Watching some of the best German movies is a great way to educate yourself and learn the German language or simply to enjoy some entertainment. These films will thrill you, make you laugh, make you cry, and leave you wanting more. Some are light and some are more serious. And with today’s easy access to streaming services, you can watch German movies on Netflix from your sofa with your partner or from bed in your pajamas with your dog. I have pulled together 25 of the best German movies on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video that you can watch right now. So what are you waiting for? Start the popcorn and clear your schedule. And don’t forget this is educational. Mostly!
If you’re looking to get a taste of the Bavarian countryside or Munich, I’ve also put together a list of 13 Great Movies Filmed in Munich & Bavaria and one of 16 TV Shows Set in Munich & Bavaria. And after you’ve watched all of these German movies on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, check out my list of the best German television shows you can stream online!
Updated August 17, 2021, to add new films and remove those that are no longer available for streaming.
In the Fade
Diane Kruger stars in Fatih Akin‘s 2017 film In the Fade (Aus dem Nichts). Kruger portrays Katja, in the film, a woman whose husband has just been released from prison for a drug-dealing charge. But during his time in prison, he has turned his life around. Then suddenly, Katja’s husband and their 6-year old son are killed by a bomb planted by Neo-Nazis. With her life in pieces, Katja decides to search for answers. And she seeks revenge.
Director Akin is one of the country’s top filmmakers and has been making some of the best German movies in recent years.
Watch In the Fade on Amazon.
In Hannes Stöhr’s 2008 film Berlin Calling, techno DJ Ickarus is living the high life. He’s touring the world with his music and having the time of his life. Or, maybe, he is having a bit too much fun. After partying a bit too hard he ends up in a drug-induced psychosis. Martin, his given name, is checked into a psychiatric hospital. Everything he’s worked for is on the verge of collapsing. But Martin finds inspiration in his challenging situation.
Berlin Calling is a cult classic starring real-life DJ Paul Kalkbrenner as Ickarus and actress Corinna Harfouch as the head doctor at the hospital.
Watch Berlin Calling on Netflix.
Young Karl Marx
Actor August Diehl portrays the famous German philosopher and economist Karl Marx in this 2017 film aptly named Young Karl Marx. Diehl’s Marx is a young man in his mid-20s. The film lets viewers learn about Marx’s early life, what helped form his character, and his beliefs. In particular, Marx befriends Friedrich Engels and the pair decide to empower the poor working class. The film was released in conjunction with the 200th birthday of Marx.
Actors Moritz Bleibtreu and Lucas Gregorowicz reunite as Kai and Stefan in the 2017 German comedy Lommbock. The film is the sequel to the pair’s Lammbock. (Unfortunately, you cannot find both German movies on Netflix.) In the original 2001 film, the pair are using a pizza delivery service as a front for their marijuana operation. A German Cheech and Chong, if you will. Now, years later the duo meets up and but things are different than they once were. Stefan’s a lawyer and Kai is still at home. Kai tries to enlist Stefan to help with some trouble his stepson has gotten into with drug dealers.
Watch Lommbock on Netflix.
While many of the movies on this list are a few years old, here is one of the newest German movies on Netflix. Set for release on April 17, 2020, Rising High (or Betonrausch in German) is directed and written by Cüneyt Kaya. The film stars David Kross, Frederick Lau, and Janina Uhse. The dramatic film tells the story of two real estate agents, Viktor Stein (Kross) and Gerry Falkland (Lau), and banker Nicole (Uhse). They find a large amount of success very quickly. However, their success is not earned but a fraudulent scheme. As with all things that go up, they must come down, especially when motivations are driven by greed and lust for power.
Watch Rising High on Netflix.
Days to Come
August Diehl and Daniel Brühl team up with Johanna Wokalek and Bernadette Heerwagen for Days to Come. The film from director Lars Kraume is set in the then-near future (2012 to 2020) and depicts a dystopian world that is rather unstable. (Doesn’t sound so far-fetched, now does it?) The limited number of oil fields is causing international panic and a power struggle. The story follows three siblings that are unlucky in love. But what’s more, they are also unknowingly helping with an underground organization associated with the oil fields.
Isi & Ossi
In the romantic comedy made-for-Netflix German movie from 2000, Isi & Ossi, Isi is the daughter of a billionaire but she dreams of a career in the culinary industry. But his parents are not exactly happy with the idea. So Isi comes up with a plan. She convinces Ossi, a young man struggling to pay his bills as a boxer, to pretend to be in a romantic relationship with her. Both agree with the plan for self-serving reasons. At least in the beginning.
