Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" to Compete for Oscar's Foreign Language Category

*NOTE: This page, still generating traffic, details the 2006 foreign film Oscar race. If you're looking for 2007 foreign film information, click here

Now that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced the contenders for Oscar's Foreign Language Film Award I thought I'd share some quick observations about the 61 films in play --well,give or take Finland. Former Oscar nominee Aki Kaurismaki (The Man Without a Past), Finlands most famous auteur wants his new film Lights in the Duskwithdrawn. He's been known to snub the Oscars in protest of the Iraq war and, well, we are still there.

How do you say "F**k Hollywood" in Finnish?

Kazakhstan's submission will also be in the news. The Academy's press release says it's the glorious nation's first submission (though my Oscar-obsessed helpers tell me they submitted in 1992 with The Fall of Otrar) Kazakhstan has been working the media like a fame hungry whore lately: consider their hilarious feud with comedian Sacha Baron Cohan --you know, Borat. Nomads is the Kazakhstan entry and Harvey Weinstein's (speaking of Oscar whores) got it for release next year in the US. The IMDB claims that Nomads is an English language film. Since it stars Jay Hernandez (mmm) and Jason Scott Lee (*mmm--90sflashback--mmm*) neither of whom are known for their fluency in Kazakh my guess is this film gets disqualified soon.

Some other interesting tidbits:

  • Other countries actually let women direct films. Shocking, but true. Having a vagina does not disqualify you from moviemaking outside the US. Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Indonesia, Peru, and the Ukraine are all represented by auteurs of the fairer sex. Here in the US there's, like, a quota and since Sofia Coppola is pissing people off right now, they'll probably lower it next year.
  • Post-Brokeback there's still some gay action for Oscar. If they want it. But maybe they don't want it. Korea has submitted the period epic The King and the Clown a gay love triangle set in the Chosun Dynasty. The Phillipines have the babygay movie The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros. Even Egypt has gay characters in the controversial hit Yacoubian Building. If gay stories aren't to the Academy's liking, surely iconic gay filmmaker Pedro Almodovar still will be. He returns to contention with his much heralded Volver.
  • There's less World War II than usual in the Oscar choices. This category is often overflowing with it. Algeria and The Netherlands are representing but most of the countries with war or war related films are skewing more contemporary which will probably make the Academy uncomfortable. We shall see. The foreigners are mostly leaving the WW II reminiscing to Clint Eastwood this year.
  • The other most baity motif of this category the 'older person paired with cute young child or children' subgenre is still in bounteous supply. Countries that appear to be taking this well trodden path include Venezuela, Switzerland, The Ukraine, Turkey, and Greece.

If you want more (lots more), head on over to my pages on Algeria through Finland, France through Nepal and The Netherlands to Vietnam. You won't get more extensive coverage of the Foreign Language Oscar Race on any other website.

Only five of these countries will get Oscar's blessing with a nomination on January 23rd, 2007. Who will it be? Return and discuss.

Tags: foreign films, , Oscars, Academy Awards, cinema, Film, Borat, gay, WW II, Jay Hernandez,
Sofia Coppola,entertainment, Finland, Kazakhstan, Pedro Almodovar


Glenn Dunks said...

Such a good write up. It's always interesting to read and hear about all these other countries film industries. Even just people replying on here, getting excited (or, not so excited as the case may be) for their countries. Glorious, even!

With the female directors thing though, you probably left off the most famous one. Deepa Mehta's Water.

I must say, I love the director's name for Germany: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

adam k. said...

So, is there any reason to believe Volver doesn't have this category sewn up right now?

adam k. said...

I'm really asking.


it's too soon i think... though it certainly looks like a slam dunk before we've heard much about the many competitors.

only Germany and Mexico so far have elicited the ecstatic buzz that could qualify them as competition. But a lot of the others haven't been widely screened so we shall see.

adam k. said...


It's just so rare nowadays that the most heavily buzzed foreign film actually qualifies in the category. But of course uber-nominated Amelie lost, so it's entirely possible that Volver could too.

