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Oscar's Foreign Language Finalists. Shocking As Per Usual...

And now, dear reader, we have our official OSCAR FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM FINALIST LIST direct from the Academy and it's full of tongue-twisting shockers, no matter your mother Mommy tongue. You mean no Xavier Dolan? No Marion Cotillard and the Dardenne Brothers? No rampaging dogs or winter sleeps that made people cheer at Cannes? Nope...The nine remaining films are (in alpha order)

Can IDA finally break Poland's losing streak in this category?


  • ACCUSED (The Netherlands. 7 nominations | 3 wins)
    This film, known as Lucia De. B in The Netherlands, is a courtroom drama about a lawyer who later regrets convicting a nurse for murder. The director was previously Oscar nominated for Zus & Zo
  • CORN ISLAND (Georgia. 1 nomination | 0 wins)
    Capsule Review though we called the Oscar prospects for this farmer and his daughter outpost drama "nil" ...oopsie! 
  • FORCE MAJEURE (Sweden. 14 noms | 3 wins)
    Reviewed and then reviewed some more because this sharp comedy about masculinity and marriage (among other things) is so damn good. Currently in release and the only film on this finalist list that's occasionally nabbing Foreign Film critics prizes from Ida 
  • IDA (Poland. 9 nominations | 0 wins)
    Love this movie but then again, doesn't everyone? It's the third biggest subtitled hit of the year and the most unlikely since its a confrontational stark black and white drama about a Jewish nun.
  • LEVIATHAN (Russia. 13 noms | 4 wins)
    Reviewed but more on this one (which is difficult to summarize) coming soon... it's also very good. 
  • THE LIBERATOR (Venezuela. Never nominated)
    Reviewed though we called the Oscar chances "unlikely" Oopsie again. We did SO much coverage on this race this year that I guess we got a little cocky. And also... maybe I was a little irritated by it since I was so in love with the runner up for submission from Venezuela. 
  • TANGERINES (Estonia. Never nominated)
    I've been predicting this film, about a farmer who takes in a wounded soldier, for months now after hearing intense love for it from a festival programmer in LA. Have yet to lay my own eyes on it though.
  • TIMBUKTU (Mauritania. Their First Submission!)
    Reviewed but I haven't yet seen this searing drama about Sharia law and the havoc it creates on a tribal community. I hear only exciting things (though miserably depressing things).
  • WILD TALES (Argentina. 6 nominations | 2 wins) 
    Reviewed and lurved. It's really hilarious and somehow maintains its energy throughout despite being essentially a collection of shorts 

Wild Tales is the only film to plan an opening right around Oscar night that lucked out by doing so.

The biggest omissions in terms of how high profile they were are undoubtedly Canada's Mommy (which I suspected would be too youthful anarchic for them), and Belgium's Two Days One Night which were two of the best films of 2014 according to many (including myself). The latter film is currently hoping for a Best Actress nomination for Marion Cotillard (UPDATED CHART)  and this omission could actually help her. Past races have shown us that perceptions of unkind treatment in the foreign film category can boost your nomination chances. Consider the fates of City of God (subitted but not nominated for foreign one year but chased with a regular release the next), Talk to Her (not submitted by Spain), and Three Colors: Red (deemed ineligible) which went on to nominations in other categories. 

It's also worth noting that ALL of the LGBT entries (there were six) did not make the finalist list. 

One of the more discussion-prompting elements of this Oscar game each year is their recently refined rules which involve two different sets of groups coming up with these nine finalists. The six top vote-getters from the ballots of the general committee volunteer AMPAS members who attend the screenings make the list but then 3 additional films are chosen as finalists by a special committee (presumably to prevent really embarrassing omissions like Oscar had when say 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, an instant masterpiece from Romania, didn't make the cut). The titles (aka which films are which) are never revealed so it's internet speculation only that says...

Oh, the Executive Committtee totally saved that one!" 

So what this means is that whichever films that special more powerful committee saved, they liked them more than Mommy and Two Days One Night and whatnot. I'm sad to see both go but you can make a VERY respectable shortlist of Oscar nominees from these nine. I've only seen 4 of the remaining 5 but all 4 are worthy. 

