100 Favorite Brazilian Films & Docs

by richardandeol | created - 04 Feb 2013 | updated - 3 months ago | Public
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1. Central Station (1998)

R | 110 min | Drama

80 Metascore

An emotive journey of a former school teacher, who writes letters for illiterate people, and a young boy, whose mother has just died, as they search for the father he never knew.

Director: Walter Salles | Stars: Fernanda Montenegro, Vinícius de Oliveira, Marília Pêra, Soia Lira

Votes: 34,244 | Gross: $5.60M

2. The Given Word (1962)

98 min | Drama

A simple yet devout Christian makes a vow to Saint Barbara after she saves his donkey, but everyone he meets seems determined to misunderstand his intentions. Will he be able to keep his promise in the end?

Director: Anselmo Duarte | Stars: Leonardo Villar, Glória Menezes, Dionísio Azevedo, Geraldo Del Rey

Votes: 2,496

3. City of God (2002)

R | 130 min | Crime, Drama

79 Metascore

In the slums of Rio, two kids' paths diverge as one struggles to become a photographer and the other a kingpin.

Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund | Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Matheus Nachtergaele, Phellipe Haagensen

Votes: 672,122 | Gross: $7.56M

4. The Red Light Bandit (1968)

92 min | Crime, Thriller

The story of a famous Brazilian criminal, called The Red Light Bandit because he always used a red flashlight to break in the houses during the night. Working alone, he also used to rape his female victims.

Director: Rogério Sganzerla | Stars: Helena Ignez, Paulo Villaça, Pagano Sobrinho, Luiz Linhares

Votes: 1,084

5. Aquarius (I) (2016)

Not Rated | 146 min | Drama

88 Metascore

Clara, a 65 year old widow and retired music critic, was born into a wealthy and traditional family in Recife, Brazil. She is the last resident of the Aquarius, an original two-storey ... See full summary »

Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho | Stars: Sônia Braga, Maeve Jinkings, Irandhir Santos, Humberto Carrão

Votes: 16,742 | Gross: $0.29M

6. Dzi Croquettes (2009)

110 min | Documentary, Biography, Drama

65 Metascore

A Brazilian Theater group that through talent, irony and humor confronted the Brazilian violent dictatorship in the 1970's revolutionizing the gay movement worldwide and changing theater and dance language to an entire generation.

Directors: Raphael Alvarez, Tatiana Issa | Stars: Josephine Baker, Ciro Barcelos, Norma Bengell, Maria Zilda Bethlem

Votes: 319

7. The Day That Lasted 21 Years (2012)

77 min | Documentary, History, Thriller

Provides evidence of manipulation and investment funding from the U.S. government to carry out the Brazilian military coup that occurred in 1964.

Director: Camilo Tavares | Stars: Auro de Moura Andrade, Robert Bentley, Júlio de Sá Bierrenbach, Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco

Votes: 365

8. The Edge of Democracy (2019)

TV-14 | 121 min | Documentary, History

81 Metascore

Political documentary and personal memoir collide in this exploration into the complex truth behind the unraveling of two Brazilian presidencies.

Director: Petra Costa | Stars: Dilma Rousseff, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Marisa Letícia Lula da Silva, Sergio Moro

Votes: 11,659

9. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010)

Not Rated | 115 min | Action, Crime, Drama

71 Metascore

After a prison riot, former-Captain Nascimento, now a high ranking security officer in Rio de Janeiro, is swept into a bloody political dispute that involves government officials and paramilitary groups.

Director: José Padilha | Stars: Wagner Moura, Irandhir Santos, André Ramiro, Milhem Cortaz

Votes: 76,940 | Gross: $0.10M

10. Elite Squad (2007)

R | 115 min | Action, Crime, Drama

33 Metascore

In 1997 Rio de Janeiro, Captain Nascimento has to find a substitute for his position while trying to take down drug dealers and criminals before the Pope visits.

Director: José Padilha | Stars: Wagner Moura, André Ramiro, Caio Junqueira, Milhem Cortaz

Votes: 94,839 | Gross: $0.01M

11. They Don't Wear Black Tie (1981)

120 min | Drama

Union leader's son doesn't want to engage in a strike, because his wife is pregnant, thus disregarding his father's tradition of political activism.

