Tuesday, January 15, 2008

63 Become 9 Become 5: The Foreign Film Oscar Hopefuls

Those damn people building that Tower of Babel --trying to stack the bricks high enough to reach the heavens ...pissing Him off. Why they go'n do that? People say that God "confused" our tongues as punishment but I think a case can be made that multiple languages are a beautiful gift of diversity and the true punishment (God being patient and all) is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foreign Language Oscar Comittee. Every year they seem to casually give some masterpiece or another the cold shoulder. Last year both Pedro Almodovar's brilliant Volver (prev post) and the surprisingly entertaining WWII adventure Black Book (prev post) from Dutch provocateur Paul "Showgirls" Verhoeven made the "finalist" list but then were shunned when the nominations happened.


This year's victims: the delightful and fascinating Persepolis and the masterfully executed Cannes winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (good enough to be on my best picture ballot) from Romania didn't even make their 9-wide finalist list. People who have seen this picture will tell you that that's inexcusable. I haven't seen the 9 pictures they did select but I can assure you that it's an artistic impossibility that all are superior to the Romanian film. Few films in any given year are. Argh! I've now gone monosyllabic at the news from AMP ASS.

I can say but this: They suck!

And you know who else does? The distributors who regularly push back Oscar foreign hopefuls until January or February banking on an Oscar nomination that might never come. 4 Months was supposed to open properly in November. Instead, presumably high on dreams of Oscar glory, it got a one week qualifier and settled on a proper theatrical release date to coincide with its Oscar nomination. Which is now imaginary. This happens to films every year. Why don't they just release them directly after their festival triumphs and then hope for the best?

The Nine Foreign Film Finalists...



Austria's The Counterfeiter, Brazil's The Year My Parents Went on Vacation and Canada's Days of Darkness (from Oscar favorite Denys Arcand)
more on these three




Israel's Beaufort, Italy's The Unknown, and Kazakhstan's action epic Mongol
more on these three




Poland's Katyn, Russia's "12" (a riff on 12 Angry Men) and Serbia's The Trap
more on these three


These 9 become 5 next Tuesday morning January 22nd when the Academy names their official nominees in all Oscar categories. My Predictions

76 comments:

Dave said...

That also boots out Persepolis, does it not? I haven't seen either yet but for the two highest-profile competitors to both be knocked out already is truly shocking. 4 Months has already been released here (technically, harhar) but I hope this doesn't affect Persepolis' release date (hey, I had to wait two years for The Upside of Anger, which you can bet your bottom dollar wouldn't have happened if Joan Allen had been nominated).

Bar said...

It's almost all from Eastern Europe... Why???

pivo (from Rio, Brazil) said...

Mature enough to line up "No country" and "There will be blood" in the main category but conservative enough to select war, nazism, childhood and Tornatore in another one. The national pride about "The year my parents went on vacation" was totally eclipsed by Mungiu's snub. My vote goes to the extinction of the Foreign Film Language category.

Anonymous said...

I'm speechless! I even defended this committee last year for their above average lineup. This is just devestating. I really don't understand...if the whole world is telling these people that 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days and Persepolis are great films, what prevents them from giving the movie's the marks they deserve? Not to mention, Secret Sunshine, Silent Night, and the Edge of Heaven. Solid choices in their own right. I'm so sick right now I'm going to wretch!

... isn't there a way to protest this injustice?

- Adam

Anonymous said...

Does "12" have an extra leg up here by apeing such a strong American play and film? That'll have to play up well to these old geezers voting here -- something they can relate to despite the subtitles, and fond images of classic Henry Fonda.

No "Persepolis". :( I really wanted to see history made with an animated film making it into foreign language film. Now they might not take the risk anymore with this defeat.

The Opinionated Soundtrack-loving Australian said...

At least this means Morricone's superb thriller score for LA SCONOSCIUTA is actually eligible for the Best Score nomination this year, even if there's no chance.

Same goes for Tuomas Kantelinen's MONGOL score.

daveylow said...

No films from Asia!

The Edge of Heaven should have been on that finalists' list.

I hear the Italian film is very good, and the Canadian film is very bad (which doesn't surprise me because I've never liked Arcand's work).

