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The only “Best Movies” list you’ll need (to learn a language with)

By Memrise Team

With the Oscars just around the corner, our Language Specialists have picked their best movies of 2019 in their language. So sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy any of these great movies while immersing yourself in your new language.

Spanish

Dolor y gloria (Pain and Glory, by Pedro Almodóvar)

Pedro has done it again. He’s gone and earned himself an Oscar nomination with his latest, more personal movie that’s competing against “Parasite”. Whether it’s good enough to win over the jury doesn’t really matter, as this touching and revealing work where life meets art will warm your heart. Pain and Glory tells of a series of reencounters experienced by Salvador Mallo, a film director in physical decline. Some he meets in the flesh, others mere memories of his childhood in the 60s, when he emigrated with his parents to a village in Valencia in search of a better life. The first desire, his first adult love, the pain of the breakup of that love, writing as the only therapy to forget the unforgettable, the early discovery of cinema, and the void, the infinite void that ultimately prevents him from continuing to make films. Pain and Glory talks about creation, about the difficulty of separating it from one’s own life and about the passions that give it meaning and hope. In rediscovering his past, Salvador finds the urgent need to recount it, and in that need he also finds his salvation. 

Quotes:  

“Olvidas que soy actor y que sufro muy bien” 

  • You forget that I’m an actor, and I suffer very well

“Si no escribes ni ruedas ¿Qué vas hacer? Vivir, supongo.”

  • If you don’t write or film, what will you do? Live, I guess.

“El amor tal vez mueva montañas, pero no basta para salvar a la persona que quieres.” 

  • Love might move mountains. But it isn’t enough to save the person you love.

“Má, ¿tú crees que habrá un cine en Paterna? Con que tengamos una casa me conformo, hijo mío.”

  • Mom, do you think there’ll be a cinema in Paterna? I’d be happy enough to have a house, my son.”

French

J’ai perdu mon corps  (I Lost My Body, by Jérémy Clapin)

I Lost My Body is an animated movie that tells the story of an amputated hand that escapes from a lab in Paris, and starts an epic journey across the streets of Paris in the search of its body. Although the setting seems incredibly surreal, we are led into a poetic and emotional story of love and loss, but most of all, of reconstruction. The directing is incredibly fluid and groundbreaking and superbly supported by the poignant, melancholic soundtrack. This is a true jewel!

Quotes

“Ça doit être apaisant d’être coupé du monde comme ça” 

  • It must be peaceful to be cut off from the world like that

“C’est comme si le monde entier était bourré”

  • It’s as if the whole world was drunk

“Une fois que t’as dribblé le destin, tu fais quoi ?”

  • Once you’ve dribbled destiny, what do you do?

Japanese

生理ちゃん (Seiri-chan – Little Miss Period)

The Japanese obsession with cute characters has reached a new level and now there’s a film starring a menstruation character! This heartwarming film reminds us the importance of empathetic imagination and that we should never easily assume that we understand someone else’s pain, regardless of gender.

Quote

  • 本当に大変なのは、生理を理由にできないってことなんです。
    (ほんとう に たいへん なのは、 せいり を りゆう に できない ってこと なんです。)
    The really tough part is that you can’t use your period as an excuse.

Russian

Beanpole (Дылда, by Kantemir Balagov )

This film is an example of Russian psychological drama at its best. It’s based on the novel “The Unwomanly Face of War” by the Nobel prize winner Tatiana Alexievich that tells the story of two women soldiers who return to their native city Leningrad (St. Petersbourg) after months of siege and devastation. Most war films tend to fall into epic glorification. Beanpole is everything but that. It’s a subtle and personal account of two young women searching for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins. Beanpole’s humble and honest approach to controversial subjects, like female love and humanity in inhuman conditions, won its director Kantemir Balagov “Best Director” prize at Cannes Festival “Un Certain Regard” competition, along with other 23 wins and 19 nominations. You should not miss it if you ever felt like taking a glimpse inside the mysterious Russian soul at its most poignant moments. 

Quotes

“Мы с вами так похожи, что почти родственники.”

  • We are so alike that we are almost related.

“Давайте еще раз ребеночка сделаем”

  • Let’s make another baby

“Он нас вылечит.”

  • It will cure us.

German

Berlin Bouncer

This documentary follows the story of three of Berlin’s most legendary bouncers. It chronicles their experiences guarding the doors of the city’s most infamous clubs back from the Fall of the Wall through to Berlin’s transformation to a party metropolis and to current issues with gentrification. Best documentary ever? Maybe not, but it might help you get into Berghain. Maybe.

Quotes:

  • Ne, du nicht. (Nope, not you.)
  • Geh jetzt weg oder ich schubs dich! (Piss off now or I’ll shove you!)
  • Geile Leute, geile Mucke, geile Stimmung. (Epic people, epic music, epic vibe.)
  • Das gehört irgendwie mit dazu. (That’s simply part of it.)

English

Knives Out, by Rian Johnson

Knives Out hit screens in November 2019, and is a brilliant comedy ‘whodunit’ film. A story with twists and turns to boggle the mind directed by Rian Johnson, the director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi back in 2017. Packed with household names such as Jamie Lee Curtis form Freaky Friday, and Daniel Craig, aka 007, Knives Out is set in the modern day and doesn’t shy away from tricky topics like politics and white privilege. If you’ve not seen it yet, get to the cinema before they stop showing it!

Quotes:

“I read a tweet about a New Yorker article about you. You’re famous!”

“Everyone in the family has possible motives.”