For members


The must-see French films of the millennium – Part One

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab
Chances are you've seen The Artist and Amélie, but here are ten other cinematic experiences from the land of Truffaut and Godard, all made this millennium, that are well worth your time.
Mesrine: Killer Instinct & Public Enemy #1 (2008)
Outrageously entertaining two-part thriller about the life and crimes of real-life French gangster Jacques Mesrine, directed by Jean-François Richet and played with constant menace by Vincent Cassel, both of whom won a César Award (French Oscar) for their involvement.
Entre Les Murs – The Class (2008)
François Bégaudeau, an ex-teacher, wrote and starred in this kitchen sink drama set entirely in a lycée in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Directed by Laurent Cantet, ‘The Class’ covers a school year, focusing on a group of ethnically-diverse and troubled pupils, and the teacher who tries to guide them through French literature. It’s an equally bleak, funny, and honest slice of life which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.
Etre et Avoir – To Be and To Have – (2002)
A slow, quiet documentary about a tiny school in a small rural village in Puy-de-Dôme, central France. Hardly the classic recipe for an international success, but the calm dedication of teacher Georges Lopez, the cosy agrarian setting, and the spontaneous sweetness of the young kids gives this film a timeless feel. ‘To Be and to Have’ is a victory for the simple joys of childhood and should be prescribed by doctors to treat the blues.
Les Intouchables (2011)
This buddy movie about aimless, North African Driss, who becomes the carer and friend of super-rich, quadriplegic Philippe, is far from high art. Its treatment of race and disability got both praise and scorn. However, it struck a chord with French audiences, who paid to see it in their droves, and was voted the “cultural event of 2011.” Omar Sy (as Driss) made history by becoming the first black man ever to win the César Award for Best Actor.
Martyrs (2008)
This notorious horror movie comes with a health warning. If you have a faint heart or a weak stomach, stay away. ‘Martyrs’ has the female friendship of ‘Heavenly Creatures,’ mixed with the gore of ‘Hostel’ and the creepiness of Roman Polanski’s ‘The Apartment.’ But what appears on the surface to be just an ultra-violent and gruesome revenge fantasy gone wrong, is actually a deeply-moving parable about guilt, friendship, and the human condition. Only in France.
Les Choristes – The Chorus (2004)
A world-famous French conductor returns home after years of success abroad, to attend his mother’s funeral. A meeting with an old friend, and the production of their former school-teacher’s diary, leads to a heart-warming, music-filled reminiscence about childhood. ‘The Chorus’ was nominated for two Oscars, and the soundtrack went to Number 1 in the French album charts.
Polisse (2011)
One of the best crime/police procedural movies in recent years, Polisse follows the men and women of the Paris police department’s Child Protection Unit. Separating immigrant families, interviewing abused toddlers (and their abusers) – it’s far from a walk in the park. But the excellent ensemble cast, including rapper Joeystarr and writer-director Maiwenn, ooze so much hard work, black humour and flawed idealism, that it feels like the good guys are winning.
Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis (2008)
This is a comedy caper about a dissatisfied postman forced into exile to the much-maligned “sticks” of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, with its supposedly backwards locals, the “Ch’tis.” It holds the record for highest box office take in French history, and made writer and co-star Dany Boon a folk hero in his native northern France.
Un Prophète – A Prophet (2009)
Tahar Rahim exploded on to the screen and gained comparisons to a young De Niro with this performance as an illiterate petty criminal who is taken under the wing (and the iron fist) of a Corsican mob boss in a French prison. When he connects with the Muslim community in jail, things get complicated and a tight, suspenseful crime thriller ensues. ‘A Prophet’ was nominated for an Oscar, won a BAFTA, and won nine César awards in France.
Amour (2012)
Directed by Austrian Michael Haneke but with a French cast and French dialogue. This devastatingly beautiful and simple story of the daily struggles of an elderly couple after Anne (Emmanuele Riva) suffers a stroke, won the Palme d’Or and Oscar for Best Foreign Film. 86-year-old Riva almost made history by winning the Best Actress Oscar, but co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant deserves equal plaudits as her devoted husband. Watch it, but only with a shoulder to cry on.
An original version of this story was first published in 2013. 
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French films with English subtitles to watch in November

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, November is a great month to enjoy a warm and comforting moment at the cinema. Here’s a round up of the French movies with English subtitles to see in Paris this month.

Cinema in France
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The cinema group Lost in Frenchlation runs regular screenings of French films in the capital, with English subtitles to help non-native speakers follow the action. The club kicks off every screening with drinks at the cinema’s bar one hour before the movie, so it’s also a fun way to meet people if you’re new to Paris.

These are the events they have coming up in November.

Friday, November 5th

Boîte Noire – What happened on board the Dubai-Paris flight before it crashed in the Alps? In this thriller Matthieu, a young and talented black box analyst played by Pierre Niney (star of Yves Saint-Laurent among other movies) is determined to solve the reason behind this deadly crash, no matter the costs. 

The screening will take place at the Club de l’étoile cinema at 8pm. But you can arrive early for drinks at the bar from 7pm. 

Tickets are €10 full price, €8 for students and all other concessions, and can be reserved here.

Sunday, November 14th

Tralala – In the mood for music? This new delightful French musical brings you into the life of Tralala (played by Mathieu Amalric), a 48 years old, homeless and worn-out street singer, who one day gets mistaken for someone else. Tralala sees an opportunity to get a better life by taking on a new personality. He now has a brother, nephews, ex-girlfriends, and maybe even a daughter. But where is the lie? Where is the truth? And who is he, deep down?

The night will start with drinks from 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema. There is also a two-hour cinema-themed walk where you’ll be taken on a “musicals movie tour” in the heart of Paris, which begins at 4pm.

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here. Tickets for the walking tour cost €20 and must be reserved online here.

Thursday, November 18th

Illusions Perdues – Based on the great novel series by Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843, this historical drama captures the writer Lucien’s life and dilemmas who dreams about a great career of writing and moves to the city to get a job at a newspaper. As a young poet entering the field of journalism, he is constantly challenged by his desire to write dramatic and eye-catching stories for the press. But are they all true?

The evening will kick off with drinks at L’Entrepôt cinema bar at 7pm, followed by the movie screening at 8pm. Tickets are available online here, and cost €8.50 full price; €7 for students and all other concessions.

Sunday, November 21st

Eiffel – Having just finished working on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel (played by Romain Duris) is tasked with creating a spectacular monument for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. It’s ultimately his love story with Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) that will inspire him to come up with the idea for the Eiffel Tower.

After a first screening last month, Lost in Frenchlation is organising a new one at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema, with pre-screening drinks at the cinema bar. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here

Thursday, November 25th

Les Héroïques – Michel is a former junkie and overgrown child who only dreams of motorbikes and of hanging out with his 17-year-old son Léo and his friends. But at 50 years old, he now has to handle the baby he just had with his ex, and try not to make the same mistakes he has done in the past. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director Maxime Roy who will discuss his very first feature. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here.

Full details of Lost in Frenchlation’s events can be found on their website or Facebook page. In France, a health pass is required in order to go to the cinema.