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Entries in foreign films (342)


More "Best Foreign Language Film" Oscar News

by Nathaniel R

Look at this cute still from Train Driver's Diary. That's Serbia's submission to the Foreign Language Film Oscar race which was announced yesterday. It won the audience prize at the Moscow Film Festival and tells the story of a retiring train driver training his son to take over. The old man holds an infamous record: the most accidental killings on the job. 

Forty-one countries have now made their announcements official including high profile choices like Chile's Neruda which stars Gael García Bernal and could put the auteur Pablo Larraín in contention for yet another nomination to whatever haul his brilliant Jackie picks up.

Spain's submission of Julieta, is even more high profile given Pedro Almodóvar's international statue...

Click to read more ...


TIFF Quickies: A Monster Calls, Colossal, Santa & Andrés

Nathaniel R reporting from the Toronto Film Festival 

A Monster Calls (JA Bayona, USA/Spain)
This fable about grief and growing up will surely be someone's favorite movie. Alas, it isn't mine. A Monster Calls is a simple fantasy about a boy named Connor (Lewis MacDougall) whose mother (Felicity Jones) is dying of cancer. His grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and father (Toby Kebell) attempt to console him but the only solace Connor can find is in visitations from a giant tree monster (voiced by Aslan... excuse me, Liam Neeson) who promises to tell the boy three stories in exchange for the boy's own. The film is somewhat moving and fantastically visual in its three animated stories within the movie; they're sensory overload mashups of computer generated imagery, watercolor fluidity, and bold color choices. In both its earthbound and magical moments, though, A Monster Calls is relentlessly gilding the lily. It's so concerned with putting its parables over that its' constantly explaining them and telling us how to feel about grief and loss. Still, Bayona's movie is always coming from a place of compassion and humanity which can be a godsend in the soulless landscape of CGI heavy movies. While the tech elements are strong, particularly sound and visual effects (though why does the creature look so much like Groot?),  it all comes down to the boy and his mother if you want the tears. MacDougall & Jones are beautifully cast as they both look and feel like mother & son. MacDougall, who made his debut as a Lost Boy in Pan last year, impressively carries the movie with something like ease while filling up all the unspoken spaces with heartbreak and fury about his impending loss. Felicity Jones half-gone feeling in her final scenes provides generous Oscar clipping. If only the movie had given the emotions more room to breathe and to speak for themselves. If trees can walk and talk, and demand that we listen, feelings deserve the same respect. Less CGI and scripted preaching, more intuitvie tears, please. [Animated Stories Within the Movie: B+ /Movie: C+ ]

Colossal (Dir. Nacho Vigalondo, Canada)
Finally a movie that Hathaway fans (*raises hand high and shamelessly*) and the "Hathahaters" can enjoy together. This oddball movie from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo places Anne Hathaway at the center of a kaiju movie. Nope, she's not a scientist or a hero - believe it or not she's the kaiju. Yes, she's Colossal's rampaging beast destroying Seoul ... not figuratively but actually! She's also "Gloria" a drunk who gets thrown out of her boyfriend's apartment (Dan Stevens) and ends up returning to her hometown where she takes a job with a former friend (Jason Sudeikis) who still harbors a crush. When Gloria realizes she's unknowingly wreaking havoc all the way around the world she's even more freaked out by her self destruction and drunken blackouts. If that all sounds like it might work better as a midnight madness short, you could be right. Colossal starts brilliantly with a priceless perfectly-pitched prologue in South Korea with a little girl and her dolly. Though it's numerous twists have a kind of welcome insanity, the length of the thing, and particularly its deadly over-investment in the Jason Sudeikis character (to the detriment of Gloria's own emotional arc) undoes it. Lop off an entire half hour of this film's running time and it might just work as a delightfully weird and funny cult oddity but as it is Colossal is something of its own kaiju, an lumberingly awkward, self-destructive beast which keeps crushing the precious little movie its building. [Anne Hathaway's Willingness to Do This Project: A / Movie: C+]

