The LAMB Devours The Oscars 2017: Best Foreign Language Film

by Jay Cluitt · February 26, 2017 · Featured, LAMB Devours the Oscars · 1 Comment

Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:

Today, JD Duran from Insession Film is here to look at the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film.

Best Foreign Language Film is an interesting category each year. Most of the time it does highlight some of the best work outside of the United States, however, the Academy Awards system is reliant on countries picking the right film to represent their country. And that isn’t always the case.

For example, South Korea opted for the Kim Jee-woon film, The Age of Shadows, which was passed over by The Academy. In fact, South Korea has never had a film selected for nomination. But all of that *should* have changed this year with Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden, which isn’t just one of the best foreign language films this last year, it was simply one of the best films of 2016, period. The fact it wasn’t selected, or nominated, is a travesty to this category.

That said, this crop of Best Foreign Language films is still excellent.

Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann is one of the heavy favorites to win this category this year. Maren Ade’s film that features a prankster father trying to reconnect with her daughter is a long experience, but satisfying on every level. The film is hysterical throughout, but the film wonderfully balances that levity with genuine heart and nuanced drama as well. There is *no* way the American re-make will come close to capturing the magic of this film.

The Salesman

Asghar Farhadi is one of the best filmmakers working today. It’s a shame that American politics will keep Farhadi from attending the Oscars ceremony and the potential chance of him accepting his award. If any film is going to beat Toni Erdmann, it’s going to be The Salesman. The film features throbbing suspense and a touch of neorealism that makes the experience very satisfying.

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove is Sweden’s submission for this year’s Oscars and while it doesn’t have a chance of winning, it’s an endearing film about a man coping with life after the death of his wife. Rolf Lassgård’s performance is impeccable in depicting the quintessential angry old man who knows he’s right all the time, and screw everybody else. There is, of course, a learning curve throughout the film and it’s very charming in execution.


Tanna is Australian’s submission and it’s one of the more unique foreign language films to come out last year. It depicts a culture in the Pacific Island of Tanna, in which certain sects of this society live among one another, trading supplies and keeping peace. One of those “trades” between these tribes, are the women, who are married off in arranged marriages. Tanna, however, tells the story of how two rebelled and wanted to marry for love. It’s almost verbatim their version of Romeo and Juliet. The film also features real individuals from the island of Tanna, meaning there are no professional actors, and all of the dialogue is authentic from the island as well.

Land of Mine

This is the only film of the five I haven’t seen, but I’ve heard great things about this Denmark gem. It’s about a group of German POW’s who are forced to dig up tons of land mines, and as you could imagine, it doesn’t always go smoothly. I’m very interested to catch up with this one.

The Handmaiden


[Editor’s note: I was having some difficulty finding someone to write this piece who had seen more than two of the films, so I planned to split it up into five smaller pieces written by different people about each film. Before JD kindly stepped up to write the whole piece I had others lined up, so here are links to their personal reviews:

Land of Mine, reviewed by MovieRob
The Salesman, reviewed by Keith Noakes

And Mette Kowalksi from Across the Universe wrote this piece on Toni Erdmann:

Toni Erdmann is a film that’s designed to make you feel uncomfortable. Throughout it, there are many scenes that will make you cringe just a little, though sometimes a lot. However, just like “Toni” does with trying to put his daughter into uncomfortable situations, the film has a reason for this. It shows you how much it can be worth to try out the unknown, to jump into the cold water and just do something crazy. Not because you have to but because it’s something a part of you really wants to do. I related to the movie in many ways, especially since the characters in it are just so wonderfully and realistically German. It’s hard to tell whether Toni Erdmann will win the Oscar, and not having seen the others, I can’t pick it as my favorite. But if it does win, I will be very happy.

I’m grateful to everyone who contributed or signed up to participate in this post. – Jay]

What do you think is going to win Best Foreign Language Film?