By Tom O’Brien
We’re down to crunch time – the Academy has released its shortlist for the newly-named Best International Feature Film (formerly Best Foreign Language Film). Films from 93 countries were submitted, but two were disqualified for containing too much English, including Nigeria’s “Lionheart.”
Here are the rules:
“Los Angeles-based Academy members from all branches screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 10. The group’s top seven choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist. Academy members eligible to participate in the Nominations round of voting will view the shortlisted films. Members must see all ten films before casting their ballots.”
So here we go. These are the final ten films in competition for Best International Feature Film…
“Parasite“ (South Korea) – Arguably the film of the year. Enough said.
“Pain and Glory“ (Spain) – Pedro Almodóvar looks back at his impressive career with his muse, Antonio Banderas, who is aiming to earn his first Oscar nomination for his performance as the master himself.
“The Painted Bird” (Czech Republic) – A black-and-white war movie based on the novel by Jerzy Kosiński, and adapted by the film’s director Václav Marhoul, which focuses on a Jewish boy who has to find his own way when left alone in Eastern Europe.
“Truth and Justice” (Estonia) – This Estonian film, written and directed by Tanel Toom, looks at a newly-arrived farmer and his conflict with his neighbor.
“Les Misérables” (France) – This street drama by Ladj Ly, which nosed out “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” to become France’s official submission in this category, stands as a stealth contender to take the big prize.
“Those Who Remained” (Hungary) – This Hungarian entry, directed by Barnabás Tóth, concerns a teenager and a middle-aged doctor, both of whom are mourning their families who were lost in concentration camps. It’s the Holocaust, people, and as Oscar watchers know, that’s catnip in this category. Vote against it at your own peril.
“Honeyland” (North Macedonia) – For a documentary on beekeepers from North Macedonia, “Honeyland” did pretty well, earning over $700,000 in the U.S. alone. With a savvy distributor like NEON behind it, “Honeyland,” which is also shortlisted in the documentary category, stands a strong chance of making the final five.
“Corpus Christi” (Poland) – Jan Komasa’s film focuses on a criminal, imprisoned for second-degree murder, who has the vocation to become a Catholic priest. But because his criminal background forbids him from being ordained, he pretends to be a priest in a small parish.
“Beanpole” (Russia) – Kantemir Balagov’s “Beanpole,” which won the Un Certain Regard Best Director Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is set in Leningrad in 1945, chronicling the return of a woman in World War II who comes home with her three-year-old child.
“Atlantics” (Senegal) – A supernatural romantic drama that won the Grand Prix at Cannes, and with it, director, Mati Diop, became the first black woman to ever direct a film in competition at Cannes. One advantage that “Atlantics” has – it’s on Netflix.
See you all on January 13 when the final five nominees in International Feature will be announced. What do you think they will be? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.
You can follow Tom and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @thomaseobrien