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: https://largeassmovieblogs.com/2018/01/the-lamb-devours-the-oscars-2018-roster.html
Today, Courtney Small from Cinema Axis is here to look at the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film.
One of the most exciting races at this year’s Academy Award is the Best Foreign Language Film race. While there has been much talk on the films that got “snubbed”, the real focus should be on the films that received nominations. Having seen three (The Square, Loveless, The Insult) of the five films nominated films so far, I can honestly say, unlike previous years, this is truly a tough year to predict a winner. A strong argument can be made for all of these films and any one could walk away with the award. Here is a brief look at the nominees:
On Body and Soul
Winner of the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival, this Hungarian drama has been receiving rave reviews on the festival circuit. Ildikó Enyedi’s film revolves around two co-workers, Endre and Mária, who share the same dream each night in which they meet as deer in the forest. Presenting a unique look at the search for love and the complications that come with it, On Body and Soul is easily the most fantastical film of the group. Considering that the other films are grounded in reality, at least in comparison to this film, the fantasy aspects might help to separate this film from the herd in voter’s minds.
A Fantastic Woman
Another film that wowed festival audiences is Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman. This Chilean drama tells the tale of a transgender woman, Marina (Daniela Vega), who must fight to clear her name, and ultimately gain respect, after her boyfriend dies and she is suspected of foul play by his family and the authorities. In a time when certain politicians are threatening to take away the rights of transgender individuals, Lelio’s film is an important reminder that the LGBTQ community is entitled to their rights and the same respect as everyone else. Considering the raves that Daniela Vega’s performance has received, do not be surprised on Oscar night if you hear A Fantastic Woman’s name proceeded by “And the Oscar goes to…”
The Insult reminded me of Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation in some ways. While the subject matter is vastly different, and I would argue that Farhadi’s film is superior in every way, both works show how culture, politics and pride can cause a simple disagreement to take on an epic life of its own. Ziad Doureiri’s drama explores how a dispute between Lebanese mechanic Tony (Adel Karam), who is drawn to an alt-right style Christian political group, and a construction foreman, Yasser (Kamel El Basha), a Palestinian refugee, unexpectedly turns into a national debate. Tackling various themes including racism, history, and the repercussions of war, The Insult gives audiences plenty to ponder and discuss afterwards.
If you are in the mood for an upbeat drama, then Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Russian drama Loveless is not the film for you. Although I think this is a magnificent film, one should know going in that the film is art through misery. In the film Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) are in the process of finalizing their divorce, having already moved on to new partners, but are at a lost as to what to do with their 12-year-old son (Matvey Novikov). Neither really wants him. However, when the boy goes missing the pair must confront their resentment for each other and the issues they have bottled up for years, as they frantically search for the child. Beautifully shot, and featuring gut-wrenching emotion, Loveless is an experience that one does not forget. The question is will the academy voters be willing to award a film that is both powerful and depressing?
Ruben Östlund’s follow-up to Force Majeure has been a front-runner for this award ever since it won the Palme D’Or at Cannes last spring. It is easy to see why so many people, myself included, are taken by this satire. Östlund’s skillfully skews the modern art world, and the self-obsessed nature of society at large, while simultaneously questioning what is art? The film’s centerpiece scene at a fancy fundraising dinner is worth the price of admission alone. However, this does not make The Square a slam dunk for the award. Though entertaining, it is not as strong overall as Force Majeure. The final act of the film meanders along losing some of the punch that the social commentary effectively builds for the majority of the film. Keep in mind that this is the only comedy of all the nominees in this category, so that might work in the film’s advantage.
What do you think is going to win?
Tags: Cinema Axis