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Germany @ The Oscars

Germany has a long and trivia-crazy history with the Oscars that didn’t just begin with Sandra Bullock speaking German in her Blind Side acceptance speech or Christoph Waltz, an Austrian-German talent winning two Tarantino-Flavored Oscars for multi-lingual performances. We’ll get to more trivia in a minute but first the German shortlist.  We await their choice for Oscar’s Foreign Language Film submission with curiousity because they’re always a threat for the eventual shortlist. Germany has received 18 nominations and 3 wins over the years. They’re weighing the quality of nine different pictures before deciding. Which will they send our way?

The finalists are…

  • MY BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY Michaela Kezele
    This one skews international - a romance between a young Serbian widow and an Albanian soldier 
  • THE GERMAN FRIEND Jeanine Meerapfel
    A coproduction with Argentina 
  • FREE FALL Stephan Lacant
    A gay romantic drama about two cops
  • THE GIRL WITH NINE WIGS Marc Rothemund
    I don't know what this one is about but I love the title 
  • OH BOY Jan Ole Gerster
    a popular comedy about a drop out university student 
  • RITTER ROST multiple directors
    an animated film 
    This one sounds interesting - a juvenile offender in an "open prison" discovers that his house-mother was one of his victims 
  • NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN von Katrin Gebbe (Junafilm)
    Also known as Tore Tanzt. Will this Cannes entry be too controversial for submission?  
  • TWO LIVES von Georg Maas & Judith Kaufman (DE/NO, Zinnober Film,  B&T Film)
    Also known as Zwei Leben. This film stars Liv Ullman of all people!!! It's about a woman (Juliane Köhler who starred in the German Oscar winner Nowhere in Africa), born to a Norwegian woman and a German soldier who becomes involved in war crime trials. 

It's worth noting that the acclaimed Hungarian German coproduction The Notebook which was suggested to be in the running by some outlets is being submitted by Hungary so it can't be the German submission.

Patrick, a German reader thinks that it would be a surprise if they passed on OH BOY which has been a major hit in Germany at the end of 2012. But since it’s a black and white contemporary film and youth sensation it’s no automatic draw when it comes to appealing to Oscar’s foreign language voters who are, it's important to remember, a volunteer group culled from all the branches. Anecdotally speaking, they skew even older than the typical Oscar demographic because they have to have a lot of free time to attend a least a couple dozen screenings from the long long submissions list (which is broken up into 3 sections so that each member doesn't have to watch all 60+ entries). For Germany, Oh Boy, is also facing the potential problem that The Hunt has for Denmark. It's not "new" anymore... so if the decision-makers have a fresh love...

I wouldn't be surprised if they went with Two Lives (trailer above) given Liv Ullman and Juliane Köhler's Oscar histories but the only director in the nine finalists that's previously been submitted is Marc Rothemund (The Girl With Nine Wigs). His film Sophie Scholl was an Oscar nominee in the 2005 race.

They'll announce their submission on August 27th. What do you think it will be? 

P.S. I promised some trivia so here we go...

a few German winners: Emil Jannings, Luise Rainer and Hans Zimmer

  • Germany's most frequently submitted director is (drum roll please) Wim Wenders who has been submitted only three times (The American Friend, Wings of Desire, and Pina). None of those famous films were nominated in this category. Wenders has better luck with the documentary branch where he's won two nominations (Pina, Buena Vista Social Club).  Several other directors are tied with two submissions each.
  • Germany holds two important "firsts" for the acting Oscars. The first actor ever handed an Oscar was Emil Jannings for The Way of All Flesh. Less than a decade later Luise Rainer became the first actor of either gender to win two Oscars. Since she did that in the late 30s Hollywood lied about Rainer's provenance and claimed she was from Austria.
  • The category that loves Germans most is Art Direction (31 nominations and 7 wins) but weirdly no German has been nominated there since 1972 when Cabaret took home the gold in that category. 
  • Hollywood's favorite German currently, if you subtract Christoph Waltz, is Hans Zimmer a frequent nominee for Best Original Score. [cue: loud Inception bwaaaaaaa  ♫ here]
  • The last German film to win the Oscar was The Lives of Others (2006), one of the most popular winners in this category in recent years.

