Foreign Language Oscars Shortlist Snubs Frontrunners Right Out of the Gate
The actual Academy Award nominations won’t be announced until January 24, but plenty of categories get a jump on the process by winnowing down the slate of eligible films to a shortlist from which the five nominees can be culled. The Animated Feature category should come forward with their shortlist any day now, the Documentary Feature category feature has already done so, and last night, some global talents of cinema found themselves shut out in the cold when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released their nine choices for the Foreign Language Film shortlist.
From 85 countries’ official submissions, the AMPAS board has agreed on a handful of options from which voting members can choose, sparing them the indignity of having to watch more than nine foreign films over the course of a given year. This year’s list is packed with surprises, from a few shocking high-profile snubs to the inclusion of a director many love to hate. As matters currently stand, here are the picks via Deadline:
Australia — Tanna, dir. Bentley Dean, Martin Butler
Canada — It’s Only the End of the World, dir. Xavier Dolan
Denmark — Land of Mine, dir. Martin Zandvliet
Germany — Toni Erdmann, dir. Maren Ade
Iran — The Salesman, dir. Asghar Farhadi
Norway — The King’s Choice, dir. Erik Poppe
Russia — Paradise, dir. Andrei Konchalovsky
Sweden — A Man Called Ove, dir. Hannes Holm
Switzerland — My Life as a Zucchini, dir. Claude Barras
All but sure things, the critically-vaunted Toni Erdmann (because who doesn’t love a good three-hour deadpan comedy from the most chuckle-happy people in the world, the Germans?) and The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi won the prize in 2012 for his domestic drama A Separation, and even earned a nomination for Best Screenplay as well, the rare foreign-language film to do so) landed on the list. Most delectable of all, young whippersnapper and past Adele collaborator Xavier Dolan has landed a spot for his melodrama It’s Only the End of the World, despite many early critics expressing a low opinion of it. (I am, personally, a great fan of the film, and feel very vindicated right about now.) But a handful of heretofore frontrunners have been entirely shut out, much to the shock of oddsmakers and prognosticators across the web.
Paul Verhoeven has been drumming up buzz for his winky rape-comedy Elle since critics at the Cannes Film Festival first started smooching the feet of its star Isabelle Huppert back in May. But even with support for the film seemingly at an all-time high and Huppert becoming a more viable Best Actress candidate with every passing day, Elle couldn’t make the cut. Perhaps stateside viewers chafed at the, shall we say, sensitive subject material. Also given the cold shoulder — Spain’s Pedro Almodóvar couldn’t win over viewers with his delicate Alice Munro adaptation Julieta, and though Pablo Larraín’s still looking pretty rosy as the director of favorite Jackie, he won’t hear his name read in relation to his work on the other movie he did this year, Pablo Neruda biopic Neruda. Altogether, it makes for a more unpredictable awards season than many had originally anticipated, and any shake-ups that lead to more excitement on the big night are more than welcome.