Saturday, November 07, 2009

European Film Awards: Un Prophète, Antichrist, The Reader

The EFAs are only 20 years old, a novice awards organization really, but their prizes offer up a rich variety of films, languages and genres. It's truly a grab bag and, if you're too Oscar focused, their prizes can be head scratching. Their 2009 Best Picture Nominees encompass three years worth of U.S. release dates:
  • (2008) Slumdog Millionaire, Let the Right One In and The Reader
  • (2009) The White Ribbon
  • (2010) Fish Tank and Un Prophète.

Tis a pity we can't bring the world closer together for simultaneous multilingual film discussions.

The Best Director is filled with heavyweights. When will you ever see an Oscar lineup that's this populated with critical giants: Pedro Almodóvar Broken Embraces, Andrea Arnold for Fish Tank, Jacques Audiard for Un Prophete, Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire, Michael Haneke for The White Ribbon and Lars von Trier for Antichrist. Maybe a lot of what led to these nominations is reputation (I don't think this is anywhere close to the best work from any of the nominees, Audiard & Arnold excluded since I haven't yet seen those pictures) but it's still nice to read their names under "best".

Here's Best Actress because one should never go without them... Actresses that is, particularly the best ones.

You can see a full list of nominees here.

For me the big surprise was the snub of Giovanna Mezzogiorno. She's been collecting raves and honors for months as Mussollini's mistress in Vincere. Her absence feels like a snub not because she's deserving (I haven't seen the performance) but because the reputation of the star turn precedes it. Perhaps EFA voters just didn't like the movie (it was only recognized for Editing and Actor). The doubly nominated eyebrow raiser was Swedish thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which will compete for Best Actress and Best Composer. Good year for Sweden with two films in major play at the EFAs... the other being that little vampire movie that could.

That Oscarless Prophet
Maybe I'm naive about its content -- I understand that its brutal but Oscar isn't automatically squeamish (they're inconsistent on that front) -- but from this vantage point I think Sony Pictures Classics made a bad decision delaying Un Prophete (A Prophet) until next February in the U.S. With 10 spots open for Best Picture why weren't more arthouse distributors looking at opportunities like this one? Wherever the Audiard picture has played it seems to have seized audiences by the throat. People come away raving. Who's to say that it couldn't have become a critical pet here in the US and competed in more categories than just Foreign Film come Oscar time? Why not build its rep as a masterpiece (if that's what it is) by opening it in August or September and letting people discover it / become obsessive about it? Seems risky to chance it all, marketing wise, on the unpredictable response of the foreign film branch.
*

29 comments:

Amir said...

i haven't seen 'fish tank' yet. (that'll happen soon hopefully) but among these, a prophet wins my vote by far.
it is such a well crafted film and it's just got such energy and realism that's been lingering in my mind since i saw it.
i wondered about what you said as well about the release date. they could have grabbed a nomination, who knows.
but now that won't happen next year, given the 'february' release date.

Amir said...

nathaniel, on a relatively unrelated note, do you think the oscars will switch back to 5 nominees for best picture soon?
like, they'll realize that this is not gonna work or they're really losing credibility and go back?

Juno101 said...

Does "Fish Tank" have any oscar chances? Does Katie Jarvis have any chance at being nominated? Does anyone in the cast have a chance? Even if they don't have a chance should they have a chance(are they oscar worthy)?
I always hear and read that this is a great movie with great acting. I always see it being nominated for things at many different festivals but everytime I see any oscar discussion and oscar prediction charts or lists I never see "Fish Tank" being predicted for anything. What's the deal? Is it too small a film or is it just not that good?

CrazyCris said...

I missed "Un Prophète", it left the screens shortly afer I arrived in belgium this fall... :o(
But "The White Ribbon" is still on-screen and I've been trying to find the right moment to go see it. Friends who've seen it have told me it's very intense, a bit depressing, but excellent!

NATHANIEL R said...

@Juno101 ---as far as i know Fish Tank has no set release date yet... which means no oscar eligibility. hence, why it's not on lists, even in lower echelons.

@Amir --who knows. I assume it won't last. I mean look for how many years the 5 pic rule stood. The more than 5 years are but a small fraction of Oscar history.

Michael said...

I'm saddened they snubbed Audrey Tautou for her wonderful performance and work in Coco Avant Chanel.

Guy said...

Actually, "Vincere" was also nominated for Best Actor ... which makes the Mezzogiorno snub all the more surprising.

I absolutely agree with you re: "A Prophet" being held back by Sony. I actually think it's one of those films that could do better the general votership than the foreign-language committee, a bit like "City of God."

Nicole Kidman said...

Giovanna Mezzogiorno... she did not win at Cannes, she won't win at the European Film Awards... let's cross the fingers she wins the David di Donatello because her performance in VINCERE is SUPERB, AMAZING, DRAMATIC, HEARTBREAKING and IMPRESSIVE. She truly is the ACTRESS of 2009.

AMY said...

Having seen THE WHITE RIBBON, I can say it's one of the best movies of 2009, a true work of art and a fascinating violent movie, but... Oscar? I have doubts. Of course it deserves to win, but I don't know... I'm specptical

SARAH 1989 said...

