Foreign film shortlist revealed, ‘Gomorrah’ snubbed

Posted by · 11:53 am · January 13th, 2009

This is the most vile of all Academy committees.  They prove their disdain for truly great cinema year in and year out (let’s not forget last year’s snubs of “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” and “Persepolis” early on), and they’ve done it again this year, skewering Matteo Garrone’s blistering “Gomorrah,” leaving it for the dogs, cast aside, abandoned.

The almighty foreign language film committee has chosen the following to proceed to the next stage of the season:

“3 Monkeys” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan — Turkey)
“The Baader Meinhof Complex” (Uli Edel — Germany)
“The Class” (Laurent Cantet — France)
“Departures” (Yojiro Takita — Japan)
“Everlasting Moments” (Jan Troell — Sweden)
“The Necessities of Life” (Benoit Pilon — Canada)
“Revanche” (Gotz Spielmann — Austria)
“Tear This Heart Out” (Roberto Sneider — Mexico)
“Waltz with Bashir” (Ari Folman — Israel)

Turns out Guy correctly foresaw only four of these in his post this morning.  From these, I’d anticipate “3 Monkeys,” “The Baader Meinhof Complex,” “The Class,” “Everlasting Moments” and, the likely winner, “Waltz with Bashir” to make the final five.

(Thanks to Blake for passing along the list, and kudos to him for anticipating the “Gomorrah” shaft.  I just wanted to disregard all that talk about the committee having an issue with the film’s violence, but you can’t give these bozos the benefit of the doubt, I guess.)

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37 responses so far

  • 1 1-13-2009 at 12:04 pm

    Sound Designer Dan said...

    Paraphrasing from the Simpsons: “Sometimes I think AMPAS wants to fail.”

  • 2 1-13-2009 at 12:04 pm

    Liz said...

    I could have sworn that “The Baader Meinhof Complex” got a fairly negative reception from critics. Was that only in Europe?

  • 3 1-13-2009 at 12:11 pm

    Chase Kahn said...

    I still don’t get why ‘Let the Right One In’ was not submitted by the Swedes — whatever.

    I didn’t get to see ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days’ until after the Oscars — so I wasn’t aware — but I thought it was at least in the final five last year, no?

  • 4 1-13-2009 at 12:13 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    No, snubbed at this stage last year Chase.

  • 5 1-13-2009 at 12:40 pm

    Josh said...

    Just a note on terminology: foreign language can’t be the most vile branch of the academy, because it’s not a branch. It’s a group of committees that members of any branch can join, overseen by an executive committee.

    Regardless of who’s responsible, leaving out “Gomorrah” is pathetic.

  • 6 1-13-2009 at 12:43 pm

    michael mckay said...

    Gomorrah has yet to screen in my neck of the woods…but I’ve read a great deal about it, and am stunned it didn’t make the short list of potential nominees. Wait a second…this is the AMPAS…why should I be surprised??

    If you go back through the entire history of the AMPAS, this is the one category, that consistently, year after year, they always bungle. They have always had a fairly good grasp on selecting the best domestic films, but when it comes to embracing foreign cinema, their taste leaves a great deal to be desired.

  • 7 1-13-2009 at 12:44 pm

    John K said...

    Branch or not, is Foreign Language the most vile? I think Documentary has a leg up in terms of vileness.

  • 8 1-13-2009 at 12:49 pm

    michael mckay said...

    John K…good point. I think it might be a wash between the two categories, as far as the Academy’s ineptitude in there selection process.

  • 9 1-13-2009 at 12:51 pm

    michael mckay said...

    Is it terrible that I’m beginning to become a bigger fan of the Globes then I am the Oscars??

  • 10 1-13-2009 at 1:04 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    WTF. This is absolutely unacceptable. I just saw GOMORRAH in NY last week. Certainly among the best of the year. And they went for a 2008 domestic release here, so there’s not going to be any CITY OF GOD style redemption next year. Dammit. Screw the foreign branch, just do away with the category.

  • 11 1-13-2009 at 1:05 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    “I could have sworn that “The Baader Meinhof Complex” got a fairly negative reception from critics. Was that only in Europe?”

    Well, the film has right now a Golden Globe and BAFTA Nomination and has a good response by AMPAS so the nomination is sure

    I’m mexican and I think the mexican industry will have good movies like “Amores Perros” “pan’s Labyrinth” or “Y Tu mama Tambien”. Last year, “Silent Light” could be in that nine finalists along with France and Romania. But sorry, “Arrancame la Vida” didn’t deserves that nomination… It would be a shame if that “soup opera” film will win instead Waltz With Bashir or The Class and in cost for the other nominated mexican films… Leonera and Last Stop 174 deserves that spot.

    My predictions:
    *France: The Class
    *Israel: Waltz With bashir
    Those films MUST be nominated for AMPAS credibility in that category

    *Germany: The Baader-Meinhof Complex
    I think is safe…

    *Turkey: 3 Monkeys. I ‘m surprised for his inclusion. Turkey and South Korea have an important film industry right now in Asia.
    *Canada: The Necessities of Life. I don’t know why THEY ignored C.R.A.Z.Y.??!!

    Those two spots I’m not sure, so even Sweden and Mexico could make it.

  • 12 1-13-2009 at 1:56 pm

    mike said...

    BurmaShave: where did you see the movie? In NYC? if so what theater? I thought it wasn’t going to be in theaters (IFC Center) until 2/13…

  • 13 1-13-2009 at 2:02 pm

    Mr. Harmonica said...


    Well, Gomorrah is one of the most disappointing films of the year, so I’m not tossed.

    Sad that O’Horten got left out, though.