Yaseen Ali said...

Pedro Almodovar having a third Oscar sounds just too good to be true.

Carlos Reyes said...

1. Volver (Spain)
2. Pan's Labyrinth (Mexico)
3. The Lives of Others (Germany)
4. Water (Canada)
5. Cinema Aspirins and Vultures(Brazil)
6. Curse of the Golden Flower (China)
7. Black Book (Netherlands)
8. Ten Canoes (Australia)
9. Indigenes (Algeria)
10.Gbarvica (Bosnia)

from the final list I've seen: (*****)

* Bolivia's "American Visa" (**)
* Argentina's "Family Law" (****)
* Spain's "Volver" (****)
* Brazil's "Cinema Aspirins and Vultures (****1/2)
* Venezuela's "Maroa" (****)
* Mexico's "Pan's Labyrinth" (*****)

Anonymous said...

Looking at the messages on "Nomad"'s imdb listing, it seems there was some debate as to whether to release the film in Kazakh or English, and they decided to go with Kazakh (there's also a bad Russian-dubbed version). Obviously the English-speaking actors' voices may have been dubbed. If the film ends up being in English it'll be disqualified of course.

Anonymous said...

Re: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

quite funny you mention his name. in berlin, there is a weird play out right now that is basically a fictionalised story of Donnermarck´s family. He is not a household name here by any means so it is quite weird to make him or his fictional alter ego the centrepiece of a play. He must have a nobility background with this name but so they made up a story of a German-Polish family but the whole play is all very avantguardish and conceptual. it also deals with the controversy around "Life of Others" as many think it is too Hollywood-ish and does not represent the true GDR in the 1980s. Yet, from what I read, Hollywood is totally digging it. In a way, the film is Donnermarck´s application film in Hollywood.

The performances are wonderful though and I do think it is competition to Volver with a rather more political message.

Glenn Dunks said...

This category is only ever sewn up if a foreign title gets nominated here AND best picture. Otherwise, you never really know.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the nominees are going to be Spain, Mexico, Algeria, Germany and the Netherlands...
And the Academy is just too fond of Almodovar not to give him the top prize... (especially if he misses out noms in other categories).
As much as I liked Volver... I still wish another movie had been selected for Spain... Almodovar doesn't need the extra publicity to get his films seen outside of the country, and we have many other excellent filmmakers!

Indigènes is the only other one I've seen, and it's pretty damn good!

Anonymous said...

I think Italy's choice, The Golden door (Nuovo Mondo) is a wise one. It's a very realistic movie but in the meantime it has some funny and interesting onirical sequences. Most important, it narrates the story of a group of italian emigrants from Sicily to Ellis Island and I think AMPAS voters will relate to such a story... About Volver, it's a very different movie from Almodovar's past successes. It feels more funny and less "important". Given also the fact that Pedro has already two awards, I think that if there are other heavily-promoted, more dramatic and committed movies, they could even snub it...

Carlos Reyes said...

it will be a race between Mexico, Spain, Italy & Algeria...

Anonymous said...

Fans of "Goodbye, Lenin!", "In the Mood for Love", "Innocent Voices", etc. will quickly recognize there are no locks in this category...

I especially think everybody is overestimating "Pan's Labyrinth" since there is no history of fantasy films being nominated in this category (though I admit "Labyrinth" has an outside chance)

This year, there will be nine short-listed films and I predict they will be:

Germany, Spain, China, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Canada (which everybody has been mentioning)

plus Egypt's "Yacoubian Building" and Iraq's "Dreams".

I'd say "Ten Canoes" will round out the Top Ten.

This year is a competitive race though...At least half of the 60 films have at least an outside chance of making the Top Nine.


Anonymous said...

by the way, nathaniel, just a sidenote: the film selected from venezuela is also directed by a woman. It's hard to tell by her name (Solveig). :-)

Paxton Hernandez said...

