There was a time when the selection of Brazilian films to watch on Netflix (outside Brazil) was very very small. Today it’s a different story – Netflix has added a lot more Brazilian titles to its library.
I’ve compiled 30 Brazilian films to watch on Netflix (UK) with a synopsis and a trailer. Although all of these films have English subtitles on Netflix, for some of them I couldn’t find subtitled trailers on YouTube, so I had to add the original trailer (good listening practice!).
So here’s my list:
1. The Way He Looks (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho – literally, “Today I Want to Go Back Alone”)
A new classmate transforms the daily life of a blind teenager who longs for independence and disrupts his relationship with his best friend. One of the sweetest Brazilian films to watch on Netflix.
2. Confessions of a Brazilian Call Girl (Bruna Surfistinha – literally, “Bruna Little Surfer Girl”)
A young woman abandons her adopted family to become a high-priced prostitute in São Paulo, and documents her new life on a popular blog.
3. Chatô – The King of Brazil (Chatô: O Rei do Brasil)
The romanticized life of media mogul Assis Chateubriand depicts him as the star of a televised trial, where his passions and achievements are judged.
The final holdout in her historic beachside building in Brazil, a retired music critic refuses to sell her apartment to developers bent on demolition. Aquarius is more of a character study, and it can be a bit slow. But the excellent performance by Sonia Braga more than makes up for the film’s shortcomings.
5. Nise: The Heart of Madness (Nise: O Coração da Loucura)
In this drama based on a true story, a psychiatrist rejects electroshock therapy to treat schizophrenia and encourages her patients to create art. I haven’t seen this yet, but it’s high on my list. Gloria Pires is one of my favourite actresses and the films have won several awards. One of the best Brazilian films to watch on Netflix right now.
6. Buddies (Colegas)
Three young people with Down syndrome decide to run away in search of three simple wishes: Stalone wants to see the sea, Aninha looks for a husband and Marcio needs to fly.
In 1973, Joãozinho Trinta becomes Carnival director for Rio’s Salgueiro Samba School and introduces Brazil to his outlandish, trailblazing style.
In this look at society’s worship of celebrity, a con man uses scores of aliases to climb the heights of the social register before being locked up. This film stars Wagner Moura (who played Pablo Escobar in Narcos).
9. Basic Sanitation – the Movie (Saneamento Básico – o Filme)
When they discover their town lacks funding for a sewage system, Brazilian villagers decide to make a short sci-fi monster movie about the problem. With Wagner Moura (again!) and the excellent Fernanda Torres.
The first Brazilian documentary on Netflix gives us an insight into the life and career of Laerte, one of the most promising cartoonists in Brazil.
11. The Man from the Future
Accidentally inventing a time machine, Zero returns to college to avoid losing his dream girl. But how many times will he have to change the past? Guess who the main actor in this film is!? That’s right! Wagner Moura!
12. Ó Pai, Ó – Look at This
In Salvador’s historic centre, a diverse group of tenement residents use their creativity, passion and wits to make the carnival a celebration for all. Yes, yes. Wagner Moura is in this one as well…
13. Father’s Chair (A Busca – literally, “The Search”)
In the wild Brazilian countryside, a father searches for his missing son and, along the way, finds himself. The father is played by… yep, Wagner Moura!
14. Illegal (Ilegal, A Vida Nao Espera – literally, “Illegal, Life Doesn’t Wait”)
Documentary. Her daughter afflicted by a rare type of epilepsy, Katiele tries desperately to obtain the only thing that can relieve it: a substance derived from marijuana.
15. City of God (Cidade de Deus)
Growing up in a Rio de Janeiro slum, Rocket is able to avoid being drawn into a life of drugs and crime by having a passion for photography. Amongst all the Brazilian films to watch on Netflix, this one is a must – a modern classic not to be missed.
16. City of God: 10 Years Later (Cidade de Deus: 10 Anos Depois)
A decade after the seminal Brazilian film “City of God”, this documentary reunites some of the cast and crew to find out what paths their lives took.
17. O Último Cine Drive-in
Upon returning home for the sake of his ill mother, a man reconnects with his estranged father, who still runs a drive-in on the brink of demolition.
18. Love.com (Amor.com)
When a fashion blogger falls for a video game vlogger, their romance goes viral. But separating their virtual life from reality gets complicated.
19. Couples Counseling (O Amor no Divã – literally “Love on the couch”)
A seasoned couples therapist comes to realize she might need help with her own marriage after meeting a new pair of young clients.
20. Bald Mountain (Serra Pelada)
Best friends Juliano and Joaquim head for Serra Pelada with dreams of riches during the Brazilian Gold Rush in 1980, but greed scuttles their plans. Wagner Moura is in this one too!
21. Operações Especiais
In a crime-plagued area of Rio de Janeiro, a team of honest cops, including a determined rookie, fights corruption and mistrust on all sides.
22. Happily Married (Bem Casados)
A wedding videographer loses focus when he meets a free-spirited woman who plans to break up the bride and groom at his next paying gig.
23. Stronger than the World (Mais Forte que o Mundo)
A tough upbringing, natural-born fighter Jose Aldo confronts his personal demons in his quest to become an MMA Champion in this sports biopic.
During Carnival, two teens from different classes meet years after being kept apart. Bad decisions lead the boy to hide with the girl inside a float.
25. Another Forever
Overtaken by the death of her beloved, a grieving woman decides to take a spontaneous trip to visit her friend and get her life back on track.
26. The Killer
In lawless badlands, reclusive Cabeleira sets out to discover the fate of his gunman father and grows to be a feared assassin himself.
27. Back and Forth (Entre Indas e Vindas)
When their car breaks down en route to Sao Paulo, a father and son accept a ride from four beautiful telemarketers who are headed there on holiday.
28. Jules and Dolores (O Roubo da Taça, literally “The Theft of the Cup)
In 1983, the World Cup trophy was stolen from the Brazilian Football Association’s headquarters. This is the strange story behind that event.
29. Era El Cielo (O Silêncio do Céu)
After being raped in her home, a married woman chooses not to tell her husband, unaware that he has his own troubled secret and a plan for revenge. I’m not sure why this film is listed with a Spanish title, instead of the English The Silence of the Sky…
Ok, so not a film as such, but an 8-part series. In a grimy near-future, 20-year-olds stream to a sleek testing facility to compete for a spot in an idyllic land known as the Offshore. Despite the low-budget feel to it, 3% is a very gripping sci-fi series – I binge-watched it in a weekend. Series two is already available.
Check out my other post 10 Brazilian films to practice your Portuguese.
If you want to find out more about the history of Brazilian cinema, this is a very good BBC article by Christian Blauvelt: Brazil: Cinema’s Most Radical Battleground.
What’s your favourite Brazilian film of all time? The films above are available on Netflix UK (at the time this article was written). Are there any good Brazilian films to watch on Netflix in your own country (if not the UK), that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below.