From avant-garde to appreciation: Foreign movies struggle to amass praise in the United States


Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

Netflix has done an excellent job incorporating foreign media into their streaming services.

Parker Paulson, News Editor

When people are asked about their favorite movie, they often say one of the Marvel movies or other Hollywood blockbuster films. However, very rarely does someone suggest a movie created in another country as their favorite of all time.

Since the birth of Hollywood and film, there has always been a constant preference towards strictly American movies. The Oscars has only announced one foreign movie for best picture, which was the movie “Parasite” in 2020. So why do foreign movies not garner the recognition they deserve?

Former film teacher Don Fry believes that there is a bit of dissociation between American culture and foreign cultures. “I think that foreign movies are just different for people. There’s a different culture, a different language and other things that might make foreign films unappealing to American viewers. It’s a shame, but it’s the truth,” he said.

Despite the low appeal for watching foreign movies, there is still wide acclaim for foreign movies outside of the United states. Movies like “Spirited Away,” “Seven Samurai” and “Life is Beautiful” are all in the IMDb top 250 movies list.

“When it comes to foreign movies, there’s often this connotation that the movie is going to be ‘artsy’ and ‘avant garde,’” said Fry. “Although there may be artsy movies out there, not all of the movies from other countries are like that. I believe that is a huge misconception when it comes to foreign pictures.”

Like black and white movies, foreign films are just another medium that is out of the ordinary for modern American viewers. To most viewers, black and white movies are perceived as old and boring movies, yet some of the best films ever made (according to IMDb) were in black and white. The negative connotation surrounding foreign movies is similar as some movies are seen as too obscure, therefore putting a shadow over other foreign movies that are incredibly well made.

Sophomore Owen Chiles often watches foreign movies in his free time. “Many of the best movies that I have seen are from other countries. The movies from overseas often express unique ideas that just aren’t there for western movies,” he said.

When it comes to foreign movies, producers are generally allowed to take more risks in their movies and do things that might not be accepted in Hollywood. This might be more gore, nudity or ‘different’ scenes that might deter viewers from watching these films.

Hollywood also puts a large emphasis on “bigger is better” and tries to keep the story moving at all times. Although this is beneficial for the pacing of the movie, it could also be negating time for artistic moments in movies where not much is happening in the film.

For these reasons, Americans have become accustomed to the fantasy of Hollywood films and seeing something from a different perspective and culture of movie-making could be unappealing to viewers. However, there are still ways to help introduce foreign films to American viewers.

“I think that if movies were to be more accessible through streaming services like Hulu and HBO Max there could be more appreciation for these types of films,” said Chiles. While most streaming services fail to offer foreign media options, Netflix has done an excellent job featuring different animés and foreign movies on their site including the Netflix original ‘The Platform‘ which was made in Spain.

As streaming platforms become the new norm for watching movies, perhaps an increase in foreign film availability would allow people to open the door to a whole world of different cultures and movies.