Watch Isi & Ossi on Netflix.
Longtime German director Volker Schlöndorff takes on World War II in the film The Ninth Day. Set in 1942, a Catholic priest from Luxembourg is imprisoned in the Dachau Concentration Camp. One day he is unexpectedly released from the absolute horrors of the camp for nine days. But things become complicated for the priest when the Gestapo gives him an ultimatum: convince the bishop to cooperate with the Nazis, or else!
Jürgen Vogel portrays Erik, a man who seemingly has a pretty good life, in 2014’s Stereo. But when a stranger named Henry (portrayed by Moritz Bleibtreu) shows up, things change. And not necessarily for the better. Erik doesn’t seem to care for Henry. All of a sudden, his previously peaceful life is now in shambles. When push comes to shove, Erik is forced to ask Henry for his help. But Erik isn’t sure he can trust him.
Watch Stereo on Netflix.
Legend of Rita
Loosely based on real-life events of the far-left West German terrorist group the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the group’s individual members, The Legend of Rita is from legendary German director Volker Schlöndorff and shot in a 1970s style.
The film puts the focus on the collaborations and the collusions between East Germany’s Stasi secret police and the RAF. The title character of Rita is an RAF member who escapes to East Germany with the Stasi’s help. But starting a new life is a heavy burden. She constantly fears being found out. It’s a problem that German reunification makes more complicated for Rita.
3 Türken & ein Baby
3 Türken & ein Baby is a modern Turkish-German film comedy take on the classic Three Men and a Baby. In this new version, three grown brothers are still living together but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they find it easy. Each brother has his own dreams and goals, however, they are all tied to the family’s failing bridal shop. The three get a real shake-up when they take in the baby of one brother’s ex-girlfriend.
The film stars Kida Khodr Ramadan and German rapper Eko fresh along with Kostja Ullmann as the brothers.
The 2016 French-German film Frantz is inspired by the 1932 film Broken Lullaby. In this modern take on the story, Paula Beer portrays Anna, a young German woman whose fiance has been killed in World War I. But Anna’s feelings are complex. While she mourns at the grave of her fiance, she encounters an unknown Frenchman who is also paying his respects. The man is a French soldier dealing with his own complex feelings of remorse. The film is in black and white, a technique that really adds to the character of the story.
Watch Frantz on Amazon Prime Video.
We Are Young. We Are Strong.
We Are Young. We Are Strong. revisits a series of xenophobic riots that occurred in August 1992 in the eastern German city of Rostock. “The Night of the Fire” saw a crowd of thousands celebrating a mob as they set fire to a residential building housing, among others, more than a hundred Vietnamese individuals.
The black and white film follows three different perspectives of the event. Jonas Nay portrays Stefan, a young man who gets caught up with his friends in the adrenalin of the riots. Stefan’s father is a local politician with big ambitions. But his son isn’t making his job any easier. Trang Le Hong is Lien, a Vietnamese woman living in Germany who is made to feel unwelcome.
Director Christian Petzold brings Anna Segher’s 1944 novel Transit to the big screen in his 2018 adaptation of the same name. The film sees a German political refugee named Georg escaping to occupied Paris. There he attempts to deliver a letter to a well-known writer but finds he has committed suicide. He collects the author’s belongings, including a letter offering him safety in Mexico. But in order to use the letter, Georg has to impersonate the writer and needs the help of the writer’s estranged wife.
Based on Todd Strasser’s novel of the same name, The Wave tells the story of a history class in Germany. The teacher, Rainer Wenger, wants to show his students how quickly and easily humankind can be manipulated. He conducts a social experiment through a series of incremental changes. The students have to address him formally. Then they are paired up. Before long, the students are wearing uniforms and using a special greeting. (Starting to sound familiar?) But the experiment quickly gets out of hand.
Watch The Wave on Anazon.
A Coffee in Berlin
A Coffee in Berlin (or Oh Boy, as it’s sometimes known) is Jan-Ole Gerster‘s directorial debut. (Impressively, the movie is also the filmmaker’s thesis project for the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin.)
The black and white film from 2012 stars Tom Schilling as Niko, a young man who is feeling his life is a bit directionless. He drops out of college, his relationship with his girlfriend ends, his father cuts him off financially, and his psychiatrist takes away his driver’s license. Not much is going right for him. So Niko finds himself on the streets of Berlin. He wanders the city and tries to make sense of his life.