Director: Leon Hirszman | Stars: Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, Fernanda Montenegro, Carlos Alberto Riccelli, Bete Mendes

Votes: 1,010

12. Bus 174 (2002)

R | 122 min | Documentary, Crime

83 Metascore

On June 12, 2000, a young man with a gun took the passengers aboard Bus 174 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hostage. This documentary examines the event itself, the resulting media frenzy, the police response, and the perpetrator's background.

Directors: José Padilha, Felipe Lacerda | Stars: Sandro do Nascimento, Rodrigo Pimentel, Luiz Eduardo Soares, Anonymous

Votes: 7,671 | Gross: $0.22M

13. Pixote (1981)

R | 128 min | Crime, Drama

The life of a boy in the streets of Sao Paulo, involved with crimes, prostitution and drugs.

Director: Hector Babenco | Stars: Fernando Ramos da Silva, Jorge Julião, Gilberto Moura, Edilson Lino

Votes: 6,240

14. Hour of the Star (1985)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama

Macabea has just moved to the big city after her aunt, who raised her, died. She gets a job as a typist and moves into a boarding house with three other women. In her spare time she listens... See full summary »

Director: Suzana Amaral | Stars: Marcelia Cartaxo, José Dumont, Tamara Taxman, Fernanda Montenegro

Votes: 951

15. Mango Yellow (2002)

TV-MA | 103 min | Drama

40 Metascore

Short stories revolving around a bar and a hotel in Recife, unveil a mosaic of exotic characters living in the Brazilian underground: a butcher married with an evangelical woman, a ... See full summary »

Director: Cláudio Assis | Stars: Matheus Nachtergaele, Jonas Bloch, Leona Cavalli, Dira Paes

Votes: 1,872

16. Ó Pai, Ó: Look at This (2007)

96 min | Comedy, Musical

During the Carnival in the historical site of Pelourinho (Salvador, Bahia, Brazil), we follow the lives of the tenants of a falling-to-pieces tenement house who try to get by using creativity, irony, humor and music.

Director: Monique Gardenberg | Stars: Lázaro Ramos, Dira Paes, Wagner Moura, Stênio Garcia

Votes: 1,484

17. Playing (2007)

100 min | Documentary, Drama

Following a newspaper ad, ordinary women tell part of their life stories to director Eduardo Coutinho, which are then re-enacted by actresses, blurring the barriers between truth, fiction and interpretation.

Director: Eduardo Coutinho | Stars: Marília Pêra, Andrea Beltrão, Fernanda Torres, Aleta Gomes Vieira

Votes: 937

18. Simonal: Ninguém Sabe o Duro que Dei (2009)

98 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

A documentary about the life, the controversial career, and the decline of one of the greatest brazilian singers and showmen, Wilson Simonal.

Directors: Micael Langer, Calvito Leal, Cláudio Manoel | Stars: Ricardo Cravo Albin, Chico Anysio, Boninho, Sérgio Cabral

Votes: 297

19. Nós Que Aqui Estamos por Vós Esperamos (1999)

73 min | Documentary

A fascinating and poetical collage of countless images from the 20th century with the purpose of revealing matters of life and death during the era and its many social, cultural and ... See full summary »

Director: Marcelo Masagão

Votes: 656

20. Bald Mountain (2013)

120 min | Drama, Western

A journey to the biggest open mining of the contemporary age. It's 1978 and friends Juliano and Joaquim leave Rio de Janeiro in search of their dream of striking it rich. Like thousands of ... See full summary »

Director: Heitor Dhalia | Stars: Wagner Moura, Matheus Nachtergaele, Silvero Pereira, Laura Neiva

Votes: 1,384

21. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

R | 126 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

75 Metascore

The dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in his youth that showed him his life's calling.

Director: Walter Salles | Stars: Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mía Maestro, Mercedes Morán

Votes: 93,786 | Gross: $16.76M

22. Edifício Master (2002)

110 min | Documentary

The daily lives and routine of 37 families living in a huge 12-story building in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro: their drama, aspirations, intimate revelations, loneliness, dreams...

