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Best German Movies To Diversify Your Watchlist – Ranked

Just like Hollywood or Bollywood movies, some films from other countries are just as interesting to watch. Germany has a history of making great works of art throughout the years. From the incredible and enigmatic comedy of ‘Toni Erdmann’ to the astonishing mystery thriller ‘Who Am I’, German Movies have their own distinct characteristics that will make you fall in love with German cinema. So why don’t we check out some of the best films made by the Germans?

If you are looking for preferences for German culture or perhaps you just want to learn German through movies, watching these incredible movies must be on your to-do list. Here we list and rank some of the best German films in history just for you. Most of these films are also available on Netflix, which means you can binge-watch them anytime you want. So, without further ado, be sure to check these movies below.

Drama

From a telltale of children’s mental health to a chronicle of a struggling woman in a perilous state of war. These German films succeeded to bring the audience to be consumed in the chronicles of the character.

32. System Crasher (2019)

Helena Zengel in System Crasher

As you may already know, Helena Zengel got the Golden Globes nominations last month and then followed by her Critics Choice Award nomination this month. No one could deny her talent when she is paired with Tom Hanks in the movie called ‘News of the World’ which was released by Universal Pictures.

The Film System Crasher tells the story of a child in such eloquence. Together with a nanny who is steadfastly determined to provide Benni (Helena Zengel), a kind of foundation and prevent her cruel and uncontrollable plague. Benni’s unruly attitude refers to one wish he wants to achieve: to return home to meet his mother.

31. Tore Tanzt (2011)

Nothing Bad Can Happen (German: Tore tanzt) is a German drama film from 2013 directed by Katrin Gebbe. The film was shown in the “Unsure” section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival after Drafthouse Films acquired the rights from the United States. It is a mind-blowing depiction of what dogmas and conspiracy can do to young people.

Cinematography by Moritz Schultheiß is also very enchanting throughout the movie.

30. Knockin on Heaven’s Door

Two patients (Martin Brest and Rudi Wurlitzer) met at the hospital, having learned that they both had an incurable disease. They started talking about their imminent death. When they found the tequila bottle, Martin discovered that Rudi had never seen the sea. Martin tells Rudi that all they talk about in Heaven is how beautiful the sea is. It is heartbreaking, funny at times, and also gut-wrenching. A perfect combination for a chill movie experience.

29. The Collini Case (2019)

A lawyer (M’Barek) decides to defend a man who is accused of having murdered a respectable elderly businessman. As he delves into the investigation of the case, the lawyer uncovers one of the biggest court scandals in German history.

The first half of the film could feel very boring since there are so many flashbacks and mysteries involved, but they are worth the wait. This movie feels like a gut-puncher near the end.

28. Barbara (2012)

Legendary German actress Nina Hoss in Barbara

‘Barbara’ is a slow-burn movie by the prominent German director Christian Leopold. In 1980 East Germany, there was a doctor namely Barbara (Nina Hoss) who went from East Berlin to a small hospital near the Baltic Sea. It was Barbara’s punishment for declaring that she desired to move to West Germany. In her new place, she meets André Reiser (Ronald Zehrfeld), the lead doctor of pediatric surgery, where Barbara joins, who turns out to be fond of Barbara.
It started when a young woman named Stella (Jasna Fritzi Bauer) was forcibly taken to the hospital after escaping from juvenile detention. It was thought that Stella was always pretending to be sick.

Thanks to Barbara’s observation, it was discovered that she had meningitis, and it turned out that Stella was pregnant and wanted to raise her child in West Germany. The greater Reiser’s admiration for Barbara, the woman who regularly has to receive her room as a suspect, and has secretly put together a plan with her boyfriend Jörg (Mark Waschke) who is in West Germany, to escape to Denmark.

Also read: Marvel Spider-Man 3: Effect of The Uncharted

Historical

The Germans really like to dig in some parts of their dark history. This is pretty evident when you start watching some of the films. But they won’t let their history just go that way, through work of art the germans repaint their history in lyrical pieces of art that would haunt and move us through motion pictures.

