Wednesday, January 18, 2012

84th Oscar Foreign Language Updates (1/18/12)

The Academy’s foreign language category boasts a number of unique rules that make for interesting discussion topics among those who follow this race. In addition to the politics of having each country submit just one film (and often, the wrong one), there is a double process for choosing the short list, with the branch membership choosing six films and a super committee empowered to pick three additional titles. The reason for this is that the branch has often ignored critically acclaimed works, so they added the super committee to “save” the more artistic titles.

What interests me about this is that the Academy as a whole seems to suffer from this problem. When the general membership wasn’t choosing the “right” films, the board of governors changed the rules for best picture, first to a slate of ten, and now to the 5% rule. One can only wonder what might have happened if they had chosen the super committee route instead!

Back to the foreign language race, there is a game that is sometimes played here called “guess the super committee choices.” This year, I think it is pretty clear that Taiwan’s entry, Seediq Bale, was one of the films that was saved. It has a running time of four hours and twenty-five minutes! I look forward to hearing which films you think came from the super committee in the comments.

As for the short list announced this morning, I correctly predicted 4 of them (44%), with all 9 (100%) appearing on my past long lists. You can see how I am doing in the other categories on my Track Record Page. For anyone wondering why the short list is announced so late (just one week before the actual nominees!), the reason is that branch members must come to a special screening this weekend to watch all 9 films (3 per day) in order to vote. Surely this will help endear voters to Seediq Bale’s runtime even more than usual.

Here are today’s rankings for the 84th Oscar Foreign Language race, with previous ranking shown in parenthesis after each entry. My friend over at Bonjour Tristesse gets to see most of these movies before I do, so I will be posting links to their reviews as they come in for those who are interested in learning more about these films.

1. Asghar Farhadi for A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader Az Simin) (Iran) (Predicted Winner) (previous rank 1)
2. Agnieszka Holland for In Darkness (W. Ciemnosci) (Poland) (previous rank 2)
3. Wim Wenders for Pina (Pina: Tanzt Tanzt Sonst Sind Wir Verloren) (Germany) (previous rank 3)
4. Philippe Falardeau for Monsieur Lazhar (Canada) (previous rank 18)
5. Joseph Cedar for Footnote (Hearat Shulayim) (Israel) (previous rank 7)

6. Michael R. Roskam for Bullhead (Rundskop) (Belgium) (previous rank 45)
7. Roschdy Zem for Omar Killed Me (Omar M’a Tuer) (Morocco) (previous rank 25)
8. Ole Christian Madsen for SuperClasico (Denmark) (previous rank 24)
9. Wei Te-Sheng for Warriors Of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale (Saideke Balai) (Taiwan) (previously ranked 40)

As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!
See Foreign Language predictions for other years HERE.
See predictions for other categories at the 84th Oscars HERE.
Switch to another year: 84th,  85th,  86th,  87th,  88th,  89th  


  1. I only got 4/9 as well. Trade Morocco for Israel and you have my guess for the five finalists.

    I didn't think Bullhead would get selected but I am glad it did if only for Matthias Schoenaerts' amazing performance.

    Canada's film opens locally here on the 27th so I should have a review up soon after.

    Morocco isn't a big surprise, as it's essentially a French production and the creative team behind it have been nominated previously. The DVD is already out in France, so I'm going to try and get ahold of it shortly.

    The Denmark and especially the Taiwan picks are the ones that came out of nowhere.

    Oh and thanks for the links!

  2. @Bonjour Tristesse, I was happy to link, especially since none of these seem to be opening near me yet, although I did finally see a trailer for A Separation at my local art house, so I'm hopeful that I might get to see it before the awards ceremony. Besides, I haven't been as good about commenting on your site as I'd like to be lately, so I thought this might make up for it a little. :)

    It does always seem a bit unfair that France gets multiple bites at the apple, but I suppose being a colonial power still does have its privileges. Footnote has been near the top of my list since Cannes, although I don't know how much this branch values screenplays over other factors.

    It would be interesting to find out how many of the presumed super committee picks end up making it for the nominations. But maybe the shifts in quality is enough to give us an idea.

    1. I guess you haven't noticed that blogger has a reply button now in the comments. :)

      I would love to hear the rationale behind the super committee selections. This category is so wildly unpredictable sometimes I wonder if they just sit around all year and then draw titles out of a hat at the last minute.

    2. It does make me wonder, although perhaps if we saw the lists without them we would understand. Maybe they're actually saving the front-runners that we are all assuming are sure things?

      Thanks too for pointing out the reply button. Not sure why I never paid attention to it before!

  3. Damn Sweden is not even on the top ten ranking...

    1. They're waiting for one of your films to be in contention Joel!

  4. So, It looks like Iran and Israel's first major battle would take place in L.A... well, you all know on which side I am... GO FOOTNOTE GO!

    1. Just imagine if all international disputes could be solved by a movie showdown instead of a military one!

  5. I would be surprised if A Separation didn't win the Oscar. I've virtually haven't heard about the other movies whatsoever.

    1. A Separation certainly seems to be making a push (it will be opening near me soon). If it were only based upon votes of the full membership, then I think that its campaign would be set. The only hesitation I sometimes have is that members have to sit through all of the films in order to vote, which both gives us a smaller voting sample and means that buzz doesn't always translate as well as it does in the other categories.