Oscar History

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France Declares War... (Not That Kind).

If France worries about such thing -- which they probably don't given their justifiable pride in their celluloid history -- they'd probably be frustrated by now that that 10th Oscar win for Best Foreign Language Film continues to elude them. It's now been 19 years since they've managed a win (Indochine) in the Oscar category they once owned. Their best shot since then (Amélie) suffered a surprise loss. Their best nominated film in many years (Un Prophete) had the misfortune of arriving in an atypically strong year for the category. Then just last year they missed what most expected was an easy-get nomination for the international hit Of Gods and Men. It all adds up to a strange golden drought given their much-statued history; they've received the most Best Foreign Language Film Nominations in history (36) but Italy still surpasses them in wins (10). 

Valerie Donzelli and Jérémie Elkaïm in "War is Declared"

Oh yes, the news...

France announced this morning that they will submit La Guerre est déclarée (which I've heard translated as both "War is Declared" and "Declaration of War" for international title purposes) for this year's Oscar race. It's a true story medical drama about a couple who fought to save their two year old son from a brain tumor. Here's the interesting angle: the writer/director is the mother Valérie Donzelli of the actual child (who survived) and she and her partner Jérémie Elkaïm are the lead actors, so essentially they've made their own family's biopic even though they've fictionalized it a bit (they have different names in the movie). The title, in case you're wondering, has a double meaning. The family obviously waged a war against the tumor and on the morning of their son's first operation they awoke to news of the Iraq war being launched. 

TFE reader Frédéric who send the news (merci!) says he's seen the film twice already and it only opened two weeks ago in France... though it actually premiered at Cannes. In other words, he really loved it. Here's the trailer.

The film has won many admiring reviews, Variety's among them. They wrote:

What sets "War" apart from other countless disease-of-the-week movies is that it tells its heartfelt story in a lively and energetic style. Donzelli and Elkaïm, who made the film on a small budget and with a tiny crew, not only follow in the free-spirited footsteps of New Wavers such as Truffaut (who, in "Jules and Jim," made a tragic menage a trois feel like a lighthearted romp) but also manage to cram in many small, authentic-feeling details. 

In nearby and somewhat surprising news, BELGIUM is sending the crime drama Bullhead rather than the latest acclaimed Dardenne Brothers film The Kid With the The Bike. Here's the international trailer for that one which is about illegal cattle hormone trading or some such, farmers and the mafia.

BULLHEAD - international trailer HD from Savage Film on Vimeo.

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Reader Comments (10)

Loved Elkaim in Presque rien so I will probably go see this.

September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy Sue !!!!! I didn't make the connection. Yeah, he's good.

September 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I have to admit I'm stunned by this selection, it's SO not the kind of film the Academy usually goes for in this category. It's so small and untidy and hip and, well, french. I seriously doubt the nomination.

September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulien

I haven't seen Bullhead but I'm a bit gutted that Belgium hasn't plumped for the new Dardenne film. I was hoping it might lead to their (i.e. the Dardennes') first Oscar-nominated film. Oh well...maybe it will score a miracle in another category somewhere (well, we can pretend that the Best Director category is still like the 1960s, right?!).

Interesting news about France's selection. I liked Elkaim in Presque rien. Will be interesting to see how this film fares. It's amazing that France hasn't won for 19 years!

On tenterhooks to see what Italy selects...

September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Is that bit about the French submission included in the parentheses a spoiler?

Also surprised by the Belgian selection.

September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Wow, I saw La guerre est déclarée this evening at my local film festival, Film by the Sea. (a small festival in Holland). I liked it a lot. I'm surprised it's the French admission.

I haven't seen Rundskop yet, but I'm not surprised at that admission considering what I heard and read about it.

September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRalph

I'm also surprised by Belgium's choise...I haven't seen Darden's film,but I suppose that at least it had a chance at Special commitette...I have seen Rundskop,it's at intresting film with good cinematography,but no chance for Oscar (too violent for Big commitette and not intresting enough for Special)...

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSpartak

Ralph -- I've been to film by the sea too. They had some great films in the line up. I've seen Drive, Midnight in Paris and I'm going to see La Piel Que Habito.

Surprised by the Belgian Choice and looking forward to La Guerre est Déclarée.

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNina

Nina - I went to see La Piel Que Habito today (Saturday). I saw twenty films in total there this year. La Piel was terrific.

September 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRalph

very interesting article, i've always wanted to write my own blog but i don't have much time to do this,
regards from bhp

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterszkolenie okresowe
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