We Europeans love drama. And the French understand it well. Here we have gathered our list of the best French drama movies of the last decades. All the great recent French drama’s since the 1980’s. From great drama’s set in war-time to gripping films that will make you weep. 

Le Scaphandre et le papillon - French Drama

Le scaphandre et le papillon- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

  • Directed by Julian Schnabel.
  • Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner and Marie-Josée Croze.
  • IMDb Rating: 8.1.
  • Duration: 112 Minutes.

A strong French movie about the life of the editor of French Vogue who had a stroke while driving the car with his son. He got completely paralyzed. That is, almost completely. Just his left-eye remained functional. This touching and emotional film is based on the real life story of Jean-Dominique Bauby who in 1995 got a stroke. He used to be a rather famous journalist and author. He was best known for his work with ELLE Magazine. After 4 Oscar nominations this by an American directed movie is one of the best French movies of the last decades. It really is a Drama film with a big D though, so if you are in the mood for something light and entertaining, have a look in our other lists.


One of the most talked about animated films from the last years. It received a lot of media attention when it came out in 2007. It is based on an autobiographical graphical novel. It is very innovating in it’s kind, by putting old black and white films into an animation. This results in a very strong atmosphere with a very mature feel to it. There story itself is a coming-of-age story of a young Iranian woman at the time of the Iranian revolution.

Au revoir les enfants (1987)

  • Directed by Louis Malle
  • Cast: Raphael Fejtö, Gaspard Manesse and Francine Racette
  • IMDb Rating: 8.1.
  • War
  • Duration: 104 Minutes

The legendary French director Louis Malle has with Au revoir les Enfants truly created a Masterpiece. It takes place during the Second World War on a French boardingschool runs by priests. Upper-Class student Julien is the best pupil of his class, and when a new boy arrives at the school they do not get on well at first. When time progresses they grow more intimate and share a great secret that strengthens their bond. It is a secret that the German Occupyer must not find out. The film is nominated for 2 Oscars and has won a great amount of prizes, amongst which the BAFTA Award for best directing.


Trois couleurs: Rouge – Three Colors Red (1994)

‘Three Colors Red is europeanmovies.org #4 on our best French movies list’.

  • Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
  • Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Irène Jacob and Frédérique Feder
  • IMDb Rating: 8.1
  • Romance / Mystery
  • Duration: 99 Minutes.

This is the third film that is part of the famous Trois Couleurs trilogy of Krzysztof Kieslowski. This trilogy consists of three parts: Bleu, Rouge and Blanc. Representing the colors of the French Flag of course. Each part is based on one of the great ideals of the French Revolution. Respectively, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Trois couleurs – Rouge tells the story of a young French model that finds out that her neighbor, a retired judge, spies op people walking on the street. Despite this, she gets to know him better and builds up a friendship with him. This particular movie focuses on the human relationships in Geneve, and revolves around the concept of Fraternity. Trois couleuers: Rouge has been nominated for 3 Oscars. The other two parts have also done very well.


Jean de Florette (1986)

  • Directed by Claude Berri
  • Cast: Gérard Depardieu, Yves Montand and Daniel Auteuil
  • IMDb Rating: 8.1
  • Duration: 120 Minutes.

Gerard Depardieu in Jean de Florette

The oldest French films of our best French movies of the last decades list. Older, but certainly not less relevant. It is about two men. A rich corrupt land-owner and his evil nephew. Together they block the water supply of a small French country village, so that owner is forced to sell them the property. Jean de Florette is a very powerful film about the concept of greed and what it can do to people. There has also been made a sequel. Jean Florette was nominted for a Golden Globe.

Three colors Blue – Trois couleurs: Bleu (1993)

  • Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
  • Cast: Juliette Binoche, Zbigniew Zamachowski en Julie Delpy
  • IMDb Rating:7.9.
  • Romance / Mystery.
  • Duration: 98 minutes.

Another film of the trilogy of Kieslowsky. This time with the great Juliette Binoche. It is the first films out of the series and portrays the freedom ideal of the French revolution. Its about the wife of a composer. She loses both husband and child, and has to find a way to cope with this terrible loss. The experts say that this film gives a very good depiction of the French Society in that period of time. With 3 Golden Globe nominations this film started the legendary trilogy. It is in our opinion one of the best French movies of the last 20 years.

Check out new Drama’s from France like Rust & Bone (below) or the new film with Audrey Tautou in our upcoming French movies.