×

Russia Offers Oscar Surprise, Names ‘Leviathan’ as its Entry

According to news service TASS, Russia has picked “Leviathan” as its foreign-language entry for the Oscars, an artistically smart but politically surprising choice.

Director Pavel Chukhrai, who sits on the Russian Oscar committee, told TASS that the decision was made after the film scored a majority vote.

The film, a dark satire on life under Vladimir Putin, was directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev. In his May 22 review from Cannes, Variety’s Peter Debruge wrote that it is a loose retelling of the Book of Job, in which an ordinary man must grapple with his faith in the Russian state. The 142-minute work “is the director’s most accessible and naturalistic film, using everyday characters to test how well modern-day Russia is maintaining the social contract with its citizens.” But many expected that its satiric look at the government would KO its chances.

Sony Pictures Classics will give the film a limited domestic release starting Dec. 31.

The deadline for foreign-language submissions is Oct. 1. About a week after that, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will unveil all the entries, which so far number about 60. A short list of nine titles will be unveiled before the five Oscar nominees are announced Jan. 15, at the same time other Oscar categories are unveiled. Ceremonies will be Feb. 22.

Leviathan” was awarded a prize for best screenplay at the Cannes Festival. The film will get a wide release in Russia, with its swear words bleeped out, since they violate a new law forbidding obscenities in films.

Since 1992, Russia has been nominated for five foreign-language Oscars, winning for the 1995 “Burnt by the Sun.” Before that, the Soviet Union had been nominated for an additional nine between 1968 and 1984, with three wins.

 

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Fiddlin'

    Film Review: 'Fiddlin''

    Not many forms of music have “old-” actually built into their name as a prefix. So it’s a given that the practitioners of the 200-year-old genre known as “old-time music” will wear their antiquity proudly in “Fiddlin’,” a documentary set in and around the 80th annual Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, Va. What may not [...]

  • Jonah Hill attends the press conference

    Jonah Hill Passes on Role in 'The Batman'

    After being offered a role in “The Batman,” Jonah Hill has moved on from the project. Why exactly Hill is passing is currently unknown, and insiders tell Variety that when the news was initially reported, it was very early in the negotiations and that a deal was far from closing. The news comes after Zoe [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Elizabeth Moss

    SCAD Savannah Film Festival Honorees Include Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss

    Daniel Kaluuya, Elisabeth Moss, Danielle Macdonald, Aldis Hodge, Valerie Pachner, Samantha Morton, Alan Silvestri and Olivia Wilde are set to be honored at the 22nd Annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival. Breakout Award honorees include Beanie Feldstein, Kaitlyn Dever, Jharrel Jerome, Mena Massoud and Camila Morrone. Macdonald, who appears on Netflix in “Unbelievable” and the upcoming [...]

  • Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman. Alexander Skarsgard,

    Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard to Reunite for Robert Eggers' 'The Northman'

    With his latest film “The Lighthouse” set to bow this weekend, Robert Eggers’ next film has cast two leads, “Big Little Lies” alums Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgård. The pic, titled “The Northman,” is described as a Viking revenge saga set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century. In talks to join Kidman [...]

  • Jessica Henwick

    'Matrix 4' Taps 'Iron Fist' Star Jessica Henwick

    Jessica Henwick is in final negotiations to star in the upcoming fourth installment of the “Matrix” franchise. She joins Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who will be reprising their roles in the film, as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who was tapped as one of the leads last week. Neil Patrick Harris also just joined [...]

  • Frozen 2

    Record 32 Animated Feature Films Submitted for Oscars

    “The Addams Family,” “Frozen II,” “Toy Story 4,” “Abominable” and “The Secret Life of Pets 2” are among the record 32 movies submitted for the animated feature film category at the 2020 Oscars. Last year’s Academy Awards race boasted 25 entries, while 2017 had 26 and 2016 had 27 (a then-record). The list of contenders [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content