Waiting on Oscar’s foreign language shortlist

Posted by · 8:29 am · January 20th, 2010

Last Saturday, the Academy concluded four months of screenings of the 65 films in contention for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film award. Today, that tall pile of titles will be culled to a shortlist of just nine contenders, from which the eventual five nominees will be chosen. Making predictions here is a pretty thankless […]

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‘White Ribbon’ triumphs at European Film Awards

Posted by · 12:57 pm · December 12th, 2009

(UPDATE: Due to an error on the EFA’s own website, we initially reported that the technical Prix d’Excellence had been awarded to “Vincere.” This is incorrect: the sound design team behind “A Prophet” took the prize.) Foreign-language Oscar favorites “The White Ribbon” and “A Prophet” have been locked in something of an awards duel since […]

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‘A Prophet’ dominates European Film Award nominations

Posted by · 7:19 am · November 7th, 2009

Is “A Prophet” gradually stealing awards-season momentum from “The White Ribbon?” (It’s the superior film, if you ask me.) Too soon to say, of course, but it certainly came out on top in this morning’s European Film Award nominations. Jacques Audiard’s searing chronicle of French prison gangs leads the field with six nominations, to four […]

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THE LONG SHOT: Mind your language

Posted by · 3:38 pm · October 28th, 2009

You might not be aware of it, but the competition is already formally under way in Oscar’s most perennially problematic category, Best Foreign Language Film. For almost two weeks now, official Academy screenings of the longlisted contenders in the race have been in progress, and will continue through January, until all 65 titles have been […]

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France enters ‘A Prophet’ in Oscar race

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

News 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, […]

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Prince of the city

Posted by · 4:17 pm · August 25th, 2009

I have Chad to thank for pointing me to this Criterion DVD cover (pictured left) for Matteo Garrone’s “Gomorrah,” a film you may remember we kind of liked here at In Contention. Chad is no fan of the cover art (which of course riffs on one of the film’s most widely publicized images), and a […]

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Cheap thrills

Posted by · 12:14 pm · July 6th, 2009

I was tickled by — and completely related to — this piece by Cinematical’s Elisabeth Rappe in which she expounds the joys of embarrassing bargain-bin DVDs. You know, the movies you know you shouldn’t own (and in some cases, don’t even like that much) but can’t resist picking up when you’re in the store and […]

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THE LISTS: Top 10 Cannes runners-up of all time

Posted by · 2:08 pm · May 12th, 2009

I’ll be honest with you, readers. Struck with the idea of waking (after its winter nap) our weekly lists feature with something suitably Cannes-themed, I started with the obvious: the 10 greatest Palme d’Or winners of all time. Simple, snappy, uncomplicated. Or so I thought. But as I began whittling down the titles, I came […]

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A friendly recommendation

Posted by · 5:28 am · April 22nd, 2009

I’m not in the habit of imploring people to go see things — much like organic breakfast cereal, specialist cinema is tastier when you haven’t persistently been reminded how good it is for you — but I must make an exception on behalf of Paolo Sorrentino’s cracking political bio-thriller “Il Divo,” which opens Stateside on […]

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‘4 Months’ takes BBC award

Posted by · 3:02 pm · January 31st, 2009

The BBC Four World Cinema Award is an endearingly unassuming, low-fi ceremony — so unassuming and low-fi, in fact, I’d forgotten it took place until I happened upon the TV broadcast earlier this evening. (It seems nesting on a Saturday night has the odd advantage.) It’s a simple enough prize. UK critics elect a shortlist […]

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The Bagger gets it

Posted by · 9:34 am · January 28th, 2009

As if we needed any more reasons to love David Carr, he has come out in full support of Matteo Garrone’s superb “Gomorrah,” citing its Oscar snub as “criminal”: (The Bagger) can’t get the movie out of his mind. There is a kind of moral certainty to the film – deeply corrupt, remarkably brutal – […]

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Cesar nods include ‘Class,’ ‘Loved,’ Swinton

Posted by · 7:57 am · January 24th, 2009

Now here’s a set of nominations I can get behind. As I may have mentioned before, 2008 was all about the rejuvenation of French cinema for me, with Gallic productions occupying a quarter of my year-end Top 20, including the two poll spots. So it’s hardly surprising that I’m immensely pleased by the list of […]

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Guessing games

Posted by · 7:06 pm · January 22nd, 2009

I only just got round to counting up my correct predictions across all categories, and wound up with a tally of 68 from 97 slots. This is the first year I’ve ever gone remotely public with my Oscar predictions, so while I can tell you that this was a pretty poor year for me (3/5 […]

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My dream ballot: part two

Posted by · 12:24 pm · January 21st, 2009

OK, I explained the deal with this yesterday, when I covered the technical categories. What follows are the names and films that I, in a perfect world, would like to hear announced by Sid Ganis and Forest Whitaker bright and early tomorrow morning. (Or tomorrow afternoon, in my case … living across the Atlantic does […]

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All eyes on left field

Posted by · 11:15 am · January 21st, 2009

The nominations announcement is, oh, 18 hours away (yeah, we count minutes at this stage).  Even though I’m well on the record as being a prognosticative pussy this year, I can’t shake the feeling that we’re in for our share of surprises.  I doubt I’m alone. You can go back over Oscar history and write […]

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OFF THE CARPET: Enough foreplay

Posted by · 9:59 am · January 19th, 2009

What else is there to say?  Tomorrow we’ll have a new president and the last eight years will, hopefully, start to fade away.  In four days we’ll have a fresh slate of Oscar nominees and the last four months of awards speculation will suddenly be a distant memory.  The big wheel keeps on turning. I […]

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WEEKLY WRAP: Globe surprises, best shots, BAFTA nods

Posted by · 6:00 pm · January 16th, 2009

Sorry the Weekly Wrap feature has been M.I.A. these past few weeks — between the holidays and various disasters, they got a bit forgotten. Anyway, it’s back this week, and what a busy week it was: • In a new annual institution at IC, Kris reviewed the top 10 shots of the year here … […]

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‘Gomorrah’ doesn’t deliver, says AMPAS

Posted by · 7:29 am · January 14th, 2009

Kris has already given the philistines on the Academy’s foreign-language film committee a deserved telling-off for sidelining Italy’s astonishing entry “Gomorrah,” but I feel compelled to add my voice to his — not least because, if I had my way, Matteo Garrone’s cinematic gut-punch about the Camorra crime syndicate would be in line for a Best […]

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