1. Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, and winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for best director and leading actresses (Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux), this film caused a titillating stir among audiences world-wide. We are not using that adjective lightly. The beauty of Blue Is the Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adèle) is that it is about milestones: adolescence, first love, and sexual discovery. Warning: This film contains explicit sex scenes.
2. Atlantics (2019)
This supernatural romantic drama by 37 year-old French-Senegalese director Mati Diop was awarded the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. No synopsis can give justice to the unforgettable journey Atlantics embarks on, perfectly blending social commentary, romance, stunning visuals, and extravagant lyricism. The heroine, Ada, is heart-broken as her boyfriend, Souleimane, attempts to reach Gibraltar by raft. This ghostly feature is one of Barack Obama’s favorite films.
3. Lady J (2018)
Spring is in the air, and that means plenty of sunshine, fresh flowers, and of course an Emmanuel Mouret dramedy featuring French gardens, cascading 18th-century wardrobes, and delicious aristocratic gossip. Cécile de France stars as Madame de la Pommeraye and Edouard Baer as Marquis des Arcis in this production inspired by Denis Diderot’s novel Jacques the Fatalist.
4. Divines (2016)
Uda Benyamina’s Divines, recipient of the Camera d’Or award at Cannes, is not the first film to capture the troubled youth in the projects outside Paris. But it is one of the first to focus on women. It stars Oulaya Amamra as Dounia, a young woman in conflict with her family and teachers, and who dreams of a better life with her friend Maimouna (Déborah Lukumuena). Their motto is “money, money, money,” and they recognize a way to reach their goals through the local drug dealer, Rebecca (Jisca Kalvanda). They will do anything to become essential to her business.
5. Carbon (2017)
Olivier Marchal was a detective in Versailles and Paris for almost ten years before he turned his street experience into acclaimed crime movies such as 36 Quai des Orfèvres and A Gang Story. With Carbon, he takes on the true story of the 2008-2009 carbon-trading scandal. Benoît Magimel stars as a young CEO of a bankrupt company planning the heist of the century to save his business. Gérard Depardieu plays his despicable father-in-law.
6. The African Doctor (2016)
This French-Belgian dramedy follows the true story of Seyolo Zantoko, a doctor who uproots his family from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo to start a medical practice in Marly-Gomont, a village of 400 north of Reims in the Picardy region. Dr. Zantoko, his wife, and children are the only Black people in the village. This typical fish-out-of-water story is made more unique by adopting the point of view of the doctor’s youngest child, Kamini, who in real life grew up to become a celebrated rapper.
7. Call My Agent! (2015-aujourd’hui)
Think Entourage with more cigarettes and less girls in bikinis. This show follows four talent agents in one of Paris’ top agencies and the starlets they represent. Crises abound with complex contracts, egos, and last minute production changes. The best part? Cameo appearances by French celebrities playing themselves such as Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche, Nathalie Baye, and Jean Dujardin!
8. Un + Une (2015)
A bit like Eat, Pray, Love, this romantic comedy directed by Claude Lelouch follows a womanizing composer (Jean Dujardin) and the bored wife (Elsa Zylberstein) of an ambassador as they travel together across India. This is the perfect choice for a steamy Netflix & chill session for any romance addict and/or fan of Claude Lelouch – the director behind the French New Wave staple A Man and a Woman.
9. Wedding Unplanned (2017)
When Alexia (Julia Piaton) finds a business card for a wedding planner in her boyfriend’s (Nicolas Duvauchelle) pocket, she unknowingly hires his lover to organize the happiest day of her life. Comical and surrealistic scenes abound in this feature reminiscent of Hollywood’s traditional wedding comedies. Sometimes you just need a classic situational comedy to lift your spirits and make you laugh!
10. The World Is Yours (2018)
A modern day Cinderella. Farès (Karin Leklou) is a small time drug dealer who dreams of escaping his life of crime in Paris, meeting a nice girl, and becoming the official distributor of Mr. Freeze ice pops for North Africa. But before he can live out his dream, he has one last job to do. Isabelle Adjani, Vincent Cassel, François Damiens, and Philippe Katerine also star in this Tarantinoesque comedy directed by Romain Gavras.
Bonus: The Bonfire of Destiny (2019)
The Bazar de la Charité disaster, one of the biggest fires in the 19th century, inspired this series coproduced by Netflix and French television network TF1. We love the atmosphere and costumes of Paris during the Belle Epoque, and that this 10-episode drama is based on a little-known historical event.