16 January 2008

Bitch, bitch, moan, moan

I think it's only now hit me the fact that the Academy Awards snubbed the two biggest sure-bets of the foreign film category: 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days from Romania and Persepolis from France. I can let it slide that The Orphanage from Spain didn't make the cut (I've talked to a few that hated it as much as Joshua... ha!), but those two?? I was initially irked by the fact that Mike has taken an unprecedented five point lead against me in our Oscar nominations poll, but it's official: the Academy Award for best foreign film is a complete sham. And I haven't even seen either of the movies that have provoked these feelings! I think I literally gasped when Volver didn't make the final five nominees last year, as not only was it the best of the lot, but it was better than all of the nominees for Best Picture anyway (even last year's winner Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck expressed his befuddlement in Volver's absence when I interviewed him last year, particularly its snub over Pan's Labyrinth). And for that matter, so was Paul Verhoeven's Black Book which wasn't nominated either. As further proof of the Academy's confusion when it comes to foreign language titles, you can look no further than City of God or Y tu mamá también, two films submitted by their respective countries as official entries for the foreign category, not nominated, and then nominated a year later in other categories (as different rules apply based on a US theatrical release). "Well, we fucked up with those ones and gave some awards to movies no one will remember like Nowhere in Africa." Even the film that would otherwise be the frontrunner in the Foreign race, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, couldn't be nominated - as France chose Persepolis as their pick this year instead. Every year something shitty happens in regards to this category and every year we hope that something will change. (The only change that's occurred in the foreign rulings is the allowance of films whose language does not have to be in the official language of the country submitting it, a problem faced with Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-ever from Sweden and averted by Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light from Mexico and Manoel de Oliveira's Belle toujours from Portugal) Perhaps nothing will change, but if 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Persepolis get completely snubbed this year (both are eligible in all the other categories), hopefully someone will speak out.

Here are a bunch of notable films that got snubbed this year:
XXY - dir. Lucía Puenzo - Argentina
The Silly Age [La edad de la peseta] - dir. Pavel Giroud - Cuba
Persepolis - dir. Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi - France
The Edge of Heaven [Auf der anderen Seite] - dir. Fatih Akin - Germany
Exiled - dir. Johnnie To - Hong Kong
Silent Light [Stellet licht] - dir. Carlos Reygadas - Mexico
Belle toujours - dir. Manoel de Oliveira - Portugal
4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days [4 luni, 3 săptămâni şi 2 zile] - dir. Cristian Mungiu - Romania
King of Fire - dir. Chatrichalerm Yukol - Thailand

Here's the ones that made it:
The Counterfeiters [Die Fälscher] - dir. Stefan Ruzowitzky - Austria
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation [O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias] - dir. Cao Hamburger - Brazil
Days of Darkness [L'âge des ténèbres] - dir. Denys Arcand - Canada
Beaufort - dir. Joseph Cedar - Israel
The Unknown [La sconosciuta] - dir. Giuseppe Tornatore - Italy
Mongol - dir. Sergei Bodrov - Kazakhstan
Katyn - dir. Andrzej Wajda - Poland
12 - dir. Nikita Mikhalkov - Russia
The Trap [Klopka] - dir. Srdan Golubovic - Serbia

Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions), Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso, yuuuuck!), Wajda (honorary award) and Mikhalkov (Burnt by the Sun) are all previous Oscar winners.

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