27. Lore (2012)

When the second world war occurred and claimed many lives when Germany’s territory had been divided into several parts and was under the control of America, Russia, Britain, and France when an atmosphere of grief was increasingly enveloping the German people due to Hitler’s death, the happiness of a young woman named Lore. also taken away. Under the dire conditions of the onset of war, Lore was forced to cross forests and rivers for hundreds of kilometers to save his family.

Lore’s father, who is a member of the Nazis, is under threat of arrest. To save his life, Lore (Saskia Rosendahl) and his four siblings are forced to leave their residence, trying to survive and trying to cross 900 kilometers full of dangers.

From meeting a rotting corpse, asking local people for foodstuffs using their objects, to meeting someone a foreign man who claims to be a Jew named Thomas (Kai Malina). While continuing to cultivate his hope to go to their grandmother’s residence.

26. Phoenix (2014)

Set in the city of West Berlin after World War II, “Phoenix” tells the story of Nelly Lenz (Nina Hoss) who begins to build her life after leaving a concentration camp. Nelly, who was previously a singer in a nightclub, had to bear the brunt of having her face changed through plastic surgery due to being badly injured. Of course, this has the potential to make her beloved husband, Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld) no longer recognize her. Her best friend, Lene Winter (Nina Kunzendorf) convinces Nelly to stop looking for Johnny who has betrayed her love. However, Nelly’s great love required her to find Johnny.

25. Never Look Away (Werk ohne Autor) (2017)

This film tells the story of thirty years of the life of a great artist named Kurt Barnert. The story starts from Kurt’s childhood who witnessed Nazi Germany, to the post-war era of East Germany. In the post-war era, Kurt Barnert was still an art student, and he faced a lot of troubles in his life regarding his choices.

24. The Captain (Der Hauptmann)

‘The Captain’ or which has the title Der Hauptmann is a German film in 2017 with a historical drama genre. The film was directed by Robert Schwentke. It was first screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
This film tells the story of a German war criminal named Willi Herold, who is considered to have stolen and faked his identity as a member of the German military. He was also the mastermind of the killing of deserters and other prisoners at one of the Emslandlager camps.

‘The Captain’ stars Max Hubachaer, Frederick Lau, Bernd Holscher, Waldemar Kobus, Alexander Fehling, and Samuel Finzi. The film became a box office film. In total, the film revenues itself with the US $ 241,358 million.

In this case, this film with the background of World War 2 is really good in presenting the impression of horror that is generated when humans are led by the wrong leader.

23. Downfall (Der Untergang) (2004)

Downfall or Der Untergang is a biographical drama film with the theme of World War II history released in 2004 and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. The Downfall manuscript was written by Bernd Eichinger, Joachim Fest, Traudl Junge, and Melissa Müller.

Downfall follows Adolf Hitler’s final days in a Berlin bunker at the end of World War II.

The Downfall cast includes Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Corinna Harfouch, Juliane Köhler,
Heino Ferch, and Ulrich Noethen. The 156-minute film cost EUR13,500,000 to produce and grossed $ 92,181,574. Downfall speaks German and Russian. This film also received an Oscar nomination, namely Best Foreign Language Film.

22. Land of Mine (2014)

And our favorite for the historical movie goes to ‘Land of Mine’. This movie is originally from Denmark and even became Denmark’s submission for the 2015 Oscar in Best Foreign Film (Now Best International Film) category. The film made it into the nomination in the category. Nonetheless, 95% of the conversations in this movie are spoken in german.

the movie tells the story of the real-life excerpts of the second world war. A bunch of young German soldiers was trapped on an island in Denmark, ushered by a coarse Danish captain to remove thousands of mines across the beach that were previously planted by the German soldiers. They were not given enough food, rest, or anything, while the Danish keep on hating the stranded Germans on the edge of their death. Brace yourself for the unspeakable sadness and loss of hope that the Germans soldiers were feeling. This is a pioneer of independent war movies that teach us the pointlessness of war.

