The awards season saw a new plot twist Monday as the Golden Globes included “Apocalypto” and “Letters From Iwo Jima” on its shortlist of foreign-language films — though neither is eligible for an Oscar in the foreign-language category.
In an already-confusing awards season, this development points up one constantly befuddling factor: the rules of the various voting orgs.
Unlike AMPAS, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has no limits on how many films can be considered from one country. So in the Globes shortlist of 56 pics, there are multiple titles from Italy, France, China, Germany, Spain and India under consideration.
The Hollywood Foreign Press considers any film submitted by its producers, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has a complicated system. Each country can submit only one film, to be determined by a voting body in that country — and the Academy has to recognize that voting body.
However, the U.S. has no org to submit foreign-language films and would not recognize any ad-hoc group that formed to submit a film.
If a film is made in the States in a foreign language — whether it’s a Native American tongue or French or Urdu — it will not be eligible for a foreign-language Oscar. (If a group of Native Americans formed to submit a film to the category, the Acad would not recognize it.)
That’s what happened with Mel Gibson and “The Passion of the Christ” a few years ago. It was nominated for cinematography, score and makeup but was ineligible as a foreign-language film.
At the time, Acad critics again brought up the idea of a floating category for foreign-language films that do not easily fit into any category, but the Academy has not budged.
In Hollywood’s early days, many foreign directors crossed the pond to direct over here. These days, it’s relatively rare for a foreign director to helm a film in English, though some have done it, such as Roman Polanski, Lasse Hallstrom and Ang Lee.
It’s far rarer for an American to work in a foreign tongue, but this year features two high-profile offerings. The Globes list the Mel Gibson-helmed “Apocalypto” and Clint Eastwood’s “Letters From Iwo Jima” as being from, respectively, the U.S. and Japan.
Both will be eligible in most Oscar categories, including best picture. In the Globes, it’s a different story. Foreign-language Globe contenders are eligible in all categories except picture. Its two best-film categories (divided into drama and musical or comedy) are reserved for English-language pics.
That means neither “Letters From Iwo Jima” nor “Apocalypto” will be competing for the top prize at the Globes.
Twenty-eight of the 56 films up for the Globe are also in contention for the foreign-language film Oscar. These include “After the Wedding” (Denmark), “Black Book” (the Netherlands), “Cinema, Aspirins & Vultures” (Brazil), “Curse of the Golden Flower” (China), “Days of Glory” (Algeria), “Golden Door” (Italy), “The Lives of Others” (Germany), “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Mexico) and “Volver” (Spain).
Golden Globe list of foreign-language contenders:
“9th Company” (Russia/Ukraine/Finland)
“After the Wedding” (Den-mark)
“Along the Ridge” (Anche libero va bene) (Italy)
“Avenue Montaigne” (France)
“Black Book” (Zwartboek) (The Nether-lands)
“The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros” (the Philippines)
“Children of Glory” (Hungary)
“Chronicle of an Escape” (Argen-tina)
“Cinema, Aspirins & Vultures” (Brazil)
“Climates” (Iklimler) (Tur-key)
“Curse of the Golden Flower” (China).
“Days of Glory” (Algeria)
“El benny” (Cuba)
“Family Friend” (Italy)
“Family Law” (Ar-gentina)
“Frozen Days” (Israel)
“The Golden Door” (Nuovomondo) (It-aly)
“Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams” (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
“Il Cai-mano” (Italy)
“Ice Cream I Scream” (Turkey)
“The Island” (Rus-sia)
“King and the Clown” (South Korea)
“Lage Raho Munnabhai” (In-dia)
“La Mujer de mi Hermano” (Mexico)
“The Last Train” (Ger-many)
“Letters from Iwo Jima” (Japan)
“The Lives of Others” (Germany)
“Love for Share” (Indonesia)
“Mario’s War” (La guerra di Mario) (Italy)
“The Missing Star” (La stella che non c’e) (It-aly)
“O Major Amor Do Mundo” (Brazil)
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Mex-ico)
“Playing the Victim” (Russia)
“Prince of the Himalaya” (China)
“The Protector” (Thailand)
“Rang De Basanti” (India)
“Retrieval” (Z Ozysku) (Poland)
“Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles” (China)
“Sweet Mud” (Adama Meshuga’at) (Israel)
“The Valet” (France)
“The Yacoubian Building” (Egypt)