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Saturday
Aug172013

Foreign Oscar Buzz: Denmark & Argentina

Which films will Denmark and Argentina submit for Oscar consideration this year? Both countries have won the Best Foreign Film prize in the recent past and could compete again this year.

Denmark
They've announced their three finalists for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission. I think the likeliest of their three finalists is The Hunt, directed by Thomas Vinterberg (A Celebration) which won Mads Mikkelsen Best Actor at Cannes a year plus ago as a teacher under attack due to false allegations from a child. It's currently in release in the States which means it's eligible for the Oscars in general if not for this specific category (which requires official submission... and each country may only choose one film). The major obstacle to its submission might be its lack of newness. It played in Cannes during last year's eligibility period (Oct 11- Sept 12) but not in its home country (making it ineligible for selection last year) and opened within the 2013 window in Denmark making it eligible for submission this year. Got it? But still... it could end up feeling like old news to the Danish powers that be if they vote anything like our Academy who have that notoriously short term "what did I just see?" problem. If the Danes vote for their current hot property they could go with either The Act of Killing, the very buzzy documentary (also in Stateside release right now) about the Indonesian genocide of the 1960s or Northwest from director Michael Noer (who co-directed A Hijacking) a crime thriller about a man named Casper who is moving up in the criminal world selling stolen goods.

Regardless of what they choose, Denmark is popular with Oscar voters. A Royal Affair (2012) was their 9th nominee in the category and they've already won three times (back to back wins in the 80s with Babette's Feast and Pelle the Conqueror and a win for Susanne Bier's In a Better World recently) 

Argentina
This South American country has been nominated six times and won twice. The first statue came for 1985's arthouse hit The Official Story. Argentina won again just a few years ago with Juan José Campanella's crime thriller The Secret in Their Eyes starring Ricardo Darín, who pops up regularly in the country's submitted films. Both Campanella and Darín could factor in again though not together this time.

Darrin stars in Thesis of a Homicide, another crime thriller, and Campanella directed the animated hit Metegol (trailer embedded below). Darín might have competition for familiar Argentinian face this year though since Diego Peretti stars in two films: Wakolda (from the director of the Oscar submitted XXY) about a family who lived with Nazi war criminal/physician Josef Mengele without realizing who he was and La Reconstruccion about a lonely man on a trip. My current guess is that it'll be Wakolda that gets Argentina's vote, both for the subject matter and because most countries tend to repeat directors in their submissions over the years. [Thanks to reader Marcos for his thoughts on these possible submissions.]

P.S. For what it's worth though only one animated film (Israel's Waltz With Bashir) has ever been nominated in the Foreign Film category, that doesn't stop countries from trying with their submissions.

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Reader Comments (18)

can the act of killing be nominated for both foreign film and documentary feature or is there some arcane academy rule that'll mess up its chances in either category?

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

I loved the hunt so much - have you caught it yet Nat? But it does feel like 13 months since I've seen it and I'd find it off if it were nominated now...

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMorganisaqt

par3182 -- you can be nominated in two categories like that, yes. For instance PERSEPOLIS was submitted for foreign film but was only nominated for animated film. WALTZ WITH BASHIR could have been nominated in three different "best film" categories (foreign, animated, documentary) but only won the foreign nomination. It was stiffed in Documentary only because it didn't meet the release requirements (documentaries have to play more than just LA theaters in the eligibility window unlike regular movies)... and I don't remember why it wasn't nominated in the animated category... but i think it was merely that they only had 3 spots to give out that year.

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

morgan -- i have not seen it yet, no. been way too busy to see everythign i wanted to and not happy about it.

August 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I really hope they pick The Hunt, such a wonderful film.

As for Argentina, I haven't seen Metegol yet. I avoided it like the plague like I usually do with family films in theaters. But it did look like a giant improvement in animation for the country. In terms of quality I have no idea though.

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

How did the Danes get The Act of Killing? I noticed the opening credits that their film council supported it with some Danes in producing credits but I'd like to know that story since Oppenheimer's an American.