Comedy

21. Das Schonste Madchen der Welt (The Most Beautiful Girl in the World) (2019)

Cyril, a young musician with self-esteem issues, writes songs for Roxy, the new girl in school, but allows her to believe they came from the more attractive but dimwitted Rick, thinking that Roxy prefers him. The film is full of rapping, naughty schoolboys and schoolgirls, and much of a typical teen comedy movie.

20. Soul Kitchen

Soul Kitchen

German comedy-drama film “Soul Kitchen” directed by Fatih Akin. It is said that for Fatih Akin’s caliber, this genre is surprising because he usually directs films with depression and “heavy” themes such as ‘The Edge of Heaven’ (2007). Although he has also filled a segment in ‘New York, I Love You’ (2009).

Soul Kitchen is a simple restaurant in the suburbs of Hamburg, Germany owned by chef Zinos Kazantzakis. Even though it is located in an old warehouse and only serves standard junk food menus such as hamburgers, schnitzel, french fries, and the like, managing a restaurant is Zinos’ dream. But for Nadine, her lover, that dream was too dwarfed so that Nadine decided to go to Shanghai to fulfill her career as a reporter.

During his turmoil over his long-distance relationship with Nadine and his restaurant which is threatened to close due to various problems, Zinos must rack his brains and decide whether to sell his property to Neumann – his old friend, a cunning businessman; to catch up with Nadine or defend her restaurant. All this chaos is enlivened by Illias, Zinos’ older brother – a recidivist prisoner who is on parole and in need of a job, Shayn, the idealistic new chef who refuses to cook junk food, Lucia the bitchy and beautiful waitress, and Socrates, the grumbling grandfather who lives in Soul Kitchen.

19. Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)

For those who love festival films, the film Goodbye Lenin! will definitely attract attention. This film, which carries the theme of the life of the East German people after the fall of the Berlin Wall, gives a completely different portrayal nuance to the drama genre that is usually carried by Hollywood.

It is told from the story of two brothers and sisters who really love their mother, trying to keep the condition of the house and the surroundings exactly the same when the mother has not fallen ill and is in a coma. The mother herself was part of East German society who was still a staunch supporter of the German Socialist Unity Party at that time.

This 2003 film directed by Wolfgang Becker has received many awards at many of the world’s leading festivals, such as the Deutscher Drehbuch 2002 (Best Screenplay), Blauer Engel (Best European Film) 2003, and the European Film Academy (Best European Film) 2003 in Germany. In Indonesia alone, this film had the opportunity to be enjoyed by audiences who were present at Jiffest some time ago. The tragicomedy genre, which covers the condition of society with its politico-economic dynamics, is an added value that makes this film not only more interesting to enjoy but also adds insight into historical knowledge.
The film stars Daniel Bruhl as the lead. And as always, he delivered an incredible performance in this movie

18. Look Who’s Back (Er ist Wieder Da) (2015)

‘Er ist wieder da’ is a German film directed by David Whendt. This film is based on the satirical novel of the same name written by Timur Vermes. Tells about Adolf Hitler (Oliver Masucci) who woke up in 2014 without a memory of what happened to him before he woke up, Hitler then tried to find out what really happened to him until he strayed into a time that shouldn’t be his place.

It is a satirical comedy with a strong historical aspect similar to Jojo Rabbit (2019).

17. Toni Erdmann (2016)

A comedy like no other, Toni Erdmann throws a shade of the hustle and busy working life of the modern society that is famous around Millenials. it tells a story about the complication of a daughter-and-father relationship told in the most entertaining way.

A bigger ambition makes the pressure bigger, the impact of this pressure is manifold, one of which makes people sometimes forget how to enjoy their life and what’s worth living. This is illustrated very well by the film which is the representative of Germany in the category of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the 89th Academy Awards, Toni Erdmann, a sweet combination between funny and heartwrenching.

Also Read: Top 10 Movies To Lift Your Mood – Film Recommendations

Coming of Age

16. Cocoon (2020)

Matching the title, this typical coming of age movie about the importance of friendship, family, growing up, and love at first sight. This film resembles a bit of the 2013 French film ‘Blue is the Warmest Color.

The main character is a lonely outsider in her school until a hippie classmate joined as her friend. Since then, her life is never the same.

