Sunday, September 10, 2006

Oscar Battles: Mexico & Korea

Oscar Foreign Film Race Updates
For countries that produce only a handful of films each year the choice for an Oscar submission can be simple. But can you imagine the drama of choosing just one film if your country has a healthy prolific and famous film industry? Imagine the egos bruised in, say, France or India each year once the choice is made.

Countries with a lot of films often narrow it down to "finalists" before announcing. Here's a quick look at two interesting battles shaping up.

Mexico narrowed it down to twelve competitors (full list here) but I think this race will come down to a battle between Mezcal, which was showered with awards and nominations in Mexico's Oscars ("The Ariels") or the newer, highly buzzed Pans Labyrinth. In terms of marketing hooks, Labyrinth (trailer) is probably the way to go. It's directed by an auteur with an international following (Guillermo Toro of Cronos, The Devils Backbone, and Hellboy fame). It already has distribution, and it will likely ignite interest from genre lovers with its fantastical imagery. In terms of traditional Oscar taste though, Pan's Labyrinth, could be risky. Do Oscar voters ever go for dark fantasies with creepy said-to-be mesmerizing imagery? Have any readers seen this yet at festivals. If so, speak up.

Korea is choosing between three films: The King and the Clown, The Host, and Time. The first two films are the biggest box office hits of all time in Korea. The King... (trailer) is a controversial gay drama and The Host (trailer), a critically adored horror film playing well at international film festivals. The third film, Time, is from auteur Kim Ki-Duk who American audiences know from the excellent Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring and is about a woman undergoing plastic surgery. My guess is that Korea will bet on AMPAS's predilection for middlebrow prestige and go with the historical drama, however worthier the other choices may or may not be (I haven't seen these films).

UPDATES: The Foreign Language Oscar Pages also have new info on the official titles announced from Greece, Romania, the Philippines. More coming as we fill in the info culled from various news sources and reader contributions.

Tags: foreign films, , ,, Oscars, Academy Awards, cinema, Film...

6 comments:

JavierAG said...

Very interesting films all around, but I doubt Oscar will go for them should they choose to submit these.

There's a reason why France keeps submitting stuff like "The Chorus" and "Bon Voyage" every year, though it's a very depressing reason, to be sure.

Anonymous said...

I've a hard time believing a better film exists this year from any country in any language that's better than Pan's Labyrinth. So if it doesn't win the Oscar there's a very good chance that I'll not even cautiously watch the Oscars in future for I will be convinced of their complete idiocy.

Ali said...

I saw Pan's Labyrinth this afternoon; very much in the same vein as The Devil's Backbone (del Toro himself called Pan a companion piece to that film in his introduction, both about children coping with the violence and devastation in times of war.) It's pretty grim stuff, and although the audience loved it, voters could be turned off by the trippiness/violence.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Well highly stylised fantasy films like House of Flying Daggers and City of Lost Children failed to score nominations (although I don't know if the latter was submitted - I think it's genius, but nevermind).

(I just hope Ten Canoes gets nominated thank you very much)

douglas said...

being a filipino and all i wish that maximo oliveros would be our first one. but i havent seen that yet, i havent been home... dang...

andrew said...

i loved volver by pedro almodocar and is getting a lot of oscar buzz cruz, screanplay and maybe supp actress (carmen maura) i havent seen pans labyrinth but its going to be difficult top volver