The Counterfeiters will probably win this award now.

Jose said...

Too bad Sasha retired Borat, he should be all over the talk shows campaigning for Mongol.

Rural Juror said...

They also left out Silent Light which I desperately want to see.

I'm not surprised to see 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days left off. I mean, it's not like L'Enfant got in either. Cannes winners haven't exactly taken the Oscars by storm.

I've seen none of these, but I'll cheer for The Unknown just b/c of the director.

NATHANIEL R said...

opinionated australian this actually doesn't make the films eligible in other categories.

The only way your eligible in multiple categories is if you actually open so 4 months which got a qualifying run in LA is eligible for everything despite being snubbed here --not that it was in the running for anything else since it was primarily hyped for this category and didn't have the proper release to get it truly talked up in other categories.

so if THE UNKNOWN or MONGOL are passed over for nominations here and open in 2008 they'll be eligible for their scores next year. It's so very complicated ;) However IF they are nominated here and then are released in 2008 they are ineligible for anything in 2008 (see also: Hero's strange journey to the theaters and Oscars)

NATHANIEL R said...

yes, but i think part of the point of having finalists was that so they would save themselves the embarrassment of passing over the stuff that they were "supposed" to nominate. The smaller committee which selects the 5 nominees should theoretically have been chosen for being more I don't know discerning. But when they get rid of universally acclaimed pictures in the first round.

damn they don't know what they're doing.

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

Blogger ate up my mega long post, so I get to do it again. Joy.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is the most obvious omission from this list. It's a little bit odd how they seemed to completely disregard this when it's been given nothing but the highest praise from pretty much everybody who has seen it. If it had been nominated though, you know it would've gone straight to the top. Perhaps the flaw in this was that it wasn't released, and thus couldn't gain widespread acclaim.

I also have a few pet films which I'm really disappointed they didn't make it.

Secret Sunshine is the first and most obvious of these. Not only was this film critically acclaimed on the festival circuits, but it had an even more critically acclaimed lead performance which walked away with the Cannes Best Actress award. I can't quite speculate the reasons for this being omitted, but maybe the Academy isn't quite ready to see foreign films that aren't in Chinese just yet.

Which leads to my next anger-inducing omission, The Home Song Stories. While I don't think anybody has heard of this film Stateside, which probably lead to it's non-nomination, that and the fact that it was Australia's entry. If this was China's entry, it probably would've gotten onto the shortlist easy. But it's a heartwarming, gripping film with a great performance by Joan Chen in particular, grabibng many awards in China and Australia for it. It's not the sort of fare that the Oscars normally go for, but it still should've been recognised.

The film that I'm extremely disappointed at, but not overly surprised is 881. Easily the best film to come out of Singapore in the last few years; it's a glitzy, glamorous musical that puts Dreamgirls and Chicago to shame. It's the kind of attention-grabbing thing that you'd expect to at least get some attention for the costumes alone, but alas, the Academy rarely goes for musical fare in the non-Foreign categories, why would they do so here?

Other films I'm disappointed that didn't make it: XXY from Argentina, The Knot from China, The Art of Crying from Denmark, The Class from Estonia, A Man's Job from Finland, The Edge of Heaven from Germany, Exiled from Hong Kong, I Just Didn't Do It from Japan, Gone with the Woman from Norway, The Orphanage from Spain, Late Bloomers from Switzerland, Island Etude (though Lust, Caution should not have been shut out) from Taiwan and The White Silk Dress from Vietnam.

Not that I think that any of the films nominated here are bad or even anything less than nomination-worthy; but I would've rather seen any of the films above there.

The problem and the advantage with this category is the one film rule. It allows a country to put forward a film that is of true quality, and, thus, the shortlist for this category often reads with pictures that sometimes are of a lot higher quality than those in the Best Picture race. Of course, this means that only one film gets to compete, which can mean the exclusion of many other great films from that country.

I get why this rule is in place, as it allows countries with not so large film industries like Singapore or Iceland to be able to compete (even if that is a farce, because no films from these countries have a chance in hell of getting in) and it stops places with huge film industries like India and France putting forward any and all films that they release.

