Oscar History

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Entries in foreign films (316)


Podcast: The Big Short, It Follows, Etc...

We're just going overboard with the podcasts this month. We hope you don't mind. Here's a little extra conversation between Nathaniel and Nick. (With another podcast right around the corner!) 

40 minutes 
00:01 The Big Short, celebrity cameos, gambling and our own failings
16:40 Nick looks forward to The Revenant & talking about The Hateful Eight
19:45 Foreign Film Finalist List: Ireland's Viva, Denmark's A War, Hungary's Son of Saul.
27:45 Films that didn't make it to the finals like Guatamela's Ixcanul,  and LGBT entries
33:20 How to watch challenging cinema at home on your televisions. Starring: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch and It Follows 

Further Reading for Context:
Nick's Hateful Eight Tweet
Nathaniel's recent Oscar submission reviews
Plus Embrace of Serpent and Labyrinth of Lies

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes

Big Short & Foreign Finals


Interview: Klaus Härö on Globe Nominee & Oscar Finalist 'The Fencer'

Five of the nine foreign film finalists will become Oscar nominees on January 14th. Here's Jose to talk Finland's Oscar finalist. 

Jose here. Klaus Härö’s The Fencer is based on the real life story of Endel Nelis (Märt Avandi), a fencer who escapes Leningrad in the 1950s, and goes into hiding in the town of Haapsalu, Estonia, where he becomes an essential member of the community when he starts a fencing club. Cherished by children, many of whom need a father figure after being orphaned during the Russian occupation, Nelis is also feared and loathed by others who wish he would return where he came from and leave them alone.

Härö’s film is an example of classic storytelling at its best, using gorgeous cinematography, a lush score and featuring a compelling performance by the swoon worthy Avandi, it’s no surprise that Oscar voters were moved to include it among the entries in the exclusive Foreign Film shortlist. It has also been nominated for a Golden Globe. A couple of weeks before the Oscar announcement was made,

I talked to Härö about his obsession with period films, casting Avandi and awards season. Our interview is after the jump...

Click to read more ...


To Gong Li on Her 50th Birthday

One of the screen's all time great beauties turns 50 today and she's still completely ravishing. Gong Li holds the fascinating distinction of being the only Chinese cinema star that Oscar has ever been consistently interested in. Despite Oscar's historic (and frankly bizarre) resistance to Asian cinema, even in the foreign film categories, an incredible six films from her resume have been nominated for Oscars.

Alas she has not been nominated herself, though she was "in the conversation" as it were on two separate occassions.  A Gong Li beauty break and those six of her most famous films after the jump... 

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Year in Review: The 15 Biggest Box Office Hits of '15

There's not much of a story this weekend beyond Star Wars: The Force Awakens which broke all available records without even breaking a sweat this weekend with a $238 million opening. And that's even before the lucrative Christmas week. Jurassic World currently tops the 2015 box office globally with $1.6 billion in revenues with Furious 7 tailing it with $1.5. Surely The Force Awakens has its eyes on even greater prizes though. Like James Cameron's top two records Titanic's 2.1 billion and Avatar's (2009) 2.7 billion worldwide gross.

The Force Awakens is a good movie so the audience wins. Or do we? Let's talk about the Dark Side of the box office as we look at the biggest hits of the year in five separate categories after the jump... 

Click to read more ...


The 9 Foreign Language Oscar Finalists Are...

Congratulations to the nine films that proceed to the final stage towards an Oscar nomination. Six of these nine films were the top vote-winners from Academy's foreign film committee in Los Angeles (who screened these 80 films) after which the executive committee added three titles to the list (though which titles are which are never revealed to the public). A final committee will now screen these nine films and determine the five nominees to be announced on January 14th. It's an elaborate process that we love to follow each year. Catch up on all our coverage and see the charts

Links go to past articles on the films if we've written any 

Viva has been keeping a low profile but those who've seen it have raved.

