Art/Photography, Best Movies, Classics, Drama, Foreign-Language

The Best Japanese New Wave Movies

“What are the best Japanese New Wave Movies?” We looked at 119 of the top Japanese New Wave films and ranked them so we could answer that very question!

The top 27 films, all appearing on 3 or more “Best Japanese New Wave” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 75+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 27 Best Japanese New Wave Movies Of All-Time



27 .) A Wife Confesses (1961) directed by Yasuzô Masumura

A Wife Confesses (1961)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • Taste Of Cinema

Tied to a mountain between her brutalizing spouse and her secret lover, disaster strikes; the authorities accuse her of murder and prompt a confession.




26 .) Bad Boys (1961) directed by Susumu Hani

Bad Boys (1961)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

A young delinquent takes part in a robbery and is sentenced to a juvenile detention center, where he clashes with other youths and reflects on his life experiences.




25 .) Mandara (1971) directed by Akio Jissôji

Mandara (1971)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • Taste Of Cinema

The young houseboy in Uta wakes up every night to patrol the house of a teacher with a flashlight. He leads an austere life of meditation and he focuses his devotional attention on writing inscriptions for tombstones.




24 .) Night and Fog in Japan (1960) directed by Nagisa Oshima

Night and Fog in Japan (1960)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

Nagisa Oshima’s most personal film is a reflection by the director on his own disillusionment with the revolutionary student movement of the 1950’s and the failure of political radicalism. Taking it’s title (as a reference or homage) from Alain Resnais’ pivotal 1956 documentary Nuit et Brouillard, the film has a group of former student revolutionaries who meet again years later at the wedding of one of their classmates. Old feelings, rivalaries and grudges gradually erupt to the surface as the one-time friends recall the various treacheries by which their cause was defeated. Cutting between times past and the present, and unfolding the action from each of his characters viewpoints, Oshima creates an abstract and yet engrossing study of passions past and principles eroded. —Yume Pictures




23 .) Pigs and Battleships (1961) directed by Shôhei Imamura

Pigs and Battleships (1961)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

In the city of Yokosuka, Kinta and his lover Haruko, both involved with yakuza, brave the post-occupation period with a goal to be together.




22 .) Profound Desires of the Gods (1968) directed by Shôhei Imamura

Profound Desires of the Gods (1968)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flick Feast
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

Tokyo engineer Kariya arrives on a primitive tropical island, where he interacts with the Futori clan, to drill a well to power a sugar mill.




21 .) She and He (1963) directed by Susumu Hani

She and He (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

As her husband Eiichi becomes more entangled in his life as businessman, Naoko looks for ways to expand her own life even as her husband’s life shrinks in scope and intimacy. She finds new interests, new love, and a greater sense of her place in the world.




20 .) The Face of Another (1966) directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara

The Face of Another (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

A businessman with a disfigured face obtains a lifelike mask from his doctor, but the mask starts altering his personality.




19 .) The Insect Woman (1963) directed by Shôhei Imamura

The Insect Woman (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

A woman, Tome, is born to a lower class family in Japan in 1918. The title refers to an insect, repeating its mistakes, as in an infinite circle. Imamura, with this metaphor, introduces the life of Tome, who keeps trying to change her poor life.




18 .) The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970) directed by Nagisa Oshima

The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Art Publikamag
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

A metaphysical mystery involving a university student’s camera getting stolen, and the thief then committing suicide. Looking back upon the event, the situation comes to be questioned if it happened at all.




17 .) The Pornographers (1966) directed by Shôhei Imamura

The Pornographers (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

Subu makes pornographic films. He sees nothing wrong with it. They are an aid to a repressed society, and he uses the money to support his landlady, Haru, and her family. From time to time, Haru shares her bed with Subu, though she believes her dead husband, reincarnated as a carp, disapproves. Director Shohei Imamura has always delighted in the kinky exploits of lowlifes, and in this 1966 classic, he finds subversive humor in the bizarre dynamics of Haru, her Oedipal son, and her daughter, the true object of her pornographer-boyfriend’s obsession. Imamura’s comic treatment of such taboos as voyeurism and incest sparked controversy when the film was released, but The Pornographers has outlasted its critics, and now seems frankly ahead of its time.




