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
- SCHULD SIND IMMER DIE ANDEREN Lars-Gunnar Lotz
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...
- 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.