Get to know the more worldly classics with the best Criterion Collection global titles.
The Best Criterion Collection global titles bring together some of the most iconic movies from around the world to home video. Many of these movies were
groundbreaking at the time and went on to win awards. Some even shaped pop culture as we know it today and their influence can be seen in many modern titles.
They all come in stunning Blu-Ray, DVD, or 4K formats with many special features to give more insight into their production and provide more value. You don’t just watch a Criterion Collection movie. You also get to find out what happened behind the scenes, listen to commentary from the director, and gain in-depth knowledge of its impact and cultural significance.
One of the best things about the Criterion Collection global titles is that they include classic movies from all genres, like action, horror, and comedy, instead of just prestigious awards winners only. It’s the perfect way to revisit a bygone era of filmmaking and experience genre-defining classics in your own home.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best Criterion Collection global titles to help you decide what to watch on your next movie night.
Who else but Johnny Depp could play the character of Raoul Duke on his hallucinatory journey through the seventies Las Vegas underbelly? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is an adaptation of Hunter S Thompson’s book of the same name and was directed by Terry Gilliam. It was a financial flop on its release because of its meandering plot and bizarre imagery but has gone on to become a cult classic.
It follows Depp’s character and his attorney on a trip to cover a motorcycle race for a magazine. Instead, it turns into a drug-fueled nightmarish journey through sin city, with strange escapades and quirky characters. Depp’s in his element, acting like he’s high on different drugs throughout the movie, and Benicio del Toro nails it as his trusty friend along for the ride.
If you get the Criterion version, there’s audio commentary from the actor and director and some deleted scenes. The special features give viewers a glimpse into the author’s mind with a short documentary called Hunter Goes to Hollywood, and some correspondence from him, read by Johnny Depp.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas takes viewers on a wild ride and features memorable performances from the cast. It’s worth watching, just to see Depp at his most outlandish, but its mature themes and drug content make it for adults only. Many scenes push the boundaries of good taste, and it’s easy to see why these types of movies aren’t made anymore.
The Killer is a Hong Kong action at its best with Jon Woo’s signature over-the-top style. He masterfully constructs stories with serious themes like honor, love, and friendship, then fills them with double-pistol-wielding badasses and kinetic action setpieces.
A hitman, Ah Jong (Chow Yun-Fat) accidentally hurts the eyes of a singer during a shootout and must do one more job to make things right. Things don’t go according to plan, and he must escape from his double-crossing boss and evade the police who are after him. Despite the melodrama, there’s hardcore action, and countless Western movies after it have tried to replicate its style.
Compared to most movies in the Criterion Collection, The Killer has very few extra features. There’s commentary by John Woo and production executive Terence Chang, deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, and optional English subtitles.
This movie is a throwback to a time when action was all about practical effects and improvisation instead of CGI. The gritty violence and trademark slow-mo shots give it an old-school vibe that’s not seen in modern filmmaking. It’s one of the best titles for action fans, but it might be too violent for sensitive or younger viewers.
Diabolique is a 1955 French psychological thriller known for its unexpected twists and shocking ending. It was the tenth highest-grossing film in France that year and also won the Louis Delluc Prize. It’s since gone on to receive numerous remakes and its influence can be seen in many horror classics that followed.
The story follows the wife and mistress of a sadistic headmaster who team up to kill him. They drown him and then dump the body, hoping it will be discovered as an accident. The body disappears, and weird things start happening, prompting a detective to get involved. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game, and it’s hard to tell who’s playing who. It culminates in a shocking finale that takes viewers off guard and makes them reevaluate everything that’s gone on before.
This movie has new digital restoration, and the original theatrical trailer as part of its special features. There’s also scene commentary of certain scenes by Kelley Conway, and a video interview with a novelist called Kim Newman.
Many horror tropes we see today can be traced back to Diabolique, and it was one of the first movies that required repeat viewings to piece together what really happened to make sense of it all. It’s a thriller masterpiece that will keep you guessing until the end and is always entertaining despite its lack of color.
Rushmore was director Wes Anderson’s sophomore effort with a debut performance from Jason Schwartzman alongside comedy legend, Bill Murrey. The movie was a critical hit, winning the 1999 Spirit awards for Best Director and Best Supporting Actor, but didn’t do well commercially. It still established Anderson’s unique visual style and quirky dialogue and is now a cult classic.