It's sort of a double-edged sword. Either you get lots of films from one country getting shortlisted and the others ignored; or you get a lot of films from one country ignored and the others recognised. It's a really difficult situation.

Another problem with this category is that film addicts like ourselves develop a pet love for a specific film and cling to that and expect it to get a nomination, then are crushed when it doesn't happen. This is perhaps more pronounced compared to the other categories; because we know that every film is this category has a chance to make it all the way to the podium. Indeed, this happened with me and many of the films mentioned above. I wouldn't be surprised if you find many differing opinions on the blogosphere on these nominations, some ecstatic because their little pet film got nominated and some outraged because their's didn't. It's sort of rambling here, but there's often a lot less consensus with this award compared to others which have clear favourites; ie. Julie Christie, Daniel Day-Lewis. It creates some interesting debate too, which is nice.

But moving on to the actual shortlist; I'd be happy to see any of these films go all the way to the podium. There's no travesty nominees here (There rarely is, in all actuality), but I'm not openly gunning for any of these films in particular.

[/ramble]

Anonymous said...

As an ardent Ratatouille supporter I wholeheartedly hope that Persepolis now wins Best Animated Film to prove how completely insane and stupid and horrible this shortlist is.

John T said...

So, will this be the first year that Spain, France, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands all fail to be nominated?

Anonymous said...

I'm from Poland and I seriously thought it was a joke that Katyn somehow made it to the semi-final list. It IS NOT superior to "4 months,...". In fact, it wasn't even the best Polish film of last year but it was directed by Wajda, which probably means a lot to the Academy. I suppose they had fun listening to all the "why"'s last year after "Volver" snub, and they wanted to have even more fun this year.
Pathetic

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

Just adding on to my ramble earlier; we may all disagree with the Oscar rules, but they're there for a reason. Which would you prefer, the current one or the BAFTA nominees?

o The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon), France/USA
o The Kite Runner, USA
o La Vie en Rose (La môme), France
o The Lives of Others, Germany
o Lust, Caution (Se, jie), Hong Kong/Taiwan

At least the Oscar shortlist gives some not well known films the spotlight they deserve and doesn't get lazy with nominees.

NATHANIEL R said...

well i don't feel like defending them today since they snubbed 2 of my top 15 pictures. I mean jesus!

but i agree that the rules are there for a reason. It would be exceptionally unfair and frustrating to have France hog all 5 nominees each year (much as I love French movies) and if they relaxed the rules too much all you'd get is english language and/or american made foreign language pictures that are vaguely "exotic" like say the Globes list last year which made room for both Eastwood and Gibson.

They're both so "foreign!"

still: I'M PISSED.

it's almost not worth getting pissed about though. It's hurting their credibility more than it's going to hurt anything else.

Bernardo S said...

They snubbed three of my favourite films of the yeaR. Silent Light, 4 months and XXY. I hate you...

Alison Flynn said...

No Persepolis? That film is terrific.

At least it still has a shot at the animated award, but it's got tough competition from Ratatouille.

btw, Nathaniel, I see that you gave TWBB an A-. :)

That's really a compliment coming from you. You're a tough grader.

Arkaan said...

1. Like everyone else, I was shocked when I saw that France and Romania didn't make the line-up. I haven't seen Persepolis yet, but I have the Romanian entry as my number one film this year, english or otherwise, and this snub is ridiculous.

2. Looks like Brazil will make it. Mea culpa, I was wrong, etc.

3. Who cares. Without Mungui's masterpiece, this category has become meaningless this year.

The Opinionated Australia said...

"so if THE UNKNOWN or MONGOL are passed over for nominations here and open in 2008 they'll be eligible for their scores next year. It's so very complicated ;)"

That's funny! Because we considered Morricone's soundtrack for THE UNKNOWN as one of the highlight scores of 2006 (!) at the International Film Music Critics Association. (Not that we nominated it. :scowl@self: )

Abe said...

Will any of these be in theatres before the Oscars? I searched quickly on IMDB and found only a release date for "The Counterfeiters", which is of course February 22nd, a.k.a. 2 days before the Oscars. MovieTickets.com shows "The Year My Parents..." for February 8th. "Mongol" isn't coming out until June. Anyone have any info on the rest? With "4 Months", "Persepolis" (which I just saw) and "The Orphanage" shaping up to be finalists, I was excited to be able to possibly see all five. Now, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Freaks. Just freaks. It makes me want to throw those golden statuettes right at the Academy's pimply smug faces.

