How Do I Choose the Best Russian Movies?

Tara Barnett
Tara Barnett
There are many excellent Russian horror films.
There are many excellent Russian horror films.

Russian movies are a type of art, and most people agree that choosing the best items of any type of art is largely a matter of opinion. That said, there are many Russian movies that can be considered the best because of technical skill, historical value, or the story being told. One way to choose the best movies of this type is to look at various lists that identify movies certain people like, particularly if you have had success with the opinions of a particular reviewer in the past. Movies that win various awards are also often considered the best Russian movies, which can help narrow down the field. Truly, the best way to choose the best Russian movies is to do research, rent out movies, and develop a personal sense of which movies you like best.

One way to narrow down the best Russian movies is to think about directors and actors you like. There are many famous Russian directors and actors, and the work of these artists tends to be of predictable quality. In many cases, the best artists are the most famous artists, but some independent Russian directors also make movies of artistic merit.

Broad categories of Russian films can also be used to narrow down the best of this genre. For example, Russian animation has a long history and includes many works that stand out even in an international context. A wide variety of animation styles have been used in Russian movies of this type, and many of these films have historical value. Russian animators also often work on films that are not in Russian.

Historical movies often express sentiments of the times in which they were made and can therefore be considered historically valuable even when the cinematography is not stunning. Political films, for example, are often considered particularly interesting examples of Russian cinema. Even movies that do not explicitly expound political values often express the general climate of the country in which they were made.

Many Russian films are examples of great storytelling, but what makes a compelling story is a matter of opinion. For example, there are many excellent Russian romances and horror films. When looking for the best Russian movies that have compelling stories and excellent cinematography, choosing films that have had success in international film festivals can be a good strategy. By looking at films that succeed internationally, you ensure that the movie is compelling on a human level and that the value of the film is not specific to any given culture.

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Discussion Comments


If you speak about russian movies, there are a few that you can't skip: "The cranes are flying;" "Ivan the Terrible" and War and Peace. Those movies are impressive. The last one is really epic, and stages a battle scene like those at that time.


There are not as many Russian movies on DVD as I would like because many of them were never transferred off of film or VHS. They are languishing in a film vault somewhere or worse. If there is not a serious preservation effort launched, some of the finest world cinema ever made could be lost.


It can be difficult to find some of the best examples of Russian cinema in the states but one of the best places to look is your local library. Often libraries have access to and an interest in collecting foreign movies that would be impossible to find in a video rental place or on Netflix. These sorts of operations are already mostly uninterested in foreign cinema and when they do put some on the shelves it is usually Eastern action and horror stuff. The serious sober dramas that the Russians are known for are conspicuously absent.

But libraries often have them and they are free to check out. In this and so many other ways the library is an amazing and under appreciated resource.


My favorite Russian movie of all time is definitely Solaris. Many people have seen the remake which starred George Clooney and came out about 8 years ago. No one seemed to like the remake but I thought it had its merits. Still, it does not hold a candle to the original.

Now, admittedly, the original is a lot longer and slower and more abstract. It is a movie that takes an investment to watch. But there are real rewards for the patient and it is a shining example of all that is good and unique about Russian cinema.

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    • There are many excellent Russian horror films.
      There are many excellent Russian horror films.