own business and serve his time doesn't quite work when he is recruited by the Corsican kingpin Cesar Luciani to murder a fellow Arab inmate. Tahar Rahim does a great job as Malik. His subtle, underwhelming and carefully nuanced performance helps to provide a sense of credibility to central character. 

Though non-fans of the Crime-thriller genre might find the movie a touch too long at over 2.5 hrs, but for the lot like me, it's a fascinating watch, primarily for the brilliant story-telling and some great performances by the cast. (Read Review)

Amélie ( Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain ) - 2001

AmelieDirected by the creatively gifted and talented French auteur Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Amelie is a change of mise-en-scene for the film-maker whose previous successful outings were the dark themed or dark comedy movies such as Delicatessen (one of the finest dark comedies ever !) and the uniquely original The City of Lost Children. Arguably the most popular French movie of modern times for international audiences, Amélie won 4 Caesar Awards including Best Film, Director and Music and was also nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Foreign Feature film. 

The movie stars the talented and beautiful Audrey Tautou in her breakthrough performance as Amélie, a naive and innocent young Parisian with a heart of gold and a 'mischievous' sense of justice. Amelie was a breath of fresh air in the world of French cinema; charming in its surrealism and blissfully metaphysical in it's appeal. (Read Review)

Check out the next five in the list of Cine-international's Top 10 French Movies of 21st Century