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

I'm not so much pissed as I am disappointed. There's no way I can rightfully say that these movies are so much worse than any of my own pet films; because they aren't overly. The only omission that surprises me is 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; albeit not to the same extent as Volver's omission did.

I reiterate that there's no travesty nominations here. There's some films that definitely deserved to be here, but I won't say deserved more or less. But I think the most we can ask of an Oscar category is that it is filled with high quality nominees. Asking for the 'best' just isn't feasible.

Gilidor said...

The Canadian flick SUCKS MAJOR ASS! It's honestly the worst film I've seen in 2007, I can't believe they included it... If it gets nominated, it will be one of the most embarassing moves in the history of the Oscars...

Gilidor said...

(I'm talking about Denys Arcand's L'Âge des ténèbres btw)

Anonymous said...

This category is often a good guide to what not to watch; the omission of 4 Months just confirms that belief.

Anonymous said...

I would have been fine with France taking three of the slots this year ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", "La Vie en Rose", "Persepolis") instead of getting this crap instead. Throw in "The Orphanage" or "Lust, Caution" and Romania's film, and we could have had a party.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

"it's almost not worth getting pissed about though. It's hurting their credibility more than it's going to hurt anything else."

Nate, if their credibility has withstood Rocky beating Taxi Driver (and Network and All the President's Men, plus! winning Best Director) and Trash beating Brokeback Mountain (and Capote and Good Night and Good Luck, and having a better original screenplay than The Squid and the Whale and the unnominated Volver) -I doubt this is gonna hurt.

And that's the problem. I'm not so much pissed off that 4 Months got snubbed (I'm confident it has longer shelf life than the generic Beaufort or Nowhere in Africa or Tsotsi) as I am that the Oscars still get credibility.

daveylow said...

The Denys Arcand film is supposed to be one of his worst films. I thought The Barbarian Invasions which won the Oscar was terrible. I'm praying his film doesn't make the final five.

Brian said...

Two years of shortlists and East Asia goes 0-for-18. Korea's in the midst of (some fear the tail end of) a terrific, decade-long film revival and has still never been nominated. I'd think the lavish THE KING AND THE CLOWN or the amazing SECRET SUNSHINE would have been able to pull of a shortlist spot. But no...

One thing 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS shares with PERSEPOLIS (and other snubbed films like SECRET SUNSHINE, SILENT LIGHT, THE ORPHANAGE, THE EDGE OF HEAVEN etc.) is that they all were official selections at Cannes. All of the shortlist films this time around, other than DAYS OF DARKNESS, were not. There might be something to this; I have a few theories but no time to elaborate right now.

J.D. said...

Well, that's weird about Crash having "a better original screenplay than... the un-nominated Volver". Weird, because it didn't even premiere until 5 days after the '05 Oscars, so...

Kamikaze Camel said...

Nobody has mentioned the most HORRIFICALLY FRIGHTENING aspect of the Persepolis snub.

It means that from here on out France - and, let's be honest, most other European nations - will simply put up their most awards-baity film and will not even considering something left of centre and outside of the box like France did with choosing Persepolis over La Vie en Rose and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

So, they'll go back to choosing movies like The Chorus and Joyeux Noel and will continue to be rewarded.

Hopefully now The Home Song Stories can get a US release in 2008 and Joan Chen can snag an Oscar nomination.

Kamikaze Camel said...

Have a look at what the producer of La Vie en Rose had to say a few months back.

"Goldman remains skeptical, and contends that "Persepolis" should have been submitted for Best Animated Film. "It has its own natural category," he says. "It's an animation.""

Yup, well, they got their wish...

Rural Juror said...

Ummm... was anyone else aware that Rufus Wainwright is in Canada's entry? Random . . .

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

I would love for Joan Chen to snag an Oscar nomination for THSS stories; even if it gets released by next year, but it might be a little too odd for them. Which is sad.

Boyd said...

All I have to say is this: Ugh.

And I'm allowed to say so because I've seen two-thirds of all the 63 entries this year. So there.