I don't know where all this buzz of "Pan's" is coming from but it is a fraud. Just as Nathe hates "category" fraud, so I do with the so-called "country" fraud. I don't care what anyone says "Pan's" by all means is Spaniard film, made with Spanish money, an entire Spanish cast, and Spanish techinicians. There is one good reason why we didn't send it to the Spanish Academy to compete for the Goya to the Best Latin American Film. They would have been like "wtf! They sent us one of our films!"

Somebody mentioned there aren't locks is this category and that is so true. For that I'm grateful.

Still, rooting for Verhoeven to get his very first Oscar so he can give the finger to critics.


i see your argument Bruno but if you believe in the auteur theory, isn't it still a Mexican film having Del Toro at the helm?

Paxton Hernandez said...

That'd be like saying that "Babel" or "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" are Mexican films because they had Mexican directors. From country to country film productions systems do change and sorry, but "Pan's" doesn't mirror the state of Mexican cinema, which has been in crisis for over a decade now.

Sending "Side Effects", a simple and silly commercial comedy (but a big hit), produced by Warner (the fist time a Hollywood studio does this), but with Mexican money, Mexican (female) director and writer, and an full Mexican cast would haven been more honest.

Anonymous said...

It's not as if Lights in the Dusk had that much of a chance anyway. The reviews have been universally unenthusiastic. But this is a nice gesture from Kaurismäki anyway.

Oh, and: "F*** Hollywood!" in Finnish would be: "Vittuun Hollywood!!

Glenn Dunks said...

Oh god, why does Bruno have to punish me by having Paul Giamatti's ugly mug as his icon? eep.

Anyway, dzong2 said something that I've been saying for a long time. Pan's Labyrinth isn't a lock for a nomination. Remember when everyone thought House of Flying Daggers would get nominated?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone has already mentioned this -- I didn't read all the comments -- but Puerto Rico has been nominated before.

"What Happened to Santiago" in 1989.

I agree with Adam K. that barring a major upset a la "Brokeback Mountain" vs. "Crash," "Volver" is already the winner.

The other 4 nominees? That's difficult. I've only seen one of the nominees, "Cinema, Aspirin and Vultures," which was shown at the AFI in Los Angeles last year. A good, low-key production, but I'm not sure if it's *too* low-key and unsentimental for the usually mainstream, mostly elderly Academy-ites who vote in the foreign language film category.

I'd bet on...
The Lives of Others (Germany -- those bad, bad Commies)

Nuovomondo (Italy -- voters tend to like stories somehow related to the U.S.)

Black Book (The Netherlands -- anti-Semitism in WWII, can't beat that; also, the director once upon a time had a Hollywood career)

Grbavica (Bosnia and Herzegovina -- it won in Berlin, and it has a young girl wondering "who's my daddy," etc. And it may very well be a truly excellent film. I sure hope so.)

Else, Zhang's "Curse of the Golden Flower."

But then again, I've been wrong before. A number of times. So, take this for what it is. Guesswork.

Anonymous said...

it will be a shame if France winds up in the final 5 this year. Fauteuils d'orchestre is a sentimental bore, just as Joyeux Noel and Les Choristes were before them - France's selection committee obviously knows how to play to the Academy's tastes...I can't imagine who in the Academy sits through France's recent entries and actually think they represent the best of current world cinema!

Almodovar is on an amazing streak right now - Volver would be a great choice. But I'm really curious to see Black Book, Indigenes and The Banquet to see how they play up against Volver.

Possibly, it won't matter, but Kaurismäki's film actually does have U.S. distribution - Strand Releasing.

Carlos Reyes said...


but you cannot possibly be comparing Babel with Pan's Labyrinth. You have to analyze that there is $ from Mexico in the film. Since when does a film defines itself by its cast?, yes the film is a little more Spanish, but I think you're underestimating the fact that 3 out of 4 producers are Mexican, it is directed by a Mexican, written by a Mexican, cinematography, art direction, & sound are done by Mexicans as well...

and the Mexican Academy rules say that no film should be sent to both the Goyas and the Oscars. I understand why you say the film is more spanish, but that's because you view films as a product. While AMPAS, critics, and many of us view films as ART. And of course you still don't understand what is a

most Spaniards out there says they're happy! and so do I...

