Golden Globes 2021: Foreign Films to Look Out For This Award Season

Image via Wikimedia

If you thought the Covid-19 pandemic would prevent the film industry from kicking awards season into high gear, think again. Though the awards ceremonies themselves have had to adapt to current safety measures, the race that starts every year with the Satellite Awards and culminates in the coveted Academy Awards is definitely still on. Last week, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees for the 78th Golden Globe Awards and, jeez, did they have a few surprises in store!


Among the most shocking nods and snubs on the acting side, there was Kate Winslet getting no love for her heartbreaking performance in the period drama Ammonite while James Corden did manage to get a nomination for his universally panned performance in Netflix’s The Prom. On the bright side, the HFPA made history as three women directors were honored for their amazing work: Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, Regina King for One Night in Miami, and Chloé Zhao for Nomadland.

One of the most unpredictable categories, Best Foreign Language Film, proved to be one of the strongest in years, including titles from Denmark, Guatemala, and France, and the glorious return of Sophia Loren in the Italian film The Life Ahead. Below, you will find the full list of the Golden Globes foreign film nominees as well as some tips on how you can use these films to learn languages.

1. Another Round (Denmark)

Four high school teachers, Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen in top form among them, drink alcohol on a daily basis before going to work in the hope that it will help them solve their vocations crisis. Some critics have described this intoxicating tragicomedy as a coming-of-age fable in reverse, as the film deals with a group of adult men learning how to reconnect with their lost youth.

Another Round might interest people who are passionate about the Danish culture, as it is a cinematic love letter to Denmark’s drinking tradition, at a time when alcohol consumption is under scrutiny. A naturally shy and reserved people, the Danish have always resorted to alcohol as fuel for social connection. Given the film’s main theme, language lovers will get to learn lots of vocabulary related to drinking culture, such as skål. The usage of this word, which originally means bowl or skull, was coined by the Vikings, who drank out of the skulls of their enemies to intimidate their table companions. Today, however, it is used in the same way you would say “cheers” as you raise your glass.

2. La Llorona (Guatemala / France)

Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante has created a modern-day horror fable in the backdrop of the 1982 genocide of the aboriginal Mayan population under the dictatorship of Efraín Ríos Montt. The story starts when Alma and her children are brutally murdered during a military assault. Three decades later, when the general who ordered the massacre is acquitted in court Alma comes back from the dead to torment him and his family.

If you’re a language enthusiast, you can watch the heart-stopping trailer below and see if you can differentiate Spanish from the Mayan indigenous language that is also spoken in the film. If you’re not a language enthusiast, watch it anyway. In only two minutes, you will understand why critics are calling this Golden Globes foreign film a horror masterpiece.

3. The Life Ahead (Italy)

Sophia Loren shines in this comeback film directed by her son, Edoardo Ponti. La vita davanti tells the story of Rosa, an aging Holocaust survivor with a daycare business, who forges a friendship with a young Muslim immigrant who tried to rob her. The unlikely bond between these two people will teach them about the importance of empathy and giving people a second chance. Talking about Rosa, Momo says: “Era la prima volta che qualcuno mi trattava come una persona degna di fiducia”. (It was the first time someone treated me like I was worth their trust). And just like Rosa, while watching this film you will feel that you would trust this broken child with your life.

This film is a perfect example of how a talented star can elevate a somewhat standard screenplay. Though the film tells a familiar story in a linear fashion, Sophia Loren’s star power is so mesmerizing that you find yourself drawn to every word she says. If you’re looking for a Golden Globes approved foreign film to watch with the whole family, you can’t do much better than The Life Ahead.

Do you want to learn some Italian? Then watch this movie on Netflix in its original language with English or Italian subtitles. Also, if you like learning by singing along, you can play the main song by Laura Pausini and see if you can belt your way through all those high notes in a foreign language.

4. Minari (USA)

Led by mesmerizing performances from Yeri Han and Steven Yeun, this Korean-American film offers an intimate and heartbreaking portrait of family and immigration in 1980s Arkansas. A sweet and inspiring story about finding the place where you belong, Minari follows a Korean family that moves to a small farm in pursuit of their own American Dream. However, the family dynamics change abruptly with the unexpected visit of their sarcastic, foul-mouthed, ultimately adorable grandmother. Amidst financial uncertainty and the challenges of starting a life far from home, Minari shows the strength of family bonds and the rewards of sacrifice.

This is the perfect film for beginner Korean learners since the dialogue continually switches back and forth from Korean to English, which means that you will get some time to digest new vocabulary and expressions.

Remember that, no matter what language you’re learning if you want to use films to learn languages you always need to listen to the original audio track and activate subtitles.

5. Two of Us (France / USA)

Two aging women, Nina and Madeleine, have been in a secret relationship for decades. However, everyone in their lives, including Madeleine’s family, thinks they are just very good friends who just happen to share a flat. Nina and Madeleine go through their everyday life enjoying the affection and simplicity of a consolidated relationship until Madeleine’s daughter starts to suspect that her mother may be hiding something.

This Golden Globes-tipped foreign film is an extraordinary debut from Filippo Meneghetti, who brings both compassion and levity to a highly original script.

Because this film has a lot of dialog about complex family issues, beginner students might be unable to watch it without subtitles. However, as you can see in the trailer below, there is a Joyeux anniversaire scene that you can use to practice your French pronunciation by singing along.

Which of the Golden Globes foreign films would you rather see in the cinema? Is there any movie that you think should have gotten a nomination? Let us know in the comment box.

And if all this foreign film talk has inspired you and you want to learn one of the languages mentioned above, reach out to us on our website and we’ll pair you up with the perfect native speaker language teacher in next to no time!