NATHANIEL R said...

rural juror --you should all be aware that Rufus is in canada's entry because that's on my page (if you follow the "more here") and has been for some time.

I was hoping to get over this --they have terrible taste -- but this morning I'm still totally angry.

Boyd said...

The best thing about Rufus being in Days of Darkness is not that he sings (which he does) SPOILERS AHEAD but that they riff on him being a well-known gay man to express the main character's midlife crisis-enhanced impotence issues with women. It's hilarious. END SPOILERS.

It is one of the more clever bits in an otherwise disappointing third part of the trilogy after The Barbarian Invasions and The Decline of the American Empire.

Anonymous said...

This is the height of stupidity on the AMPAS account.

When I saw this list at awardsdaily.com yesterday I was like HUH!!!

Where is Romania, France and Lebanon (Caramel is one of the BEST Foreign films ever made).

Just shows you the AMPAS have lost their mind.

RC said...

i love 12 angry men, but a russian adaptation...

i know you predicted a nom for it, but i don't see it.

that's so wierd that 4 months didn't make it to the 9...i feel like this is were so much of the foreign love has been this year.

the foreign film oscar isn't that fun to watch if you haven't been able to see any of the films.

Anonymous said...

Is The Counterfiters any good? It seems like a possible winner going by the summary.

Marcos said...

We must not forget that the members of the nominating committe must all be rather aged (if they have the time to see all the films assigned to their group;) hence, they must be convervative and "old Hollywood." As another blogger said, they went for WWII (and Andrzej Wajda,) nazism, childhood and Tornatore. Quite honestly, after the way they snubbed 4 Months, I say "Then why not XXY"? If those films who were the object of all the buzz had been nominated (4 weeks, Persepolis) I wouldn't objected to XXY being left out. It's not a masterpiece. But of course, how can we expect this committee to nominate a film about abortion (4 months) or another one about a hermaphrodite adolescent?
This acategory has always been unpredictable. Even the final award--though all members of the Academy can vote--is unpredictable, since ONLY members who have seen ALL 5 films and can prove it can vote. (I think this is fair, but 4 would be enough.) They must include with their ballot the stubs of the Academy screenings (I guess not in the case of films that went into release). DVD viewing are not "accepted" because they cannot be corroborated. So, I'd like to know just how many members end up actually voting for the final winner. Maybe 400? It's up for grabs!

NATHANIEL R said...

i know it's unworkable but i personally think this is the only way to go (requiring screenings of ALL nominees in ALL categories). it's the one area where the foreign film award has integrity.

Nick Davis said...

I'm just saying that I don't think Mungiu is an impossibility for Best Director or Best Original Screenplay, given the push he's been getting in LA. A City of God-type situation. I know it's bloody unlikely, and that City of God emerged in a generally weaker '03 field than we've got this year, but still. Not impossible. I just wish this news had arrived during the balloting, so that people had more reason to consider him, Kieslowski-style.

Anonymous said...

The total voting membership that votes for the foreign language film Oscar winner isn't even 400. It's likely more like 100-150. Sad.

But in hindsight, if given the choice in picking their infinite Holocaust drama vs. an abortion drama or an animated French film about Iranian history, the choice should have been obvious.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel,
Why isn't "Diving Bell" qualified to compete here? Is there a reason? Isn't Diving Bell a foreign film?

Nedim said...

France already put up "Persepolis" as their candidate

NATHANIEL R said...

that's exactly it. And there were some who mumbled that it wasn't French enough (diving bell) since Julian Schnabel, an American, directed it.

the big surprise was really that they put persepolis forth and not la vie en rose: a great decision qualitatively speaking but unfortunately not a great decision Oscar wise.

Jake said...

jesus. that's insane. usually ANY foreign film that gets ANY mainstream notice before the end of the year is a lock for this. Not sure which is the bigger snub. Persepolis still (hypothetically) has animated to contend in, but I'd imagine it's all over for 4 months.

Arcand's gonna win this.

Mathew Englander said...

The Ennio Morricone score is eligible to be nominated because La Sconosciuta played in Los Angeles in 2007. Of course few Americans saw the film, so a nomination in that category unlikely.

