Here is a selection of my 12 best French movies. This is a great way to practice your French and learn about French culture. Most French people would know those great French movies.
This list is made for Francophiles and cinema lovers. Finally, you can find the trailer of each movie.
1 – The Intouchables (2011)
French name: Intouchables
This is the 3rd most viewed all-time movie in France with 19.48 million entrances. Number one is Titanic (21.77) and Welcome to the Sticks (20.44). This movie Skyrocketed the career of the actor Omar Sy.
Synopsis: After a paragliding accident, Philippe, a wealthy aristocrat, hires Driss, a suburban youth just out of prison, as a home helper. In short, the least qualified person for the job.
2 – Amélie (2001)
French name: Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain
Great movie with the actress Audrey Tautou (one of the most famous French actresses) and produced by the movie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The soundtrack makes the movie even better. You should read my article where I mention a French horror movie directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Delicatessen.
Synopsis: Amélie, a young waitress in a bar in Montmartre, spends her time observing people and letting her imagination wander. She has set herself a goal: to do good to those around her. She invents ploys to intervene incognito in their existence.
3 – The Chorus (2004)
French name: Les Choristes
Are you into singing? This movie is made for you.
Synopsis: In 1948, Clément Mathieu, an unemployed music teacher, accepted a supervisory position in a re-education center for minors; the repressive system applied by the director, Rachin, upsets Mathieu. By introducing these difficult children to music and choral singing, Mathieu will be able to transform their daily lives.
4 – 99 Francs (2007)
This is a movie with the famous French actor Jean Dujardin who criticized the actual consumer society.
Synopsis: Octave is the master of the world: he practices the profession of a copywriter. He decides today what you will want tomorrow. For him, “the man is a product like the others”. Octave works for the biggest advertising agency in the world: Ross & Witchcraft. He is covered by money, girls, and cocaine. However, he doubts, two events will change his mind: A love story and a meeting with a client.
5 – The First Day of the rest of your life (2008)
French name: Le Premier Jour du reste de ta vie
You can feel related to this movie if sometimes it was difficult with your family.
Synopsis: The first day of the rest of your life is of five decisive days in the life of a family of five, five days more important than others where nothing will ever be the same the next day.
6 – Pot Luck (UK) / The Spanish Apartment (Australia) (2002)
French name: L’Auberge Espagnole
This movie is a must-see for every European that has done the scholarship of Erasmus (A scholarship where a European student can go a semester or a year to study abroad at university). There are two sequels, the first one is “Les Poupées russes” (2005) and the second one is “Casse Tête Chinois” (2013). I couldn’t feel more related to this movie in this list of my best French movies since I did Erasmus in Spain.
Synopsis: Xavier, a young man of twenty-five, goes to Barcelona to finish his studies in economics and learn Spanish. This language is necessary to get a job that promises to a friend of his father, at the ministry of finances. In order to do this, he must leave his girlfriend Martine, with whom he lives for four years. In Spain, Xavier seeks housing and finally finds an apartment in the center of Barcelona that he plans to share with seven other people. Each of his roommates comes from a different European country.
7 – La Haine (1995)
This old French movie produced by Mathieu Kassovitz is about police violence in France. Unfortunately, even if this movie is getting older the social situation is still the same in France.
Synopsis: Three friends from an ordinary suburb are walking around and are bored. They will live the most important day of their lives after a night of riots provoked by the beating of Abdel Ichah by a police inspector during an interrogation.
8 – Leon: The Professional (1994)
French name: Léon
Probably one of the best movies from Luc Besson with Jean Reno and Natalie Portman.
Synopsis: A hitman named Leon takes under his wing Mathilda, a twelve-year-old girl, the only survivor of the massacre of her family. Soon, Leon will make Mathilda a “cleaner” like him. And Mathilda will be able to avenge her little brother.
9 – Little White Lies (2010)
French name: Les petits mouchoirs
This movie will make you think about your friendships. It was produced by Guillaume Canet and it is full of five stars French actors: Marion Cotillard, François Cluzet, Benoît Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte, Jean Dujardin, and Valérie Bonneton.
Synopsis: Following a shocking event, a group of friends decided, despite everything, to go on holiday at the seaside as every year. Their friendship, their certainties, their guilt, and their love will be shaken.
10 – Mesrine (2010)
Those are movies inspired by real-life events in France. A French gangster was tracked by the French police, played by Vincent Cassel. It is divided into two movies. The first one is “Mesrine: L’Instinct de mort” and the second one is “Mesrine, L’ennemi public n°1”.
Synopsis: From the 60s in Paris to the early 70s in Canada, this is the life of a French criminal from the suburbs of Clichy named Jacques Mesrine.
11 – The Connection (2015)
French name: La French
A French movie about the city of Marseille in the 70s and the traffic of drugs inspired by real events. There are famous French actors with Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche.
Synopsis: Pierre Michel, a young magistrate from Metz in 1975, is promoted judge of organized crime of Marseille. He decides to attack the French Connection, a mafia organization that exports heroin around the world. Not listening to any warning, Judge Michel goes alone against Gaëtan Zampa, an emblematic figure of the Marseille mafia.
12 – La vie est un long fleuve tranquille (1988)
This is the oldest French movie on this list of best French movies. This movie belongs to the category of classic French movies. I couldn’t find a trailer in English or French on YouTube. Personally, I make joke references to this movie a lot. Here is a famous scene from this French movie (link above).
Synopsis: In a small town in the north of France, two large families, “Le Quesnoy” and “Les Groseille”, of very different origins, would never have met. But it was not counting on Josette, the nurse devoted to Dr. Mavial, in love and tired of waiting for him to leave his wife. In a moment of misery, the nurse exchanged two newborns, a baby from Les Groseille (the white trash) with a baby from Le Quesnoy (the rich), to take revenge on the doctor.
I hope you’ve liked the selection of my best French movies. I invite now you to read the article about the best French comedy movies, or the best animated French movies. Otherwise, I recommend you to read the following articles:
- Top 5 French Movies of 2018
- Top 5 French Movies of 2019
- Top 5 French Movies of 2021
- Top 5 French Movies of 2022