The story follows an eccentric disillusioned teen, Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) as he tries to manage his life at a prestigious school. He needs good marks to stay in school but gets sidetracked into falling in love with an older teacher who doesn’t return his affection. Things get even more complicated when his older friend and mentor (Bill Murrey) starts dating the same woman. Like most Anderson films, it addresses the complexity of relationships and all the ups and downs that go with them.
Some extra features included on the disc are the Making of Rushmore documentary, audition footage, and audio commentary from Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, and writer Owen Wilson. Hand-drawn storyboards by Wes Anderson and the original theatrical trailer are also included.
This coming-of-age story is all about life’s difficulties and the challenges of human interaction. Its slow pace and subtle humor differentiate it from most comedies, but it might be a bit too serious for certain audiences.
The Rock is a 1996 action classic starring Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery, and Ed Harris at the top of their game. It’s director Michael Bay’s second movie, and he knocks it out of the park with frantic action setpieces and classic one-liners. The movie never takes itself too seriously, and there's humor sprinkled in without the cringe of his recent attempts.
A rogue general (Ed Harris) steals chemical warheads from a military base and threatens to launch them against San Francisco from Alcatraz Island. It’s up to chemical weapons nerd, Stanley Goodspeed (Nicholas Cage) and ex-Alcatraz inmate (Sean Connery) to, “Re-take an impregnable fortress held by an elite team of U.S. Marines, in possession of eighty-one hostages and fifteen guided rockets loaded with V.X. poison gas” and save the day.
The Criterion edition is packed with features like commentary by the cast and director, storyboards and production drawings, and a new wide-screen version approved by Michael Bay. There’s also an analysis of the special effect in the underwater scene and a video about the dos and don’ts of Hollywood gunplay.
The Rock is the perfect movie for action junkies wanting to switch off their brains and watch gunfights, car chases, and explosions for a couple of hours. It’s loud, bombastic, and possibly the best movie of Bay’s career.
Solaris is a classic Russian film based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Stanisław Lem. It’s often mentioned as one of the greatest science-fiction novels of all time and won the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1972.
The story follows a psychologist, Kris Kelvin as he’s sent to the fictional planet of Solaris to help the crew of an old space station. His father was once stationed there but was recalled after seeing strange visions, and now the rest of the crew are seeing them too. Kelvin finds to find the crew behaving and then starts seeing visions of his dead wife. The movie delves into the human mind and shows how it can create its own reality which is sometimes unreliable.
This Criterion Global title is packed with extra features like nine deleted and alternate scenes and new subtitle translations. There are also video interviews with the actress, Natalya Bondarchuk as well as the cinematographer, art director, and composer. It’s a digitally-restored, high-definition version of the movie, that looks great on modern TVs.
For a sci-fi movie, Solaris is more of a cerebral slow-burner than a special-effects-laden extravaganza. It keeps viewers guessing what’s going on the entire time, but its lack of action might frustrate some.
The 1963 adaptation of William Golding’s survival horror story still holds up as a classic tale of what can go wrong when there’s no law and order. It remains a timeless story because it’s so believable and similar events could play out the same way in real life today.
When a plane carrying British schoolboys is shot down over an island during World War 2, there are no survivors and they must fend for themselves. They elect a chief to lead them and things start off okay with everyone getting along. Tensions soon rise within the group with violent results it becomes a game of hunter and hunted between two rival gangs. By the end, paranoia and fear take control and some of them lose their humanity with unspeakable acts of violence.
The Criterion Global edition is digitally restored with deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes material like screen tests and outtakes. There’s also an interview with the cameraman, a trailer, and English subtitles.
Lord of the Flies resonates with audiences decades after its release because it portrays the chaos that can happen without order and proves that there’s nothing scarier than our own imagination. This tale of ordinary children slowly devolving into madness may be hard to watch, but it's memorable.
Gomorrah (2008) immerses viewers by delving into organized crime in Naples, Italy. It’s based on a non-fiction book of the same name and chronicles the lives of people caught up in a gang war between two crime families.
The movie tells five episodic stories of people who are cogs in a vast criminal network and showcases the dangers they face. Low-level middlemen, innocent teenagers, wannabe gangsters, and a haute couture tailer all get caught up in the brutal underworld and some don’t make it out alive.
