But I am always interested in seeing what countries submit for the Foreign Language Film Oscar. I am on record as not being a fan of the current process - thinking you should actually have to release your film in North America to be considered, and that as long as it is released, then it should be eligible, instead of having some political panel select their countries "best" film. But no matter. The Academy won't change it, and I'm tired of tilting at windmills.
What strikes me about the 63 films that were selected this year is how few of them I have heard of. Hell, I hadn't even heard of my own country's selection - Monsieur Lazhar by Phillip Falardeau (a brief read of the synopsis has me thinking Canada will not be getting nominated two years in a row). Below, I have highlighted some of the title that did stand out for me though. I'm not going to bother making predictions now - until the shortlist of 9 titles is announced, it's a fool's errand.
The Flowers of War (Zhang Yimou, China) - The people you picked Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou (1990) for China selection were fired for picking a supposedly anti-Chinese film. Now, 21 years later, Yimou seems to be one of their go to guys. I don't know what to make of that. Christian Bale stars in this one, and it is about Chinese sex workers who volunteer to take over as escorts for occuoying Japanese soliders in 1937. No clue what it's like.
Le Havre (Aki Kariusmaki, Finland) - Famed Finnish director Kariusmaki's latest has been on the Festival circuit since Cannes in May - and has generated some mixed reviews - some saying it's a return to form for Aki, some insisting it's more of the same. This is about a shoe shiner, who tries to save a refugee. I seem to remember Aki pulling his last films, Lights in the Dusk, from consideration after Finald selected it - so we'll see what happens.
Pina (Wim Wenders, Germany) - Wenders is one of the important filmmakers of the German New Wave movement of the 1970s. But for many, his last great film was 1987's Wings of Desire, and he's been coasting ever since. I'm not necessarily one of them, but it's true it's been a while since Wenders was truly great. This is apparently a 3-D dance documentary. Who knew that Wenders would direct that, or it would be the best a major film producing country like Germany produced in a year? The reviews have been good so far.
The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, Hungary) - I can all but guarntee you two things - the Academy is never going to nominate a Bela Tarr film for anything, and cinephiles will decry them for it. I'm ashamed to admit that he is a filmmaker I have avoided so far - apparently his film are long and slow, but brilliant.
Footnote (Joseph Cedar, Israel) - He got nominated for Beaufort a few years ago, and he is probably a good bet again. I missed Beaufort, and what I heard about Footnote from Cannes did not fill me with desire to see it.
In Darkness (Agnieszka Holland, Poland) - Another WWII film from director Holland, most likely means another nomination.
Burnt By the Sun 2 (Nikia Mikhalov, Russia) - The original won this award way back in 1994, so although I haven't heard great things about this one, don't count it out.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Blige Ceylon, Turkey) - Turkey's premiere filmmaker has been put up for this award before by his home country, but never been nominated. The review for this have been strong, so maybe it's his year.
Below is the complete list of films, countries and their directors:
|Belgium||Bullhead||Michael R. Roskam|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Belvedere||Ahmed Imamovic|
|Brazil||Elite Squad: The Enemy Within||José Padilha|
|Canada||Monsieur Lazhar||Philippe Falardeau|
|Chile||Violeta Went to Heaven||Andrés Wood|
|China||The Flowers of War||Zhang Yimou|
|Colombia||The Colors of the Mountain||Carlos César Arbeláez|
|Croatia||72 Days||Danilo Serbedzija|
|Czech Republic||Alois Nebel||Tomás Lunák|
|Denmark||Superclásico||Ole Christian Madsen|
|Dominican Republic||Love Child||Leticia Tonos|
|Egypt||Lust||Khaled el Hagar|
|Estonia||Letters to Angel||Sulev Keedus|
|Finland||Le Havre||Aki Kaurismäki|
|France||Declaration of War||Valérie Donzelli|
|Greece||Attenberg||Athina Rachel Tsangari|
|Hong Kong||A Simple Life||Ann Hui|
|Hungary||The Turin Horse||Béla Tarr|
|India||Abu, Son of Adam||Salim Ahamed|
|Indonesia||Under the Protection of Ka’Bah||Hanny R. Saputra|
|Iran||A Separation||Asghar Farhadi|
|Ireland||As If I Am Not There||Juanita Wilson|
|Kazakhstan||Returning to the ‘A||Egor Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky|
|Lebanon||Where Do We Go Now?||Nadine Labaki|
|Lithuania||Back to Your Arms||Kristijonas Vildziunas|
|Macedonia||Punk Is Not Dead||Vladimir Blazevski|
|Mexico||Miss Bala||Gerardo Naranjo|
|Morocco||Omar Killed Me||Roschdy Zem|
|Netherlands||Sonny Boy||Maria Peters|
|New Zealand||The Orator||Tusi Tamasese|
|Norway||Happy, Happy||Anne Sewitsky|
|Peru||October||Diego Vega and Daniel Vega|
|Philippines||The Woman in the Septic Tank||Marlon N. Rivera|
|Poland||In Darkness||Agnieszka Holland|
|Portugal||José and Pilar||Miguel Gonçalves Mendes|
|Russia||Burnt by the Sun 2: The Citadel||Nikita Mikhalkov|
|Serbia||Montevideo: Taste of a Dream||Dragan Bjelogrlic|
|Slovak Republic||Gypsy||Martin Sulík|
|South Africa||Beauty||Oliver Hermanus|
|South Korea||The Front Line||Jang Hun|
|Spain||Black Bread||Agusti Villaronga|
|Switzerland||Summer Games||Rolando Colla|
|Taiwan||Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale||Wei Te-sheng|
|Thailand||Kon Khon||Sarunyu Wongkrachang|
|Turkey||Once upon a Time in Anatolia||Nuri Bilge Ceylan|
|United Kingdom||Patagonia||Marc Evans|
|Uruguay||The Silent House||Gustavo Hernández|
|Venezuela||Rumble of the Stones||Alejandro Bellame Palacios|
|Vietnam||The Prince and the Pagoda Boy||Luu Trong Ninh|