Watching movies in German online is an excellent way to gain cultural fluency while honing vocabulary and listening skills.
Here are some of the best German movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime in the US as of December 5, 2022. If you’re not in the US, just click the title to check if it’s available in your country.
If you’re an advanced learner, try using German subtitles if available as studies show it enhances language learning.
To amp up your German learning, try Google Chrome browser’s free Language Reactor (LR) extension. It allows you to add subtitles in two languages, listen to dialogue one line at a time, and change playback speed. There’s also a pop-up dictionary, and LR suggests the most important words for you to learn.
Watch these German-language films while you can, because content disappears as licensing agreements expire.
Also, don’t miss my list of top German TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Best German Movies on Netflix
Netflix streaming lacks many of the best German films, but there are some gems.
1. Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front)
Harrowing 2022 anti-war epic based on the bestselling 1929 novel of the same name.
It tells the gripping story of a young German soldier on the Western Front of World War I. Paul and his comrades experience how the initial euphoria of war turns into desperation and fear as they fight for their lives in the trenches.
This highly critically acclaimed film is Germany’s submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.
2. Kidnapping Stella
This slick German thriller‘s become a global Netflix hit.
Snatched off the street and held for ransom, a bound and gagged woman tries to derail her two masked abductors’ plans.
Remake of the British movie The Disappearance of Alice Creed.
3. Final Account
This fascinating and perturbing documentary interviews the last living generation of German participants in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
The film raises questions about authority, conformity, and national identity, as men and women ranging from former SS members to civilians reckon with their memories and appraisals of their own complicity in Nazi war crimes.
4. Biking Borders – Eine etwas andere Reise (Biking Borders)
Uplifting documentary about best friends Max and Nono, who bike from Berlin to Beijing to raise funds to build a school in Guatemala.
5. Dein Herz tanzt (Into the Beat)
This feel-good dance movie set in Hamburg breathes new life into a familiar plot with a charismatic cast and great choreography.
A teen ballerina discovers hip-hop by chance and faces an impossible choice: Does she follow her family’s legacy or her newfound passion?
6. Was wir wollten (What We Wanted)
This thoughtful relationship drama was Austria’s 2020 Oscar entry.
Alice and Niklas’s biggest wish is to have a child of their own. After several failed in vitro attempts, they go on vacation to Sardinia to clear their minds. There, they meet an Austrian family that seems to have everything they ever wished for. But appearances can be deceiving.
Based on the short story Der Lauf der Dinge by Swiss author Peter Stamm.
7. Systemsprenger (System Crasher)
Engrossing, tragic drama about 9-year-old Benni, who is falling through the cracks of Germany’s child protective services.
Traumatized, violent, and yearning for love, she bonds with a gruff mentor as child-services workers struggle to find her a home.
Filmed in Hamburg, Lüneburger Heide, and Berlin.
8. Und morgen die ganze Welt (And Tomorrow the Entire World)
An anti-fascist law student infiltrates a neo-Nazi group to investigate a planned attack that threatens her friends.
Partly inspired by the biography of director Julia von Heinz, a former antifa activist.
The title of the film comes from the line “Today Germany belongs to us, and tomorrow the whole world” from the NS propaganda song “Es zittern die morschen Knochen” (The Rotten Bones Tremble).
8. Alles ist gut (All is well)
No English subtitles available for YouTube trailer. Watch English-subtitled trailer on Netflix.
East Berlin-born director Eva Trobisch’s debut film is a painful but compassionate portrait of female trauma.
A woman sexually assaulted by a family member of her new boss tries to move on with her life, but it continues to weigh on her body and mind.
Best German Movies on Amazon Prime
If you’re a Prime member, try these German films on Amazon Prime available to stream for free in the US. Not a member yet? Click here to start your free 30-day trial.
1. In den Gängen (In The Aisles)
Affecting and bittersweet glimpse into the shared connections of a motley group of workers at a big box store.
When the reclusive Christian starts working the night shift at a warehouse supermarket, he becomes enamored by his charming but mysterious coworker Marion. But she has secrets of her own, and when Marion suddenly takes sick leave Christian is tempted to fall into habits from his dark past.
2. Aus dem Nichts (In the Fade)
Powerful drama set in Hamburg and Turkey. Golden Globe Winner for best foreign language film.
Katja’s family is killed in a terrorist attack and her life falls apart. When the killers are set free, Katja can do nothing else but seek justice.
3. Gegen die Wand (Head-On)
Available free on Amazon with a free Strand Releasing channel trial.
A strange and touching romance blossoms between two Turkish immigrants in Hamburg who enter a marriage of convenience.
Powerful examination of the search for identity by second-generation Turkish immigrants in Germany by Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin.
4. Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven)
Another tragic and compelling drama by Fatih Akin that follows the complex interconnected stories of six people, four Turks and two Germans.