You should expect to see some shifting release dates around this news. It's a huge danger to plan your releases around Oscar campaigns, as Mommy did by waiting to open (presumably until the nomination came). Every year films succumb to this hope addiction when it's better to mount an honest "this film is great!" release and if Oscar comes, it comes. Other movies that did not make the finalists that were planning on opening very  soon are Germany's Beloved Sisters, Two Days One Night (both due on Christmas Eve in theaters) and France's Saint Laurent, like Mommy was probably waiting for Oscar to come up with a plan.

More coming on this category soon once we've fully digested the news.

Related Pages

Current Predictions
Submission Chart Pt 1 Afghanistan through Ethiopia 
Submission Chart Pt 2 Finland through Nepal 
Submission Chart Pt 3 Peru through Venezuela 

Everything You Wanted To Know About the Foreign Film Race... but were afraid to ask 
Part One: We explored trivia about the Oscar's most global category
Part Two: Nathaniel jumped to Towleroad, "a site with homosexual tendencies," for a discussion of the six LGBT films in the competitive long-list.

29 of 83 Foreign Submissions Reviewed or Otherwise Investigated  AfghanistanArgentinaAustraliaBelgiumBrazilCanadaCubaCzech RepublicFinlandFranceGeorgiaGermanyHungaryIcelandIsrael, Iran, ItalyLatviaMauritania, New ZealandNorwayPanamaPolandPortugal, SwedenSwitzerlandTurkeyUruguay, and Venezuela.
Complete Oscar Charts Here.


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Reader Comments (22)

Ha! I remember saying this on the post about The Liberator's "unlikely" Oscar chances, before being quickly dismissed in the comments:

"I don't understand this "Unlikely Oscar chances" article at all. Venezuela's pick is CLEARLY in the running for the shortlist at least."

I'm vindicated!

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

Better luck next year, Philippines. I'm happy to see "Force Majeure" included.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

The Foreign Language committee is so the Armond White of Oscar committees.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

That Wild Tales release date is just shameful.

Every year it irks me that they might give out an award to an unopened film that almost so few (voters or film fans) will have seen in theaters.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermikey67

- Ida will probably steamroll to the win.
- The Dutch & Georgian films feel like typical surprise finalists that won't end up with a nomination.
- I think that either The Liberator or Tangerines (or both) will be nominated, because it's hard to believe the final five will be Ida, Force Majeure, Leviathan, Timbuktu and Wild Tales. They always nominate at least *something* that's not a critical favorite and didn't premiere at a major festival.

Every year when they announce the shortlist, I get the giggles when I remember some of the titles from past years. The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner is probably untoppable, but An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker is also pretty great.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I *guess* I stand corrected about THE LIBERATOR, but I do also think it's a step back for the branch to include it since it's so old-fashioned and they appeared to be heading in a better direction. Oh well. Still doesn't mean the movie is good.

I am putting all of my foreign language category telepathy mindtricks to use and hoping FORCE MAJEURE, TIMBUKTU, LEVIATHAN and IDA get nommed because even without MOMMY and TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT and so on, if they nominate those four it'll be an incredible roster of nominees.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Who is really getting the f word because of this? Marion Cotillard, that's who. One of the best performances of her career but with the film being snubbed from this category, it seems less and less likely that she would enter the top 5 for best actress. I haven't seen Aniston's performance, but she seems safe in the number 5 spot.

I know about all the changes being done to the foreign language film category in the past years, but it doesn't seem enough. AMPAS is, still, very centered on the same subjects that they have always loved and in nominating one time after the other the same countries. It's a miracle not to see France, Italy or Germany.

I honestly hope Mauritania gets in the final 5.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPablo

I'm really hoping Wild Tales gets nominated!!! It's some of the most fun I had in a movie theater this year and the crowd I saw it with loved it as well (including my dad, who is a real Grinch about going to the movies). I wasn't sure it was going to make it this far, but I'm so happy it did. Besides that, I've only seen Force Majeure, Ida and Leviathan. I loved Force Majeure (except for the final sequence, which felt tacked on) and Ida (I saw it at a screening followed by a Q&A with Pawel Pawlikowski, loved hearing what he had to say about it) and while Leviathan is really good, it didn't quite grab me (a little too chilly for me). I'll be looking forward to seeing the rest.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I too expected The Liberator to make it but very surprised by the Belgium snub. I do think the snub will help Marion in her campaign though as Nat pointed out.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Hey, that's really not so bad, as foreign film shortlists go. Five actually good, worthy movies (and four that I haven't seen and therefore can't comment on)! That's pretty good! There are always disappointing omissions. Seems to me it could have been a lot worse.