Welcome to Germany
Known as Willkommen bei den Hartmanns in Germany, the 2016 film is Welcome to Germany in the English-speaking world. In the film, a rich Munich family offers to take in a refugee from Nigeria. The family patriarch is skeptical at first but he eventually relents. However, no good deed goes unpunished. The family and Diallo, the refugee, have to deal with racism, paranoia, and other complications.
Suspense runs high in 2017’s Spiderwebhouse. In the film, a 12-year old boy named Jonas has to step up and take on responsibility. Jonas needs to care for his younger siblings when their mother disappears, seemingly abandoning them. But with the children home alone, they become fearful. Their house feels less like a home and more like a haunted building. Slowly, the children find themselves slipping away.
Veteran filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta transports viewers of her 2003 film to 1943 Germany for the Rosenstrasse protest. The protest, which took part in the early part of 1943 was the only mass public protest by Germans against Nazi Germany’s deportation of Jews. The protest was started by the non-Jewish wives and family members of Jewish men that were targeted.
In the film, the children of a Jewish woman discover their mother’s past experiences during the war. And those experiences are more traumatic and serious than her daughter Hannah ever realized.
Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen stars with Jessica Schwarz in the science fiction thriller The Door (Die Tür) from 2009. Mikkelsen plays David, a famous artist, who has been cheating on his wife, Maja (Schwarz), with a musician. Unexpectedly, as David is with his mistress, his daughter with Maja, is found dead.
The death of their daughter changes David and he begins to lose control of his life. But when a door appears that leads to the past, everything is not quite what it seems.
A Minute’s Silence
In the German made-for-TV movie A Minute’s Silence (or Schweigeminute), a moment of silence is observed in honor of the memory of a young woman who taught English in the Baltic fishing village in northern Germany. But for some, Stella was more than just an English teacher. The film recounts the summer love affair between Stella and Christian, one of her 18-year old students.
Jonas Nay portrays Christian and Julia Koschitz is Stella in this film from 2016.
Director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s critically acclaimed 2004 film Der Untergang depicts the final days of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in 2004’s Der Untergang. Hitler, portrayed by Bruno Ganz, is surrounded by some of his ministers and military leadership but he seems unwilling to accept the inevitable and lashes out at his advisors.
Watch Der Untergang on Amazon.
Das Boot, the 1981 film version of Lothar-Günther Buchheim’s 1973 novel of the same name, transports the audience to World War II. The story follows a German submarine, or U-Boot, as they patrol during the Battle of the Atlantic.
Within the tight confines of the submarine, there is nowhere to go and tensions run high. And that is before you even consider that the crew of the submarine are in the middle of a war. The film keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with thrilling action.
Jürgen Prochnow portrays the captain of the U-boat, an experienced sailor who does not always agree with the way the war is being run. Musician-slash-actor Herbert Grönemeyer stars as a war correspondent who is embedded with the crew and unprepared for what he is about to experience.
Watch Das Boot on Amazon.
Louis van Beethoven
Tobias Moretti stars as the famous musical prodigy in the 2020 film Louis van Beethoven. But, as you may have noticed from the title, this film puts a bit of a twist on history. The made-for-television film follows his life from childhood to adulthood, documenting his successes as well as his struggles.
Adidas vs. Puma: The Brother’s Feud
In 1919, a pair of German brothers started a company manufacturing shoes. The company, Geda, flourished. Jesse Owens even wore their shoes when he won a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
But thirty years later, the brothers had a falling. It split not only the family but also the company. From that disagreement, each brother founded his own competing company. Adidas and Puma became serious rivals. The 2016 film Adidas vs. Puma: The Brother’s Feud explores that split.
Watch Adidas vs. Puma on Amazon.
Tips for Language-Learners Streaming German Movies on Netflix, Hulu, & More
- From a language learning point of view, you will (obviously) want the films to be in German. Whether or not you need subtitles depends on your language skills. Many streaming services may hardcode the subtitles, meaning you can’t turn them on and off. Some services will allow you to enable/disable subtitles. Sometimes this can be on a film-by-film basis.
- It’s a safe bet that all of these streaming services will offer subtitles in the local language if the film isn’t dubbed. One exception to this is that many of the German movies on Netflix, especially newer ones, will offer subtitles in German. For language learning, this is always preferable to subtitles in your native tongue.
- Don’t have a subscription to a streaming service to watch these German movies on Netflix, Hulu, or another service? Some films are available, for a fee, on other platforms.
- Don’t limit yourself to this list. There are many more German movies on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Sometimes they are easy to find. Sometimes you have to dig a bit. Netflix’s German movies are categorized as such. Hulu doesn’t advertise as clearly if a movie is international or in a foreign language.
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