I agree on Giovanna Mezzogiorno. SHE IS AMAZING IN 'VINCERE', SHE STEALS THE SHOW WITH HER BREATHTAKING PERFORMANCE. IMAGINE ANGELINA JOLIE IN 'CHANGELING' BUT WITH ITALIAN FASCISM BEHIND HER.

adelutza said...

I have seen Un prophète and I liked it a lot. I think it will play very well , and not only to art house audiences. This one should do well in a wide release.

anna said...

Really happy to see David Kross nominated for Best Actor, I didn't think Moritz Bleibtreu was all that great in "Der Baader Meinhof Komplex" though. Oh well...
Is it just me or is it really hard to make any predictions this year?

Iggy said...

"Vincere", "Invictus"...

Those are the titles you want to choose for your movie if you want to play the awards season ;)

Sadly, Un prophète won't open here until 2010.

Patrick Spower said...

Having seen the most important movies of Foreign Language Oscar category (I have seen The White Ribbon, A prophet, The dancer and the thief, The secret of her eyes, Mother, Samsom & Delilah, Mother, The Milk of Sorrow, Police Adjective, Home, Don't Burn its), I can certainly say that THE WHITE RIBBON is not going to win because THE SECRET OF HER EYES or A PROPHET are better movies, much Oscar appropiated, specially the Argentinean submission. It's a wonderful MASTERCLASS by Juan Jose Campanella.

Verónica Isabel said...

I AGREE, ARGENTINA MUST WIN!!!!!!!!!!!

SYLVIA said...

Why can't THE WHITE RIBBON win the Oscar? Because it's an autor's work? Well, David Lynch, John Cassavettes... directed Oscar-nominated movies. Michael Haneke is a true director and the proof is The White Ribbon. Oscar can come easily, in my humble opinion. Can't wait to see the film in NY.

Reyna said...

I don't think the Oscars will come back to 5 nominees until 2014 at least.

UncleVanya said...

Having seen all the nominees, I say A Prophet easily walks away with the win. And may I mention how happy I will be to see Slumdog Millionaire finally lose something?

Anonymous said...

SLUMDOG will win screenplay and people choice's award.

felix said...

THE WINNERS WILL BE

-Film: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
-Director: Michael Haneke, THE WHITE RIBBON
-Actor: TAHAR RAHIM, A prophet
-Actress: KATE WINSLET, The Reader
-Screenplay: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
-Cinematography: THE WHITE RIBBON
-Music: BROKEN EMBRACES
-Prix d'Excellence: VINCERE, for the Editing
-People Choice's Award: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

Arkaan said...

Sylvia, I've seen The White Ribbon. There are several reasons why it won't win the oscar.

I agree, Nathaniel. I genuinely believe that the Audiard film should've been released earlier, at least October, to get the ball rolling. Disappointing, but SPC's slate is ridiculously deep this year and next. They buy too many films, which means some get the short thrift. Of course, I'd rather they bought the films than no one.

UncleVanya said...

Call me an eternal optomist, Arkaan, but I think we will see some surprises in regards to A Prophet when the nominations are revealed this year.

NATHANIEL R said...

But how could we? They aren't releasing it so it won't be eligible (except in foreign film)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Johan Söderqvist is nominated for LET THE RIGHT ONE IN...because I really loved his scores...I think it perfectly fits the movie, as any good score should do. quite surprised they snubbed Rahman...ok, he's from India...but how can you consider SLUMDOG MILIONAIRE overlooking its triumphant music?

I'm surprised too for Mezzogiorno's snub...I think she's really better than her co-lead Timi in the movie (and she has got also more screen time...). She lost Best Actress in Cannes, fortunately she won her fourth Silver Ribbon (main italian critics award)...of course she's the frontrunner also for other italian trophies, such as DAVID DI DONATELLO or CIAK D'ORO (the italian Empire Movie Award, if you want...even if I think it was born before...)...but their deadline is still far...

mirko

virginia madsen said...

let's hope she wins at Italy because THIS IS A SHAME.

gabrieloak said...

I agree with Patrick above that The Secret in Their Eyes or A Prophet have a better chance of winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Film than The White Ribbon.

I also agree with Nate that Sony should have released A Prophet by the end of the year.
It may have won several critics awards for Bsst Film, and would have been eligible for Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay.

NATHANIEL R said...

Reyna why do you say that? arbitrary number of secret prophecy?

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

So many CAPITALS in all these comments. On the one hand, I admire the PASSION, but on the other hand, is there no OTHER WAY TO EXPRESS IT?

Otherwise, I just wanted to say Haneke is in fact absolutely in top form with The White Ribbon and he deserves to be on every Director shortlist.

Meantime, Nathaniel - I'm waiting for you to elaborate on that B- for Broken Embraces.

NATHANIEL R said...

y kant... lol on the capitalization.
i shall try to elaborate on broken embraces. i generally like Pedro movies better the second time (no matter how i felt the first time from love to merely like) so if there's any way i can squeeze in another viewing i will.