Director: Eduardo Coutinho | Star: Fernando José

Votes: 1,127

23. Bacurau (2019)

131 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

82 Metascore

After the death of her grandmother, Teresa comes home to her matriarchal village in a near-future Brazil to find a succession of sinister events that mobilizes all of its residents.

Directors: Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho | Stars: Bárbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira, Thardelly Lima

Votes: 10,849

24. Lisbela and the Prisoner (2003)

106 min | Comedy, Romance

Lisbela is a young woman who loves going to the movies. Leléu is a con man, going from town to town selling all sort of things and performing as master of ceremonies for some cheesy numbers... See full summary »

Director: Guel Arraes | Stars: André Mattos, Aramis Trindade, Bruno Garcia, Carlos Casagrande

Votes: 5,296

25. Perfume de Gardênia (1992)

118 min | Drama

Driver who was left by his wife, who wanted to try a career in the movies, has to deal with their son's revolt when the latter finds his mother, whom he thought dead, singing in a nightclub.

Director: Guilherme de Almeida Prado | Stars: Christiane Torloni, José Mayer, Walter Quiroz, Claudio Marzo

Votes: 131

26. The Golden Mouth (1963)

103 min | Drama

When powerful outlaw "Boca de Ouro" dies, a reporter interviews his former lover Guigui, to try to outline his personality. But the woman offers him three different versions of the facts, ... See full summary »

Director: Nelson Pereira dos Santos | Stars: Jece Valadão, Odete Lara, Daniel Filho, Maria Lúcia Monteiro

Votes: 163

27. Black Orpheus (1959)

PG | 100 min | Drama, Fantasy, Music

81 Metascore

A retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set during the time of the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.

Director: Marcel Camus | Stars: Breno Mello, Marpessa Dawn, Lourdes de Oliveira, Léa Garcia

Votes: 9,165

28. Me You Them (2000)

PG-13 | 104 min | Comedy, Drama

66 Metascore

A true story that comically depicts the relationship between an ordinary woman and her three husbands, who live in the same house in a poor and arid small village of the Brazilian northeast.

Director: Andrucha Waddington | Stars: Regina Casé, Lima Duarte, Stênio Garcia, Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos

Votes: 1,688 | Gross: $0.32M

29. Divine Divas (2016)

110 min | Documentary, Musical

The Divine Divas are the icons of the first generation of Brazilian transvestite artists in the 1960's. One of the first stages to host men dressed as women was the Rival Theatre, ran by ... See full summary »

Director: Leandra Leal | Stars: Rogéria, Jane di Castro, Valéria, Camille K.

Votes: 242

30. Laerte-se (2017)

TV-MA | 100 min | Documentary

After living as a man for nearly 60 years, Laerte Coutinho, one of Brazil's most brilliant cartoonists, introduces herself to the world as a woman.

Directors: Lygia Barbosa, Eliane Brum | Stars: Laerte Coutinho, Eliane Brum, Rafael Coutinho, Rita Lee

Votes: 524

31. Nise: The Heart of Madness (2015)

Not Rated | 106 min | Biography, Drama, History

Based on the true story of Dr. Nise da Silveira, a psychiatrist in Brazil who treated her patients with art instead of electroshock therapy.

Director: Roberto Berliner | Stars: Glória Pires, Luciana Fregolente, Simone Mazzer, Fabrício Boliveira

Votes: 2,072

32. Basic Sanitation, the Movie (2007)

112 min | Comedy

A small community of descendants of Italian immigrants in the interior of the state of Rio Grande do Sul resorts to making a video to try to solve the problems of basic sanitation that plague their village.

Director: Jorge Furtado | Stars: Fernanda Torres, Wagner Moura, Camila Pitanga, Bruno Garcia

Votes: 2,044

33. Bar Esperanza (1983)

127 min | Comedy

Group of eccentric people gather at a popular bar in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, doomed to be closed to give way to the construction of a big building. Intellectuals, artists, night-people in ... See full summary »

Director: Hugo Carvana | Stars: Marília Pêra, Hugo Carvana, Paulo César Peréio, Silvia Bandeira

Votes: 244

34. São Paulo in Hi-Fi (2013)

95 min | Documentary

An historical documentary about Sao Paulo's gay night life during the 60's, 70's and 80's.

