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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