'Biutiful,' 'World,' 'Incendies' among 9 contenders for noms

Pics from Cannes and other recent film festivals are well represented on the Academy’s shortlist for the foreign-language film Oscar — though not necessarily the most obvious suspects.

While Croisette entries “Biutiful” (Mexico), “Outside the Law” (Algeria) and “Life, Above All” (South Africa) all made the cut, Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” (Thailand) and Grand Prix honoree “Of Gods and Men” (France) were notably absent from the shortlist.

Rounding out the lineup are “In a Better World” (Denmark), “Incendies” (Canada), “Dogtooth” (Greece), “Confessions” (Japan), “Even the Rain” (Spain) and “Simple Simon” (Sweden).

From a pool of 66 eligible titles, an Acad committee of several hundred L.A.-based members screened all pics and narrowed the contenders to six, augmented by three submissions voted on by the Academy’s foreign-language film award executive committee. Seven of the nine came from festivals.

Critical hit “Dogtooth,” though submitted by Greece this awards season, was a Cannes 2009 premiere. But Cannes wasn’t the only film festival to build buzz around this season’s shortlisted films; others got bows at Venice (“Incendies”) and Toronto (“In a Better World,” “Even the Rain”).

While all of the films have opened in their home territories, virtually all are unknown to North American auds.

But many have seen good grosses in the international market: “Confessions” has made more than $40 million worldwide, and “Incendies,” which Sony Classics will release in the States in April, has grossed more than $36 million globally.

And a handful have begun stirring award-season buzz. Javier Bardem’s perf in “Biutiful” has made him a possible contender for a lead-actor Oscar nomination after a weeklong qualifying run in the U.S., and “In a Better World” recently took home the Golden Globe for foreign-language film.

The shortlist of nine will be winnowed to the five nominees by specially invited committees in New York and Los Angeles later this month. Noms for the 83rd annual Oscars will be unveiled Tuesday.

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