I keep on hearing how the Danes easily could've picked The Hunt last year. I wonder why. Vinterberg is known. I guess Mikkelsen's rising profile in the West with Hannibal may have had them reconsider.

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I agree that Wakolda has a better shot. Despite my love for Argentinean actors I consciously skipped Thesis of a Homicide after I saw the trailer. It looked like a regular crime tv series.

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I actually don't think The Hunt was eligible last year. I hate that movie and think The Act of Killing is remarkable, but it's obvious they'll go with The Hunt. And probably should from the POV that AMPAS is likely to adore it.

Fun fact, though I'm sure a lot of people know this: Wakolda's director, Lucía Puenzo is the daughter of Luis Puenzo, who directed Argentina's prior Oscar winner The Official Story.

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Nick -- that's actually what I meant since it didn't open in Denmark during the eligibility period -- only at Cannes. So i reclarified in the post since maybe people were confused about what I was saying.

as to your fun fact: I DIDN'T KNOW THAT so thank you.

August 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I agree with Nick in regards to The Hunt. It just feels so dated and retrograde. Nevertheless, Mikkelsen is typically good, and his presence elevates the familiar material. Hopefully Denmark will chose the vastly superior The Act of Killing, but, because they want to win the Oscar they wiil undoubtably choose The Hunt.

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJayP

I thought because of his role in Dogme that Vinterberg, like LVT, was considered too l'enfant terrible for Denmark to be represented by them. Denmark has a good run but usually it is by being very particular in their choices.

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Oooh, I'd love to hear more of Nick's opinions on The Hunt! Based on his Twitter capsule, he and I found similar problems with its trumped-up plot.

Note to Denmark: there is a backlash brewing. I've heard "meh"s from a number of Oscar bloggers.

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Nathaniel, another film that could submitt Argentina is "Septimo" (The 7th Floor). Is another film with Ricardo Darin that will release in Argentina in September. Is about a man that plays a run with his kids, from 7th floor of an apartment (where they live) to ground floor. He will do it with the elevator and his kids with stairs. When he arrive first to ground floor, he looks for his kids, until finally he'll realize that his kids have disappeared.
The film is a co-production with Spain, but I hope this film qualify as Argentina, because the director and actress are spanish (Patxi Amezcua and Belen Rueda, from The Orphanage).
This is the trailer of the film, which is only in spanish, with no subtitles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5W5K1d_Rl8M
What I know is "Metegol" won't be submit for Argentina, because Campanella (which is the president of the Argentine Academy) said that he will send the film for Animated Feature Category, and because sending it as Foreign Film could see it as a manipulated choice.

And for Denmark, I loved "The Hunt". Danes would be dumb if they don't submit it. They have very good run during the last years, since 2011.

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPablo

Pablo: As I understand it (Nat correct me if I'm wrong) Campanella cannot "submit" Metegol as an Animated Feature candidate. It has to be released in Los Angeles, and there are no plans to do that.

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Marcos, for what I read in a interview, Campanella said that in case he can't get a theater in LA to promote his film in December, he will rent one, so he can release it by a week and thus fulfill the requirement. Let's see if he will do it.

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPablo

Wow Pablo! Renting a theather for a week to qualify? That would be a first!
BTW, thank you Nat!

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Well, Marcos, apparently Campanella knows a lot about the rules of the Oscars. His idea is to promote his film as soon as possible to compete to Oscars. It would be a very expensive cost to rent a theater in LA for a week just to be in the Oscars, but he knows what to do. As I said before, let's see if he will do it!

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPablo

Either The Hunt or The Art of Killing would be really good choices. I saw the latter last weekend, and was floored by it. In fact, once the film ended, people filed out of the theatre without saying a word...you could have heard a pin drop.

I've not seen any of the Argentine films you mentioned, but Wakolda is playing at the Montréal World Film Festival next week, and I'm hoping to see it then.

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

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