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Entries in foreign films (244)

Sunday
Feb012015

Thin Skins and The Art of Being Snubbed

I've been sitting on half formed think pieces about this one for a couple of weeks deciding whether to publish but here goes...

A very recent article at Wired about journalist behavior at Sundance made a lot of journalists angry. I agree that a lot of movie journalists are jaded (I think that about other Oscar bloggers all the time who don't see to love it like I do). The piece isn't really fair because there are a lot of terribly behaved people of all types of badges at festivals. The type of badge you wear does not influence your behavior, your character influences your behavior. Still there's so much online response and twitter uproar about this that it reminded me of all the potshots taken at Birdman's depiction of a critic (in a movie that is not meant to be taken literally at that). In short: a lot of media writers have thin skins. I'd include myself here I must say but I think it's better to take your lumps quietly than protest too much. (Movies.com had a similarly themed piece on bad movie etiquette but it was more generous and didn't point too specific a finger.)

The uproar over these pieces reminded me of my own discomfort about the way people react to Oscar snubs (or omissions if the "s" word offends you). This season in particular, the Selma situation has provoked a lot of criticism,...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan112015

Golden Globe Foreign Film Panel

It's Golden Globes night. We'll start covering the red carpet arrivals in a half hour or so. If you missed our predictions those were here on the podcast.

 

A neat new tradition for the Golden Globes is this focus on their foreign film nominees -- they are the "Hollywood Foreign Press Association" after all. In this streamed event you can hear from FORCE MAJEURE's (Sweden) Ruben Ostlund, GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM's (Israel) Ronit Elkabetz &  Shlomi Elkabetz, IDA's (Poland/Denmark), Pawel Pawlikowski, LEVIATHAN's (Russia) Andrey Zvyagintsev, and TANGERINES (Estonia) Zaza Urushadze. Interestingly enough -- it's not common -- four of the five Globe nominees this year (all but Gett) are still in the running for an Oscar nomination in the correlative category

Sunday
Jan112015

Awards, Recent Miscellania

It's Golden Globes Night.  Until then let's try in vain to catch up a little.

Oscar Nomination Morning (this Thursday) has some news. For the first time they'll be announcing ALL CATEGORIES at that early morning ceremony we so love. Not just the headliners which is all they used to do followed by the press release list of all nominees. The Film Experience heartily approves! 

Palm Springs International Film Festival wraps up tomorrow but the jury prizes are in and four of this season's Oscar submissions won something: Russia's Leviathan won the FIPRESCI for Best Film and Georgia's Corn Island took an award called "Bridging the Borders". Both are still in the running to become America's Next Top Foreign Language Film. The acting prizes went to films that have already been cut from Oscar's Foreign Film Party. Mommy's Anne Dorval took Best Actress and Winter Sleep's Haluk Bilginer won Best Actor. You can see the rest of the prizes here. Audience Awards have yet to be announced.

That bitch to the right does NOT like Glenn Close's hairstyle. Do you?

Makeup And Hair Stylists Guild will hold their awards ceremony on Valentine's Day on the Paramount lot where Rick Baker, of werewolf fame, and Kathryn Blondell (of Leo DiCaprio and Goldie & Kate hairstyling fame) will receieve lifetime achievement awards. They have 5 categories for film as well as 14 other categories which cover tv, commercials, and live theater. Thus they're far more generous than the Academy's corresponding branch which already eliminated several of their nominees. Curiously their website does not contain the nominees just into about attending their awards show (unless I'm just missing it) but you can see a complete list at Deadline. Guardians of the Galaxy and Into the Woods led their nominations with 3 each including a prize specifically for the Witch which I'm sure will delight many of you given what you've been saying in the comments. The most curious category in terms of a collection of nominees is surely Best Contemporary Hairstyling. They went with: Birdman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar , St. Vincent, and Winter's Tale. Super strange, right? I'd only heard people mocking Winter's Tale... even for the hair! I can't excuse the lack of Tilda's vampire dreadlocks, or Lucy's dye jobs, but I guess there aren't a lot of contemporary films with noticeable hair work this year?

The Casting Guild used to hold the annual Artios Awards in November and their eligibility period was not based on the calendar year. They've shifted it now -- presumably to be more in line with everyone else -- so their eligibility period is fairly long this year which resulted in a curious mix of last year's beloved movies and this year's contenders so you have categories where, say, 12 Years a Slave is going up against Selma (Feature Film Big Budget Drama) and Short Term 12 is going up again Boyhood (Feature Film Low Budget Drama). You can see a complete list at their website. My happiest takeaway from this list is that Short Term 12 was remembered (its casting was effortful and brilliant, if you think about it) and that Pride was honored in the oddly and very broadly titled Feature Film Studio or Independent Comedy category. Pride will be competing with Big Eyes, Chef, The Grand Budapest Hotel, St. Vincent and Top Five. Chef seems like a really weird choice since there was a whole lot of Jon Favreau calling up all his celebrity friends to do him a favor.

