Oscars: Nine Films Advance in Foreign Language Film Race

Original Screen Play Oscar Race
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Nine films have advanced in the race for the Oscar for foreign-language film, moving on to the next phase of voting for the 88th Academy Awards.

The list has been narrowed down from the 80 that were originally considered eligible. See the films that have advanced below:

Belgium, “The Brand New Testament,” Jaco Van Dormael, director;
Colombia, “Embrace of the Serpent,” Ciro Guerra, director;
Denmark, “A War,” Tobias Lindholm, director;
Finland, “The Fencer,” Klaus Härö, director;
France, “Mustang,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director;
Germany, “Labyrinth of Lies,” Giulio Ricciarelli, director;
Hungary, “Son of Saul,” László Nemes, director (in photo);
Ireland, “Viva,” Paddy Breathnach, director;
Jordan, “Theeb,” Naji Abu Nowar, director.

Voting in the category is determined in two phases. The phase one committee, made up of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened submissions between mid-October and Dec. 14. The shortlist consists of this group’s six choices with three additional selections voted by the Academy’s foreign-language executive committee.

The list will be narrowed down to the five official nominees, which will be announced, along with nominations for all other awards, on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 5:30 a.m. PST.

Seven of the nine films are from Europe. There is one from the Mideast and one from South America. Asia and Africa were shut out, as were Australia (which had submitted “Arrows of the Thunder Dragon”) and North America (including Canada’s “Felix and Meira” and Mexico’s “600 Miles”).

As in every year, there were some high-profile films that didn’t make the cut. The no-shows include Austria, “Goodnight Mommy”; Brazil, “The Second Mother”; Iceland, “Rams”; Iran, “Muhammad: The Messenger of God”; Israel, “Baba Joon”; Montenegro, “You Carry Me”; Palestine, “The Wanted 18”; Poland, “11 Minutes”; Portugal, “Arabian Nights – Volume 2, The Desolate One”; Sweden, “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence”; and Taiwan, “The Assassin.”

Those films were high-profile, due to festival berths and/or big box-office. This year, as in every year, pundits were surprised at some lesser-known titles on the list, but the Acad’s foreign-language voters always counter that with “But when you see the films that made the cut, you will understand why they’re there.”

The 88th Oscars will be held Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, and will air live on ABC.

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  1. Rana Naber says:

    Best of luck to THEEB! It’s time to see Jordan arrive at OSCARS! Proud !!!!

  2. Fabio Ornelas says:

    “But when you see the films that made the cut, you will understand why they’re there.” Really! The only reason Labyrinth of Lies made the shortlist is because it’s about the holocaust, for it is indeed an ordinary film. Also, everybody knows already that Son of Saul will win next year. No surprise there. I knew it from the moment I saw it. At least that one is a decent film. The Fencer and A War, although good, aren’t on the same level of some landmark snubbed films such as The Second Mother, Paradise Suite and The Club, just to mention a few. All in all, it’s been like this year after year. Theme over substance. Shame on you Academy! For Christ’s sake, change the rules for the foreign language competitition, or change the voters! Do they really watch all submitted films? The fact is: you are doing a disservice to film history.

  3. Han Solo says:

    Like always these nominations don’t really make sense…the Academy needs to change the rules for this increasing ridiculous Oscar…”Labyrinth of Lies” is a conventional mainstream drama, that doesn’t deserve awards consideration. It shouldn’t have been submitted by Germany. “Phoenix” and “Victoria” are much better films. “The Fencer”, “Viva” and “A Brand New Testament” shouldn’t be here either.
    Personally I think that “Aferim!” (Romania) should have been short-listed: It’s one of the most intelligent & beautiful films of the year, but Romania is ALWAYS ignored by the Academy. A few years ago the Oscars didn’t even short-list “4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days”, remember? I also miss “Rams” (Iceland), “The Assassin”(Taiwan), “The Second Mother”(Brazil) and “Le Club”(Chile). Shame on you!

  4. Scott says:

    “Labyrinth of Lies” is mediocre. “The Fencer” isn’t bad, but it doesn’t belong here. That “The Assassin” and “The Second Mother” aren’t here is a joke.

  5. Jeremy Sklar says:

    “Pigeon” is not just the best foreign film, it’s the best film of the year, period.

  6. Chizz says:

    And a big FUCK YOU to Roy Andersson and Hou Hsiao-hsien! How much proof is needed what a JOKE these awards are?

  7. Mark says:

    Yes–“A War” is probably the best foreign language film this year. “Son of Saul” is pretty good, too–although marred by an amateurish acting job by Geeza Rorhrig.

  8. Angeleno says:

    I am so excited that Tobias Lindholm’s “A War” from Denmark made the shortlist! The film just knocked me out when I saw it at AFI Fest this fall, and it has stayed with me more than any other movie I’ve seen this year. Just excellent work!!

  9. jintsjason says:

    Shocked “The Club” didn’t make the cut. But, truly, it’s between “Saul” and “Mustang”, the two best films I saw this year regardless of language.

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