15. Before the Fall (Napola: Elite fur den Fuhrer) (2004)

Napola

Napola is the name of a Nazi school prepared for young boys of Germany around the peak of Nazi colonialism. This film is about the life of the schoolboys of the Napola era.

This film made it to the box office in various countries until it made the Seven Pictures production house in collaboration with Constantin Film as a distributor, making a profit of about 3.8 million US dollars. The German-published film starring Max Riemelt and Tom Schilling received much praise from world film critics.

14. Center of My World (2016)

This is another Louis Hoffman movie on this list after ‘Land of Mine’. This film has two subplots: one about the family saga of Phil’s mother and sister, and the other about his love life with another character named Nicholas. It is a story about love and how important it is to redefine it. Most importantly, the film shows that family is the most precious thing in the world.

13. The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) (1979)

Oskar Matzerath, the son of the local dealer, was the most unusual kid. Equipped with full intelligence from birth he decided on his third birthday not to grow up because he saw the madness of the world around him ahead of World War II. So he refused to socialize and his tin drum symbolized his protest against the middle-class mentality of the family and the environment, which was passive towards the German Nazi movement at that time. However, (almost) no one listened to him,

Based on the famous German novel by Gunter Grass, the film won Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival and also won ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at the Oscars in 1979. 

12. A Coffee in Berlin (2012)

A young man named Niko (Tom Schilling) drops out of his university and ends up walking down the streets of Berlin, meeting all kinds of people in various events. However, he felt isolated and did not have a place anywhere.

Presented in black and white visuals, this film looks like it will present beautiful cinematography by taking shots that are no less beautiful and interesting. The film feels so natural, and that is the film’s greatest element.

Read: Best Meryl Streep Movies To Watch (Ranked From Best To Worst)

Thriller

11. Baader Meinhof Complex (2008)

Starting with the visit of the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, to Germany in 1967, a hardline group was formed. The group that initially opposed this emphasis spread terror everywhere. Casualties were inevitable while the basic principles of this movement were also becoming increasingly blurred.

The death of a demonstrator who refuses to come to the Shah of Iran makes Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) move to write an article that blasphemes the Shah of Iran. It was this left-wing journalist who later became the inspiration for Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek), Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu), and two others to start a more frontal action.

10. Victoria (2015)

The story in this film centers on the character Victoria played by Laia Costa, a teenage girl from Madrid who tries her luck in the city of Berlin, Germany. The film starts around 4:30 a.m., in a narrow underground bar that is less crowded. This is where Victoria first appeared, then became acquainted with Sonne (Frederick Lau) and some of his friends.
Talks about this film began to surface after Victoria managed to show off at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival yesterday. In this event, Victoria won 3 awards, namely the Prize of the Guild of German Art House Cinemas, Reader Jury of the “Berliner Morgenpost”, and Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for Cinematography.

9. Who Am I (Kein System ist sicher) (2017)

This German film directed by Baran Bo Obar with the techno-thriller genre is a programming film that is also taken from the true story of hacking that occurred in Germany. This well-packaged film creates a tense film atmosphere, from chases to mild to severe sabotage. Making films that smell like programs is rather difficult, judging by the hacking techniques employed by experts.

Focus is also important to get the goals of this film, because when watching we get a variety of different points of view from the characters in this film. This film is also a bit tough for people who haven’t entered the programming world like me, because in the film there are hacker tools that make us confused, accompanied by an unpredictable storyline. The director also makes very slick scenes as well as the cinematographic play and the back sound, which is good enough with the development and deepening of the characters in the film to look natural.

Romance

8. Free Fall (2013)

If you want to dive more into LGBTQ content, this one is it. It tells the story of two cops who got their sexual arousal on one another. The only problem is that one of them is married and has a wife who is currently pregnant.
The film tells the story of “forbidden” love between two men who (no coincidence) work as police.

With this context, it is easy to describe if the film tries to criticize the subordination of the patriarchal system to homosexuality. However, films are also about choices and consequences, which feel universally applicable regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Films also do not tend to “judge”, but prefer to “present”. This makes the film feel more personal.