Santa & Andrés (Dir. Carlos Lechuga, Cuba/Colombia)
Havana born director Carlos Lechuga takes aim at the disconnection of idealogies amongst Cubans in this 80s set drama about a homosexual writer deemed a dissident and the woman assigned to monitor him to keep him from contacting international press and delegates at a local political event. Initially this drama's slow burn doesn't seem to be paying off with a dull first half hour and lots of shots of Santa & Andrés warily staring at each other and barely speaking. But their eventual emotional, if not political, understanding is wonderfully portrayed by the actors and smartly delineated in the screenplay. What the patient filmmaking lacks in verve it makes up for in insight, with each painfully tentative kindness between them feeling like a precious miracle in a climate of hopelessness. B


Finland's Oscar Entry and the European Film Awards Finalists

Finland has chosen its Oscar submission this year.

They've gone with the acclaimed black and white boxing drama The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki which is about a featherweight championship match between American and Finnish boxers in 1962.

That film is also in the finalist list for the European Film Awards. Nominations for the EFAs will be announced on November 5th. The EFA ceremony changes location each year and this year it will be held in Poland on December 10th. Because of competing eligibility dates you'll notice that each year's EFA list contains films from different Oscar seasons. The list of their finalists for 2016 is after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Why Aquarius's Trouble in Brazil Could Bolster Its Oscar Chances (and other foreign film Oscar buzz)

It's that exciting time of the year again when we start hearing the names of the films selected to compete in this year's Oscar race for Foreign Language Film. It's our signature category at TFE (outside of Lead and Supporting Actressing of course and arguably the eye candy tech categories). All four of the foreign charts are now up and will be frequently updated when news comes in. We currently have 9 official submissions but dozens more will be named in the next three weeks. 

Current Predictions
100% likely to change since only about 10% of the field is known at this point.
Chart 1 (Afgahnistan - Finland)
Submissions from Australia, Croatia, and Cuba. Finalists from Brazil and Denmark
Chart 2 (France through Morocco)  
Submissions from Georgia & Germany. Finalists from Israel.
Chart 3 (Nepal through Vietnam)
Submissions from Romania, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Venezuela. Finalists from The Netherlands and Spain.

Last year Jose and I interviewed representatives from 17 films and the team reviewed another dozen still and we hope to provide similarly extensive coverage again this year. Check out the charts above and do share with your friends and countrymen! 

the great Sonia Braga at Cannes in May

Germany's Toni Erdmann is currently leading the Oscar buzz but the other topic on everyone's lips in this category is what will happen with Brazil's Aquarius. More on that and a couple of other speculative bits after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Foreign Oscar Race Begins: Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark

Over the next couple of months we'll be hearing the names of the 70ish films that will be competing for Oscar's coveted shortlist as Best Foreign Language Film. So far nine countries have selected their films and other countries have begun the winnowing to get to their top choice.

Our charts are now in progress with posters, info, and links to official sites and such as well as links back to highlights from last year's global class. 

The Companion forces a boxer and a soldier with AIDS to spend lots of time together

Chart 1 Afghanistan to Finland

Denmark and Brazil have narrowed it down to three films each with Brazil's choice already embroiled in a lot of controversy due to political fighting in regards to Aquarius (starring Sonia Braga which hits TIFF & NYFF shortly and which was very well received at Cannes) though I have to admit it's hard to make sense of the turmoil from an outsider's perspective given the Google translate limitations. Thank to Jon in the comments for alerting us to this brewing controversy but if someone can sum it up for us in brief that would be appreciated. But on our first chart we have three official submissions

Cuba's submission is about a boxer accused of doping who is forced to become a companion to a soldier who has contracted AIDS. Cuba has only been nominated for the LGBT drama Strawberry & Chocolate (1994) in the past but I maintain that Behavior (2014), their most recent submission, would have been a worthy nominee. Here's the new film's trailer with subtitles:

There is a trailer available but not subtitled. It's about a mother who's kept a secret for a very long time.

