The Best French Movies Streaming Now (on Netflix, Max, and More)

Three women lying on the ground

If the weather outside is frightful and nothing inside’s delightful, a French movie might be just the fix. Whether you’re cold, grumpy, lonely, or struggling to entertain bored, bickering relatives, these are the French movies available to stream now.

French Films to Stream this Winter

1. Voleuses (Wingwomen)

Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) directs and stars alongside Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color) in a girl-powered action flick about a band of killers and thieves pulling off one last big art heist before they get the hell out of this godforsaken business. The great Isabelle Adjani plays their demanding boss. This sassy thriller debuted in late October as the most-watched Netflix movie of the week with 18.5 million views.

Stream on Netflix.

2. Athena

Romain Gavras (son of the French-Greek director Costa-Gavras) co-wrote and directed this tense drama about a violent, racially-motivated uprising in the French banlieue Athena. When a French-Algerian teenager is beaten to death by the police, one of his brothers pleads for calm, while the other leads a group of young men to arm and barricade themselves in the housing project where they live. Violence erupts as les flics close in and the rioters refuse to back down, each twist another step in an all-consuming, internecine cycle of violence.

Stream on Netflix.

3. Le Jeu (Nothing to Hide)

Le Jeu is Fred Cavayé’s adaptation of Italian director Paolo Genovese’s 2016 award-winning high concept dramatic comedy Perfect Strangers. The film plops a group of friends, including Bérénice Béjo (The Artist) and Roschdy Zem (Other People’s Children) down at a dinner party and royally messes with them. The host (Béjo) suggests a game: any texts, calls, or messages received during the meal will be shared all the guests. All hell breaks loose, as secrets, infidelities, and assorted quirks are publicly revealed.

Stream on Netflix.

4. Anelka: L’incompris (Anelka: Misunderstood)

Soccer fans will devour Franck Nataf’s documentary about the sport’s bad boy, Nicolas Anelka, as famous for the scandals he seems to court as for his otherworldly talent as a striker. The film dives into his history as a kid from le banlieue recruited to attend the renowned Institut National de Football (INF) de Clairfontaine at 13. He began playing for Paris Saint-Germain at 16, before following the money—and shocking the world—by bouncing around between such top teams as Arsenal, Real Madrid, and Chelsea, eventually playing for the French national team in the 2010 World Cup. The film offers Anelka the opportunity to tell his side of the stories soccer fans think they already know.

Stream on Netflix.

5. Elle 

Isabelle Huppert, the ever-intriguing grande dame of French cinema, stars in Paul Verhoeven’s Oscar-nominated, Best Film and Best Actress César award-winning psychological thriller about a high-powered video game exec who is raped by a masked intruder, only to hunt him down and turn the tables on him. The twisty turny, gasp-inducing script gives Huppert the occasion to dig deep into the kind of complex and provocative role that made her famous.

Rent on Amazon Prime, YouTube or Apple TV.

6. Jonas (Boys/I am Jonas)

In Christophe Carrier’s queer coming of age film, the adult Jonas (Félix Maritaud) thinks back to 1997 and his first love, Nathan (Tommy-Lee Baïk), the wild new kid at school who opened up a whole new world to the naïve suburban boy. A world of cigarettes, Nintendo, stolen kisses, gay clubs—and lurking dangers the boys were too young to perceive. As we move back and forth between the joyful, optimistic 15-year-old Jonas (Nicolas Bowens) and the haunted adult he becomes, the traumatic events that forever changed him are revealed.

Stream on Netflix until December 31. Rent on Amazon Prime.

7. Mademoiselle de Joncquières (Lady J)

This Liaisons Dangereuses-esque period drama directed by Emmanuel Mourat was inspired by Denis Diderot’s novel Jacques the Fatalist, which was also adapted into the 1945 film Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne by the great Robert Bresson. Set in 1789, the film stars the always fabuleuse Cécile de France as Madame de La Pommeraye, a beautiful widow who falls in love with the Marquies des Arcis (Édouard Baer). When he loses interest in her, she gets revenge by conniving to marry him off to a destitute young woman who works entertaining men in a nightclub.

Stream on Netflix.