Mommy won several prizes from Vancouver critics. But Anne Dorval lost Best Actress!Critics Prizes continue in cities all over the place. We decided we just couldn't cover it all so made firm decisions about how we'd proceed next year -- if you missed that post it's basically that we'll only be covering groups formed before 2000 since there's been an absolute explosion ever since with multiple rounds of press releases  -- some groups have as few as 8 people so they might all be friends in someone's basement, who knows! But since we don't cover them all we'll be just linking up to their awards at other places (though not their nominations) and pointing out areas where they went out on a true limb if there are any. Recent groups that have announced include Iowa which went with all the usual suspects but for Reese for Best Actress,  Vancouver which went for all the usual suspects but for Tilda Swinton for Best Actress for Only Lovers Left Alive and The Overnighters for Documentary (they also have Canadian film awards so it's worth looking at and they were fans of Mommy & Tu dors Nicole) , Oklahoma went with the usual suspects but for Edward Norton in Birdman the world's Official Runner Up for supporting (bad timing for his Oscar dreams I suppose), and they have a fun prize called "not so obviously worst movie" which went to Monuments Men and a prize I don't agree with called "Guilty Pleasure" which went to Edge of Tomorrow but honestly there's nothing to feel guilty about when a movie is really good, which that one is, and you like watching it). Finally, though I probably missed some cities,  Georgia went with the usual suspects but for Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer and the getting less and less unusual Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. They also have a breakthrough award which went to David Oyelowo which is an interesting choice but he's been working too long for me to view him thusly. Still, I get the impulse. He had a big year and he's lesser known.

How prepared are you for the Globes tonight? Make sure to listen to our predictions today if you haven't yet!

Monday
Jan052015

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously we looked at ten runners-up -- practically an alternate top ten if you will the year was so good. Now on to the list you've been waiting for as our own awardage begins. 

The years best films marched in the streets in London and Alabama, cruised Scotland with nefarious intent, uncovered skeletons in Poland, and jogged around DC. They performed on the stages of Manhattan while also house hunting there; neither activity is for the faint of heart. Only two of them sprang from books though another cast its biggest spell while holding one. Two taught us about history in ways that felt absolutely relevant and useful to how we live now and one let us watch 12 years of it unfold. The thing that unites all ten is the imagination, fine judgement (when to employ a light touch and when to hit hard) and technical prowess of the filmmakers and actors, lifting their scenes, themes and stories however mundane, silly, deep or fanciful to greater heights that we could have reasonably expected.

With deep appreciation...

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
(Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
Disney. April 4th
138 minutes 

The public has been more than generous with Marvel Studios over the years as they stumbled into surprising glory given that they were playing with a half deck having sold so many key characters. Ten films in: perfection! Captain America: Winter Soldier artfully dodges nearly every typical superhero movie problem (as well as general sequel problems) with a stunning grasp of mood, total commitment to a "square" character, a smart choice of villain, and thrilling action scenes that feel authentically dangerous (a complete rarity in blockbusters) rather than like stop-and-gawk "setpieces" with no actual stakes. Add in Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson both embracing their supersized charisma and physical perfection (while deepening their rapport and characterizations) and you have the year's best popcorn entertainment.

 

THE BABADOOK
(Jennifer Kent)
IFC Films. November 28th 
93 minutes 

You can't intellectualize away its terror, though reviews and many a future masters theses will try. This alarming horror film, a brilliant debut for Australian director Jennifer Kent, is as hard to shake as its title character whether you take it as a straightforward monster film, a mental illness or grief allegory, or get hung up on its minefield of taboos (mothers who don't much like their children / over-medication of children / weapons in schools). It's as rich and imaginative a study of depression in its own creepy-crawly way as Lars Von Trier's Melancholia so it's wonderfully apt that Jennifer Kent once apprenticed with the Danish provocateur

Eight with more than enough Great after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan052015

Foreign Language Oscar Winners: What Are They Up To?

Manuel here to talk auteurs abroad. Did everyone hear (pun alert) about Pedro Almodóvar’s upcoming film, Silencio? We don’t seem to have much else other than its title (“It’s called Silencio because that’s the principal element that drives the worst things that happen to the main female protagonist”) and that Pedro doesn't think it will star one of his regular muses. But it made me curious as to what other Academy Award foreign auteurs were up to. Below the jump then, find a non-exhaustive list of the future projects of recent Foreign Language Film winners.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec192014

Oscar's Foreign Language Finalists. Shocking As Per Usual...

And now, dear reader, we have our official OSCAR FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM FINALIST LIST direct from the Academy and it's full of tongue-twisting shockers, no matter your mother Mommy tongue. You mean no Xavier Dolan? No Marion Cotillard and the Dardenne Brothers? No rampaging dogs or winter sleeps that made people cheer at Cannes? Nope...The nine remaining films are (in alpha order)

Can IDA finally break Poland's losing streak in this category?

