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Entries in foreign films (203)

Tuesday
Dec172013

7 Things You Need to Know About the 289 Eligible Oscar Contenders

As you may no doubt have heard AMPAS released the list (included below) of 289 Feature Films which have qualified for Oscar consideration this year in all categories beyond the specialties with complex eligibility rules (documentary, animated, foreign film, shorts). Here are seven things you should know about the list. 

Most Will Come Nowhere Near a Nomination
This list is 289 pictures long but typically only 25-30 feature films each year (excluding, again, the specialty categories which play by different rules) receive nominations of any kind with a few key pictures hogging the goods. In 2012 only 22 pictures won nominations (!) with Lincoln, Life of Pi, Les Miz, and Silver Linings hogging the goods whereas the wealth was spread out more in 2011 when 32 pictures were nominated in some capacity.

Too Easy
This year five films will be nominated for the Best Animated Feature title but only 19 animated films are eligible. Can you imagine if it was that easy proportionately for features, animated or otherwise, to win Best Picture nominations? If it was we'd literally have 75 Best Picture nominees this year since 289 films qualified. Instead we'll have a more sensible number, somewhere between 5 and 10 according to current rules, the number determined by how many films can rustle up enough high ballot support in the Academy membership. MORE TRIVIA AFTER THE JUMP

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec012013

Team FYC: Neighboring Sounds for Best Foreign Language Film

In this series Team Experience sounds off (individually) on their favorite fringe awards contenders. Here's Amir Soltani on Neighboring Sounds.


Since the Academy wisely overhauled its nominating process for the foreign language film award and Dogtooth nabbed that delightfully shocking nomination, pundits tend not to take any film's chances too lightly in this category. Still, a nod for Brazil's intense and quietly powerful submission would come as a major surprise. That's partly because the film ran the festival circuit last year and its buzz has been more of a hum for a few months now so it's hard to imagine the executive committee coming to its rescue. It's a real shame because Neighboring Sounds isn't just the best of the submitted films; it is quite possibly the year's best film, period.

Sounds opens with a series of black and white still photos attuned to a rousing score that provide more social context for the story in 57 seconds than most films do in 90 minutes. Kleber Mendoca Filho - on his first try at helm - paints an increasingly unsettling portrait of an affluent neighborhood in the Brazilian city of Recife that wants to remain oblivious to the poverty and corruption that engulfs it. The greatest accomplishment of the film, and its rich but anti-climactic finale, is that it creates a sense of inescapable unease in the audience, not entirely unlike what the neighborhood residents deal with routinely.

Neighboring Sounds subverts our expectations at every turn, playing games with the laguange of cinema - both in the construction of its images and, as the title suggests, sounds - to shape our understanding of characters and the film's geopolitical space. It is the rare film that builds energy through completely inconspicuous means. It is not the guns and criminals that escalate violence; it's a meditative dip in the waterfall or a casual conversation between neighbors on a rooftop. The underlying sense of discomfort is a result of the film's "guilty until proven innocent" approach toward all its characters. By the film's end, the mistrust between the neighborhood's residents has slowly creeped in on us and become impossible to shake off. This is a masterclass in crafting a suspenseful piece, given by a man whose assured control of his film betrays no sign of his inexperience. Here's hoping Academy voters take notice.

Previously on Team FYC

Saturday
Nov232013

Live Action Short Finalists

One of the most confounding things about following the non-marquee categories at the Oscars is that not every category operates by the same rules. For example they released the super long eligibility list for Best Documentary Feature but not the super long eligibility lists for the live action shorts. To further complicate matters, this doesn't seem to be the same strategy each year.

Tim recently shared the finalist list for Best Animated Short nominations and now we have the ten Live Action hopefuls from which Academy members will nominate three to five. I personally hate it when categories have a fluctuating amount of nominees. Commit AMPAS! There's no excuse for it really in short films since there are thousands made each year and certainly at least 5 of them would have to be great.

10 FINALISTS FOR BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) Esteban Crespo (Producciones Africanauan)
The always heartwarming topic of child soldiers. I honestly can't deal with these films and is it just my imagination or is there one on this topic every year in the shorts categories? It's just too overwhelmingly tragic for me.

Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything) Xavier Legrand (KG Productions)
a woman and her kids, who have pretended to go to school, are in a desperate rush. But to where and from what?

Dva (Two) Mickey Nedimovic (Filoufilm Dani Barsch)
A Serb and a Croat step on a landmine simultaneously as they attempt to kill each other and realize their lives are now intertwined. I don't know how you sustain that for nearly half an hour but maybe they can!

Helium Anders Walter (M & M Productions)
A sick boy in Denmark hears magical stories from a hospital janitor 

Kush Shubhashish Bhutiani, director (Red Carpet Moving Pictures) 
a teacher protects her sikh student from riots on a field trip 


Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) Selma Vilhunen (Tuffi Films)
A comedy about a family who wakes up late on the morning of a wedding 

 

RECORD/PLAY from jesse atlas on Vimeo.

 

Record/Play Jesse Atlas (Collaboration Factory) - complete film embedded above
For what it's worth, Focus Features is planning to adapt this sci-fi tinged short about a mysterious walkman that can transport you to the recording into a feature length film.


Throat Song Miranda de Pencier (Northwood Productions)
This one is about an Inuit woman with an abusive husband and a circle of supportive friends she finds.
 

Tiger Boy - Official Trailer [HD] from goon films on Vimeo.

 

Tiger Boy Gabriele Mainetti (Goon Films)
a young boy won't take his favorite wrestler's mask off. 


The Voorman Problem Mark Gill (Honlodge Productions)
Martin Freeman stars as a man interviewing a prisoner (Tom Hollander) who claims to be God

WHICH DO YOU THINK HAVE THE BEST SHOT? 

UPDATED CHART
Best Shorts, Animated Feature, and Documentaries

Thursday
Nov212013

Animated Feature Contender: A Letter to Momo

Tim, our resident animation guy, sounds off on the eligible films vying for Animated Feature

Between now and the announcement of the Academy Award nominees on January 16, I’ll be taking a look at some of the films submitted for the Best Animated Feature award: specifically, the smaller, more easily-overlooked films from non-U.S. animation studios. For it strikes me that they are the more deeply in need of love and attention than the more visible mainstream American productions likely to dominate the race. Also, I don't imagine that anyone is desperate to have a conversation about Free Birds.

Our first subject is the oldest on the submission list: A Letter from Momo from Japan, which premiered at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, only making its stateside bow this year.

[Does it deserve the comparisons to A Spirited Away? Find out after the jump]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov182013

"Critics Choice" Best Young Actor/Actress. Any FYCs?

Updated to add voting options!

Yesterday out of nowhere I suddenly felt a shiver go down my spine. I realized that if I didn't pull some advocacy action, my fellow Broadcast Film Critics might just give Chloe Grace Moretz TWO nominations for Best Young Actor/Actress for Kick-Ass 2 and Carrie and nobody needs that. Not even Chloe who doesn't strike us as the sort that needs the validation to go on. (Horror of horrors that's already occurred back in 2010 when she won a double nom) And then I pictured Quvenzhané Wallis getting nominated for her one line in 12 Years a Slave and remembered that frustrating nomination for Asa Butterfeld in Hugo (he could repeat this year for Ender's Game) and I knew I had to intervene with some advocacy or at least a helpful voting cheat sheet.

Thomas Horn & Quvenzhane Wallis, the last two winners of this category

See, sometimes the lazy voting in this category can be attributed to its low profile. If you're not actually researching / thinking about "which actors that aren't yet 21 did good work this year?" chances are when it comes time to vote you'll just be scribbling down whoever comes immediately to mind. That strategy favors the famous and the lucky (are they in a film you're thinking about for other categories?) and "Best" is not really even a part of the equation.

HELPFUL CHARTS AND READER BALLOT REQUESTS AFTER THE JUMP...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov152013

AFI Fest 2013 Part 2: Danny Kaye, War Movies and Nebraska

Anne Marie concludes her AFI adventures. Nathaniel picks up the baton tomorrow. He's running behind as per usual!