8. Entre les murs (The Class)

Laurent Cantet’s 2008 adaptation of François Bégaudeau’s semi-autobiographical book about his struggles as a middle school teacher in a working-class Paris neighborhood won the Palme d’or at Cannes and the César for Best Adaptation, and was nominated for an Academy Award. Critics and moviegoers swooned over the unsentimental treatment of a familiar trope where an optimistic young teacher—Bégaudeau played himself in the film—with dreams of changing hearts and minds crashes hard into the limitations of reality.

Stream on YouTube or Tubi. Rent on Amazon Prime or Apple TV.

9. Le Monde est à toi (The World is Yours)

Director Romain Gavras shows his funnier side in a madcap adventure about François (Karim Leklou), a smalltime drug dealer who dreams of bringing Mr. Freeze ice pops to the Maghreb. When he learns that his gambling addict mom (the fabulous Isabelle Adjani) has blackjacked and slot-machined away his life savings, he’s forced to get back into the illegal drug trade for one last job in Spain. His merry band of loony toon friends jump onboard “to help,” turning what they thought was an easy job into a comic nail-biter that could have been conceived by Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie.

Stream on Amazon Prime UK.

10. Coco before Chanel

Anne Fontaine’s 2009 portrait of the legendary fashion designer as a young woman stars Amélie’s Audrey Tautou as the famous iconoclast with an imagination that forever changed the way women dress. The bildungsroman begins with young Gabrielle and her sister are abandoned by their dad at an orphanage. It then follows along as she uses her smarts and imagination to go from Paris seamstress and cabaret singer to the lover of an aristocrat with a country estate and connections to fancy ladies ripe for a fresh twist on urban fashion. Fontaine immerses viewers in a version of Paris where the creativity and chutzpah of one independent young woman with a great eye could give birth to a whole new world.

Stream on YouTube or rent on Google Play, Amazon Prime, or Apple TV.

11. (Cléo de 5 à 7) Cléo from 5 to 7

There are loads of dazzling options including Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961) by the brilliant Agnès Varda, aka the grandmother of the French New Wave, who introduced the unconventional filmmaking techniques the movement was famous for before the movement even existed. The black and white documentary-style film follows Cléo, a singer, around Paris as she waits for medical test results. Learn where to stream additional Varda films here.

Stream on Max.

12. Le Samouraï (The Samurai)

Le Samouraï (1967), Jean-Pierre Melville’s stylish neo-noir, stars the impossibly beautiful Alain Delon as a hitman trying to figure out who’s trying to kill him.

Rent on Amazon Prime.

13. Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise)

Go way back with Marcel Carné’s swooning 1946 love triangle Les Enfants du Paradis, with Jean-Louis Barrault’s sweet mime duking it out with a richer and more ambitious actor (Pierre Brasseur) for the hand of Parisian actrice Garance, played by Arletty.

Rent on Amazon Prime or Apple TV.

14. Masculin Féminin (Masculine Feminine)

In Masculin Feminin, the great Jean-Luc Godard cast fellow New Waver François Truffaut’s regular Jean-Pierre Léaud as a young idealist in a four-way relationship with a pop star and her two hot roommates.

Stream on Max.

15. Paris, Je t’aime (Paris, I Love You)

When you just can’t decide, there’s always Paris, Je t’aime, 22 short films that take place in 22 neighborhoods of the City of Lights, helmed by directors as wide ranging as the Coen brothers, Gurinder Chadha, Sylvain Chomet, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, Alexander Payne, and Gus Van Sant. These vignettes star a veritable who’s who of international luminaries like Fanny Ardant, Steve Buscemi, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Natalie Portman, Ludivine Sagnier, Elijah Wood, Gena Rowlands, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Stream on YouTube or Amazon Prime.

Andrea Meyer has written creative treatments for commercial directors, a sex & the movies column for IFC, and a horror screenplay for MGM. Her first novel, Room for Love (St. Martin’s Press) is a romantic comedy based on an article she wrote for the New York Post, for which she pretended to look for a roommate as a ploy to meet men. A long-time film and entertainment journalist and former indieWIRE editor, Andrea has interviewed more actors and directors than she can remember. Her articles and essays have appeared in such publications as Elle, Glamour, Variety, Time Out NY, and the Boston Globe.

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