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Foreign-language Friday is nigh for Oscars

Royal
The frenzied journey to the shortlist of foreign-language Oscar contenders is scheduled to climax Friday with the reveal of the nine semifinalists.

Participating voters have been working overtime since October, when the 71 official entries were announced by the Academy, to whittle away all but a nonet of possible nominees.

In addition to the heavyweight in the category, Austria’s “Amour” (which has been talked up for a best picture nom), speculation about other potential shortlistees has enveloped such films as French hit “The Intouchables,” Belgian entry “Our Children,” Gael Garcia
Bernal starrer “No” from Chile, Australia’s “Lore,”
Canada’s “War Witch,” China’s “Caught in the Web,” the Czech Republic’s
“In the Shadow,” Denmark’s “A Royal Affair,” Germany’s “Barbara,”
Israel’s “Fill the Void,” Norway’s “Kon-Tiki,” Switzerland’s “Sister”
and the Netherlands’ “Kauwboy,” a European Film Awards honoree
for European discovery.

As Anthony Kaufman notes in this feature, directors including Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Lasse Hallstrom and Kim Ki-duk are in the mix, while John Anderson points out that dysfunctional families have been a major theme in this year’s submissions.

Kaufman also notes that voting patterns have changed in recent years, thanks to the institution of an exec committee that chooses a third of the films on the shortlist. (The other six films will be the ones that average the highest score on a
10-point scale among participating voters.)

Still, the more things change … well, let’s let Kaufman explain.

“Foreign-lingo film Oscar watchers are quick to note that none of these
surface characteristics ultimately matters as much to Acad voters as
something deeper: an accessible and emotionally satisfying film,” Kaufman writes. “That’s
why the movie to beat this year may be ‘The Intouchables,’ a feel-good
film likened to ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ that resolves racial and class
conflicts in less than two hours.”

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