Paxton Hernandez said...

Get your facts straight. No such rule exists and doesn't the fact that "El crimen del Padre Amaro" was nominated both for Oscar and Goyas tell you something? "El laberinto del fauno" wasn't even in the shortlist because it was and is a Spanish film.

That is so typical. I exposed arguments and the only thing you can do is attack me ("oh! you don't understand coproductions" "uh! I see films as art and you see them as product" uh!)

Films are BOTH art and product because there are countries that, unlike Mexico, do have an industry (like U.S., France, Korea, Japan, Italy heck, even Spain), that generates jobs, revenues and most important lets people have a decent income so they can live from making movies, or products as you narrowmindedly call them.

If you want to live in fictionalized bubble where the New Mexican Cinema do exist and "Pan's" is an honest worthy embassador of our "industry" that's fine, but reality is that this decade has been the worst in Mexican Cinema, as Jorge Ayala Blanco (the best film critic in the Spanish language)puts it in his new book about Mexican Cinema.

And about AMPAS seeing films as Art, that is plain and simple bullsh*t. You didn't even buy that, did you?

Kamikaze Camel:

sorry for the Paul Giamtti icon for I need to find a digital camera. But he's cool.

Glenn Dunks said...

People, please. This isn't the IMDb forums.


Paul Giamatti is my arch nemesis.

Middento said...

I agree that Volver is almost assured a place in the top five, even if it doesn't win. I would say that we definitely shouldn't count out Indigenes, the Algerian entry, which is just plain beautiful. Also strong: Water, Ten Canoes and The Lives of Others.

Anonymous said...

damn bruno you are so passionate, and disfunctional?, yes take this somewhere else, and how can you say Mexican cinema is in its worst decade when actually NO ONE cared about it since Amores Perros, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Japon, Battle in Heaven and some other great film I've seen here in Bosnia have attracted so many people and're just against it or something...but who cares anyway we know VOLVER is taking it, besides it is better than Pan's Labyrinth...

Anonymous said...

Didn't like Grbavica that much...I think it was way too depressing for academy's taste. This mother's life when striving to get the money for daughter's school trip...It's hard to believe that it will get into top ten.
I think Water from Canada has a goodchance, because it's beutiful artiscally, and that's what usually gets through.
I did enjoy King and the clown, but I don't believe that a gay issue shownthrough somheow fictional history (maybe it's a true story, but it has been played out little bit like a farce or fairy tale) will get a nomination. But the costume design was great and o0verall a colourful film.
I think Russian war film is as good as the war film get. Very realistic and was very controversial in Russia, plus a popular hit in neighbouring countries. I think it has a fair chance, especially if the academy is in the mood for such harsh action. Young guys going to war...
So of the five films i've seen this far Water from Canada looks to have the best chance, with russia coming close second. But still 56 candidates to see...

Anonymous said...

You really want to know what is "F**k Hollywood" in Finish? :D

Anonymous said...

I'd say these are the countries with any chance of being nominated...


VERY HIGH (at least 2 of these 4 should get in):
Canada (I think this is close to a lock...just a wonderfully directed work, that would've been disqualified in previous years)
Netherlands (director has a Hollywood pedigree, but he's also won some Razzies)

GOOD CHANCES for the shortlist or nomination:
China (some recognizable actors)
Hong Kong (ditto)
India (worldwide success)
Kazakhstan (actor recognition again)
Korea (always have great films to offer, but never get nominated)
Mexico (fantasy? I doubt it, but it's getting a lot of acclaim)
Sweden (a favored country)

