13 January 2009

Foreign Oscar Short-List for 2009: From 65 to 9

The foreign-language short-list has been officially announced, knocking the sixty-five country submissions down to nine before the official five nominees are announced on the 22nd. Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah was the big oversight this round of elimination, but if that's the only blunder they've made thusfar (remember 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Persepolis didn't even make the short-list last year), they're off to a good start. The 9 are:

Revanche - dir. Götz Spielmann - Austria (Criterion)
The Necessities of Life [Ce qu'il faut pour vivre] - dir. Benoît Pilon - Canada (No US distributor, owned by Séville Pictures in Canada)
The Class [Entre les murs] - dir. Laurent Cantet - France (Sony Pictures Classics, begins limited run 30 January)
The Baader-Meinhof Complex [Der Baader Meinhof Komplex] - dir. Uli Edel - Germany (No US distributor, owned by Momentum Pictures in the UK)
Waltz with Bashir - dir. Ari Folman - Israel (Sony Pictures Classics, in limited release now)
Departures - dir. Yojiro Takita - Japan (No US distributor)
Tear This Heart Out [Arráncame la vida] - dir. Roberto Sneider - Mexico (No US distributor)
Everlasting Moments [Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick] - dir. Jan Troell - Sweden (IFC Films, begins limited run 8 March)
3 Monkeys [Üç maymun] - dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan - Turkey (Apparently owned by New Yorker, but I've found no confirmation other than on the Toronto International Film Festival's website)

Other than Gomorrah, the other two big oversights didn't come as much of a surprise. No one expected Chile's Tony Manero to make it to the finalists; it's too sinister for the crusty Oscar crowd. Tulpan, Kazakhstan's submission, was also missing from the list; the film won the Un Certain Regard award at this year's Cannes. It had already been determined that Argentina made the wrong choice with Leonera as their pick, as it's been regarded as much lesser of a film than the country's other offerings from 08: The Headless Woman, Birdsong, Liverpool. After it's win at the Globes this past Sunday (a first for the Foreign Press to award a non-fiction film) and its increasing topical nature, Waltz with Bashir looks like the film to beat. Again, the Oscar nominations will be announced on 22 January.


Anonymous said...

Is Bashir the film to beat? I thought The Class would be. Plus, while not having seen it, my guess is the topical side of Bashir -- as well as Milk -- might be red herrings. I might be wrong.

reassurance said...

I think the violence in Gaza has line-jumped Proposition 8 in terms of topical relevance. And, I don't think Waltz with Bashir is the film to beat in terms of quality; of the three I've seen of the nine (The Class and Revanche being the others), it's easily the weakest. In addition to that, I don't think the fact that it's animated will hurt it thanks to said relevance (and widespread critical praise).

reassurance said...

However... as far as I know, Bashir is eligible in both the foreign and animation category. I don't know about whether it was disqualified from the docs, but it wasn't on the shortlist, which you can find here.

Blake Williams said...

I guess I'll be pulling for The Class, as it is the only one I've seen. What is it about the foreign film category that always makes it seem like the voters just pulled their picks out of a hat? Regardless of quality, I can't comprehend how Let the Right One In, with it's massive popularity, didn't get onto the shortlist. I have a hunch that The Class and 3 Monkeys are only there because of the special jury that they had to invent to keep the award from further becoming the giant joke than it has.

Blake Williams said...

I just noticed that everlasting Moments was the Swedish entry, explaining the Let the Right One In absence.

reassurance said...

Blake, I think you're right about Three Monkeys, but The Class really isn't as "high art restrictive" (for lack of a better term at the moment) as a lot of people are making it out to be. It's extremely entertaining and provocative without "offending" the Academy. I'm not sure of its chances at winning, but you know it's my pick. With such a weak showing for big-budget American cinema, you'd think a number of foreign films would have an opening for the directing and screenwriting nods, but all the "predictions" I've seen have been strictly English-language. As far as statistics go (and please correct me if I'm wrong), I don't think the Palme d'Or winner has taken home the best foreign language Oscar since Claude Lelouch's Un homme et une femme.