16 .) Thirst for Love (1966) directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara

Thirst for Love (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • Taste Of Cinema

Koreyoshi Kurahara adapted a novel by Yukio Mishima for Thirst for Love (Ai no kawaki), a tense psychological drama about a young woman who is widowed after marrying into a wealthy family, and becomes sexually involved with her father-in-law, while harboring a destructive obsession with the family gardener. Kurahara’s atmospheric style is a perfect match for Mishima’s brooding sensuality.




15 .) Tokyo Drifter (1966) directed by Seijun Suzuki

Tokyo Drifter (1966)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI

After yakuza boss Kurata dissolves his own criminal empire, a rival kingpin offers a position to Kurata’s top operative, Tetsuya “Phoenix Tetsu” Hondo. When the fiercely loyal Tetsu declines, Otsuka taps unstoppable Tatsuzo the “Viper”, a ruthless gun-for-hire, to assassinate him. As the Viper trails his target through the countryside, the agile Phoenix Tetsu grows concerned that one of his former associates has betrayed him.




14 .) A Fugitive from the Past (1965) directed by Tomu Uchida

A Fugitive from the Past (1965)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

Three robbers escape with loot from a heist before one of them shoots them; their corpses wash up near the aftermath of a maritime calamity, provoking a policeman’s interest.




13 .) Intentions of Murder (1964) directed by Shôhei Imamura

Intentions of Murder (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Sadako, cursed by generations before her and neglected by her common-law husband, falls prey to a brutal home intruder. But rather than become a victim, she forges a path to her own awakening.




12 .) Pale Flower (1964) directed by Masahiro Shinoda

Pale Flower (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Muraki, a hardboiled Yakuza gangster, has just been released from prison after serving a sentence for murder. Revisiting his old gambling haunts, he meets Saeko, a striking young upper-class woman who is out seeking thrills, and whose presence adds spice to the staid masculine underworld rituals. Muraki becomes her mentor while simultaneously coping with the shifts of power that have affected the gangs while he was interred. When he notices a rogue, drug-addicted young punk hanging around the gambling dens, he realizes that Saeko’s insatiable lust for intense pleasures may be leading her to self-destruction.




11 .) Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets (1971) directed by Shûji Terayama

Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets (1971)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Conditions have been better for the nameless protagonist: his grandmother is a shoplifter and his war criminal father and sister have an unhealthy, intimate relationship with the family rabbit.




10 .) Branded to Kill (1967) directed by Seijun Suzuki

Branded to Kill (1967)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

After botching his latest assignment, a third-ranked Japanese hit man becomes the target of another assassin.




9 .) Death by Hanging (1968) directed by Nagisa Ôshima

Death by Hanging (1968)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

A Korean man is sentenced to death in Japan but survives his execution, sending the authorities into a panic about what to do next.




8 .) Double Suicide (1969) directed by Masahiro Shinoda

Double Suicide (1969)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Flick Feast
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • White City Cinema

Successful and married with children, paper-mill owner Jihei knows better than to contradict the strict social and moral codes of 18th-century Japan. But when he meets the lovely courtesan Koharu, he becomes a man obsessed. Koharu returns his love, even foregoing other customers while Jihei schemes to somehow buy her freedom. His efforts yield ruinous consequences for his business and his family life, and Koharu is meanwhile purchased by another client.




7 .) Go, Go, Second Time Virgin (1969) directed by Kôji Wakamatsu

Go, Go, Second Time Virgin (1969)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

After being raped in an unknown rooftop, nineteen year-old girl Poppo meets a mysterious boy, and both share their sexual traumas and fears, with fatal consequences.




6 .) Punishment Room (1956) directed by Kon Ichikawa

Punishment Room (1956)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Shimada is a student of U College. When the college’s baseball team wins the day, he and his friend Ito drug two girls they met at the game.




5 .) The Naked Island (1960) directed by Kaneto Shindô

The Naked Island (1960)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Deals with the intolerably hard life of a family of four, the only inhabitants of a very small Japanese island in the Setonaikai archipelago. Several times a day they row over to the neighboring island to fetch water for their miserable fields.