Denmark (rather unoriginal story...great acting and good direction though)
Egypt (I think this movie may be too long)
Bosnia-Hercegovina (a lot of critical success, but I just don't see it happening...production values are on the lower side)
Iran (George Bush would probably put the kabosh on it)
Japan (surprising how rarely Japan gets nominated considering the scope of their film industry)


mara --the only thing i know how to say in Finnish is "wonderful" but i don't know how to spell it.

and in case anyone is confused about this list of nine, they're apparently doing a bakeoff of sorts (like they do in some technical categories) where the list gets narrowed down before the actual who gets nominated voting.

should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

People are always mentioning the predictable movies by the usual suspects from the same countries. This is not the Security Council, for god's sake!
Of course, Volver is always a serious contender. And France is sending a much better option this year than last years' Joyeux Noel. But Water? Such a boring proposition from a very dedicated and strong applicant - Canada. Actually, I've just left the screening of the brazilian movie, Cinemas Aspirinas e Urubus, which is a slow cozy alternative, but not a very strong contender (considering the recent emergence of a so-called boosting brazilian film industry).
Do not forget to check on the dark horses, people! Did anyone care to watch the marvelous Alice, coming from Portugal? The young director Marco Martins has been creating a lot of buzz worldwide, winning prizes and standing ovations in Cannes, Raindance, Mar Del Plata and other festivals. It's his first movie and I heard he is willing to attend the Oscar ceremony in 2007. Can anyone lend him a tuxedo?

Anonymous said...

Back in 1992 Mexico was so mad the Like Water for Chocolate was not nominated that they unofficially challenged Uruguay's submission, which was nominated (A Place in the World/Un lugar en el mundo). They claimed (rightly so, to an extent) that the film was from Argentina. The film was withdrawn, but the Academy did not designate a fifth nominee (much to Mexico's distate, since they hoped their film had come in sixth).
If what is being said about the Mexican submission now is true, then someone should challenge it.
However, the Academy established very strict rules, specifically a couple of year after the Uruguayan scandal.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget there's a certain amount of predictability in the way the Academy members choose the foreign film nominees. Ask yourself about the Portuguese this film SUCH a slam-dunk that it can overcome the fact that Portugal has never been nominated in this category? Which is akin to saying, the Academy members don't particularly appreciate Portuguese films, so for one to be nominated it'd have to be something very close to what they always look for. The same goes for Bulgaria, Turkey, Philippines, and any number of countries that submit every year but are never nommed. I do wish it was less predictable.

Anonymous said...

"Pan's Labyrinth" is NOT (totally) from Mexico. It would represent Spain because they used Spanish money and the history is about Spanish Civil War. But is a coproduction between Spain and Mexico and Del Toro is a Mexican filmaker too.

Anonymous said...

At this point, "Volver" is the favourite. This picture can get a BP nod too. Best Directing nod (Almodovar), Sreenplay and Penelope Cruz for Best Actress can help to it.

Carlos Reyes said...

if anyone challeges Pan's Labyrinth I'm sure it will not be Spain, unless they want to re-assure Volver's win. But the film meets the cool!...

I had no idea about the "Like Water For Chocolate" controversy, that was so imature by the Mexican Academy...great film by the way

Anonymous said...

Not having seen many of the films, I could not predict who would win. But, I must say, if any film beats 'Volver' it would be a very well written and directed film, in other words a damn fine film!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I remember reading that the Academy was tipped about the non-Uruguayan-ness of "A Place in the World" via a newspaper report in Argentina. ("A Place in the World" is basically an Argentinean production.) Mexico -- or the Mexican Film Academy -- had nothing to do with it.

As for movies from Portugal (and other countries) never getting nominated, that may well have to do with the fact that Academy members aren't required to watch every submitted film.

Screenings are divided into three blocks (used to be two, I believe, when there were fewer submissions). In order to be able to vote, members must watch a certain percentage of the films within their assigned group.

So, if members must pick, say, 10 or 12 films among the 20 films in their group (screenings are crammed during a three[or so]-week period), chances are Academy-ites will opt for the ones they know something about -- or that come from countries they know have solid film industries.

