I am soooooo glad that I decided to put this off until after the complete long list of accepted submissions was released. If I had tried to predict this category back when I did Documentary Feature and Animated Feature last month, a couple of my top choices wouldn't have even been in the running by now. I am even more excited by the fact that this year saw a record 71 qualifying submissions despite the sad and obvious omissions of constant competitor Egypt and (not)returning champion Iran. Making this a separate post is further delaying the end of this series, so let's get started...
Best Foreign Language Film
The buzz says...
1. Austria - Amore
2. France - Intouchables
3. Chile - No
4. Romania - Beyond the Hills
5. Denmark - A Royal Affair
6. Canada - War Witch
7. Germany - Barbara
8. Australia - Lore
9. Isreal - Fill the Void
10. Switzerland - Sister
It's really hard to call this category, as there are always shocking upsets and omissions each time the list is whittled down. My best guesses, however, would go something like this...
1, Austria - Amore...Director Michael Haneke is already beloved in the Academy and many were surprised when his film The White Ribbon failed to win this category two years ago. Amore won Palme D'or at Cannes and is the most critically acclaimed film on the international film festival scene this year. It COULD even break into the Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, and/or Actor awards this year. It would be a shoo-in to win this category this year if not for...
2. France - Intouchables...The top non-English language film at both the American and international box offices this year is being backed by Harvey Weinstein. If anything can derail a beloved auteur with the best reviewed film of the year, it would be a Weinstein campaign implying that Amour is not Austrian enough, since it is in FRENCH using actors who rose to prominence in the FRENCH cinema. A national cinema that gave us best picture winner The Artist, but which hasn't been rewarded in this category since 1992. A cinema that gave us international sensation (that many Academy members have likely seen already), the Intouchables.
3. Denmark - A Royal Affair...This winner at Berlin for Best Actor (for Mikkel Boe Folsgaard), and Best Screenplay has been given a highly publicized (for a non-English feature) stateside release in early November, perfectly primed for Oscar fueled box office. Rising international stars Mads Mikelson and Alicia Vikander shouldn't hurt its take either. It could go into short list season as one of the most highly known and viewed films on the ballot.
4. Canada - War Witch...Every year I seem to not give Canada enough credit and they sneak in at the last minute. This year, I seem to see them coming clearly, though, with this winner of Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. Star Rachel Mwanza also received Best Actress accolades at both Tribeca and Berlin for her work on the film. This would be three years in a row for Canada, but at the moment I see no reason not to call this one a good bet.
5. South Korea - Pieta...There are usually at least a couple of internationally celebrated auteurs with films in this category. Michael Haneke's film Amour is almost certain to fill one of those slots. Another could belong to writer/director Ki-duk Kim (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring)'s latest effort, Pieta. South Korea as a nation seems extremely overdue for some love in this category. A nomination here would be their first.
6. Isreal - Fill the Void...Isreal has been a mainstay of this category in recent years. Fill the Void won two secondary awards at Venice, but has met with first rate critical response across the Festival circuit. First time auteur Rama Burshtein has buzz as a major new international film maker.
7. Australia - Lore...With little connection to the culture of the country that submitted it, this film could be an innocent bystander whose chances get hurt by the allegations sure to be hurled at Amour. Still, it does seem to have the most rapidly building buzz of all these films at the moment, so who knows?
8. Romania - Beyond the Hills...Another celebrated auteur, Cristian Mungiu, directed this film which brought home Best Screenplay (for Mungiu), and Best Actress (shared by co-leads Stratan and Flutur). However, every year one or two celebrated festival darlings just disappear when the short list is announced. Could this film suffer that fate?
9. Phillipines - Bwakaw...I throw this film in largely because it is experiencing a sudden surge of love on the net which could easily translate into a feasible Oscar campaign, especially at this early stage of the game.
10. No - Chile...Yeah it is the third most buzzed about film on this list at the moment, but it is divisive. Still, it is much beloved by those who fall on the positive side of that divide, and it boasts the star power of Gael Garcia Bernal to boost its chances of being SEEN, but I'm not sold on its chances. I must say that it IS on my own personal list of films to see this year.
And that's where things stand in this uber-difficult race to predict. I'll be back shortly with Best Director.
Related Articles: Sept. Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Techs: Part 1, Part 2, The Genres, Screenplays, Supporting Performers, Best Actor and Actress, June Oscar Buzz and Predictions - The Genres