The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
Bright colors, a dream world, trippy music, a cornocopia of talented actors and an unforgettable young actress: this film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet is one of the most successful French movies ever. Carried along by the music of Yann Tiersen, the film tells the life of Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou), a naive young Parisian with her head in the clouds who decides to change the lives of the people she meets. Mathieu Kassovitz, Jamel Debbouze, Yolande Moreau and Isabelle Nanty form a gallery of truculent portraits around her: they all give form to an ideal version of bohemian Montmartre, the Parisian neighbohood in which the film is set. It's truly magic.
La Môme (Olivier Dahan, 2007)
To think of Paris is to think of Edith Piaf, one of the most famous French singers in history! Nicknamed la môme (the sparrow), Piaf was captured by Marion Cotillard in this film by Olivier Dahan, released in 2007. The songbird's childhood in the poor districts of Paris (Montmartre, again!), her love story with the boxer Marcel Cerdan, her performance at the Olympia, her successes as well as her failures are tenderly (and accurately) portrayed in in this movie. Marion Cotillard is more than amazing in the film, and earned the Oscar for the Best Actress for the part.
Paris (Cédric Klapisch, 2008)
This duo has graced French cinema in recent years: director Cédric Klapisch and actor Romain Duris have made seven films together. In Paris, Romain Duris plays Pierre, a Lido dancer who learns that he has a serious heart illness. His days are numbered. His sister (Juliette Binoche) supports him as she can, even moving in with him. Pierre begins to observe his neighbors to kill time, getting to know the many anonymous Parisians surrounding him and representing, like the pieces of a big puzzle, a cosmopolitan, crazy Paris, in which love is the beginning and end of everything. Fabrice Luchini, Albert Dupontel, François Cluzet, Karin Viard, Gilles Lellouche and Mélanie Laurent form this Parisian portrait gallery. Many characters, but only one star: Paris itself.