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Entries in foreign films (411)

Friday
Jan062017

Isabelle Huppert, French Legends, and Oscar Stats

by Nathaniel R

Are you biting your nails yet? No prediction for this year's Best Actress shortlist can come without some degree of "I could be getting this very wrong!" nerves. We've been Oscar watching for a long time and it's genuinely never looked this open this late in the game (with the possible exception of 2003 but for nearly the opposite reason). If Best Actress is not a five-way lock up by now (and it often is) it's usually at least settled but for a minor battle between two women for the "just happy to be nominated" fifth spot. This year is different. Seven women remain strong and precursor supported and virtually any combination of five names seems possible as long as you include both Emma Stone (with the reliable boost of leading a Best Picture frontrunner) and Natalie Portman (with the reliable boost of Oscar's deep-deep love for mimicry).

We always believed that Isabelle Huppert was a genuine threat for a Best Actress nomination this season for her phenomenal star turn in Elle. It wasn't so much that Elle, in which she plays a video game enterpeneur who becomes obsessed with her rapist, was a a fresh look at an old star (against type) or right in Oscar's wheel house (a dark comedy about rape. LOL, no). The appeal instead is that in Elle is a suffusion of everything that's special about Huppert: her superior intellect, fascinating opacity, tortured psychology, and her daring sexuality. Oscar would be wise to pounce in a year where the media has been this celebratory about her unique place in the cinematic landscape. 'It's time!' feelings don't generally come around all that often for true iconoclasts or women of a certain age. She's both so they must act now.

Binoche, Cotillard, Adjani, Deneuve

Here's another far more superficial but still excellent reason why Isabelle Huppert needs to be nominated...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec192016

Subtitles Fading But These Soldiers March On...

Year in Review. Every afternoon, a new wrap-up. Today an exhaustive list of how foreign films performed at the US box office...  

Perhaps no film is a more perfect encapsulation of the 2016 reality for foreign films in the US marketplace than Netflix's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sequel. The first was an international theatrical phenomenon and a true blockbuster delivering over $100 million in the United States alone. The sequel sixteen years later was in English and went straight to streaming. 

Despite the inhospitable 21st century climate nowadays, specialty distributors fight on to deliver some variety to the US marketplace. Here's how they fared this year. These numbers were pulled from Box Office Mojo and we tried to be as thorough as possible (though we did skip documentaries and animated features which are sometimes screened in both dubbed and subtitled versions in the same marketplace)

TOP 100 FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMS FOR 2016
By US Box Office Gross. Title links go to reviews. 🔺 = still in theaters
Note: Figures as of March 30th, 2017

01 Dangal $12.3 (India)

02 No Manches Frida $11.5 (USA) available to stream on IMDb

03 Sultan $6.2 (India)
Bollywood films account for a big portion of each year's foreign film grosses in the US. Up until the release of Dangal at Christmas, none were mightier for most of 2016 than the sports drama starring Salman Khan (pictured above).

Oscar Finalists, Isabelle Huppert, and buzzy Korean hits after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec162016

The Nine Foreign Film Finalists for Oscar

The Academy's complicated process in nominating for Best Foreign Language Film is nearing completion. Last night they winnowed down the 85 film list to a more manageable 9 films. Those 9 will screen for selected panels in multiple cities and 5 nominees will be determined. A few observations and trivia notes about the list after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec152016

Foreign Film Long List Overachieving Recap!

Tonight or tomorrow -- depending on how quick they are with the press release -- we'll learn which foreign film submissions made the finals for the Oscar nominations. There are always nine. We don't know why they settled on that number as 10 makes more sense (in a 50/50 kind of way) and 15 would make this category more symmetrical with the other specialty category of Documentary Feature. But if you're curious about how the process of whittling all this down works, you should check out Anne Thompson's breakdown.

One thing that's easy to forget about this complex process is that the actual five Oscar nominations that come from this nine-wide finalist list are decided on by yet another panel, one that changes each year and usually includes a few big names: Florence Foster Jenkins co-stars Streep & Grant were both on that final nominating committee last year for example.

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Tuesday
Dec132016

Interview: Belgian Oscar Submission 'The Ardennes,' Testosterone, and Building Characters

By Jose Solis.

Belgium’s Oscar submission The Ardennes feels like Drive by way of Fargo and Bullhead, i.e. it’s a gritty neo-noir that thrills and disturbs in equal measures. The quasi-Biblical (or Greek) plot follows two brothers who are like night and day, Dave (Jeroen Perceval who wrote the play the film is based on) is a kind soul who works in a carwash and is trying to set up a home with his girlfriend Sylvie (Veerle Baetens), the problem is she was his brother Kenneth’s (Kevin Janssens) girl before he went away to prison. His release brings the family happiness and pain, as they try to help him adapt to the new situation. First time director Robin Pront crafts a smart thriller with colorful characters and testosterone to spare. I sat down with the director and leading man Janssens to discuss the film’s themes, the Oscar race and Belgian cinema.

Read the interview after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec132016

Interview: Babak Anvari on British Oscar Submission 'Under the Shadow'

By Jose Solís.

At first glance, Babak Anvari’s Under the Shadow seems to announce itself as a fine Iran-set social drama, as we meet Shideh (Narges Rashidi) a young mother who discovers her political past - she protested the war against Iraq - has deemed her ineligible to return to medical school. When her husband (Bobby Baderi) gets sent to a battle zone for work, she is left behind with her daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) trying to make sense of her life, while their city is under the constant threat of Iraqi missiles. If that wasn’t enough, strange things begin to occur in their home as Dorsa is convinced there is a presence that wants to take her away.

Even though this is Anvari’s first feature film, he displays a mastery of horror techniques that would put others to shame...

Click to read more ...

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