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Entries in foreign films (157)


Foreign Oscar Buzz: Israel, Hungary and Romania

Soon we'll be inundated with Foreign Film Oscar Submission news but for now news from three countries to get us started. The Oscar Charts will be up this weekend for this always diverse and exciting (if you're paying attention) category. [Thanks to Daniel, Yonatan and A.D. for the tips]

S#x Acts

Israel has been on a hot streak with Oscar with four nominations in the past six years so news of the Ophir Awards is always important. This narrows the field for which film will be their official submission since they go with the Ophir winner. Seven films are in the running for their Best Picture (The Ophir).

The frontrunner is Bethlehem (12 nominations) a drama about the Arab- Israel conflict which focuses on three characters: An Israeli secret services agent, his teenage Palestinian informant and the informant's older brother, a commander of the Al Aqsa Martyr's brigade. Other nominees include S#x Acts, a drama about a transfer student who improves her social status via the boys at her new school. Sukaryot is about an Israeli-Arab entrepreneur wants to open a chain of candy store competing directly with an Israeli corporation. Magic Men is a dramedy about a Hasidic Jew who joins his magician father on a trip to Greece to find the man who saved his father during the Holocaust. And the soul comedy is Hunting Elephants about a child's adult relatives who set out to rob a bank. (Patrick Stewart is one of the leads so perhaps this will have too much English dialogue to qualify?) Far less likely are two films which only scored Best Picture nominations at the Ophirs: White Panther about a young Russian who seeks refuge from street gangs in a local boxing gym and I Am Bialik, a mockumentary about a man who claims he's descended from Israel's national poet.

Tough Romanian cinema has been hot with critics for nearly a decade but has yet to catch on with the Academy, who (generally speaking) prefer warmer films. Can Child's Pose, their 2013 submission, break through? The Golden Bear winning film stars the acclaimed Luminita Gheorghiu who previously appeared in two of the country's most important exports (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and The Death of Mr Lazarescu).

Luminita in "Child's Pose"

The Guardian synopsizes the contemporary political drama like so:

the film tells the story of a mother's desperate and often illegal attempts to save her son from prosecution after he knocks down and kills an impoverished teenager...

The official submission is The Notebook/A nagy füzet which was the Karlovy Vary winner. Hungary had a solid Oscar run in the 1980s but has had difficult finding traction since and especially in the past couple of decades when they've made very daring oddball choices for their representative films. This new one appears to be more in Oscar's wheelhouse since it's about two young boys ripped from their parents during World War II.

For whatever reason, Oscar has historically been very kind to narratives about children in wartime in this category, not just because at least a handful of films that fit that genre seem to be submitted each year but because the tear-jerking obviously transcends culture and language barriers. This one looks discomfitingly unsentimental though with children hardening themselves to atrocities. 

If you've seen any of these at festivals, have your say in the comments. Which country are you most excited to see land a nod this year?


We Link Alone

Big Screen
BuzzFeed for your 4th of July Hangover... 18 ways Drop Dead Gorgeous makes you proud to be an American
Vimeo Best Supporting Visual Effects? in The Great Gatsby
Towleroad Tilda Swinton showing solidarity with Russian gays at the Kremlin
Deviant Art Claire Hummal is rethinking Disney Princesses with more period-accurate wear 

Amiresque on The Bling Ring
Under the Radar talks with Pedro and cast on I'm So Excited 
i09 for those who are not spoiler-averse "10 great movies where the heroes are doomed" 
Guardian here's a list topic I've literally never seen before... "the 10 greatest Arab movies"

Small Screen
Gold Derby Can Mad Men ever turn around its Emmy problems?
Vulture why hasn't ABC Family renewed OR cancelled Bunheads? Is there any hope for one of the best shows on TV to return? And if they wanted to capitalize on the acclaim, why on gods green earth didn't they submit it for Emmy consideration? It's all very baffling.

Today's Curiousity
Salon interviews Miranda July on her new celebrity-heavy forwarded email project "We Think Alone" with personal outbox appearances from Kirsten Dunst, Lena Dunham and more.




Red Carpet & Un Certain Regard Prizes

I haven't been able to find a partner for Red Carpet Convo discussions this holiday weekend *sniffle* so instead I thought I'd share some red carpet lineups with jury prizes and brief notes now that the awards are coming in. Are you with me?

First up is the Un Certain Regard jury which was led by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg who came to fame with the great Festen (Celebration) in 1998 and has been enjoying similarly ecstatic praise for his recent picture The Hunt which could be Denmark's Oscar entry this year.  On his jury were actresses Zhang Ziyi, Ludivine Sagnier, Head of Brazil's Festival Ilda Santiago and producer Enrique Gonzalez Macho.  Here's Ziyi... ! 

Which is your favorite? And when was the last time you saw Ziyi onscreen? It seems like it's been forever for me so I'm eager for The Grandmaster which is a totally unofficial 2046 reunion (see also: Tony Leung & Wong Kar Wai)


The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
Rithy Pan's picture about the horrors of the Pol Pot regime -- I'm crazy about the poster! -- won the Un Certain Regard prize

Omar (Israel)
Hany Abu-Assad, who was Oscar nominated for Paradise Now, won the jury prize (i.e. second place) for this movie which returns to the same brutal setting of the Palestine-Israel conflict and focuses on three friends caught up in the cycle of violence.