  • Belgium (7 nominations) The Brand New Testament, Jaco Van Dormael
  • Colombia (never nominated) Embrace of the Serpent, Ciro Guerra (opens 2/17)
  • Denmark (13 noms | 3 wins) A War, Tobias Lindholm (opens in 2016)
  • Finland (1 nomination) The Fencer, Klaus Härö, director
  • France (36 noms | 9 wins | 3 honorarys)  Mustang, Deniz Gamze Ergüven (now playing)
  • Germany (18 noms | 3 wins) Labyrinth of Lies, Giulio Ricciarelli (now playing)
  • Hungary (8 noms | 1 win) Son of Saul, László Nemes (opens tomorrow!)
  • Ireland (never nominated) Viva, Paddy Breathnach (opens 2/5)
  • Jordan (never nominated) Theeb, Naji Abu Nowar (now playing)

Happy Day!
Embrace of the Serpent and Mustang are both sensational pictures that more people need to discover. Go see Mustang quick! Theeb and Labyrinth of Lies are surely leaving theaters soon to so this might be your last week. If Mustang is nominated it will end France's longest drought without a nomination ever. That will be ironic since it's mostly a Turkish film. Though France is the most nominated country of all time, they haven't been honored for the past five years and their last win was 23 years back with the gorgeous Catherine Deneuve epic Indochine (1992).which was popular enough to secure a Best Actress nomination, too. 

Hungary's Son of Saul has been the expected frontrunner for months 

Four of the nine finalists are from first time feature directors! That'd be Son of Saul, Mustang, Theeb, and Labyrinth of Lies 

Only one of the finalists is directed by a woman (Mustang) -- 13 of the 80 films in the running had female directors or co-directors. All of the LGBT films (Thailand, Lithuania, Greece, and The Dominican Republic) were cut but for Ireland's Viva (which is set entirely in Cuba) about a boy who wants to become a drag performer. 

Will Finland get their second nomination ever with THE FENCER?

Fourth Time's The Charm?
Finnish director Klaus Härö has been submitted three previous times for Elina: As If I Wasn't There, Mother of Mine, and Letters to Father Jacob, but this is his first time in the finals. Will he finally be nominated? 

What's missing?
I mourn for The Second Mother, a film I really enjoyed that had a reasonably high profile, decent arthouse box office and strong reviews. Sweden's brilliant A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence would have probably needed a save from the Executive Committee but they didn't come through. I'm more surprised to see Iceland's Rams missing since it had been generating such positive word of mouth and was reportedly accessible, too. The biggest hit in US theaters from the competing films, Austria's Goodnight Mommy was also not selected. The film critics will surely be angriest to see Taiwan's The Assassin denied.

Which films are you rooting for? 


Foreign Film Long List Overachieving Recap!

If the Academy is on the same time table they were last year with the Foreign Language Film volunteer committee we should know the 9 finalists from the 80-wide foreign submission list before the weekend. But before we get there, let's look back on where we've been. It's the most coverage we've ever done for one of our favorite categories so we hope you've been reading along and trying to see what you could (these films are often elusive, we know). 

Much thanks to Jose who has been invaluable in seeking out interviews. Catch up on the coverage like so...

"everything u ever wanted to know about the foreign film category *...but were afraid to ask" Pt 1 81 Trailers | Pt 2 Female Directors & Debuts | Pt 3 Zoology | Pt 4 I know that face! | Pt 5 More Trivia!


embrace of the serpent

Colombia, Embrace of the Serpent  REVIEW  & INTERVIEW
France, Mustang REVIEW & INTERVIEW 
Hungary, Son of Saul  REVIEW & INTERVIEW  
Jordan, Theeb INTERVIEW  


goodnight mommy


Afghanistan, Utopia DISQUALIFIED | Albania, Bota | Algeria, Twilight of Shadows 
Argentina, The Clan  REVIEWED | Australia, Arrows of the Thunder Dragon 
Austria, Goodnight Mommy INTERVIEW | Bangladesh, Jalal’s Story 
Belgium, The Brand New Testament | Bosnia and Herzegovina, Our Everyday Story
Brazil, The Second Mother INTERVIEW | Bulgaria, The Judgment
Cambodia, The Last Reel |  Canada, Félix and Meira INTERVIEW

