In popular culture, ‘French film’ is a loaded term. It’s not simply a descriptor of the geographical origins of a particular movie, but often a euphemism for pretension. For many people, if a film was made in France, the assumption is that it will be impossible to access. It’ll be loaded with philosophical musings, insufferable characters and arty embellishments, and generally be impossible to follow. And well, yeah, a lot of it is exactly like that. Hell, for New Wave pioneers like Jean-Luc Godard and Agnès Varda, challenging – and sometimes angering – the audience was a point of pride. But once you really start digging into the French film canon, you’ll discover it’s not all cigarettes, existentialism and jump cuts.
In truth, few countries can claim to have had such a consistent influence over global moviemaking as France. Diving deep enough to take in the full breadth of that influence can be daunting, though. But if you’re looking for a place to start, we’ve got 100 options right here for you. Whether you’re a card-carrying, beret-wearing Nouvelle Vague nut or just a big fan of Amélie, you’re going to find something to pique your interest on this list of the best French films released between 1902 and 2022.
Written by Tom Huddleston, Geoff Andrew, Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Trevor Johnston, Joshua Rothkopf, Keith Uhlich and Matthew Singer
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