Director: Lufe Steffen | Stars: Kaká di Polly, Elisa Mascaro

Votes: 62

35. Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

R | 120 min | Drama

80 Metascore

A gay man and a political prisoner are together in a prison. The gay man narrates the stories of two fake movies and his own life.

Director: Hector Babenco | Stars: William Hurt, Raul Julia, Sônia Braga, José Lewgoy

Votes: 13,544 | Gross: $17.04M

36. Os Doces Bárbaros (1977)

100 min | Documentary, Musical

Documentary on Doces Bárbaros' 1976 tour,a group formed by some of the greatest stars of Brazilian music.

Director: Jom Tob Azulay | Stars: Maria Bethânia, Gal Costa, Baby do Brasil, Gilberto Gil

Votes: 60

37. The Music According to Antonio Carlos Jobim (2012)

84 min | Documentary, Biography, Music

In an original and linear way, it shows the life and work of the famous author, I share with Vinícius de Moraes, "Girl from Ipanema" one of the 5 most re-recorded and played songs in the world, worshiped by Sinatra and many others .

Directors: Dora Jobim, Nelson Pereira dos Santos | Stars: Antonio Carlos Jobim, Elis Regina, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald

Votes: 187

38. A Dog's Will (1999)

104 min | Comedy

The lively João Grilo and the sly Chicó are poor guys living in the hinterland who cheat a bunch of people in a small Northeast Brazil town. But when they die, they have to be judged by ... See full summary »

Director: Guel Arraes | Stars: Matheus Nachtergaele, Selton Mello, Rogério Cardoso, Denise Fraga

Votes: 10,329

39. Better Days Ahead (1989)

92 min | Comedy, Drama

Earning her living by dubbing American TV Series, a woman dreams of becoming an international Hollywood star.

Director: Carlos Diegues | Stars: Marília Pêra, Paulo José, Zezé Motta, José Wilker

Votes: 170

40. Estomago: A Gastronomic Story (2007)

113 min | Drama

In the great restaurant of life, there are those who eat and those who get eaten. Raimundo Nonato finds an alternative way, a life of his own: he cooks in order to survive and find a place ... See full summary »

Director: Marcos Jorge | Stars: João Miguel, Fabiula Nascimento, Babu Santana, Carlo Briani

Votes: 4,883

41. Primo Basílio (2007)

106 min | Drama, Romance

Luísa is a romantic, dreamy and delicate young woman married to Jorge, an engineer, a man of good habits and good economic conditions. They didn't know each other well, but got married and ... See full summary »

Director: Daniel Filho | Stars: Débora Falabella, Fábio Assunção, Glória Pires, Reynaldo Gianecchini

Votes: 498

42. Posthumous Memories (2001)

101 min | Comedy, Drama

Free adaptation of Machado de Assis's classic. The narrator is a rich dead man, who tells us about his life and times, making fun of both.

Director: André Klotzel | Stars: Reginaldo Faria, Marcos Caruso, Petrônio Gontijo, Stepan Nercessian

Votes: 661

43. Rainhas (2008)

71 min | Documentary

Fabio is a small town boy from the Amazon region. He departs to Rio de Janeiro hoping to become the next Miss Gay Brazil.

Directors: Ricardo Bruno, Fernanda Tornaghi | Stars: Michele Honda, Otacilio Junior, Orlando Almeida, Julia Sanches

Votes: 19

44. The Second Mother (2015)

R | 112 min | Comedy, Drama

82 Metascore

When the estranged daughter of a hard-working live-in housekeeper suddenly appears, the unspoken class barriers that exist within the home are thrown into disarray.

Director: Anna Muylaert | Stars: Regina Casé, Helena Albergaria, Michel Joelsas, Camila Márdila

Votes: 11,893 | Gross: $0.38M

45. Tim Maia (2014)

140 min | Biography, Drama, Music

Biopic of Brazilian singer Tim Maia, from his childhood in Rio de Janeiro until his death at age 55, including his passage by the US, where he discovers a new style of music and is arrested for theft and drug possession.

Director: Mauro Lima | Stars: Babu Santana, Robson Nunes, Alinne Moraes, Cauã Reymond

Votes: 1,492

46. Elis (2016)

110 min | Biography, Drama, Music