7. 303 (2018)

this one is an underrated film that we definitely think should get more recognition. Jule and Jan are two young people who, through the intervention of fate, travel together aboard a Mercedes 303 caravan from Berlin. Jule’s destination is Portugal, the country where her boyfriend lives, while Jan goes to Spain to meet her biological father. Both seem to be very different from each other, although as they go through countries, they will realize that they have more things in common than they imagined. The trip will help this unexpected duo to know who they really are and, perhaps, to establish more than a lasting friendship.

6.Undine (2020)

Undine works as a historian giving lectures on the development of the city of Berlin. When the man she loved left her, ancient myths caught up with her. Leopold’s films are always in a state of a slow burn that if you feel like you are into thrilling

If you are searching for a heart-beat exploding film, this would not be it. Regardless it is also for that very reason that his films are so special and appealing to the viewers.

Also Read: 10 Movies To Watch If You Liked Birds of Prey

Essential Classics

5. Nosferatu

You probably know this film from that one episode from Spongebob where a tall pale obscure-looking Dracula is switching the lamp on and off.

Nosferatu is a film about Count Dracula’s first in the world, but this adaptation is not an official adaptation. In other words, it was formed without the permission of Bram Stoker or his loyal officers. Therefore, in this film, Count Dracula’s name was changed to Count Orlok.

However, Count Orlok is still believed to be Count Dracula’s first visualization. It is said that when this film was allegedly plagiarized Dracula’s story bluntly, this film was asked to be destroyed, but apparently, there was 1 copy of the film that survived. This one copy was eventually reproduced and became a classic story for the future.

4. M (Eine Stadt sucht einen Morder) (1931)

Fritz Lang is the father of cinema. His work influenced man directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, the director of ‘Psycho’ (2016), and David Fincher. This film is no exception.

The film’s script is written by Fritz Lang and his wife, Thea von Harbou, seems to have a special interest in reminding mothers to look after their children. With such moral messages, this film does not necessarily fall into moralistic. The director’s cold hands make him an interesting study of the paranoia, gloom, and modernity that plagued German society after World War I.

3. Das Boot (1981)

The film ‘Das Boot’ tells the story of the lives of soldiers who carry out special duties on the u-boat when World War II rages in the Atlantic. Before departure, the entire crew of the u-boat was partying and doing all the fun as much as they could before they finally went on patrol of the open seas. They do this as if they will never come back again. On the u-boat, the crew received an ambitious war correspondent despite not having sufficient experience on the battlefield.

Life-Changing

Although we are already sorting out the best german movies for you, it is uncanny that some of them just stand out more than the others. These movies are filled with so much potential not only to entertain and provoke the viewers but also to make an unforgettable tour-de-force that would last in one’s memory forever.

2. Nowhere in Africa (2001)

The film tells us about a hidden, small community of German people who live their life in Kenya, far off from the busy modern world. It is a love story of two different continents and the colliding of two different continents that are inseparable. A story of human bond despite differences. Besides that, the film also won Best Foreign Language Film’ at the 2001 Oscars.

1. The Lives of Others (Das leben der Anderen) (2006)

Grab a tissue because we doubt that you can go through this one without having a tingling sensation inside your heart. If there is one german film that is talked about, it is this film. This particular film got a score of 8.3 on IMDB.
The 137-minute film titled “The Lives of Others” revolves around the reconnaissance of a writer named George Dreyman played by Sebastian Koch. He was suspected of having the possibility of defecting from the Socialist Stasi in East Germany in 1984.

Several plays colored, to show how strong the influence of the Stasi at that time. One of the leaders was blacklisted because of some of his words that were heard against the Stasi. People whose homes are wired. Careful attitude and action that feels so controlling.
The climax of the conflict emerged when an article capable of tarnishing the socialists was published. The article then became controversial and made the deprivation of civil rights even more intense. Several conflicts and plot twists also occur here.

Also read: Most Offensive and Controversial Roles in Hollywood Movies

Written By

A writer, a thinker, a voice actor, and a movie/book enthusiast. Here Tony shares his love and excitement for pop culture. You can reach out to him on Facebook.

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