Fruitvale Station (USA)
Ryan Coogler's Sundance winner about the police killing of an innocent Bay Area man (Michael B Jordan) took the "Future Award". A Future with Oscar maybe...

Stranger by the Lake (France)
This controversial murder mystery from Alain Guiraudie -- already infamous for its nudity and gay sex -- took home the directing prize. The film takes place entirely outdoors in a gay cruising area. Strand Releasing will distribute in the States at some point.

The Cage of Gold (Mexico)
Diego Quemada-Diez, a camera operator of films you've seen like 21 Grams and The Constant Gardener, has graduated to directing. His ensemble cast of non-professional teens playing illegal migrants were given the Talent Award 

On their choices, Vinterberg says:

One of the finest achievements in filmmaking is to create unforgettable moments – moments that stay with us – as a collective memory – as a collective mirror of our existence. Clay figures, extreme beauty, violence, homosexual blow jobs, systematic humiliation of the human kind, Léa Seydoux’s legs, great Brando imitations are just some of the unique images that will follow us for a while.

Well... all of those things do sound memorable even if we don't have much context for them just yet. And so so we close with Ziyi's fellow juror Ludivine Sagnier, an actress j'adore and who we've interviewed right here.

When was the last time you saw Ludivine onscreen?




Q&A: Disappointing Actresses, Mixed-Up Hunks, Subtitled Crickets

And now the return of the 'Ask Nathaniel/Q&A' series wherein you asked me questions and I pick two handfuls to answer. 

Disposable project on the line for Emily. Yes, another one.DAVID: Which actresses filmographies are you most disappointed in? I'm thinking in terms of actresses you admire and think are incredibly talented, but, for whatever reason, end up working in subpar films.

NATHANIEL: I think the popular answer here is Rachel McAdams but aside from Mean Girls I've never cared too much. The answer that came immediately to mind was Emily Blunt. It’s not that she’s making terrible films per se, it’s just that given how Oscar worthy she was in that plum comic part in Devil Wears Prada seven long years ago, and then how sexy she was in that blink and you’ll miss her bit in Charlie Wilson’s War soon thereafter, I expected her career to explode in the way, say, Carey Mulligan’s did post An Education or at least for her to be more direct competition for Anne Hathaway. I wonder why Blunt isn’t either in more demand or more interested in challenging herself. Maybe it's just bad luck. She seems to be working exclusively in indies that don't crossover, mainstream films that are quickly forgotten or headlining gigs which don't really work in some crucial way (Young Victoria, Adjustment Bureau). I’d love to see her really challenged either by a role or by an auteur. Will Into the Woods bring a happily ever after to that heat-losing career?

The second choice is Evan Rachel Wood who seemed to chuck what looked like incredible range and promise to the side for a long procession of Very Bad Girls. This was, in no small part thanks to her inarguable electricity in Thirteen (2003) but when you play variations on one theme too often you either become a superstar or people lose interest. I thought she was good in Ides of March (2011) but it isn't what she needed. What she needs is a total about face role.

JOHN T: The last foreign language film to clear $20 million was Pan's Labyrinth, almost seven years ago. What do you think it would take for a foreign language film to catch on in that way again?

Amy Adams, Oscar Tragedies, and a Beefcake Triple after the jump...

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I Left My Film Festival in San Francisco

Glenn here with a report from the recently concluded 56th San Francisco Film Festival. I travelled to the Golden Gate city and sat on the FIPRESCI jury, judging a roster of eleven films from first and second-time directors. Given the attention given to FIPRESCI – The International Federation of Film Critics, or Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique if you want to be European about it – I wasn’t allowed to discuss the films as the festival progressed (can’t let the pundits in on what we’re going to reward now, can we?), but now we can take short looks at each of the competition titles.

Directed by Justine Malle (yes, Louis Malles daughter), and starring Esther Garrel (daughter of Philippe; sister of ubiquitous French star Louis Garrel) and with a title as definitive as Youth (there should be an "!" there just for effect), Malle’s debut has the weight of baggage. Appropriate then given it’s about a young woman dealing with first love, sex, parties, exams, an ill womanising filmmaking father, and wine. So much wine. From the very opening scene Malle does a fine job of establishing this young girl torn between the city life with her mother and the country life of her father. Her train trips back and forth are very literal back-and-forths with her personality as she tries to decide what she wants. And that includes one of her classmates, Benjamin (Émile Bertherat that my notes proclaim has “DREAMBOAT HAIR!”) The film has some pertinent things to say about young women and society’s view of them – a stranger sees her crying over her dying father and asks “is it about a boy?” I enjoyed it a lot, even if it did feel somewhat like a film I’ve seen before.

10 more films (some maddening, some great), one strange cat, one possible Oscar submission after the jump...

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