Special features on the Blu-Ray disc include an interview with the writer, Roberto Saviano, and video interviews with director Matteo Garrone and actor Toni Servillo. There’s also a documentary about the making of Gomorrah, called Five Stories, and the usual deleted scenes, improved subtitle translation, and theatrical trailer.
Unlike most gangster movies, there’s no glamorization of criminal life and Gomorrah comes across as raw and authentic. The fact that it’s filmed in Italy with an Italian cast elevates its realism above other popular entries in the genre. However, its bleakness and brutality might be too extreme for some viewers.
Director Steve Soderburgh’s classic ensemble piece features some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, like Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, and Catherine Zeta-Jones in an interwoven tale of the drug underworld. It follows different players in the industry as their worlds collide with explosive consequences. Upon release in 2000, it was lauded by critics for its grittiness and went on to win Oscars for Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
There are multiple storylines involving the drug trade and the narrative shifts between the USA and Mexico. Viewers get an inside look at how things work and find that things aren’t as they seem. Throughout the movie, they’re introduced to Mexican cops, DEA agents, hitmen, crooked politicians, and other characters who get forced into extreme circumstances, and how it changes them forever.
The Criterion edition features 25 deleted scenes and additional unused footage. There are also three audio commentaries from the director, writer, and producers. Special features include theatrical trailers and television spots, English subtitles, and digitally-restored video with Dolby 5.1 surround sound.
Traffic is a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, and it’s hard to predict what will happen next with so many twists and turns. All the cast do an excellent job, but Catherine Zeta-Jones stands out as the pregnant wife of a jailed drug lord who’ll do anything to survive. The movie grips you from the start and won’t let go, although the mature content makes it for adults only.
Bong Joon-Ho’s 2017 Okja follows in the footsteps of old classics like Old Yeller and Beethoven by focusing on how close a relationship between a child and an animal can get. This heart-wrenching tale also delves into themes like industrial farming and the lengths corporations will go to to protect their investments and maximize profits. It features Hollywood stars like Jake Gyllenhaal alongside Korean actors like Byun Hee-bong and Ahn Seo-hyun.
The story focuses on child Mija who’s raised an experimental super-pig called Okja that was given to her by a corporation as a test. They develop a strong bond, that's tested to the limit when the corporation comes back ten years later to take it away. Mija must then go on an epic journey to save her beloved pig from the evil corporation and expose their animal cruelty to the world.
Okja comes with numerous special features like interviews with the cast and crew, and an essay by film critic, Karen Han. Other special features include English subtitles, and the teaser, trailer, and web promos.
At a time when most movies are remakes or franchises, it’s refreshing to see an original genre-defying film with so much heart. Joon-Ho is a master of mood and character development and Okja has a unique atmosphere unlike anything else.
Most of us have heard of certain classic movies and are just put off because they’re in black-and-white instead of color. While there’s no doubt about these films' quality and cultural impact, it takes a certain type of viewer to appreciate them.
When buying Global Criterion titles, it's worth taking a look at the still images to get a better understanding of how they look onscreen. If you’re happy with watching older black-and-white movies, fair enough, but if you don’t, it’s best to stick to color for a better viewing experience.
Most foreign films have subtitles that can improve or reduce immersion depending on how you feel. Some viewers prefer watching these movies in their original language with subtitles to appreciate the culture and efforts of the cast and crew.
Other viewers may find subtitles distracting and might not want to spend the entire runtime following the small text at the bottom of the screen. There’s no right or wrong way to watch a movie, and everyone has their preferences.
If you don’t mind subtitles, the entire range will be appealing to you. If you don’t, it’s best to stick to English titles.
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Saeed Wazir is a South Africa-based freelance writer who covers gaming and tech products. After suffering in IT hell for over a decade, he finally got his big break writing warnings for certain “health care products” and never looked back. Nowadays, he gets paid for finding the best products in the world and telling people about them. It’s a decent living, and he gets to work from home. When he’s not writing, he’s either reading whatever book he can find, exploring open-world games, or swimming in the Indian Ocean.
The 10 Best Criterion Collection Global Titles (Updated 2022) – Screen Rant
Get to know the more worldly classics with the best Criterion Collection global titles.