France enters ‘A Prophet’ in Oscar race

Posted by · 6:45 am · September 17th, 2009

Tahar Rahim in A ProphetNews has just come in that France has selected Jacques Audiard’s critically lauded prison drama “A Prophet” as their official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film competition. (Thanks to reader Ali for the tip.)

The film was chosen by a panel including actress Jeanne Moreau, Cannes festival director Thierry Frémaux and filmmakers Jean-Jacques Annaud, Costa-Gavras and Régis Wargnier. Classy.

The choice comes as no surprise whatsoever: many have regarded it as a virtual fait accompli since the film’s sensational debut in Cannes, where it won the runner-up Grand Prix. (It will, of course, once more face its Cannes conqueror, “The White Ribbon,” in the Oscar race.)

Meanwhile, for the last two years running, the French have gone with comparatively edgy Cannes winners as their Oscar ponies (“The Class” was nominated, “Persepolis” infamously snubbed), so the selection of “A Prophet” continues that pattern.

Some are already talking up the film as a favorite for the award, though as we all know, the Academy’s foreign-language committee can be as wilful as they are out of touch. Gritty crime sagas aren’t very much to their taste — as early favorite “Gomorrah” learned earlier this year.

That said, the film has played extremely well at Telluride and Toronto (check out Kris’s favorable capsule review here), and looks set to feature heavily in the precursor lists. (It’s even being listed as an outside contender in other other categories, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for breakout star Tahar Rahim.)

That momentum should be enough to secure it a spot on the initial 9-film shortlist in January — particularly with the recent innovation of a smaller executive committee to prevent major contenders slipping through the cracks. That said, that very committee still missed the boat on “Gomorrah.” You just don’t know with these guys.

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9 responses so far

  • 1 9-17-2009 at 6:59 am

    Bill M. said...

    A domestic release date on this one yet?

    Maybe in the coming weeks since it seems like for the last week or ten days that all the Foreign Language submission news has been rolling in, you could set up the list of foreign language submissions and U.S release dates if any.

    Obviously ,White Ribbon is the front-runner, right now.

  • 2 9-17-2009 at 7:11 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I’d be very hesitant to declare “The White Ribbon” a frontrunner right now. I’m still unconvinced that the very conservative foreign-language committee is going to flip for a Michael Haneke picture. I mean, these are the guys who couldn’t handle anything harder than “Departures.”

    Anyway, “A Prophet” is set for release in February 2010, though I’m guessing it’ll get a general Oscar-qualifying run in December, as was the case with “Gomorrah” last year.

    We did offer a list of the submissions so far yesterday. Obviously, we’ll do so again when the deadline for submissions comes on 1 October, and will do our best to dig up any US release dates. (They’ll be few and far between.)

  • 3 9-17-2009 at 8:00 am

    Chris said...

    I think “A Prophet” has a better shot than “Gomorra”, because despite their similarly gritty topic, the Audiard’s film still is much warmer and not as dark as “Gomorra”.

  • 4 9-17-2009 at 10:20 am

    red_wine said...

    Woohoo! Even I think chances are better than Gomorrah. But the academy has lately seemed completely off nominating foreign language films for anything else. There literally seems this deep-down prejudice against sub-titled films.

  • 5 9-17-2009 at 11:13 am

    j said...

    Hmm, the French & German 35 Shots of Rum stands at 99 on MC with only 6 reviews. That’ll probs go down a lot.

    It did make Film Comment’s best unreleased movies they watched list last year, though Hurt Locker only rated at no. 14 on that list, so not sure how “legitimate” that list is.

  • 6 9-17-2009 at 11:19 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “35 Shots of Rum” is brilliant. In my top 3 of the year so far.

  • 7 9-17-2009 at 4:00 pm

    rosengje said...

    Love love A Prophet. The last, and arguably best, movie I saw at Cannes.

  • 8 9-17-2009 at 4:24 pm

    carrie said...

    it’s a masterpiece,this movie!

  • 9 9-17-2009 at 10:14 pm

    Morgan said...

    Having seen both this and The White Ribbon at Telluride, I’d bet on neither of them ultimately winning. The White Ribbon is too uncomfortable and weird and violating, and Un Prophete is way too violent and forward-thinking. I mean, I’d be thrilled if they surprised me, but I doubt it.

    But on a more important level, this film is unbelievable. By far my favorite at Telluride and of the year. It is just phenomenal. If there is any justice in the world Tahar Rahim will get significant attention for this — I don’t care if it’s a nomination or what as long as it gets him a ton of other roles in the future, because he was formidable.