You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscar Offers Surprises in Foreign-Language List of 9

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has unveiled its short list of foreign-language contenders: nine films that are semi-finalists to grab an Oscar nomination on Jan. 16.

As usual, there are surprises, and there will be howls of protest and head-scratching as some excellent films were absent from the list. But many of the included films  have been widely seen at festivals and/or screenings and admired.

The nine films are:

Belgium: “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Felix van Groeningen, director

Bosnia and Herzegovina: “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker,” Danis Tanovic, director

Cambodia: “The Missing Picture,” Rithy Panh, director

Denmark: “The Hunt,” Thomas Vinterberg, director

Germany: “Two Lives,” Georg Maas, director

Hong Kong: “The Grandmaster,” Wong Kar-wai, director

Hungary: “The Notebook,” Janos Szasz, director

Italy: “The Great Beauty,” Paolo Sorrentino, director

Palestine: “Omar,” Hany Abu-Assad, director

Popular on Variety

The most surprising absentees from Friday’s announcement are Chile’s “Gloria” (Sebastián Lelio, director); Iran’s “The Past” (Asghar Farhadi, director); Poland’s “Walesa. Man of Hope” (Andrzej Wajda, director); and Saudi Arabia’s “Wadjda” (Haifaa Al Mansour, director).

“Blue is the Warmest Color” was not eligible in this category; it opened in France after the Academy’s cut-off date for foreign eligibility, and France instead submitted “Renoir,” directed by Gilles Bourdos, which failed to make the short list. However, since “Blue” has played commercially in the U.S. this year, it is eligible in other Oscar categories, including best picture, actress, screenplay, etc.

Other high-profile titles that were bypassed include China, “Back to 1942,” Feng Xiaogang, director; Egypt, “Winter of Discontent,” Ibrahim El Batout, director;   Israel, “Bethlehem,” Yuval Adler, director; Netherlands, “Borgman,” Alex van Warmerdam, director; and Russia, “Stalingrad,” Fedor Bondarchuk, director.

The nominations were made by the foreign-language committee, who screened the 76 films submitted. After nominations are announced, final voting will be determined by Academy voters at large, a dramatic change in rules that begins this year. The Academy will supply screeners of all five contenders to voters.

The Academy allows each country to select its own submission. The requirements say that a film must begin a one-week continuous engagement in its country of origin Oct. 1, 2012-Sept. 30, 2013. The language of the film must be predominantly non-English.

Five films will make the list of finalists when Oscar nominations are unveiled Jan. 16. Awards will be handed out March 2 in ceremonies at the Dolby Theatre.

Other rules are more fluid, including the level of artistic contributions from the country. In an era of joint ventures, few films have clear-cut geographic boundaries, but the principal contributors (writers, directors, producers) should be from the country.

When the 76 eligible films were unveiled in October, foreign-language committee chairman Mark Johnson told Variety, “We take great pride in being flexible; we want to include movies, not reject them. But if they’re ineligible, they’re ineligible.”

If a foreign-language film was distributed during the calendar year Stateside, it is also eligible in other Oscar categories, including best picture.

More Film

  • The Island

    ‘The Island,’ ‘Calamity,’ 'Piano Player' Highlight Cartoon Movie 2020 Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

    BARCELONA – Rémi Chayé’s “Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” Anca Damian’s “The Island,” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal’s “They Shot the Piano Player,” and Enrique Gato’s “Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy” are among the sixty-six projects from twenty countries to be pitched at the 22nd Cartoon Movie, Europe’s [...]

  • Kirby Dick Amy Ziering

    'On The Record,' Russell Simmons #MeToo Doc, Charts Course to Sundance After Oprah Exit

    Update: A spokesperson for Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering says the filmmaking team will participate in print and broadcast interviews at the Sundance film festival. The accusers featured in the film are weighing press options at this time. Earlier, a spokesperson for the film “On The Record” confirmed to Variety that only photo calls would [...]

  • Ariel Winograd'TOD@S CAEN' film premiere, Los

    Viacom International Studios Signs First Look Deal with Ariel Winograd (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  — Adding to a powerful and still growing talent roster, Viacom International Studios (VIS) has clinched a first-look deal with Argentine writer-director Ariel Winograd whose latest movie, “The Heist of the Century,” has just become one of the biggest Argentine openers in history. The multi-year pact takes in the development and production of not [...]

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

  • 1917 Movie

    Why '1917' Is the Last Film That Should Be Winning the Oscar (Column)

    There’s a feeling I always get at the end of a long Oscar night when the movie that won isn’t a terrible choice, but it’s the safe, blah, MOR predictable choice, the one that conforms to the dullest conventional wisdom about the kinds of movies Oscar voters prefer, because in the core of their being [...]

  • Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock'

    Civil Rights Drama 'Praying for Sheetrock' in the Works as Feature Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Enderby Entertainment is developing a feature film based on Melissa Fay Greene’s civil rights drama “Praying for Sheetrock,” Variety has learned exclusively. The non-fiction book, published in 1991, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, Georgia Historical Society Bell Award and the ACLU National Civil [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content