I didn't love Ida - merely liked it for the nicely shot but conventional, Oscar friendly post-Holocaust movie that it is - but it will be among the less objectionable foreign language film winners in the past decade, so bring it on! Unless Timbuktu can somehow swing a win - of the five short listers I've seen, it is far and away the best.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Well I think this is a great list of films. Leviathan is my favourite film of the year. I saw it in England in early November and have been thinking about it ever since. Hoping it makes the 5.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

I also will join the chorus of folks who said not to count out The Liberator (see the linked review thread). I also don't think it's too bad. It's not worthy of an Oscar nomination by any means, but I thought it had some nice qualities.

I also posted in another thread that I wanted to see more films from Georgia and that I had heard good things about Corn Island.

(Now I'll stop the "I told ya so"'s)

I'll predict Ida, Wild Tales, Force Majeure, Leviathan, and Corn Island as nominees with Accused or more likely Timbuktu as spoilers. My guess is that some combination of Corn Island (Steve Pond said it had a strong fanbase among the younger voters), Accused, Leviathan, and Timbuktu were saved.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan


I hate the existence of a shortlist. (Yes, I say it every year).

I prefer Wild Tales to Ida (which means nothing). Erica Rivas (The bride) is mercurial.

Penélope got her first Oscar nomination despite the fact that Academy Inexplicably snubbed Volver so there's still hope for Marion, but not much. Jen's got a better narrative.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Evan -- there are younger voters in the Academy's volunteer foreign film committee??? This is shocking news to me. I've met quite a few and they're always older (since they have time to go to all the screenings.)

December 19, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel- Ha. Well, it's all relative. I was referring to an article from earlier in the week by Steve Pond (who always has a great read on the reactions to the screenings) where he said: "And younger members of the general committee — yes, it has some of those, as long as you grade on the curve — were impressed by Georgia’s “Corn Island,” which could be in line for a save."

So not really. ;-)

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Can anyone care to speculate on which films were voted in by the regular committee and which films were thrown in there by the special committee?

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

@Irvin Corn Island, Leviathan, Timbuktu.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

Ida is not a dead cert for win or even a nomination.

The Academy have changed the rules in this category many times - usually after public outcry over the noms or winners.

There have been a LOT of great foreign language films that have missed out on being submitted, shortlisted, nominated or even awarded.

I agree that 2D,1N's omission will probably improve the wonderful Cotllard's chances of snaring a Best Actress nomination. Ida might get screenplay or cinematography nom. Especially if Ida misses out on a nomination.

This category has as much problems as the Documentary feature and Original Song categories have.

December 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

It'll be interesting to see if Ida indeed steamrolls to anything. Some years, the expected picture does so (i.e. The Sea Inside, A Separation, Amour), and some it doesn't (Waltz with Bashir losing to Departures). It does seem like the last few years have been trending more predictably, though. It should be between Ida and Force Majeure.

December 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

I just came back from Force Majeure, which I really enjoyed. A bit too slow but hilarious and poignant. I'm obviously rooting for Wild Tales.

December 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Bette -- i'd disagree that it's *that* messed up. the changes they've made have most definitely improved the category. For a while there it was getting just awful and lately, ... well actual masterpieces have been winning like they use to in this category.

and i love all 4 of the 4 i've seen ;) Now, to find the other 5 (i do have a screener for Accused so here I come. )

Everyone -- but I so wish this were a 15 wide finalist list. I don't understand why Oscar doesn't prize symmetry more in their branches. Apart from ending with 5 nominees they sure do get completely random about how many finalists it takes to get there.

December 20, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Philippines' Norte topped Grantland's Wesley Morris' top 10 films of the year which is welcome consolation.

December 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermcv

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