My point: Portuguese films may never get nominated simply because not many members bother to watch them.

(There's also the luck factor. Earlier screenings are better attended than later ones; weekend screenings are better attended than those on weeknights.)

Anonymous said...

I don't think Portugal will be nominated because academy members won't see it like Bruno said.
Miguel has too much expectations, but he doesn't remember that films like The Son's Room, Underground or Good Bye Lenin weren't nominated even with international praise and Alice is too dark and slow for their tastes.
The official site for Alice is here:

Anonymous said...

(Continuation from posterior post)

And i think the stromg contenderes are:

South Korea

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of you on the list but i believe Egypt should be on that list as well. "Yacoubian Building" is very impressing!

Anonymous said...

I really beg to disagree with Andre...Individual members of the Foreign Film Committee don't each choose five films...They rate the ones they have seen. The five film with the highest average scores get nominated for the Oscar. So, even if only two people showed up for a Portuguese movie, their average vote of 9.0 would be higher than a film that got an 8.5 from a well-attended screening.

The reasons some countries get nominated more than others is three-fold.

1. Some countries understand what the Academy likes more than others. Countries like France and the Netherlands (and the Czech Republic but NOT THIS YEAR) choose movies that they believe will be nominated, and NOT the most critically acclaimed movies at home. Countries like Japan, which makes so many great films, are notoriously BAD as understanding what Oscar likes.

2. Like with every category, Oscar has its preferences. They have shown a strong preference for the style of certain film-makers, while ignoring others...So, while they like Western Europe, they shy away from Asia....

3. Like with the normal categories, it pays to be mainstream. The Foreign Film Committee is even older than the regular members, so you have to appeal to the geriatric demographic...No, "Run Lola Run" here!


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post to have it fixed but it linked to here anyway...

It said on the Foreign Language Category submission page that the Netherlands has 5 noms / 0 won. But i'm sure "Karakter" won the award in 1998.

Anonymous said...

Netherlands has won THREE TIMES....They won with "Antonia's Line" and "The Assault" too.

Anonymous said...

European Academy Award nominations have been announced today (jep it doesn't have much, if any, affect on The academy, but sill its cream of the crop of Europe). From what I can see foreign language film noms, if chosen by Europe, would be: Volver, Lives of others and Grbavica (oh yeah:)... others are in English. So there you go.

Anonymous said...

Pan’s labyrinth is a Mexican movie and more so than a Spanish one. To legally consider a movie from a particular country, two out of the three main authorship categories have to come from that country. In this case, the three of them are Mexican, Guillermo del Toro is the director and writer and the main producer is tequila gang with Bertha Navarro and Alfonso Cuaron. So, it is the same team that he worked in Cronos and the devils backbone. Del Toro says that he have made the last two movies in Spain (and one more coming) because his interest in fascism, and there is not a Mexican equivalent to the Franco regime. That the Mexican film industry is chaotic is probably true but that is not the reason he is not making his movies there. That is probably true for an aspiring director looking to make his first movie. At this point del Toro can get his movies financed even in Haiti if he wanted.
Concerning why it wasn’t submitted also for goyas consideration. The Mexican academy seems to nominate different films when it considers there are two worthy films to promote, like last year innocent voices and duck season. The movie nominated for Goyas is “en el hoyo”. It is a documentary, and just won the bafici early this year along with other 20 international awards. As you can see, that chaotic industry still manage to make movies like the wonderful duck season and “en el hoyo”. I doubt there is a need there for Spanish money to create good films. Check the documentary predictions and you will find that “en el hoyo” although in Spanish, is still one of the major contenders for a nomination. It might be the first one in that category for a non-English leanguage film.
Concerning the like water for chocolate Vs a place in the world debate. It was the s.o.b. Arau –the director of like water for chocolate- who brought to the academy’s attention that a place in the world was not from Uruguay. Still, a place in the world in one of the most beautiful films ever made and Adolfo Aristain, the director is one of the most talented too. Aristain, like del Toro use Federico Luppi in their movies. What else could be said about these talented directors.

