Friday, December 19, 2014

A Look at the 9 Finalists for the Best Foreign Film Oscar

Scene from Force Majeure
A few months ago, the Academy released the finalist for the Best Foreign Film Oscars. The list featured a lot of the familiar favorites from fans of international cinema. As the race closes in on the big day, things are starting to look a lot clearer. For starters, the category has dwindled down even further to nine selections. While many will celebrate the surprises that are in store, there's also a sense of confusion of what was omitted. The following is a look at the films that made the cut as well as a few thoughts about how things can go from here.

The following is the list of the finalists. It is presented with film title followed by country.

Wild Tales (Argentina)
Tangerines (Estonia)
Corn Island (Georgia)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Accused (Netherlands)
Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Force Majeure (Sweden)
The Liberator (Venezuela)

To start off on a sour note, let's look at the films that many assumed were going to make the cut but didn't. Director Xavier Dolan's Mommy has been one of the most acclaimed foreign films of the year. Along with some attention at Cannes, it seemed like the film was going to get some recognition for its young and spry filmmaker. I cannot confirm if the film was just too edgy for voters or what, but this is probably the biggest shocker of them all. Winter's Sleep, which won the Palme d'Or this year, is also omitted. However, the saddest one missing for me is Two Days, One Night, which upon catching up with it is a very touching and powerful little drama with Marion Cotillard.

Among the names on here, there's one that has only gotten more levity over time. Ida is a beautiful film that has become the most successful foreign film of the year. It seems posed to win the category. Meanwhile, Tangerines feels like it got a boost from the Golden Globe nomination last week. I am not too aware of most of the other films, though I have heard great things about Leviathan.

There is one film that I am surprised is on here. It is one that I have been really wanting to see since first hearing about it. Force Majeure is a Swedish film that follows a family in the wake of a mountain's avalanche of snow compromises their position. It is supposed to be very funny and a compelling look at masculinity. Speaking as it is a foreign film and thus is in a limited form of release, it is hard to catch it at the moment. Reviews have said that it was very funny however, which is great to hear.

I don't exactly know what will make the cut. I do know that Ida is likely to lead the pack. Maybe Leviathan and Force Meajeure will sneak into the race somehow. Maybe Tangerines will get a boost as well. It is one of the downsides to not having accessibility to these films. Nonetheless, the race is starting to dwindle down and we're getting a better sense of what to expect. We may be missing Mommy, but at least we still have a few noteworthy ones. 

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