Chile, The Club REVIEW | China, Go Away Mr. Tumor
Costa Rica, Imprisoned | Croatia High Sun | Czech Republic Home Care  
Dominican Republic, Sand Dollars  REVIEW & INTERVIEW | Estonia, 1944
Ethiopia, Lamb | Finland, The Fencer | Georgia, Moira
Germany, Labyrinth of Lies REVIEW & INTERVIEW 

Greece, Xenia | Guatemala, Ixcanul REVIEW | Hong Kong, To the Fore
 Iceland, Rams | India, Court | Iran, Muhammad: The Messenger of God
Iraq, Memories on Stone | Ireland, Viva
Israel, Baba Joon REVIEW | Italy, Don't Be Bad INTERVIEW 
Ivory Coast, Run | Japan, 100 Yen Love |  Kazakhstan, Stranger
Kosovo, Babai | Kyrgyzstan, Heavenly Nomadic | Latvia, Modris | Lebanon, Void

Lithuania, Summer of Sangaile | Luxembourg, Baby (A)lone | Macedonia, Honey Night
Malaysia, Men Who Save the World | Mexico, 600 Miles INTERVIEW 
Montenegro, You Carry Me | Morocco, Aida | Nepal, Talakjung vs Tulke
Netherlands, The Paradise Suite | Norway, The Wave REVIEW & INTERVIEW
Pakistan, Moor | Palestine, The Wanted 18 | Paraguay, Cloudy Times | Peru, NN
Philippines, Heneral Luna INTERVIEW  | Poland, 11 Minutes
Portugal, Arabian Nights - Vol 2 REVIEW |Romania, Aferim! | Russia, Sunstroke

Serbia, Enclave | Singapore, 7 Letters | Slovakia, Goat INTERVIEW
Slovenia, The Tree | South Africa, The Two of Us | South Korea, The Throne
Spain, Flowers INTERVIEW | Sweden, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch... REVIEW
Switzerland, Iraqi Odyssey | Taiwan, The Assassin REVIEW & GOLDEN HORSE
Thailand, How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) | Turkey, Sivas
United Kingdom, Under Milk Wood | Uruguay, A Moonless Night INTERVIEW
Venezuela, Gone With the River | Vietnam, Jackpot

the assassin



Interview: The Actress & Director of "The Second Mother," Brazil's Oscar Hopeful

As 2015 winds down, let's turn a spotlight on one of the year's best foreign films, Brazil's Oscar submission The Second Mother. After a successful limited US release in late summer, it's now available to watch on VOD. And watch it you should. The film centers on a housekeeper named Val (a terrific Regina Casé) who is reunited with her estranged teenage daughter after many years apart. The daughter's sudden presence wreaks havoc on the the dynamics of Val's relationship to the family that employs her. It's a rich film with humor, sadness and insight.

This interview with writer/director Anna Muylaert and the film's star Regina Casé is edited for clarity because some of it was conducted through a translator. I hope you'll be intrigued enough to check out the film.

NATHANIEL: Anna, since you wrote and directed, let's start with you. What prompted you to do this? Was it personal interests in these topics like parenting, and socioeconomic divisions

ANNA MUYLAERT: It started with me when I had a son. I was interested in talking about the importance of the work of motherhood, and at the same time how it was not valued in our society. And then character of the nanny came about, and then of course, the socioeconomic issues came.

NATHANIEL: Was it hard to find Val? Did you have Regina in mind when you were creating her?

more after the jump...

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