THE FINALIST LIST

  • ACCUSED (The Netherlands. 7 nominations | 3 wins)
    This film, known as Lucia De. B in The Netherlands, is a courtroom drama about a lawyer who later regrets convicting a nurse for murder. The director was previously Oscar nominated for Zus & Zo
  • CORN ISLAND (Georgia. 1 nomination | 0 wins)
    Capsule Review though we called the Oscar prospects for this farmer and his daughter outpost drama "nil" ...oopsie! 
  • FORCE MAJEURE (Sweden. 14 noms | 3 wins)
    Reviewed and then reviewed some more because this sharp comedy about masculinity and marriage (among other things) is so damn good. Currently in release and the only film on this finalist list that's occasionally nabbing Foreign Film critics prizes from Ida 
  • IDA (Poland. 9 nominations | 0 wins)
    Love this movie but then again, doesn't everyone? It's the third biggest subtitled hit of the year and the most unlikely since its a confrontational stark black and white drama about a Jewish nun.
  • LEVIATHAN (Russia. 13 noms | 4 wins)
    Reviewed but more on this one (which is difficult to summarize) coming soon... it's also very good. 
  • THE LIBERATOR (Venezuela. Never nominated)
    Reviewed though we called the Oscar chances "unlikely" Oopsie again. We did SO much coverage on this race this year that I guess we got a little cocky. And also... maybe I was a little irritated by it since I was so in love with the runner up for submission from Venezuela. 
  • TANGERINES (Estonia. Never nominated)
    I've been predicting this film, about a farmer who takes in a wounded soldier, for months now after hearing intense love for it from a festival programmer in LA. Have yet to lay my own eyes on it though.
  • TIMBUKTU (Mauritania. Their First Submission!)
    Reviewed but I haven't yet seen this searing drama about Sharia law and the havoc it creates on a tribal community. I hear only exciting things (though miserably depressing things).
  • WILD TALES (Argentina. 6 nominations | 2 wins) 
    Reviewed and lurved. It's really hilarious and somehow maintains its energy throughout despite being essentially a collection of shorts 

Wild Tales is the only film to plan an opening right around Oscar night that lucked out by doing so.

The biggest omissions in terms of how high profile they were are undoubtedly Canada's Mommy (which I suspected would be too youthful anarchic for them), and Belgium's Two Days One Night which were two of the best films of 2014 according to many (including myself). The latter film is currently hoping for a Best Actress nomination for Marion Cotillard (UPDATED CHART)  and this omission could actually help her. Past races have shown us that perceptions of unkind treatment in the foreign film category can boost your nomination chances. Consider the fates of City of God (subitted but not nominated for foreign one year but chased with a regular release the next), Talk to Her (not submitted by Spain), and Three Colors: Red (deemed ineligible) which went on to nominations in other categories. 

It's also worth noting that ALL of the LGBT entries (there were six) did not make the finalist list. 

THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE SAVE
One of the more discussion-prompting elements of this Oscar game each year is their recently refined rules which involve two different sets of groups coming up with these nine finalists. The six top vote-getters from the ballots of the general committee volunteer AMPAS members who attend the screenings make the list but then 3 additional films are chosen as finalists by a special committee (presumably to prevent really embarrassing omissions like Oscar had when say 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, an instant masterpiece from Romania, didn't make the cut). The titles (aka which films are which) are never revealed so it's internet speculation only that says...

Oh, the Executive Committtee totally saved that one!" 

NO MOMMY
So what this means is that whichever films that special more powerful committee saved, they liked them more than Mommy and Two Days One Night and whatnot. I'm sad to see both go but you can make a VERY respectable shortlist of Oscar nominees from these nine. I've only seen 4 of the remaining 5 but all 4 are worthy. 

You should expect to see some shifting release dates around this news. It's a huge danger to plan your releases around Oscar campaigns, as Mommy did by waiting to open (presumably until the nomination came). Every year films succumb to this hope addiction when it's better to mount an honest "this film is great!" release and if Oscar comes, it comes. Other movies that did not make the finalists that were planning on opening very  soon are Germany's Beloved Sisters, Two Days One Night (both due on Christmas Eve in theaters) and France's Saint Laurent, like Mommy was probably waiting for Oscar to come up with a plan.

More coming on this category soon once we've fully digested the news.

Related Pages

Current Predictions
Submission Chart Pt 1 Afghanistan through Ethiopia 
Submission Chart Pt 2 Finland through Nepal 
Submission Chart Pt 3 Peru through Venezuela 

Everything You Wanted To Know About the Foreign Film Race... but were afraid to ask 
Part One: We explored trivia about the Oscar's most global category
Part Two: Nathaniel jumped to Towleroad, "a site with homosexual tendencies," for a discussion of the six LGBT films in the competitive long-list.

29 of 83 Foreign Submissions Reviewed or Otherwise Investigated  AfghanistanArgentinaAustraliaBelgiumBrazilCanadaCubaCzech RepublicFinlandFranceGeorgiaGermanyHungaryIcelandIsrael, Iran, ItalyLatviaMauritania, New ZealandNorwayPanamaPolandPortugal, SwedenSwitzerlandTurkeyUruguay, and Venezuela.
Complete Oscar Charts Here.

 

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