There are many methods to learn a foreign language: hire a private tutor, sign up for language classes, download a language-learning app, or look for free materials online. Some of them are more fun, and others can help you learn more quickly. One option that can be highly engaging is watching movies or TV shows in the language you’re learning.
Consuming media in French can be quite enjoyable and effective - not only does it allow you to watch an interesting story, but it also immerses you in the real-life French language - with slang, casual phrasing, different accents, and many other peculiarities.
Watching them won't only be a learning experience, though. French movies had a huge influence on the world cinema, and they provide us with a great possibility to learn more about the structure and history of the cinematography. Even today, many French films are featured in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, bringing something new to the world of movies each time.
Deciding to add a few hours of watching French TV to your schedule can be a great idea for improving your French skills and getting some great entertainment. However, you need to make the right choice.
If you’re a beginner, some famous French movies may be a little overwhelming for you - the language can be too complex, and the pronunciation too fast. Because of that, it’s important to choose the right French film for your level. Moreover, you may want to watch it with subtitles, so you can understand everything that is said.
To make your life easier, we have prepared a list of the best French movies to learn French. Regardless of your current level and interests, you should be able to find something that suits you here. Check it out - and we hope you have fun learning French this way.
Best French Movies for Beginners
When you’re a beginner looking for a good French film, it’s best to search for several things: simple dialogue, a non-complex plot, and an engaging topic that will keep you motivated to watch till the end.
The best films for beginning French learners are, of course, children’s and animated movies. They are usually full of funny, everyday dialogue, casual and non-complex vocabulary, and simple yet engaging plots as well as the basic French accent. Here are our top two French movies for beginners:
Le Vent Se Lève
Even though this is not a French film, the French release of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises was wholeheartedly embraced among the French and over the world. This animated film tells about an airplane designer Jiro Horikoshi - his life, dreams, and the influence he left behind.
The language is pretty simple and the narrative is engaging right from the start - features that many Miyazaki’s films share. It includes some poetry alongside simple yet inspired dialogue, which can give you a perfect insight into the creative side of the French language.
This is probably one of the best non-animated French movies that is also perfect for beginners. This feature film is a perfect introduction to French cinema for those who have never watched a French movie.
Set in a boy’s school, it tells the story of a group of troubled boys learning to be good with the help of their talented teacher, Clément Mathieu. Just like many French films, this movie allows you to take a look into the human heart; and see how even a little interest from a caring person can change your life forever.
Les Chorists is a perfect film for movie nights, not only because it has a great plot, amazing music, and characters who grow throughout the story - but also thanks to its simple language and a well-structured framework of the narrative. Even if you don’t understand all the words, you still won’t get lost within the plot.
Top French Films for Intermediate Level
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
You might know this movie as Amélie. This is a highly popular French film enjoyed by many people all over the world. Its director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, focused on quirky, slapstick humor as well as surrealist visuals - and a story of a young woman who wants to bring happiness to the lives of those around her has become an international success.
But the movie is worth watching not only for the plot - but also for the whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, especially the Montmartre district.
Do you want to learn French while diving into French culture and get a glance into French society? Then Amélie should definitely be your first choice the next time you decide to watch a movie.
Of course, this film isn’t good learning material for everyone. The language might be a little too complex for the beginning learners, and sometimes the dialogue can be too quick. If you’re not sure about your listening skills, it’s best to watch this movie (and others) with subtitles.
The Intouchables is another classic on our list. You might have watched it already, but if not - definitely add The Intouchables to your movie list. Inspired by the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, a wealthy quadriplegic man, and his French-Moroccan caregiver, young man Abdel Sellou, this movie tells about two characters from wildly different worlds becoming friends.
This exciting comedy-drama film is filled with excellent dialogue, French humor, and touching scenes, so you won’t be left unimpressed. It’s also a perfect piece to learn spoken, casual French along with some slang and boost your vocabulary.
Best French Films for Advanced Learners
Even if you did watch this amazing animated movie when you were a kid, you should still rewatch it now. The film follows a story of two Gaulish warriors - the French’s most loved comedy heroes - living in the time of Julius Caesar.
Astérix et Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre focuses on the travels of Astérix and Obélix to Egypt to help an architect build a palace for Cleopatra - a story which is filled with various adventures that will make you laugh right from the start.
The only disadvantage of this movie is that it might not be suitable for beginners and even intermediate learners - this comedy by Alain Chabat is full of clever puns and wordplay, as well as witty dialogue. If you are not able to understand them to the fullest, the experience of the movie might not be as fulfilling as an advanced student’s viewing.
Le Père Noël est une Ordure
The Christmas season is here, so we couldn’t leave this Christmas classic out. This is what you would call a typical French movie - a dark comedy packed with witty puns and famous one-liners.
Enjoy this French film during this holiday season, have some fun, learn advanced French references and expressions - and boost your vocabulary and your knowledge.
Of course, our list is just a start - there are many other French movies you can use to learn some French and have some fun. Some other great French films are La Vie en Rose, which tells the story of Edith Piaf’s life, and La Grande Illusion, a movie about the First World War.
Fans of romantic dramas would enjoy Jules & Jim, a classic tragic love story. Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, (À Bout De Souffle) is a perfect chance for anyone to get a glimpse at French New Wave cinema. And The Artist by Michael Hazanavicius is an example of a riveting modern-day silent film.
This article is merely a suggestion to where to start - if you didn’t find a title you liked, don’t stop looking. There are many amazing movies out there that would be a perfect addition to your movie nights - and which will improve your French language skills.
Don’t Just Watch - Practice!
Watching French movies can be a great way to spend your free time productively and learn some French - but it shouldn’t be your main learning point. While French movies, TV shows, podcasts, and YouTube videos can help you dive into French culture and French language, to learn, you need to add some structure and practice.
Don’t think that you will become fluent in French just by watching movies - but of course it’s still worth doing. Simply add some more materials to your language learning process and practice. For instance, sign up for group courses, hire a private tutor, or look for free materials online that will help you organize your knowledge.
Or you can, for example, download Langster - an app that would help you learn French in a fun way, through stories. There, you can read interesting short stories and news in French, learn new vocabulary and grammar, pass an engaging quiz after every lesson, and reinforce your knowledge by repeating what you’ve learned from time to time.
Does that sound interesting? Then check it out today.