Australia's entry takes place on a remote island and is performed by the Yakel tribe. This one opens in New York City and Los Angeles in September so cross your fingers that it wins further expansion. Here's the official site and the trailer. Our own Glenn Dunks wrote about it for Paradise magazine. It won two prizes at Venice last year and it looks potentially exciting...

Tanna - Trailer - All parts performed by the people of Yakel from Lightyear Entertainment on Vimeo.




Box Office Special: When Films are Bigger Abroad...

What did you see this weekend?

Let's ignore Suicide Squad's big box office weekend (read Lynn's review here) as that story is overworked already given the months of hoopla on the internet and the expected fact of a very big weekend (that's what happens with much-hyped superhero films). Instead for the weekend box office column, let's talk about a situation that occurs each year in terms of different preferences in blockbusters around the globe. Those differences sometimes go a long way in explaining why some franchises never die (Hello, Ice Age) even long past their natural expiration dates. Though Finding Dory has easily topped the domestic charts in the US to become 2016's champ, it couldn't reach the global power of Captain America: Civil War (#1), Zootopia (#2) or The Jungle Book (#3) worldwide. Taste and success do vary across borders.

Stephen Chow's "The Mermaid" is the 7th biggest hit of 2016... but it did only $3 million in the US

After the jump let's look at the titles from 2016 with less than a third of their treasure chests coming from the US (currently the biggest film market though China will reportedly surpass us soon). What can we learn from this list?

Click to read more ...


Box Office: Ghostbusters, Sultan, Café Society

Though the new Ghostbusters couldn't defeat the very family friendly Secret Life of Pets to take the box office crown, it was still a win for Paul Feig & Melissa McCarthy company (their best opening yet, just beating their previous best for The Heat). Other winners this weekend: Sultan, the Bollywood sports drama starring Salman Khan, is now the #1 foreign language release of the year, jumping over the Chinese hits The Mermaid and Ip Man 3; Woody Allen's Café Society experienced more demand in its opening weekend than of his films since Blue Jasmine; and, finally, the provocative survivalist family drama Captain Fantastic led by a typically sterling Viggo Mortensen expanded fairly well. Next weekend will be key for Captain Fantastic with word of mouth; there's neither anything like it in the marketplace nor really anything to compare it to in ages (since maybe The Mosquito Coast in the Eighties?) but unfortunately that much originality in topic and purpose usually hurts movies at the box office in this era of intense branding.

800+ screens. arrows indicate gaining or losing screens
🔺01 The Secret Life of Pets $50.5 (cum. $203.1) 
🔺02 Ghostbusters $46 NEW Review 
🔻03 The Legend of Tarzan $11.1 (cum. $103) Review 
🔻04 Finding Dory $11 (cum. $445.5)  Review
🔺05 Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates $7.5 (cum. $31.3) Review
🔻06 The Purge: Election Year $6 (cum. $71)
🔻07 Central Intelligence $5.3 (cum. $117.5)
🔺08 The Infiltrator $5.2 (cum. $6.7) NEW Review
🔻09 The BFG $3.7 (cum. $47.3) Review
🔻10 Independence Day: Ressurection $3.4 (cum. $6.7) 

Sultan is now the #1 foreign hit of the yearTOP LIMITED
Excluding previously wide. 
🔻01 Sultan $985K (cum. $5.2)
🔻02 Hunt for the Wilderpeople $563K ($1.4) Review 
 Cafe Society $355K NEW Review

🔺04 Captain Fantastic $277K (cum. $406K) Review
Swiss Army Man $262K (cum. $3.7) Halfway Mark Achievements

What movies did you catch this week?

Beyond Captain Fantastic and Ghostbusters, I Netflixed it bingeing Stranger Things (we'll talk about it soon) and finally finishing Grace and Frankie Season 2, and I apologize that I didn't have Estelle Parsons on my Guest Actress ballot for Comedy and that Emmy didn't nominate her either. This is why they need blue-ribbon panels; there are just too many eligible shows that voters aren't taking seriously that contain better specific performances than the shows they vote for reflexively in all categories as we saw all over the Emmy nominations.

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