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Oscar’s foreign film race heats up

Nine features make the Academy's cut

Creating an uproar in cineaste and Oscar circles, nine films have proceeded into the Academy’s latest voting round for the foreign film statue … with several hits and critical faves missing the cut.

Internet chatter and Oscar circles were buzzing Tuesday as popular and award-winning films like “Persepolis,” “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” and “The Orphanage” failed to move on to the next round.

Instead, pics that got the shortlist call were “The Counterfeiters” (Austria); “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation” (Brazil); “Days of Darkness” (Canada); “Beaufort” (Israel); “The Unknown” (Italy); “Mongol” (Kazakhstan); “Katyn” (Poland); “12” (Russia); and “The Trap” (Serbia).

The most notable absentee was Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner “4 Months” from Romania. Pic also took best film at the European Film Awards and foreign language film from the L.A. and Chicago film critics orgs.

“Persepolis,” from France, took the jury prize in Cannes, as well as the New York Film Critics and L.A. Film Critics awards for animated film and a National Board of Review kudo.

Spain’s “The Orphanage,” which has drawn strong reviews as well as solid box office for Picturehouse, also missed the cut.

Earlier in the awards season, the process ruled out “The Band’s Visit” from Israel, due to the predominant use of English language in the film, and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” The submissions for the section come from committees from each of the countries, not an independent selection body.

Several hundred L.A.-based members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences participated in the first round of voting. The second phase, to be held following screenings from Jan. 18-20 in Hollywood and Gotham, will involve 10 randomly appointed members from the first committee plus two handpicked groups of 10 members in both Hollywood and Gotham. Those 30 voters will winnow the list down to the final five nominees.

Nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced Tuesday at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

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