  • 14 1-13-2009 at 2:15 pm

    Kyle Leaman said...

    “They prove their disdain for truly great cinema year in and year out…and they’ve done it again this year, skewering Matteo Garrone’s blistering “Gomorrah,” leaving it for the dogs, cast aside, abandoned.”

    So the films that the branch did choose, are those not great cinema? They vote right? Perhaps Gomorrah was just not as liked as the other films? Does the committee corroborate, or is there real reason to suspect that the branch saw the artistic greatness of the film, but decided to vote it out on purpose?

  • 15 1-13-2009 at 2:24 pm

    Andrew Dignan said...

    Since no one has mentioned it yet, I’m really pleased that Revanche was singled out. It’s really an incredible (yet exceedingly difficult to both catalog and qualify) film that would benefit greatly from an Oscar nomination.

    Also thought Gomorroah was lousy so no tears for that one.

  • 16 1-13-2009 at 2:35 pm

    Serpen Phlox said...

    Academy members are like soccer refferees, usually compensate their mistakes. Last year made one of the biggest when sent ” Pan’s Laberynth” to the hell of the no-crowning kings.
    This year I bet for Mexican film. They’ll compensate.

  • 17 1-13-2009 at 2:46 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Pan’s Labyrinth had a marvelous loss to a brilliant and much more resonating film to the Academy. In no way any shame, certainly not with the other Oscars it did receive.

  • 18 1-13-2009 at 2:54 pm

    Anthony said...

    This category was already an abortion once the Swedes decided not to submit what is arguably the best film of the year.

    Though I haven’t seen Gomorrah, yet, I have to assume this just makes it worse.

  • 19 1-13-2009 at 3:06 pm

    Mr. Harmonica said...

    If Waltz with Bashir wins, should we expect Ari Folman to repeat the same speech word for word again?

  • 20 1-13-2009 at 3:27 pm

    Adam G. said...

    I haven’t seen Gomorrah yet, so I can’t speak to whether it was snubbed or simply passed over in favour of a more deserving effort. However, I hadn’t seen The Lives of Others until after the Oscars in 2007, so I was under the (mistaken) impression that Pan’s Labyrinth had been dealt some huge injustice, so time will tell .

    I would like to have seen Let the Right One In at least make the shortlist, but I suppose it’s not exactly the sort of movie the Academy likes to award.

    I am pleased that Waltz With Bashir made the cut. I hope it wins.

  • 21 1-13-2009 at 3:29 pm

    Blake said...

    It’s just that the foreign language committee is too old to like a movie like Gomorrah or City of God or 4 Months. I’m hoping Gomorrah can still get in a possible lone director and adapted screenplay nomination, despite the shaft here.

  • 22 1-13-2009 at 3:49 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Josh: Well aware of that, but thanks for the catch.

  • 23 1-13-2009 at 3:59 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    @Adam G.,

    The foreign language film committee couldn’t have shortlisted “Let the Right One In” because Sweden did not nominate it.

  • 24 1-13-2009 at 4:10 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Sigh. I don’t even bother getting upset over this ridiculous category anymore. So much for the new voting system taking care of such embarrassments.

    “Departures” is the only one of these I haven’t yet seen, but in my opinion, “Gomorrah” handily trounces all except “The Class.”

    Pleasantly surprised to see “Three Monkeys” make the cut, but disappointed that the thoroughly artificial “Revanche” did too.

  • 25 1-13-2009 at 4:23 pm

    Kyle Leaman said...

    A serious question

    Does the branch corroborate or do they vote privately?

  • 26 1-13-2009 at 5:15 pm

    Erin said...

    Last time I look this wasn’t the animated category. It’s a shame the committee is too scared to award films that push the envelope.

  • 27 1-13-2009 at 6:14 pm

    Patrick F said...

    Maybe they’ll rectify this next year with a “City Of God’-style turnaround. Not Likely though.

    They need to change the system. Now. It just has to change. Now.

  • 28 1-13-2009 at 6:16 pm

    Patrick F said...

    I’ve heard that Baader Meinhoff is embarrassing in a Paul Haggis sort of way.

  • 29 1-13-2009 at 6:21 pm

    Kate said...

    I´m very happy for Mexico.
    I hope this movie get a nomination, but it looks very difficult.

  • 30 1-13-2009 at 6:39 pm

    Kyle Leaman said...


    Looking at the past nominees for Foreign films from the academy, how have they proven themselves not able to embrace films that push the envelope?

  • 31 1-13-2009 at 6:43 pm

    Patrick F said...

    Kyle, I agree.
    Still, for every “Lives Of Others”, there’s a “Kolya”

  • 32 1-13-2009 at 6:58 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    Mike, I’m afraid to say I watched it with a friend who has a screener. A lot of good those did.

  • 33 1-13-2009 at 9:48 pm

    Glenn said...

    Wait, is this the shortlist AFTER the second committee has added their special citations? That is loopy.

    I’m saddest for “O’Horten”. What a lovely movie that was.

    Are any of these shortlisted titles about the holocaust? If so… there’s your winner.

  • 34 1-14-2009 at 2:38 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I didn’t find “Baader Meinhof” embarrassing, really — just workmanlike and bland. Along with “Revanche” and “Tear This Heart Out,” it has no business being in the company of “The Class” and “Three Monkeys.”

    Now watch all three of the former get nominated ahead of the latter two.

  • 35 1-14-2009 at 11:55 am

    mike said...

    I looked into it and I do not think Sweden could have nominated Let The Right One In this year, I think it was released after the deadline, it had to be released by Sept 30, but it was released in Nov in Sweden, so maybe next year it will be nominated?