Editor’s note: Welcome to the eleventh of a 32-part series dissecting the 84th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. To read any other posts regarding this event, please click the tag following the post. Thank you, and enjoy!
By Diana of Aziza’s Picks
The Foreign Film category is not a popular one – the industry and the viewers usually just want to get it over with and move on to the important ones, but what they don’t know is that, in most cases, this category hides the best, most inventive and impressive movies of the year.
Just because they are in a different language or set in a foreign country does not make them less important or beautiful. I dare you, next time you want to see a new movie, to try out a foreign one – maybe a past winner at the Oscars, maybe one of this year’s nominees. Speaking of, here they are:
1. Bullhead (aka Rundskop) – Belgium
Directed and Written By: Michael R. Roskam
Stars: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval and Jeanne Dandoy
Synopsis: The young Limburg cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille is approached by an unscrupulous veterinarian to make a shady deal with a notorious West-Flemish beef trader. But the assassination of a federal policeman, and an unexpected confrontation with a mysterious secret from Jacky’s past, set in motion a chain of events with far reaching consequences. Bullhead is an exciting tragedy about fate, lost innocence and friendship, about crime and punishment, but also about conflicting desires and the irreversibility of a man’s destiny. [IMDb]
Read Bonjour Tristesse’s
post on it – excellent website for foreign films and more, please do check it out.
Chances: Widely regarded as a great, disturbing film, with 9 nominations at the Belgian Film awards, and beating the critically acclaimed A Kid with a Bike for a spot on the Belgium shortlist for Oscar’s Foreign film nominations, Bullhead can offer one of the surprises of the night.
Trivia: Matthias Schoenaerts had to gain 27 kilograms (60 pounds) of muscle mass for the role of Jacky Vanmarsenille.
2. Footnote (aka Hearat Shulayim) – Israel
Directed and Written By: Joseph Cedar
Stars: Shlomo Bar-Aba, Lior Ashkenazi and Aliza Rosen
Synopsis: Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik are father and son as well as rival professors in Talmudic Studies. When both men learn that Eliezer will be lauded for his work, their complicated relationship reaches a new peak. [IMDb]
Chances: Competing in Cannes last year, it won the award for Best Screenplay. Apart from A Separation, who is the favourite pick for this year’s Best Foreign Film, it is believed that Footnote is the only one that can provide a real surprise in this category.
Trivia: Nominated for 9 Ophir awards, the equivalent of Oscars in Israel
3. In Darkness – Poland
Directed By: Agnieszka Holland
Stars: Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Fürmann and Agnieszka Grochowska
Synopsis: In Darkness tells the true story of Leopold Soha who risks his own life to save a dozen people from certain death. Initially only interested in his own good, the thief and burglar hide Jewish refugees for 14 months in the sewers of the Nazi-occupied town of Lvov (former Poland). [IMDb]
Beautiful post by Wendy Weinstein in the Film Journal
Chances: Many believe Holland was robbed the last two times he competed with his films, so maybe this is an opportunity to reward him, especially since one of the main themes (Holocaust) is a critic’s “darling.”
Trivia: The nomination is the third for director Agnieszka Holland, who was nominated for Europa Europa and Angry Harvest, both set during the Holocaust.
4. Monsieur Lazhar – Canada
Directed and Written By: Philippe Falardeau
Stars: Mohamed Fellag, Sophie Nélisse and Émilien Néron
Synopsis: Bachir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant, is hired to replace an elementary school teacher who died tragically. While the class goes through a long healing process, nobody in the school is aware of Bachir’s painful former life, nor that he is at risk of being deported at any moment. Adapted from Evelyne de la Cheneliere’s play, Bachir Lazhar depicts the encounter between two distant worlds and the power of self-expression. Using great sensitivity and humor, Philippe Falardeau follows a humble man who is ready to transcend his own loss in order to accompany children beyond the silence and taboo of death. [IMDb]
Chances: Unlikely, although it is highly regarded by most critics and viewers.
Trivia: Nominated for 9 Genie Awards
5. A Separation aka (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin)- Iran: TOP CONTENDER
Directed and Written By: Asghar Farhadi
Stars: Peyman Maadi, Leila Hatami and Sareh Bayat
Synopsis: A married couple are faced with a difficult decision – to improve the life of their child by moving to another country or to stay in Iran and look after a deteriorating parent who has Alzheimers. [IMDb]
Review: Andy Buckle’s
great take on the movie, from June of last year, after viewing it at a festival
Chances: A Separation has already received the Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Film, as well as a Golden Bear from the Berlin International Film Festival, and it is on its way to winning an Oscar, too. As I said, it is considered to be a top contender for the award.
Trivia: Also nominated in the Original Screenplay category
Tags: Aziza's Picks, Best Foreign Language Film