At the midway point of AFI Fest, I experienced what I’m sure many film festival-goers experience at some point: fatigue. The films were Great with a capital G, which meant that while many were truly great films they were also very heavy and in most cases very, very depressing. (Dear Academy, please nominate more comedies!) Nevertheless I persevered, and started Day Four with a little light comedy.

Get it? Got it! Good

Day 4 Part 1: The Court Jester - Sometimes you just need Danny Kaye singing tongue twisters in Technicolor to start your day. If I ever write a list of Greatest Swordfights In Film, Kaye’s comic fight with Basil Rathbone will definitely make the list. And for you Old Hollywood actressexuals, there are not one but TWO actresses: The always lovely Glynis Johns plays Kaye’s love interest, and the devilishly fantastic Angela Lansbury in villainess mode plays the selfish princess.

Day 4 Part 2: Omar - Let’s get this out of the way right now: Adam Bakri is a very, very handsome man. (He also favorited one of my tweets. Heeeeey Adam!) However, there’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking. This latest film by Hany Abu-Assad, Palestine's Oscar submission this year, doesn’t court as much controversy as Paradise Now did in 2005. Omar is a Romeo and Juliet love story, an espionage thriller, and a drama, all of which make the political message about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians more palatable. Omar would give any Hollywood thriller a run for its money, but the human story and the realities of life of the West Bank give the film raw power.

Day 5: Nebraska - This was my favorite film of the festival. Hollywood has a love affair with Middle America this year, but Alexander Payne’s new film stands out from the rest. Bruce Dern is best known for his big, showy performances (memorialized at AFI Fest by a typically exuberant introductory speech / clip show by Quentin Tarantino). However, as the reticent Woody Grant, Dern is subtle, sad, and sincere. Undoubtedly Dern will get a Best Actor nomination, but I’m also rooting for June Squibb as his foul-mouthed Catholic wife. Though the overall tone of the film is melancholy (aided by a simple score by Mark Orton and beautiful black and white cinematography by Phedon Papamichael), occasional moments tip towards comedy and almost into parody. Maybe I love it so much because it reminds me of my own family. I’m not sure. I do know that it was effective enough to make me momentarily forget my new home and get nostalgic for the Great Plains instead. That takes some serious filmmaking skill.

Day 6: Lone Survivor - I’m not sure how to comment on Lone Survivor as a film, because as an experience it was really difficult for me to watch. It was, however, an extremely effective war movie. Last year, Zero Dark Thirty gave us a celebration of the incredible skill and commitment the men and women in the American armed forces. This year, Lone Survivor builds a similar memorial to the Navy SEALS, but with a radically different outcome. [Titular Spoiler Ahead]  A brutal 33 minute-long gunfight between four SEALS and a Taliban army is the focal point of the film, and all but one SEAL (played by Mark Wahlburg) are killed [/Spoiler]. The goal is to put the viewer on the ground with the SEALS, and director Peter Berg succeeds. Lone Survivor is bloody, loud, and patriotic.

Day 7: Like in Genesis, this was my day of rest. I’d planned to see Her, but happily for Spike Jonze (though unhappily for me) the line for the film wound around the block and then some. As I walked to the train station, I vowed like Nathaniel at TIFF that I will do better next year. The little that I saw I loved, and next year I will know how to plan: more than just one schedule, pack protein bars and water, arrive two hours early for any Spike Jonze-affiliated movie, and find more time to write. All in all though, I had a wonderful time seeing some movies I’d looked forward to and some way outside my comfort zone. What a week! AFI Fest 2014 here I come!

Thursday
Nov142013

Snow Queens who have gone before us

It’s Tim, with a little bit of animation history for y’all. Not that you’d be able to tell from the details dribbled out so far (estranged sisters, talking snowmen, reindeer acting like dogs), but the impending Disney film Frozen began its development as a dramatic musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”, a story first published in 1845. By this point, Frozen has drifted far enough from Andersen’s fairy tale that it’s probably more of an honorary adaptation than anything else, but that’s not all that unusual for Disney animated features. In the meanwhile, anyone looking to get their fix with a more authentic, faithful version of the story can look to a lengthy tradition of Snow Queen animated films, stretching back more than half a century.

From Russia to London with Sigourney-Love after the jump...

Click to read more ...

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