As the Academy grows into an ever more international body, directors working outside the English language are no longer seen as fringe contenders — among the diverse array of filmmakers in the running for this year’s international feature Oscar are a number of names who could cross over into other categories.
Top of the list is ultra-cool Korean genre stylist Park Chan-wook, whose dizzying neo-noir romance “Decision to Leave” has been steadily gaining admirers since winning him the director prize at Cannes. Park is already known to Hollywood, having directed the 2013 Searchlight release “Stoker,” but has never been recognized by the Academy: now feels the time.
With five Oscars to his name, Mexico’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu has certainly received his due from the Academy, so don’t necessarily bet against his ambitious return to his home country: a sprawling, self-autobiographical meditation on art and identity, “Bardo” didn’t wow critics at the fall fest, but might resonate more with industry folk.
Another international director with a high Hollywood profile is Germany’s Edward Berger, who was Emmy-nominated for his stylish helming of TV’s “Patrick Melrose”: many are dazzled by the visceral cinematic energy he brings to his Netflix-backed World War I drama “All Quiet on the Western Front,” a new version of a story that won best picture way back in 1930.
The veteran of the field is 84-year-old Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski, who nonetheless approaches his eccentric, inventive life-of-a-donkey study “EO” with the experimental verve of a young artist; at the other end of the scale of is Belgium’s 31-year- old Lukas Dhont, whose sophomore film “Close,” a tender tale of young queer affection and grief, had audiences at Cannes and Telluride weeping.
Looking to make history, meanwhile, is France’s Alice Diop, who could be the first Black woman ever nominated for international feature — or indeed director — if her devastating, culturally prob- ing courtroom drama “Saint Omer” finds Academy favor.