Anonymous said...

I think it'll be between:


Anonymous said...

Grbavica has won the international feature competition's narrative grand jury prize of AFI Film Festival (niiiiice :P)

FRuiz said...

"Pan's Labyrinth" is a co-production. Del Tror himself learned this formula the hard way when Tequila Gang and El Deseo S.A. tried to submitt "The Devil's Backbone" for Oscar competition through Mexico. The rules are very clear, the movie has considerable money from the Mexican producers and has DoP, Sound, Production Design, Producers, Screenplay and Director -as well as assorted crew in the art dept.- coming from Mexico. The Mexican Academy is actually one of the many steps that are needed to credit a film's nationality. Others include Secretaria de Gobernacion, which concedes or not the Nationality based on a point system. Like it or not, the film has a dual Passport.

Anonymous said...

I've seen five of the foreign film entries so far, with Water on the way from Netflix.

I absolutely loved The Lives of Others and Ten Canoes, though I doubt the latter's chances. I hope it gets in, but I don't think the Academy will go for it. Avenue Montaigne is enjoyable and lightweight, but I don't know that it will be a strong enough entry to compete. Days of Glory is a good film, which has just enough to distinguish it from every other war film ever made, but not enough for me to really support a win. I'd be content with a nomination though. Family Law was a bit weak I felt, and I really didn't care for the film, the characters, or for having all the far-too-obvious life lessons shoved down my throat. I'm dying to see Volver and Pan's Labyrinth.

I'd love to see a lineup where I'd actually seen all of the films. That would make the race far more interesting. Of the films I've seen, I think The Lives of Others is the safest bet, though I've given up on trying to figure out what the Academy views as quality, as they certainly haven't done the best job at rewarding it lately.

Anonymous said...

Every year so many entries compete for the final five in the foreign film category. However, I love India's entry this year, Rang De Basanti. I think it'll make it to the top five. The film is about an entire generation of youths awakening to make a difference in their and their country's lives. Brilliant concept and people from all around the world can relate to the movie.
SO India's Rang De basanti it is for me!

Anonymous said...

this year has the best ensemble of movies in the foreign film category, ever, volver sounds promising but i guess an indian film rang de basanti has gone way beyond beng just a fil in the asian sub continent

Anonymous said...

My top 5 list for foreign films this year

1) Lives of Others
2) Rang De Basanti
3) Volver
4) Pan's Labyrinth
5) Orchestra Seats ..

Rang De Basanti, a must watch cult film out of India..

Anonymous said...

Loved all of Almodovar films, so also Volver , Canada's entry Water , which really is an Indian film was dark , with average performances. . Pan's Labyrinth seems like a strong contender, however not too graphic for a top nomination ? .. India's Rang De Basanti seems like a dark horse, with its youth following in India and a whopping 8.3 viewer rating on IMDB, loved the film. .

Anonymous said...

From a Indian Filmi person's perspective: This a great year for India as it has 2 chances for the Oscar Mehta's Water and Mehra's Rang De Basanti.

I love the fact that both films incorporate songs into their films keeping with Indian film traditions, and do it with sheer class. AR Rahman who scored the music for both films has done an amazing job as always.

Anonymous said...

It will be India Vs Canada

Vovler will not win.period

Mathew Englander said...

I have seen twelve of the submitted films, of which my favourite was After the Wedding, directed by Susanne Bier (Denmark). Whether or not it gets an Oscar nomination, I’d recommend that anyone who likes film see After the Wedding; it has a twisty plot but is really driven by the amazing performances. It stars Mads Mikkelsen (who also plays the villain in the new Bond film). I also liked Bier’s previous film, Brothers.

As for my opinion on the others I’ve seen, I liked Indigènes, Water, The Yacoubian Building, and The Lives of Others but all had some real flaws. I thought Family Law and Volver had their moments but were generally silly. Ten Canoes, You Bet Your Life, Lights in the Dusk, and Reprise are marginally worth seeing but a little slight. Someone Else’s Happiness was just boring throughout.

