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)
THE FINALIST LIST
- 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
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.
THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE SAVE
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.
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 Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Iran, Italy, Latvia, Mauritania, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Complete Oscar Charts Here.