France is at once a big deal and a small one in the Oscar foreign-language race, as Guy Lodge notes at HitFix. "With 37 nods to date, France is the most-nominated country in the category's history, even if they haven't actually taken the gold in 20 years," Lodge writes.
In any case, it's worth noting that for 2012, France has settled on "The Intouchables," as Elsa Kesslassy of Variety reports, noting that it reflects a rare shift by France into comedy crowdpleasers as Oscar submissions.
"The Intouchables" received a scathing review from Jay Weissberg in Variety, but I found myself among those swept away by the film's charms, feeling that it earned its laughs and catharsis despite the perhaps uncomfortable familiarity of its structure. At the same time, I take no pleasure in Marion Cotillard starrer "Rust and Bone" being left on the outside looking in. ("Amour," it was previously announced, is entering the Oscars under Austria's flag.)
Here's a broad sampling of other foreign-language entries to be made official so far:
– Australia: "Lore," a World War II-survival story.
– Azerbaijan: "Buta," "the tale of an orphan befriended by an elderly man who loved, but lost, the boy's grandmother long ago."
– Bangladesh: "Ghetuputra Kamola," about boy actors perfecting an old performance art form.
– Belgium: "Our Children," an unhappy and controversial family drama.
– Bosnia: "Children of Sarajevo," about postwar life in the city.
– Bulgaria: "Sneakers," a film "about six youngsters escaping the dreary city for a long summer break on clean, pristine beaches."
– Cambodia: "Lost Loves," its first entry in 18 years.
– Canada: "War Witch," revolving around child soliders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
– Croatia: "Cannibal Vegetarian," a "disturbing story of an ambitious and amoral gynecologist."
– Czech Republic: "In the Shadow of the Horse," a 1950s political thriller.
– Germany: "Barbara," a story of "a doctor who finds love in a provincial hospital after being harshly reprimanded for wanting to leave the GDR."
– Greece: "Unfair World," focused on "a disillusioned policeman who sets out to distribute justice by his own humanitarian standards."
– Hungary: "Just the Wind," Bence Fliegauf's "disturbing story of modern day murder squads."
– Japan: "Our Homeland," Yang Yong-hi's debut film "about a Korean man's visit to his family in Japan after a long exile in North Korea."
– Macedonia: "The Third Half," one of a number of recent films "about soccer and ethnic and national loyalties during wartime occupation by the Germans."
– Morocco: "Death for Sale," a neo-noir set in the country's underworld.
– Netherlands: "Kauwboy," about a child whose relationship with an abandoned bird helps him reconnect with his father.
– Norway: "Kon-Tiki," following "the 1947 expedition of anthropologist and explorer Thor Heyerdahl."
– Palestine: "When I Saw You," the 1967-set story "of an 11-year-old boy who runs away from a Palestinian refugee camp in his search for freedom."
– Philippines: "Bwakaw," a story (not to be confused with "Beginners") of a gay man who comes out of the closet at the age of 70.
– Poland: "80 Million," an adventure thriller/political morality tale.
– Portugal: "Blood of My Blood," a "downbeat tale of adultery, incest and drugs set in a Lisbon slum."
– Romania: Cannes screenplay winner "Beyond the Hills" from Cristian Mungiu.
– Serbia: "When Day Breaks," about "a retired music professor who finds out the truth about his past when a wartime metal box containing a musical score is found near the site of a concentration camp."
– Slovenia: "A Trip," from Nejc Gazvoda "about three friends on a road-trip to the beach before starting adult life."
– Sweden: "The Hypnotist," helmed by Lasse Hallstrom.
– Ukraine: "Firecrosser," the "true story of a Soviet wartime hero whose life is transformed when he is sent to one of Stalin's Gulags."
– Venezuela: "Rock, Paper, Scissors," a story of "how an innocent child's game unveils a betrayal that will alter the lives of two families."
Meanwhile, Spain has narrowed down its choices to three in advance of its Sept. 27 selection. And there are interesting doings in Bangladesh, reports Naman Ramachandran for Variety, with rival factions competing for the official submission.
… The Bangladesh Federation of Film Societies chooses the nominee but, like last year, the federation has split into two groups, each claiming to be the body responsible for selection.
One faction comprises nine members of the BFFS led by producer Habibur Rahman Khan. It announced Tuesday that "Ghetuputra Kamola" (Pleasure boy Kamola) from helmer Humayun Ahmed, who died in July, was its pick for the Oscars.
It is opposed by an 11-member group, led by helmer-thesp Syed Hasan Imam, which has yet to unveil its choice. …
… "Guerilla" director Nasiruddin Yousuff told the local press, "No movie from Bangladesh participated last year simply because of the rivalries. I expected my movie would go to the Oscars last year since it had won wide acclaim and participated in prestigious festivals, including Moscow Film Festival."