German movies on Netflix: 5 gems not to miss

German movies on Netflix: 5 gems not to miss

by Ciara Gillan

Updated February 22, 2023

Some of the best movies have emerged from German cinema and now Netflix allows us, curious spectators, to have them at easy reach. From the early socio-political days of Metropolis and Fritz Lang to the contemporary tales of Werner Herzog and films like Run Lola RunGoodbye Lenin and Downfall, German cinema has never shied away from hard-hitting themes.

Their use of humor, their love of crime and their stylistic storytelling have made German films a fan favorite. And what a fantastic way to improve your German language learning. So what are the best German movies currently available on Netflix?

Here are our top 5 best German movies on Netflix:

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The lives of others

This Oscar-winning film is a must-see. Set in 1984, in Soviet Germany, in East Berlin, this character-filled and complex tale follows the story of Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler, a master of psychological torture and an ardent supporter of the Communist regime. When Gerd is ordered to spy on writer Georg Dreyman and his lover, Gerd finds himself becoming increasingly obsessed with their lives.  

The Live of Others is a fantastic portrait of the intricacies of our life choices, the tenuous lines our morals can take, no matter what side we’re on and how good versus evil is not always black and white.

Watching this film with German subtitles will surely raise your German to the next level. However, due to its complex themes and story, it may be hard to follow at times. This might be better served at a later stage if your German is not yet at the intermediate or advanced stage. 

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Isi & Ossi

This fun German comedy is a little bit of light relief from the normal staple of German films, which can veer towards an obsession with crime. Of course when you’re maestros in creepy crime stories (watch Funny Games), why fix what’s not broken? However, if you’re looking for something that’s silly, can make you laugh and have that warm fuzzy feeling, then Isi & Ossi is for you. 

The story tells the tale of Isi, a young woman from an extremely wealthy family, keen to pursue her culinary ambitions despite the refusal of her parents. When she meets Ossi, our working-class hero with a dream of his own, she hatches a plan to help them both.

German comedies are a great way, of course, to learn smart quips and humorous vocabulary to entertain your friends. 

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Kidnapping Stella 

When duo Vic and Tom randomly kidnap Stella off the street with no witnesses, their carefully hatched plan is put into action. To get her wealthy father to pay her ransom. However, despite believing they have all bases covered and that they are in control, their trust in each other will soon be tested. 

This taut thriller will have you on the edge of your couch as you absorb German phrases, everyday slang and what to say when you’ve been kidnapped!

Watch the trailer here. It’s in German but it’s a great way to practice.

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System crasher

This intense and poignant story will have you laughing and crying at the same speed as a rollercoaster. Director Nora Fingscheidt takes us on an emotional and provocative journey with young girl Benni as she struggles to control her explosive anger issues. When her mother and her care workers fail to understand the source of her anger and how to help her, it’s suggested she spend three weeks in the wild without any of the normal societal distractions.

This award-winning film is both challenging and moving to watch. If you wish to improve your German everyday phrases and vocabulary that’s perfect for you to sink your teeth into. Though maybe keep a box of tissues close to hand.  

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If you’ve just started to learn German and are living in Berlin or curious to visit this hedonistic hotspot, then Victoria is a perfect film to watch. Although predominantly in English, there are parts in German and watching it with German subtitles is a great way to associate words you’ve learned. 

The story itself is a gritty, urban tale of a young Spanish woman, Victoria, who finds herself embroiled in the trials and tribulations of four German men on a night out in Berlin. Intense and pulsating, this film is fast-paced and suspenseful and a perfect way to dip your toe into learning German through films. 

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Sign in to your Netflix, sit back and enjoy these 5 German movies

Naturally, this is far from being an exhaustive list when it comes to the best German movies (and their availability on Netflix). Expand your inventory, add your own favorites and start preparing that popcorn for an evening packed with emotions.

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Ciara Gillan

Ciara Gillan is an Irish writer living in Berlin. An avid storyteller with a Masters in Creative Writing and love for crime fiction podcasts, she currently works as a copywriter for Lingoda. In her spare time, she writes audio fiction scripts, is brushing up on her high school German and is currently learning Spanish. You can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter and on her side hustle website, Reckless Fascination.

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