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References (4)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: sewage in basement
  • Response
  • Response
    The Oscars has been given to most of the deserved films from the nominated one's. Every year it celebrates a grand organization with such good hospitality. Germany is fortunate enough to receive such huge amount of awards to their films.
  • Response
    Oscar`s are the awards given to Hollywood movies in different categories. In foreign language category other foreign films are nominated. German films has good history in getting nominated in Oscar as foreign language films. Oscar is treated as a prestige award to film industry.

Reader Comments (17)

Emil Jannings was Swiss I believe, Nathaniel, not German...

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

Nevertheless your point still stands as he lived most of his life in Germany...

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

He was considered a German citizen. But yes, Swiss born.

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

According to Google Translate, the Girl with the Nine Wigs is a dramedy about a college student who has cancer.

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWill h

More fascinating Germany Oscar trivia--Best Live Action Short of 1993 (the year there was a move to get rid of the shorts categories, which ended up making them stronger than ever): Schwarzfahrer (aka Black Rider or Fare Dodger), directed by Pepe Danquart and starring a regular TFE reader/commenter, who just happens to be in Berlin right now, where the film was shot and premiered.

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Paul -- YAY, YOU!

August 20, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat -- One day we'll dish that Oscar ceremony! ;-)

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

@ Paul - So cool, I remember when that won! And when you do dish that ceremony, dish it for you fellow TFE readers as well :D

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

Oh. Very surprised not to see Hannah Arendt here, which was the expected submission. Now I ve never heard of that Koehler/ullmann film, so its still to be released, I presume, but my money is on Oh Boy now. It does resemble Frances Ha to a certain degree, but it does have a couple of things to say about contemporary Germany, and there is even some Nazi / world war Ii substory, very elegantly done, axtually. But no, I dont see Germany getting nominated this year.

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBacio

Maximilian Schell is the only Best Actor winner to speak German on screen.

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Off-topic (Oscars, but not German): I notice Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is absent from the Oscar prediction page. Isn't this exactly the kind of baity film The Weinstein Company specializes in getting the Academy to fawn over? And if so, would TWC be emphasizing that movie over Fruitvale Station (which I don't think will be remembered at all come January)?

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

@ bacio: "hannah arendt" was on the short list last year and therefore ineligible this year...

August 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

everything but "oh boy" would be a surprise, even though I think it is a little overrated and shouldn't stand a chance with the academy. not being "new" is probably nothing our committee will be too worried about...
"two lives" (which opens here in Germany in september) and "free fall" would be far better choices. "schuld sind immer die anderen" was pretty good, too, while the cancer-drama "the girl with the nine wigs" (a real-life story) was pretty awful. cheesy tearjerker.
but it's always interesting what pops up on this short list. apparently, the have hard time coming up with 9 titles every year, since too few producers bother submitting their films. berlinale-entry "gold" or former Oscar winner Caroline Link (with her new film "exit marrakech") couldn't care less, it seems...

August 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

@ Travis: Definitely!

@ brookesboy: You're forgetting Adrien Brody in The Pianist. There's a great scene in German that he has when he's discovered by Thomas Kretschmann.

August 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Bacio & Patrick: I would have thought that Hannah Arendt would have had too much English dialogue to be considered a Foreign-language entry.

August 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

The sad thing is no one in Germany watches german movies. The second sad thing is german critics don´t like german movies. "The Lives of Others" was labeled as a TV Movie by most of them. However when Hollywood knocks everybody is crazy about it so they make "The Reader" No. 1 and everyone is so proud of their german actors in "Inglorious Basterds". It´s all so frustrating.

August 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertherealmike

Merkel is way more frustrating to me.

August 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

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