Monday, September 27, 2010

Disastrous Javier and Disaster Epic Compete For Foreign-Language Oscar

Fifty countries have now announced their Oscar submissions. We usually end with sixty-plus competitors so there's a dozen movies (approximately) left unannounced. The big question marks are Spain (we're guessing Celda 211 nope, Spain chose Even the Rain starring Gael García Bernal) and Italy (we're guessing The Man Who Will Come) since both countries are favorites of Academy voters. We'll know the "official" official list in early October. I've updated all the pages.
Two biggies recently announced are Mexico's choice Biutiful which won admirers and haters at Cannes --for the same reasons as director Alejandro González Iñárritu's past efforts have divided -- and China's Aftershock (2010), the country's first homegrown IMAX epic that was a huge hit this summer.

Biutiful is a drama about a man who is dying and his life is falling apart on his way to the grave. Javier Bardem won Best Actor at Cannes so it's definitely One to Watch as it were. Plus, we know AMPAS voters respond well to Iñárritu's specific brand of miserabilism since they've handed nominations to all three of his previous feature films: Amores Perros (Best Foreign Language Film) 21 Grams (acting nominations) and Babel (several nods including Best Picture).

China's submission is inspired by a 1976 earthquake that killed nearly a quarter of a million people. I assumed it's fictionally dramatized (like Titanic for example) as the main plot apparently revolves around a woman who must face her own Sophie's Choice when her twins are buried alive and the rescue team can only save one of them.

The unusual trailer takes us backwards in time. I'm personally not much of a fan of disaster epics -- if I see New York City or Paris destroyed one more time in a movie. Grrrrr -- but will Oscar be? I mean, this won't have the science fiction silliness of something like 2012 and they do like a good historical epic.

At any rate, it's important to remember that no film is ever a safe bet in this particular derby since there are so many options and the voters actually have to watch the films (unlike other races where you can theoretically be nominated on goodwill and campaigning alone, no screenings necessary)

Have any of our international readers seen either of these films? Speak up if you have. Or prognosticate blindly in the comments. You know how we do.

Nathaniel's Oscar-Submission Reviews Thus Far
Peru's Undertow
Thailand's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
More soon...


Agustin said...

will you ever get to watch last year's winner?
its not an A, but its not another episode of Law & Order either

Marshall1 said...

Aftershock is getting pretty mediocre reviews (internationally) but so far been very strong in Chinese box office

john said...

I really wish Italy would choose I Am Love as their submission, although I know for a fact that the film was not embraced in Italy. (And that's putting it nicely!)

cal roth said...

Ok, the movie is set in Spain, with a Spaniard cast...I see any eligibility issues. Remember Lust, Caution.

@Agustin The Secret in Their Eyes IS an A. Ok, A-

cal roth said...

I see SOME eligibility issues coming, sorry

clearance furniture said...

I hoped that I enjoyed this as much or more than any other film. I have never seen a movie I can not even begin to compare. It is a masterpiece and treasure.

vv said...

Spain's submission is Tambien la lluvia (Even the Rain).

Mirko said...

Not being a great fan of CELL 211, I'm glad they went for EVEN THE RAIN; I'm just a bit sorry for newcomer Alberto Hamman, the leading man of two of the three finalits (but not the eventual submitted one)

Yes, here in Italy I AM LOVE hasn't been embraced so well as abroad (and, yes, we're putting nicely telling so). I think the main problem with Luca Guadagnino is that he made a film quite different by the other italian directors working today and many people accused I AM LOVE to be a pretentious drama trying to imitate Visconti or, at least, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi (a brave writer-director unfortunately too forgotten today in his own country). Besides the casting of young thespians such as Parenti, Fleri and Gabriellini hasn't been well received...many considered magnetic Swinton deserved better partners.

I think the total dismissing of I AM LOVE is quite unfair, also considering its exquisite production values. let's hope during the awards season the international fans of the movie will reward it in some ways...

Glenn Dunks said...

I remember seeing posters for Aftershock around Melbourne when it briefly played in a few cinemas here (in the CBD, which has a very high Asian population so we get a lot of Asian cinema direct from over there, such as this and Ip Man and Johnny To's Vengeance - why don't I ever go see them?)

Cal, I think they relaxed some of the rules in regards to that due to the increased number of co-productions between countries. The movie was partially funded by Mexico and Innaritu is a Mexican national so I don't see why it won't qualify. Pan's Labyrinth was the same (set and filmed in Spain with European cast).

cal roth said...

@Glenn Lust, Caution is a 2007 movie, Pan's Labyrinth is a 2006 one. They both were submitted by their directors' home countries but were set in a foreign one, with a foreign cast. Since a movie made in similar conditios to Pan's was considered ineligible the following year, I still think Biutiful is not safe at all.


cal -- agreed that it could be deemed ineligible, the Academy being so dreadfully inconsistent about these things. but for now, I assume it's a nominee since no Innaritu has gone without Oscar nominations yet and it did have some crazed fans in Cannes

vv -- thanks. updating these charts is like making the bed. Gotta do it every day.

Andrew R. said...

Phew! Biutiful got submitted. That's good.

And Agustin...I really liked Secret in Their Eyes, which I saw recently. Hooray, the Academy didn't screw up too badly!

Anonymous said...

cal, just one tiny note: Lust Caution has important amount of american money. There's a clear rule for the AMPAS: Any foreign film shouldn't have more of 25% of American budget or directed by a American director.

In the case of Biutiful, most of the producers are mexicans and the director so that's not a problem concerning for the AMPAS. It's not exactly like other situations:

1992: Uruguay's disqualification: But the film was 100% Argentinian and Uruguay only choose the film because Argentina choose another one.
2006: Canada's Water: The film is entirely spoken by Hindi and they have Indian actors and crew, but 60% of the budget came to Canada Film Institute. Also, AMPAS change the rule of language after the cases of Italy's PRivate and Austria's Cache

Anonymous said...

saw Aftershock at TIFF, and was suffocated by the melodrama. I don't think it'll be nominated

Anonymous said...

Italy choose "La prima cosa bella". It talks about a guy who returns to his hometown beacuse his mother i near to dying. The movie is made up of flashbacks where we discover why their relation is ruined.
It's a very moving movie and he doesn't have dramatic tones.
Costume design by Gabriella Pescucci.
Paolo (sorry for my problems with the english)