4 .) Crazed Fruit (1956) directed by Kô Nakahira

Crazed Fruit (1956)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • Flick Feast
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

Two brothers compete for the amorous favors of a young woman during a seaside summer of gambling, boating, and drinking, in this seminal Sun Tribe film from director Kô Nakahira. Adapted from the controversial novel by Shintarô Ishihara, and critically savaged for its lurid portrayal of the postwar sexual revolution among Japan’s young and privileged, Crazed Fruit is an anarchic outcry against tradition and the older generation.




3 .) Eros + Massacre (1969) directed by Yoshishige Yoshida

Eros + Massacre (1969)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Art Publikamag
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

Two interwoven stories. The first is a biography of anarchist Sakae Osugi which follows his relationship with three women in the 1920s. The second centers around two 1960s students researching Osugi’s theories.




2 .) Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) directed by Toshio Matsumoto

Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amino Apps
  • BFI
  • Flick Feast
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

A feverish collision of avant-garde aesthetics and grind-house shocks, Funeral Parade of Roses takes us on an electrifying journey into the nether-regions of the late-’60s Tokyo underworld. In Toshio Matsumoto’s controversial debut feature, seemingly nothing is taboo: neither the incorporation of visual flourishes straight from the worlds of contemporary graphic-design, painting, comic-books, and animation; nor the unflinching depiction of nudity, sex, drug-use, and public-toilets. But of all the “transgressions” here on display, perhaps one in particular stands out the most: the film’s groundbreaking and unapologetic portrayal of Japanese gay subculture.




1 .) Woman in the Dunes (1964) directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara

Woman in the Dunes (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Art Publikamag
  • BFI
  • Flick Feast
  • IMDB
  • Movements In Film
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • White City Cinema

An entomologist suffers extreme psychological and sexual torture after being taken captive by the residents of a poor seaside village.




 


The 75+ Additional Best Japanese New Wave Movies



 

# Movie Director Lists
28 A Man Vanishes (1967)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
29 A Story Written With Water (1965)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
30 A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era (1957) Yûzô Kawashima IMDB
Movements In Film
31 A Town of Love and Hope (1959)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
32 Akitsu Springs (1962) Yoshishige Yoshida IMDB
Movements In Film
33 Assassination (1964)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
34 Band of Ninja (1967)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
35 Boy (1969)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
36 Cruel Story of Youth   BFI
MUBI
37 Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (1969)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
38 Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1971)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
39 Fighting Elegy (1966)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
40 Gate of Flesh (1964) Seijun Suzuki IMDB
Movements In Film
41 Giants and Toys (1958)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
42 God Speed You! Black Emperor (1976) Mitsuo Yanagimachi
Movements In Film
Taste Of Cinema
43 Hiroshi Teshigahara   BFI
IMDB 2
44
History of Postwar Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess (1970)
 
Movements In Film
MUBI
45 In the Realm of the Senses (1976) Nagisa Ôshima IMDB
Movements In Film
46 Kisses (1957)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
47 Nagisa Oshima   BFI
IMDB 2
48
Nanami: The Inferno of First Love (1968)
  MUBI
White City Cinema
49 Onibaba (1964)  
Movements In Film
White City Cinema
50 Pitfall (1962)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
51 Shohei Imamura   BFI
IMDB 2
52 Sing a Song of Sex (1967)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
53 Summer in Narita (1968) Shinsuke Ogawa
Movements In Film
Taste Of Cinema
54 Summer Soldiers (1972)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
55 Susumu Hani   BFI
IMDB 2
56 Tattooed Life (1964)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
57 The Ceremony (1971)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
58 The Sun’s Burial (1960)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
59 The Warped Ones (1960) Koreyoshi Kurahara IMDB
Movements In Film
60 Three Resurrected Drunkards (1968)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
61 Violence at Noon (1966)  
Movements In Film
MUBI
62 A Colt Is My Passport (1967) Takashi Nomura IMDB
63 Abashiri Bangaichi (1965) Teruo Ishii IMDB
64 Aido: Slave of Love (1969)  
Movements In Film
65 Bitter End of a Sweet Night (1961) Yoshishige Yoshida IMDB
66 Black Sun Koreyoshi Kurahara Flick Feast
67 Blind Beast (1969) Yasuzô Masumura IMDB
68 Boy (Oshima, 1969)  
White City Cinema
69 Bride of the Andes (1966)  
Movements In Film
70 Children Who Draw (1956)  
Movements In Film
71 Coup d’État (1973)  
Movements In Film
72 Dear Summer Sister (1972)  
Movements In Film
73 Ecstasy of the Angels (1972) Kôji Wakamatsu IMDB
74 Furyo shonen (1961) Susumu Hani IMDB
75 Goddo supiido yuu! Burakku emparaa (1976) Mitsuo Yanagimachi IMDB
76 Himiko (1974)  
Movements In Film
77 I Am Waiting (1957) Koreyoshi Kurahara IMDB
78 I Will Buy You Masaki Kobayashi Flick Feast
79 Inferno of First Love (1968)  
Movements In Film
80 Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (1967) Nagisa Ôshima IMDB
81 Kaneto Shindo   BFI
82
Karayuki-san, the Making of a Prostitute (1973)
 
