Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Rise Of International Cinema: Oscar Nominations Beyond Best International Feature For The 96th Academy Awards

There has been a lot of discussion about the “New Academy” and how this massive influx of younger, more diverse voters has impacted the most recent Oscar ceremonies. Notably, the Academy has made a concerted effort to invite non-American voters. In 2019, the Academy renamed the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category from its previous title, Best Foreign Language Film, reflecting a more globalized and interconnected world. This mindset indicates that the Academy is interested in reflecting our more globalized, interconnected world with their awards. In particular, a good number of international films have received nominations outside of the Best International Feature category. Gone are the days when occasional breakthrough films like “Z,” “Life is Beautiful,” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” were considered anomalies for racking up multiple nominations. Now, seemingly every year, non-English language films have appealed to voters across many different branches, including “Roma” (ten nominations), “Parasite” (six nominations, including a Best Picture win), “Drive My Car” (four nominations), and “All Quiet on the Western Front” (nine nominations). With that in mind, which non-English films could make an impact at the upcoming Oscars? There are several contenders this year, and although not all of them were selected by their home country to compete in Best International Film, there’s still a chance that Oscar voters will see fit to nominate them in other categories.

Since they both premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, two international films have dominated Oscar conversations: Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall” and Jonathan Glazer’s “The Zone of Interest.” Although it was awarded the Palme d’Or, France didn’t choose the former to compete for Best International Feature at the Oscars (more on that later); the United Kingdom selected the latter. In addition, both films have a decent chance at scoring nominations for Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay (Original for “Anatomy of a Fall,” Adapted for “The Zone of Interest“). Glazer, in particular, is a strong candidate for Best Director. This is only his fourth feature film, but all have received acclaim. It’s only a matter of time before the Academy notices him, and a Best Director nomination would fit right in with the recent trend of nominating established international directors whose films premiered at Cannes, like Ruben Östlund (“Triangle of Sadness“), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (“Drive My Car“), and Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite“).

Interestingly, both films feature performances from Sandra Hüller, and there is a possibility that she will receive double nominations for her work in both films. She’s widely predicted to score a nod in Best Actress for “Anatomy of a Fall.” If the Academy’s acting branch is particularly impressed by her range, she could receive an additional Supporting Actress nomination for “The Zone of Interest.” In addition, the general strength of both films means that they may garner attention in below-the-line categories, including Best Cinematography and Sound for “The Zone of Interest” and Best Film Editing for “Anatomy of a Fall.” Regardless of how few or how many nominations the two films receive, it seems inevitable that they will both be mentioned on nomination morning.

The film that was selected, somewhat surprisingly, as France’s representation is “The Taste of Things,” a delicious romance from writer-director Trần Anh Hùng. Although “Anatomy of a Fall” may be a bigger overall contender, “The Taste of Things” has the potential for broad appeal amongst Academy voters. It’s very likely to score a nomination in Best International Feature (France holds the record as the most nominated country, with a whopping 41 French films having achieved this throughout the category’s history). Besides that category, the film’s likeliest chances for Academy recognition are in Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actress, thanks to an acclaimed performance from previous winner Juliette Binoche. If the Academy really falls for the scrumptious film, it has a shot of scoring nominations for Best Picture and Best Costume Design (as with any period film).

As always, Netflix has several titles aimed right at Academy voters, including “The Killer,” “Maestro,” and “Nyad.” However, if buzz from the early screenings is to be believed, there’s a chance that one of their biggest contenders is Spain’s submission for Best International Feature: “Society of the Snow” from director J.A. Bayona. This narrative may sound familiar to Oscar obsessives. Just last year, Netflix pushed several films for awards, including “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” and “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” however, their most successful film at the Academy Awards turned out to be the German language adaptation of “All Quiet on the Western Front.” It seemingly came out of nowhere late in the season, won four Oscars, and likely finished in second place for Best Picture behind the victor, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Society of the Snow” tells the story of the infamous Uruguayan flight that crashed in the Andes in 1972. It’s a harrowing tale of resilience and survival, which might be right up the Academy’s alley. Although there’s intense competition from several films that are sure to score big, both above and below the line (“Barbie,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Oppenheimer,” and “Poor Things“), “Society of the Snow” just might appeal to voters and receive nominations in a handful of categories, including Best Sound, Makeup & Hairstyling, Visual Effects, Film Editing, and Score. And, of course, once a film starts racking up craft nominations like that, it must be considered a threat in the prestige categories of Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Picture.

Regarding the difficult task of selecting one film representing an entire nation in Best International Feature, Japan had a tougher choice than most countries. They ultimately landed on Wim Wenders’ well-received film “Perfect Days.” This contemplative look at the simple life of a Tokyo toilet cleaner stars Kōji Yakusho, who could potentially break into the overstuffed Best Actor race, especially if critics groups draw attention to him. There was early buzz for “Evil Does Not Exist” from Ryusuke Hamaguchi (the director of Oscar favorite “Drive My Car“) following its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival. But that won’t be released till next year. In addition, master of animation Hayao Miyazaki has returned to cinemas after a decade-long break with “The Boy and the Heron.” Obviously, this will be a significant player in Best Animated Feature, where it will likely face off against frontrunner “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” Fans of Miyazaki’s stellar filmography are also calling for longtime collaborator Joe Hisaishi to receive a long overdue nomination for Best Original Score. He’s composed some of the most beautiful music in film history for Miyazaki, including the masterpieces “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “Spirited Away.” It already seems destined that Best Original Score will likely be one of the many Oscars awarded to “Oppenheimer,” but if “The Boy and the Heron” can at least receive a nomination, it will be justly deserved.

Besides these major contenders, a few international films are also competing for recognition in at least one category outside of Best International Feature. Poland’s official selection is the animated drama “The Peasants.” It’s directed by married couple DK and Hugh Welchman, the team behind “Loving Vincent,” which received a Best Animated Feature nomination at the 2017 Oscars. Both films feature animation in the style of hand-drawn paintings, and “The Peasants” has a good shot at mirroring the Oscar success of “Loving Vincent.”

For its selection, Ukraine went with “20 Days in Mariupol.” This harrowing documentary covers the Russian invasion of Ukraine, specifically the siege of the central city of Mariupol. Seeing as it explores a still-timely topic, there’s a strong potential that it could score nominations in both Best International Feature and Best Documentary Feature. This dual nomination feat was also recently achieved by the films “Honeyland,” “Collective,” and “Flee.” Clearly, these Academy branches aren’t afraid of double-dipping.

Finally, Pablo Larraín’s latest film, “El Conde,” wasn’t selected by his home country of Chile. Still, its stunning black-and-white photography could appeal to the section of the Academy in charge of nominations for Best Cinematography. That branch has shown that it is willing to cite films that otherwise aren’t noticed by the Academy, including just last year when both “Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths” and “Empire of Light” scored their only nominations in this category. Additionally, black-and-white films particularly appeal to this branch. Six ceremonies have featured at least one black-and-white nominee for Best Cinematography in the past decade.

Regardless of exactly how many international films can break out and receive nominations outside of their designated category at the upcoming Oscars, it seems inevitable that non-English films will be a prominent factor. This new Academy is unafraid of exploring the film world outside America’s borders.

Which international films do you think will receive Oscar nominations outside of just Best International Feature for this year’s Academy Awards? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account and check out their latest Oscar predictions here.

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Cody Dericks
Cody Dericks
Actor, awards & musical theatre buff. Co-host of the horror film podcast Halloweeners.

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