Anonymous said...

The films I've seen so far:

GERMANY - A good film, but I'm not exactly sure why people think it's a great film. I'd still bet it'll get a nomination given its awards successes.

MEXICO - The best film I've seen so far from the bunch...perhaps this year in total, too. I actually think the fantasy aspect will work in its favor, since it wholly involves the child character. The major negative will be some violent/shocking imagery which may put off some voters. I think it'll squeak in.

SPAIN - It's Almodovar, and he's always a brilliant director, but this is simply not one of his best films. Of course, that can still be one of the best films in the bunch. has CARMEN MAURA and Cruz in wonderful performances. It's a lock for a nom and a near-lock to win.

CANADA - I thought it was a beautiful film, the 2nd best of the bunch I've seen. Academy voters will eat it up. Should be nommed.

ARGENTINA - A fine film to pass some time, but it's no contender. Just a bit too meandering and doesn't say much about anything in the end.

FINLAND - Obviously this one may not stay in contention if Aki has his way...and even if it does I don't see a nom here. Like Almodovar, he's always brilliant, but this one just doesn't leap out.

CZECH R. - Another mastermind director, I rather liked this film, but it's just way too weird for any kind of recognition. Didn't have the youth aspect that Little Otik had.

SLOVENIA - So far the worst of the bunch I've seen. In fact, I don't even remember a thing about it, so I'll leave it at that.

PORTUGAL - A very effective little film that will likely impress voters, but not enough to give the country its first ever nom.

DENMARK - I don't understand the huge fuss over this director. Both Brothers and After the Wedding were solid, well-acted and well-directed films, but neither tackled any subject I hadn't seen before a thousand times. I don't think Oscar will bite on it either, again.

INDIA - Reaction to this one has me even more incredulous than to Denmark's. I found it ineffective most of the time, and at its worst, absurd. I wasn't ever impressed with the musical sequences either, which are normally the saving graces of Bollywood films.

HONG KONG - Carefully constructed, brilliantly costumed, and finely acted, the story in this epic just never grabbed me. It was a pleasure to watch though...but it likely won't compete with Zhang's film for Academy graces.

KOREA - A great film in a long line of great Korean films. I'd likely put it on my shortlist but I know the Academy won't, because they never do with Korea.

BOSNIA - A film that's had much praise and award heaped on it, but I'm not sure it's really all that. A very good, well-paced character study with a unique subject, but probably too raw for the Academy.

Can't wait to see the rest of the films, especially the ones from France, Italy, Egypt, Russia, Algeria, Brazil, Japan, Iran, & Australia.

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Anonymous said...

Well... I don't think that there are any locks in the foreign language film category. I remember 1997, when the film favored to take the Oscar, wasn't even nominated. Right now it's safe to predict a nomination for two films - "Volver" and "The Lives of Others". I doubt "Volver" will get the Oscar this year. Its buzz faded and "The Lives of Others" is more acclaimed, both in the US and worldwide. Of course, it isn't about critics, but remember that this category isn't as much buzz as the others. Only voters, who watch the five nominated films in a theatre (at an Academy screening), are going to vote for the final award. I think that the other three nominees are going to be "Grbavica", because it's a touching, beautiful, small film and older voters love them (but it is a good film), "Pan's Labyrinth" - my obvious favorite. Before watching the film, I wasn't sure it could impress voters, but it's a film that has everything to capture their imagination - it has phenomenal cinematography, with all the colour feast members adore, it has touching performances (especially by Maribel Verdu) and it's about a child in a time or horror. At the very end, it entertained you, made you cry and it breaks your heart with a smile. It's a wonderful film and I believe that it's the kind of a film voters adore. And I think that if enough voters love it, it could benefit from a split between Spain and Germany, though it may be wishful thinking. I've heard great things about "Water", but I don't know if the Academy's foreign language branch gets it?! When will there be report from the Academy screenings?

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