NATHANIEL R said...

good to know. I didn't know that THE UNKNOWN nabbed itself a qualifying release. do you know what week it played?

Mathew Englander said...

Check this link, which gives you the option to “click here to see where it played”.

The Opinionated Australian said...

THE UNKNOWN's music shows that Morricone - aged though he is - remains the avante-garde/pop rebel of the 60s and 70s that found a new sound for every genre of film. Along with David Shire's ZODIAC, Desplat's L'ENNEMI INTIME, McNeely's I KNOW WHO KILLED ME (I know, the film is execrable, but the music is far superior to it), Carter Burwell's scores (NO COUNTRY and BEFORE THE DEVIL), and Roque Banos's THE KOVAK BOX, this has been a strong year for thriller scoring.

daveylow said...

Well, despite these horrid snubs, there are several fine foreign films that were on the first shortlist and I hope they get released. I know Edge of Heaven which I highly recommend is showing at Film Forum in a few weeks. But last I read Secret Sunshine doesn't have a distributor. Has that changed?

I don't know why these nominators have such an aversion to Asian films.

Last year must have been a fluke. How did Pan's Labyrinth get through? And women directors were nominated in this category last year.

amir_uk said...

I. am. in. total. shock.

Seriously in a year when you have 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Persepolis and Lust, Caution - three true foreign-language gems - and the Academy can't find a place to reward them, you have to start questioning some things. What happened? Aagh!...

I was so looking forward to seeing Persepolis bag a couple of Oscar nominations (and maybe a win). Obviously it'll lose in the animated race too, because Pixar are in real need of some more recognition.

amir_uk said...

What about Syndromes and a Century (Thailand) or Golden Door (Italy). Were they even picked by their countries? I hate the foreign Oscar rules so much - it completely illegitimises that particular award - I always think so year in, year out. Same with the stupid rules for Original Song.

Just nominate the best dammit - even if four of the best are from the same country/film.

Brian said...

GOLDEN DOOR wasn't submitted. Neither was SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY - no surprise on the latter as it was banned by Thai censors for portraying doctors and monks inappropriately (or was it for not being distributed by a large company like, say, SICK NURSES was).

SECRET SUNSHINE still has no distributor. Which is as sure a sign as any of the anemic state of foreign film distribution in this country anymore.

CNO said...

Golden Door or Nuovomundo was the italian submit of 2006.
So it's eligible for the others category.

marco_ve said...

Although I was "surprised" to say the least by the omission of 4 Weeks and Persepolis, don't ditch the shortlist... it's actually a very good bunch of movies, with Canada's entry being by far the weakest link.
Saw a lot of you dismissed "12" as an apeing of 12 Angry Men... Go see it before judging.. Saw it at the Venice Film Festival, and it's just AMAZING.

Marco said...

In the 1990s, it was probably the most predictable category of them all and in the '00s it turned out to be the most unpredictable. I have to admit some of Academy decisions are nothing short of very puzzling. The German movie that won last year was simply atrocious and way below what I expected. I won't even dare predicting who will be nominated, but looking at the recent surprises I would not be surprised to see Morricone out.
I would go with: Brazil, Canada, Israel, Poland and Russia as the nominees.

Eric M. Van said...

Just a note on eligibility: a foreign film does not have to play the US in order to be eligible; it merely has to play a week in the country of origin. 4 Months, 3 Weeks played the NY Film Festival but was never otherwise released in the U.S. in 2007. Last year, The Lives of Others played only a couple of festivals and wasn't released till February, which makes it a 2007 film for the purposes of most people's Top 10 lists. I've seen many people confidently assert that both films were released in the U.S. in their Oscar year, but that's a false memory based on the erroneous assumption that they had to have been.

Persepolis opened on 12/28 on 7 screens to make it eligible for the Animation Oscar.

Mathew Englander said...

Eric, that is incorrect. 4 Months did have a commercial release in Los Angeles in 2007. The eligibility criteria (for the Best Picture award and the acting awards, etc.) are stated in this Academy press release: “feature films have until midnight, December 31, to open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days”.

That rule does not apply to the foreign-language film award, but it does apply to foreign-language films in respect of competing for Best Picture and other general awards.