Historical drama based on Rachel Seiffert’s novel The Dark Room.
In southwest Germany after World War II, five destitute siblings must walk 900 km to their grandmother’s home by the Bay of Husum near Hamburg after their high-level Nazi parents disappear in danger of arrest.
Along the way, they encounter a young Jewish concentration camp survivor who becomes their unofficial guardian.
6. Die Unsichtbaren (The Invisibles)
Moving German docudrama that traces the stories of four Jewish teenagers who survived the Holocaust by going into hiding in Berlin during World War II.
It interweaves personal interviews, dramatic reenactment, archival footage, and narration.
7. Kleine große Stimme (Little Big Voice)
Touching German-Austrian TV drama that follows ten-year-old Benedikt, the mixed-race son of a US soldier during the Allied occupation.
Benedikt lives as an unloved orphan with his grandparents in the Austrian countryside. He dreams of joining the Vienna Boys Choir because they are planning an American tour. Benedikt hopes to find his long-lost father in the US. On his courageous journey, he faces rejection and racism.
8. Schweigeminute (A Minute’s Silence)
No English subtitles available for YouTube trailer
This poignant love story takes place in a Baltic fishing village, where the local high school holds a memorial in honour of Stella Petersen, the school’s young English teacher. For one of her students Stella was, however, more than just a teacher; she was his first love.
From 18-year-old Christian’s point of view we relive a magical summer affair between two young people that ends abruptly and tragically.
An adaptation of the bestselling novel by Siegfried Lenz.
German-Language Movies for Rental on Amazon Prime
These films in German are no longer available to stream free, but are well worth a rental.
1. Lola rennt (Run Lola Run)
Fast-paced, visually striking thriller from 1998. After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.
Charming feel-good story about Valentine, an out-of-work New York actor who moves into a datsche, or summer cottage, inherited from his German grandfather.
His neighbors in the East German garden allotment colony welcome him with open arms, curiosity, and more rules than he could ever remember.
However, not everyone is foreigner-friendly. Which is a problem, since Valentine not only has a refugee hiding in his attic, but also an international group of Couchsurfing guests in his garden.
3. Kästner und der kleine Dienstag (Kästner and Little Tuesday)
Germany, 1931. The children’s story “Emil and the Detectives” is being filmed, which will make its author Erich Kästner world famous. An unusual friendship begins between the childless author and fatherless Hans, the 9-year-old playing the character Little Tuesday.
Their friendship is put to the ultimate test in the Third Reich when Kästner’s books are banned and little Hans becomes a Hitler Youth. Based on a true story.
4. Die göttliche Ordnung (The Divine Order)
This inspiring Swiss comedy-drama tells the story of a young housewife from a quiet village who in 1971 organizes the women of her town for the right to vote.
Filmed in the picturesque eastern Swiss cantons of Appenzell and St. Gallen. In Swiss German with English subtitles.
5. Der Untergang (Downfall)
German-language historical war drama. In 1942, young Traudl Junge lands her dream job: secretary to Adolf Hitler at the peak of his power. Three years later, Hitler’s empire is now his underground bunker.
The real-life Traudl narrates Hitler’s final days as he rages against imagined betrayers and barks orders to phantom armies, while his mistress Eva Braun complains about his emotional distance and other infamous Nazis prepare for the end.
6. Willkommen bei den Hartmanns (Welcome to Germany)
Feel-good German comedy set in Munich. When a wealthy, self-absorbed family takes in a refugee from Nigeria, their insular world is turned upside down.
7. Bis Gleich (Till Then)
Set against the backdrop of a rapidly gentrifying Berlin, this sweet 20-minute short tells the story of Marta and Albert. These two elderly neighbors share an unspoken connection that deepens when they face the inevitable together.
There’s not much spoken dialogue. However, this touching film is worth a watch for its scenes of Berlin and insights into German culture, such as the disappearing custom of elderly Fensterrentner spending their days observing street life from comfortably cushioned windowsills.
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“Tannbach” (“Line of Separation” in English), is a beautifully-acted two-season ARD drama (so far) about the postwar fate of a farming village in Saxony that was literally divided in two by a line dividing the American occupied zone from the Soviet zone. Based on a true story, it portrays the days in April, 1945 when American tanks rolled in from the villagers’ point of view, then follows several plot lines as the Soviet army takes over half of the town and the consequences for the villagers in the years after that. To judge from my late German husband’s early childhood memories of life in a very similar farming village in northern Bavaria (the dialects are similar), it’s extremely realistic–and fascinating. It’s available through an Amazon Prime subscription to MHz choice, which offers many good German and other international foreign-language movies and TV shows at a rock-bottom price. Well worth subscribing to if your thing is foreign films.
Thanks so much for your comment, Dona! Agree that Tannbach is a great series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my list of German TV shows, where I include it and others: https://www.secondhalftravels.com/german-tv-shows-netflix/