Russian Language Blog

6 Critically Acclaimed Russian Films You Can Stream Right Now Posted by on Jan 1, 2018 in Culture

Happy New Year, dear readers! С Новым годом! If you are looking for something to watch on your winter break, here are six recent Russian films that were praised by critics or won awards. Make sure you check out our earlier post on new Russian movies with English subtitles, too.

tv screen

Image via Pixabay

1. 12

The film 12 (“Двенадцать“) is Nikita Mikhalkov‘s (Никита Михалков) remake of an earlier movie called 12 Angry MenThe film follows jury deliberations in a trial of a young Chechen man accused of killing his Russian stepfather. Initially, all but one jurors find him guilty. 12 was nominated for the Academy award for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2008. The film is currently available on NetflixYouTube, Vudu, Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon.

2. Tsar (Царь)

Tsar, directed by Pavel Lungin (Павел Лунгин), takes place during the last two years in the life of Ivan IV (“the Terrible;” Иван Грозный), who believes he’s on a mission from God and concentrates more and more power in his hands. Ivan’s actions are challenged by his childhood friend Metropolitan Philip. Philip was the last role for Oleg Yankovsky (Олег Янковский), who died in 2009. The film can be watched on Amazon or YouTube.

3. How I Ended This Summer (Как я провёл этим летом)

This film by Alexey Popogrebsky (Алексей Попогребский) shows the relationship between veteran meteorologist Sergei (Сергей) who works at a polar weather research station and his young new assistant Pasha (Паша). Sergei scolds Pasha for being cutting corners and being irresponsible, so when Pasha learns some bad news about Sergei’s family he cannot bring himself to share it. The film has won multiple awards and is available on Amazon.

whale breaching

Image via Pixabay

4. Leviathan (Левиафан)

This award-winning film by Andrey Zvyagintsev (Андрей Звягинцев) depicts the struggle between Kolya (Коля), a mechanic living in a small town in the Russian North, and the town mayor called Vadim (Вадим), who wants the land Kolya’s house stands on. The mayor’s tactic become increasingly shady as he targets Kolya’s family and friends. This movie is available on YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon.

5. I Won’t Come Back (Я не вернусь)

This Russian/Kazakh film by the Estonian director Ilmar Raag (Ильмар Рааг) tells the story of a young graduate student named Anya (Аня) who is falsely accused of drug possession and runs away pretending to be a homeless teenager. She meets an orphan named Kristina (Кристина) and the two set out for the village in Kazakhstan where Kristina’s grandmother lives. The film is available on YouTube and Amazon.

6. The Italian (Итальянец)

The Italian by Andrei Kravchuk (Андрей Кравчук) follows Vanya (Ваня), a child living in a group home, who is due to be adopted by a couple from Italy but decides to look for his birth mother instead. You can watch the movie on YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon.

What other films would you recommend? Share your tips and links in the comments!

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. Moonyeen Albrecht:

    As I slowly scrolled down the list and read the information I kept expecting to see “The Irony of Fate” which I am told is a New Year’s tradition in Russia. Sorry I don’t know the Russian title. It shows the comic side of Soviet society. Is it available anywhere in the U.S.?