Movements In Film
83 Kiku to Isamu (1959) Tadashi Imai IMDB
84 Kon Ichikawa   BFI
85 Kurenai no nagareboshi (1967) Toshio Masuda IMDB
86 Kuroneko (1968) Kaneto Shindô IMDB
87
Matsu the Untamed Comes Home (1974)
 
Movements In Film
88 Naked Youth (1960)  
Movements In Film
89 Nihon Kaiho sensen: Sanrizuka no natsu (1968) Shinsuke Ogawa IMDB
90 Ôkami to buta to ningen (1964) Kinji Fukasaku IMDB
91 Pastoral Hide and Seek (1974)  
Movements In Film
92 Patriotism Yukio Mishima Flick Feast
93 Pleasures of the Flesh (1965) Nagisa Ôshima IMDB
94 Red Angel (Masumura, 1966)  
White City Cinema
95 Ryakushô Renzoku Shasatsuma (1969)  
Movements In Film
96 Seijun Suzuki   IMDB 2
97
Shiro Amakusa, the Christian Rebel (1962)
 
Movements In Film
98 Street Mobster (1972) Kinji Fukasaku IMDB
99 Street of Shame (1956) Kenji Mizoguchi IMDB
100 Suzaki Paradise Red Light (1956)  
Movements In Film
101 Swastika (1964) Yasuzô Masumura IMDB
102 The Assignation (1959)  
Movements In Film
103 The Blind Beast Yasuzô Masamura Flick Feast
104 The Catch (1961)  
Movements In Film
105 The Embryo Hunts In Secret Kôji Wakamatsu Flick Feast
106 The Man Without a Map (1968)  
Movements In Film
107 The Profound Desire of the Gods (1968)  
Movements In Film
108 The Rebel   MUBI
109 The Red Angel (1966) Yasuzô Masumura IMDB
110 The Ruined Map   MUBI
111
The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan (1970)
 
Movements In Film
112 The Song of Bwana Toshi (1965)  
Movements In Film
113 The Sun Legend Of The End Of The Tokugawa Era Yûzô Kawashima
Taste Of Cinema
114 This Transient Life (1970) Akio Jissôji IMDB
115 Violated Angels (1967) Kôji Wakamatsu IMDB
116 Warm Current (1957)  
Movements In Film
117 With Beauty and Sadness   MUBI
118 With Beauty and Sorrow (1965)  
Movements In Film
119 Youth of the Beast (1963) Seijun Suzuki IMDB

 


10 Best Japanese New Wave Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
Amino Apps #MovementsOfFilm – Japanese New Wave
Art Publikamag A Brief Overview of the Japanese New Wave Movement
BFI Where to begin with the Japanese New Wave
Flick Feast Top Ten Japanese New Wave Films
IMDB Japanese New Wave
IMDB 2 JAPANESE NEW WAVE (Nūberu bāgu)
Movements In Film Japanese New Wave Films (1956 – 1976) — Movements In Film
MUBI JAPANESE NEW WAVE – Movies List on MUBI
Taste Of Cinema 20 Essential Films From The Japanese New Wave « Taste of Cinema
White City Cinema A Japanese New Wave Primer

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