The text of the rule is here.

amir_uk said...

So both 4 Months and The Lives of Others are official 2007 releases in the US?...

The Lives of Others would be eligible in other categories this year even though it won the foreign-language Oscar last year (like how City of God - totally overrated by the way - was in Oscar contention two years in a row)

Mathew Englander said...

The Lives of Others had its qualifying Los Angeles County release in 2006, so it was eligible for the general awards (e.g. Best Picture) last year. It did not receive any nominations other than foreign-language film.

But in any event, The Lives of Others could not be eligible for awards this year, pursuant to Part VI of Rule 14: “Films nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Award shall not be eligible for Academy Awards consideration in any category in any subsequent Awards year.”

amir_uk said...

Did that rule come into effect after City of God? Wasn't it nominated for foreign one year, then for director and a few other categories in the next?...

NATHANIEL R said...

i can't remember when the rule came into effect but a foreign film nominated in 2 separate years hasn't happened since the 60s I think (i think Umbrellas of Cherbrough was one of them?)

CITY OF GOD was NOT nominated for foreign film. But it won the other Oscar nominations the year of its proper release. I personally think that happened because so many people were angry about it getting shut out of the foreign film category the year before.

sadly, 4 MONTHS 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS supporters won't have that retro-correction opportunity a year from now since 4 MONTHS did get a qualifying run last month.

dzong2 said...

I'm surprised at how many people are surprised!

In many ways, even though I disagree with the Foreign Film Committee year after year, this category is probably the most egalitarian one at the Oscars.

Imagine if the Best Picture favorite of the year (say, last year's "The Departed") failed to be nominated because it was pushed aside by some obscure independent gem from Sundance? That would never happen, but it easily could (and has) in this category.

I had Romania and France in my predictions for the Final 9, but I wrote that they were a lot more vulnerable than people thought. In retrospect, it is not surprising at all that a gritty low-budget drama and an animated film were not nominated by this committee which (although it has been getting larger and younger) seems to have more specific tastes.

First, let me say that some of the best films I've ever seen I have seen solely because I first saw them on the Oscar submission list.

Last year's I would have voted for Korea's "The King & the Clown" or Egypt's masterful soap opera "The Yacoubian Building" over all five nominees (and Volver!). Would I have heard of this films without the Oscar Submission list? Maybe. Maybe not.

Almost all of the best films are routinely passed over for an actual Oscar nomination. So, I am in favor of the "one-country, one-film" rule which offers the public such a rich film-viewing "checklist" each year.

Secondly, I'm actually sensing a lot of hypocrisy on this board. The same bloggers who criticize the Academy for nominating heavily-hyped, overpublicized, "For-Your-Consideration-to-the-max" mediocre films in the main films are category are damning AMPAS for ignoring front-runners and voting for smaller, lesser-known films, like those from Brazil, Russia and Serbia.

I haven't seen any of this year's shortlist yet (I just ordered the Serbian nominee on ebay) and I am NOT confident they are the best foreign films of the year.

However, the Foreign Film committee has made an effort to get rid of its more ridiculous rules over the last five years, and the new shortlist system has allowed for a more diverse group of voters.

Kudos to "Brooke Cloudbuster" for saying a lot of things I wanted to say without me having to say them.

I'm frustrated too (especially at this committee's Asia-phobic voting), but I look forward to seeing the nine films (especially the Serbian dark horse) before reserving judgment.

Predictions:
LOCKS
Austria, Brazil, Italy, Russia

FIGHTING IT OUT FOR THE 5TH SLOT
Serbia (probably yes), Poland (probably no)

JUST HAPPY TO BE NOMINATED:
Canada, Israel, Kazakhstan

www.dzong2.blogspot.com

amir_uk said...

The thing is...

The Counterfeiters wasn't actually that good. Talk about middlebrow, mediocrity...

So yes, seeing The Counterfeiters listed over Persepolis and 4 Months (and Lust, Caution - although I know this was disqualified for a separate, inane reason) is just plain wrong.

Just all these silly rules get to me - all categories should be treated the same. Foreign films should only be in contention for the Foreign Film Oscar if they have been released in LA for a week during that year. No blocking of several nominations for a particular country if the QUALITY of the films dictate it (I know people would argue that Oscars are about uality, but I still like to think most of their choices are qualitative.)...

