Foreign film shortlist to drop soon

Posted by · 4:36 am · January 13th, 2009

Waltz with BashirI believe the 9-title shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film is due today, but details on the announcement are oddly hard to come by, so I could be wrong.

In any case, it’s one I’m having a tough time calling. The new voting system should ensure that some of the year’s most acclaimed contenders are spared the indignity of being left off the shortlist (as happened, notoriously, to “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” and “Persepolis” last year), so it’s difficult to see favorites “Waltz With Bashir” (fresh from its Globe win) and “Gomorrah” missing the cut. 

I’d like to say that the best film of 2008, “The Class,” is similarly assured a spot, but it’s a risky, tough-minded docudrama, and I’m not sure how the committee (even the executive panel created to keep things in check) will respond to it — especially with “Gomorrah” and “Bashir” also occupying contemporary, genre-spanning territory. Fingers crossed. 

Beyond that, my predictions get shaky. I think my projected list is a little heavy on European entries, but it’s hard to predict which one/s will miss. The Academy invariably throws a few less-heralded curveballs into the mix, but with 67 entries to choose from (and many of them fairly unknown quantities), it’s anyone’s guess which obscurities have caught the committee’s eye.

(More thoughts, and my predicted shortlist, below the cut.)

Last month, I highlighted some alternative possibilities from the list. “Tony Manero”‘s publicity team has been lobbying hard recently for the quirky, blacker-than-black comedy, but it’s a tough sell for more genteel voters. “Tulpan” has cut a surprising path through the festival circuit; after “Mongol,” can Kazakhstan score two years running? Austria’s “Revanche” has a melodramatic arc that the Academy might well like, but can they get past its grimy, explicit opening act? 

My predictions are below. I know we’ve got a global readership, so I’d be grateful for your insights. What am I underestimating (or overestimating, for that matter)?

“Lion’s Den,” Argentina

“The Class,” France

“The Baader Meinhof Complex,” Germany

“Waltz With Bashir,” Israel

“Gomorrah,” Italy

“Captain Abu Raed,” Jordan

“O’ Horten,” Norway

“The Mermaid,” Russia

“Everlasting Moments,” Sweden

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10 responses so far

  • 1 1-13-2009 at 5:17 am

    Anonymous said...

    I saw the class, and I really liked it, but I can’t help but feel that if the film was in English, critics here would have teared it to shreds. I wonder if anyone in the Academy feels the same way.

  • 2 1-13-2009 at 5:27 am

    carlo said...

    when will the philippines ever get some oscar love?

  • 3 1-13-2009 at 6:00 am

    hernan said...

    Lion’s Den is a really good film, in the same level that Gomorrah (the only other one that’ve watch). But it’s smaller and a little dark to the Academy members. I think that it has no chance.

  • 4 1-13-2009 at 8:23 am

    Blake said...

    I loved Gomorrah. Maybe in my top 5 of the year. I recently saw it as PSFF, and I was shocked how many elderly people were leaving the theater. Only about 5 other people joined me in applause at the end. Keep in mind this is a theater filled with 300.

    If you ask me, the foreign language committee is not going to like this film…at all. I will be very happy if they do. The Class to a lesser extent. They weren’t exactly enthusiastic about that either. I know we are talking about different groups, but I am considering the same age range, so I’m thinking that will carry over here. The Palm Springs Film Fest showed very good response to Everlasting Moments, a film I thought was rather cheap in production and merit.

  • 5 1-13-2009 at 9:53 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Well the fact there’s so many frontrunners in this category makes it interesting for a change here.
    Lots of things possible here with both shortlist and nods.

  • 6 1-13-2009 at 10:44 am

    James D. said...

    When 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days and Persepolis were not even relevant, the Oscars Foreign Film category became irrelevant to me. If The Class wins, it will be a nice apology, but not enough.

  • 7 1-13-2009 at 11:44 am

    Blake said...

    Why am I not surprised?

    Turns out I was right…

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

    “Everlasting Moments” is very traditional Oscar Foreign Language fodder. It’s very cheaply made though, so it might/might not make it here. 3 Monkeys is very slow and dark. The Class- not something they would traditionally go for, but possibly.

  • 8 1-13-2009 at 12:20 pm

    David said...

    no Gomorra? not even in the group of 9? unbelievable.

  • 9 1-18-2009 at 2:46 pm

    Adonai said...

    i’m mexican and i’m so proud of the mexican filmmakers but i must admit it’s a shame that “Tear This Heart Out” is in the shortlist.. i didn’t shee the other ones.. but i saw Gomorra and have this mexican movie over gomorra is just an insult.. i really want that someday mexican cinema would be recognized but not for mediocre movies like this one.