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“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
“The Kite Runner”
“Lust, Caution”
“Persepolis”

At first glance, the Golden Globes have only two best picture races, with the drama and comedy-musical categories getting most of the attention. But don’t forget the foreign-language category, where the most heated best picture race happens.

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Making the contest more interesting is the fact that only two of the nominees, Romania’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 days” and France’s “Persepolis,” qualify for Oscar foreign-language consideration. The Academy operates by an arcane Olympic-style selection method in which each country submits one film to compete, while the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. nominates — get this — the best foreign-language films that opened in U.S. theaters the previous year.

That means the HFPA is free to include two quality entries as diverse as “Persepolis” and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” even though they both hail from France. They needn’t bother with the controversial Academy rule that decided Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution” wasn’t Taiwanese enough to qualify (or heed any political shenanigans by which a country wouldn’t put its best film forward, as frequently happens in the equivalent Oscar category).

Rounding out the ballot is “The Kite Runner,” the very model of multinational collaboration (with its American financing, Swiss director and Iranian/Egyptian/Afghan cast).