Original Song and Producer listings should have the same cap as in all the other technical categories (damnit I'm still sore about Beyonce's robbing of a namecheck last year)...

Makes a lot more sense, and would push more foreign films to be released...

Christiano said...

agree with you dzong.And last year i saw a lot of people discussing the snub of volver without watchig the far superior danish movie After the Wedding.
I think you can judge a movie by two major rules(if you ever can judge one):
1.The quality of the movie
2.The emotion it provokes

I think the second rule should be used for this specific category.This category indeed has an especial world appeal,because not only movie fans and critics are interessed.It envolves the whole country...So i think its wisely to give space to more "popular choices".

Having expressed my opinion i would like to say that although i am from brazil and liked very much our film i think that The Unknown is better(and yes what a superb score from morricone).But.....who knows i think brazils is slightly more popular.....

Kamikaze Camel said...

Well, it was hard to not be angry about Volver's snub when After the Wedding hadn't been released yet. I liked AtW, but it was no Volver.

NATHANIEL R said...

i still don't understand why people blame After the Wedding for the Volver snub. I mean Volver is better than Pan's Labyrinth and Water too ;)

Anonymous said...

Volver is far superior than after the wedding.
and dzong, the problem with the movies chosen is that, it is so clear what films will be nominated that each country will stop sending their better film for their most baity, and at the end we wont know about their small little gems

Anonymous said...

The patriotic me: I'm from Romania and finally we have a chance to bee seen in America and they spoiled that. Romania has no nomination even we have sent some goof movies. But I feel very bed about 2: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (awarded at Cannes) and 4,3,2 (which I love).

The film lover me: I love Volver and Black Book last year and they didn’t nominate them. Now Persepolis is in the same situation – one of the best films of the year and for sure an a great movie because of its originality didn’t make it to the final. It is frustrating.
I’ve seen The Counterfeiter and I liked it but the film has a great story but don’t bring something new to the world of cinema like Persepolis and 4,3,2.
They like Clint Eastwood minimalism but they didn’t consider 4,3,2.?!

Spartak said...

Fisrt of all,I want to appologize for my english.
I am surprised,but I am happy,beacause I didn't like 4,3,2.What about Persepolis,I won't say that I didn't like,beacause it is not true,but I am not really disappointed about it.
I am from Israel,but I am not so happy to see Beaufort there (but I am still proud),I didn't like,maybe the reason of it that I was sick during watch the movie so I am going to watch it again.
My favotites are Russia (I was born there,but it is not the reason) and Austria.As for me Mihalkov's film is better than Lumet's,it has more feelings in it.
I wasn't surprised to see Mongol in 9 films(it has exellent directing),but I am still surprised to see it in final list.
What about Poland...I don't know,it hard to say.But I prefer other 4 films than it.
From the 9 short-list,the only film I didn't watch until now,it is canadian.I am wainting to see,beacuse I really liked Invansions of Barbarians.
The films I wanted to see in shortlist but didn't get it:
1.Estonia (It was predictable.The film is too violent for Academy).
2.Germany (I was surprised,I predicted for this movie to be at least in 9 films short-list).
3.Taiwan (I am happy that Lust,Caution was banned and I had an oppotunity to watch this movie.It is very nice and kind).
4.Vietnam (yoo have just to watch!).

The films I didn't like:
1.South Korea (When I finished to see it,I really had the feeling that 3 different people have written the screenplay,about three diffrent themes and after it,another man has collected it for one movie and I was very disappointed not to see Soom (Breath,Kim Ki-duk) as South Korea nomination).
2.Sweden (In this film I had a feeling of seeting in a local pub and liseting to the stories,it can be a screenplay).
3.Hungry (just awful)
4.Australia

Other films I had watched:
Argentina
China
Cuba
Georgia
Greece
Hong-Kong
Iceland
Portugal
Turkey

Anonymous said...

POLAND is going to win!

it's important film showing that the russians were not the good guys in ww2. Really beautiful cinematography, and for god's sake it's Wajda!!!

(And I'm not Polish myself...never even been to the country...)