Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kazakhstan's Globe Celebration Cut Short

Though Borat took home prize at Monday's Golden Globe celebration, Kazakhstan is no longer a winner. Their entry into Oscar's foreign film competition "Nomads" failed to make the shortlist before the shortlist. Confused? Well, it goes like this. Oscar used to have large committees that watched the 50+ entries and then voted giving you your five Oscar nominees for Foreign Language Film. In the new system that committee merely narrows the field down with their ballots. And then another committee of but 20 people chooses from their finalists.

If I were a cynic I'd say: So representatives from France and the other countries presumably now know who to schmooze. It's easier to sway the opinion of 20 people who've watched 9 movies than hundreds who've watched 50. So let the best schmoozer win.

On the other hand: This gives the critical community more power. That's not always good (they're hardly infallible) but that would presumably prevent AMPAS embarrassments like the snubs for City of God, In the Mood For Love or Run Lola Run. A smaller committee looking at finalists will know: Hey, this movie is supposed to be a masterpiece.

Of the 61 original entries, one removed itself from contention early on (that'd be Finland) and 51 others were dismissed this week. So who did make the finals?

Hit foreign films Water (Canada), Volver (Spain), and Pan's Labyrinth (Mexico) made it to no one's shock and amazement. The raved Germany entry The Lives of Others also placed. The other finalists are Days of Glory (Algeria), After The Wedding (Denmark), Avenue Montaigne (France), Black Book(The Netherlands) and Vitus (Switzerland).

Good News:

  • Volver still looks all set for a nom, despite not igniting in quite the way I hoped.
  • Academy rules prevent Americans like Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson from encouraging voter laziness and letting them just choose American films that happen to have subtitles entering the foreign category so this is the first foreign kudo list you'll see this year that doesn't include two American films: Apocalypto and Letters From Iwo Jima.
  • 33% of these films are from female directors. That's a nice turn of events and a reminder to Hollywood that other countries don't have such a strange "no women allowed" policy on filmmaking.
Bad News:
  • One of those female directors made Avenue Montaigne, the French entry which is just not very good at all.
  • Certainly not as good as Curse of the Golden Flower which was the highest profile snub.
  • Given their reputations, it's frustrating that we probably won't get to see the following films (Academy recognition helps distribution happen) any time soon: Australia's aboriginal myth Ten Canoes, Egypts controversial contemporary drama The Yacoubian Building, Iceland's Children, Korea's The King and the Clown and Romania's The Way I Spent the End of the World.
For more on this Oscar race, click the updated foreign film page.

Tags: foreign films, , Oscars, Academy Awards, cinema, Film, Borat, Finland, France, Germany,Kazakhstan, Pedro Almodovar


Paxton Hernandez said...

I'm shocked Avenue Montaigne made the final shortlist. Especially after passing titles like the Australian Ten Canoes and all other Asian high profile entries .

AMPAS really dislikes Asian cinema. It's their freaking loss

Paxton Hernandez said...

Just an observation, Nathe. 3 films not 4, have female directors. That would be France, Denmark and Canada. Florian, from Germany, it's a guy.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but Almodovar is so good with his women that he's an honourary member of the Female Directors' Club. You can't boot him out on a technicality.

P.S. Thrilled thrilled thrilled that Volver - my pic of the year - is in here.


Paxton Hernandez said...

I guess you are right. Almodovar is just the extreme opposite of a guy like von Trier who just pisses the hell off of his actresses and then films it.


Javier Aldabalde said...

I'm just happy that the American films which happen to have subtitles won't be ruining THIS category.

As it is, the potential line-up looks awesome, but I'm suspicious of France and Switzerland being finalists... where's Asia, Latin America, Australia ("Ten Canoes" looks pretty great). Sigh.

Sigh. I can't wait for "The Lives of Others".

Btw, the "City of God" snub was positive for that film, in more than one way (four, actually ;)

Javier Aldabalde said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Neel Mehta said...

Strong showing for Europe. A little too strong, if you ask me.

J.D. said...

I'm sad now.

Thanks, Nat.

[crys like a blubbering baby]

How could the Academy do this? Yesterday, COTGF was somewhere between dark horse and frontrunner for most people. Now's it has been shot by the people who awarded CTHD 6 years ago.

Sadness reigns supreme.

[continues crying]

Adam Luis said...

Europe always has an insantely strong showing, even if what it has to offer is just not good. I mean, how exactly does something like Zus & Zo get nominated? Good thing Water was submitted by Canada because if it was a purely Indian production, I doubt it was be there (and it doesn't bother me either way because I wasn't completely moved by it). They also must not like movies about indigenous cultures, because Atanjurat: The Fast Runner, like Ten Canoes, was also passed by despite tons of publicity and Best Foreign Language Film citations everywhere else.

Anonymous said...

Don´t regret, Nath. "The way I spent the end of the world" is TERRIBLE. It looks like a Halstrom-Weinstein entry.

Anonymous said...

The best way to predict this category: select five countries that you think 20 voters would like to visit (hence their Euro-centrism). And the fact that we could have an all European line-up (Denmark, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain). While I think Mexico will be there, I wouldn't be too sure about Water.

Glenn Dunks said...

I don't get the chance to see many Asian films that aren't martial arts or horror, and it's because of this category.

Oh, but I suppose, Letters From iwo Jima counts in the minds of some. Ugh.

"Australia ("Ten Canoes" looks pretty great)."

Cause it is. It recently won six AFI awards, so that's special enough as it is.

I really hope Water gets a nomination. I haven't seen any of these excelt Water and Volver, but they're two of my favourites from 2006. Seeing Pan's soon hopefully (it's out today, but only in major cities of course).

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen Days of glory and Avenue Montaigne. I didn't think Vitus was all that special (except that Bruno Ganz is there), but all the other choises are good!

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