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Anytime you try to put together a top all-time best movie list, you’re going to get as many varied opinions as you have moviegoers. But that doesn’t stop people from putting together these lists, and even if you don’t agree with them, it might give you ideas on some new movies to see. This list is based on the top five non-English movies I thought were best, in order of box office draw, and which were critically acclaimed.
5 “Y Tu Mama Tambien”
More than just a road movie about two horny teenage boys and one hot older woman, “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” directed by Alfonso Cuaron, is a 2002 film from Mexico about the haves and have-nots in Mexico. We see all sides of Mexico, from drug busts and poor towns to a beach paradise. And Luisa, the older woman, teaches the boys a thing or two about love. The total gross box office: $19,777,034.
4 “City of God”
A kind of Brazilian version of “GoodFellas,” the 2003 film “City of God” opens with the narrator saying he had always wanted to be a gangster. And growing up in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, he didn’t have much other choice. A kid growing up in the City of God joined or formed a gang to survive. Director Fernando Meirelles learned his unique camera artistry from directing TV commercials, which he says trained him to size up his shot and get it right fast. The total gross box office: $23, 077,311.
3 “Pan’s Labyrinth”
An adult fantasy flick that conjures up the imaginations of childhood, Pan’s Labyrinth, directed by Guillermo del Toro, is a film set in Fascist-era Spain that debuted in 2006. Pan, a creature with the head of a goat and the body of a tree, is an escape from fascism for the 11-year-old protagonist, Ofelia. Switching from fantasy to reality, we see the underground fantasy world superimposed by the cold reality above. The movie teaches us to trust our instincts regarding what is right and wrong. The total gross box office: $45,623,611.
2 “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Based on the trilogy of books by Stieg Larsson, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” a 2011 Swedish film, features the character Lisbeth Salander, an unforgettable female heroine. The best computer hacker in existence, Lisbeth is a wounded and abused girl who comes off almost as a superhero. She teams up with journalist Mikael Blomkvist, and the two become the only good guys in a sea of evil. The total gross box office: $94,300,000.
“Amélie” is a feel-good French movie from 2001 directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet about a young woman who spends her life trying to make people happy. Amélie first discovered this was her life’s calling when she delivered a boy’s box of treasures to the man who left it behind. Another random act of kindness included painting a word picture of what the streets looked like for a blind man. When Amélie falls in love, she doesn’t quite know how to make herself happy, and we delight in watching her quirky ways. The total gross box office: $140,696,455.