Posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 by David Chen
Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released their shortlist of nine foreign-language films, which will be whittled down to five Oscar nominees on January 22:
Revanche – Gotz Spielmann, Austria
The Necessities of Life – Benoit Pilon, Canada
The Class – Laurent Cantet, France
The Baader Meinhof Complex – Uli Edel, Germany
Waltz with Bashir – Ari Folman, Israel
Departures – Yojiro Takita, Japan
Tear This Heart Out – Roberto Sneider, Mexico
Everlasting Moments – Jan Troell, Sweden
3 Monkeys – Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey
If you think there are a few notable omissions from this list, you’re not alone. Over at AICN, Harry Knowles decries the omission of Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In, insisting that the system is broken:
When you depend upon a host nation to offer up a film for consideration for Best Foreign Language Film, you are forced to consider only the films that the nation in question feels artistically represent their country. As a result, films critical of their current country’s policies and politics – won’t be offered up. A film in a genre that is, perhaps, not a genre that the host country deems as being “proper” – goes unappreciated. At the very least the Academy needs to expand the nominating field to the films released domestically in the United States under the same rules as the rest of the English Speaking films. It is fair, it allows for the truly BEST films to even be considered. However, to have a film that has won the acclaim that Let The Right One In has, and have that film go completely ignored for even the nominating process… frankly, it is unjust and beneath the standard that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences purports to endorse.
Over at the LA Times, Scott Feinberg is displeased with the omission of the Italian film, Gomorra:
Gomorra is the higher-profile snub. The film, which was adapted from a controversial best-selling book, shows the inner-workings of the Camorra, the oldest organized criminal organization in Italy, which originated in Campania and now operates in and around much of Naples, as well. It’s gritty realism and use of young non-actors is evocative of some of the most celebrated Italian films of the post-WWII era. It was one of the most critically-acclaimed and top 10-listed films of the year. It was nominated for the Palm d’Or and won the Grand Prix at Cannes, won the best film prize at the European Film Awards, and was nominated for best foreign language film at the Golden Globes.
Feinberg relates a conversation he had with IFC President Jonathan Sehring, who opined, “I know I speak for the entire country of Italy and a lot of people in the critical community when I say that it just doesn’t make sense and there’s something wrong with the foreign language committee as a whole. It’s still broken.”
It was the first time that the Philippines aggressively made a bid for a nod. Some prominent Filipino-Americans in Hollywood lauded [actress] Santos and company for at least making a sincere effort to bag an Academy nomination. But in a trend that is decried by Oscar critics, an increasing number of contenders are forced to launch expensive Oscar campaigns, which include ads in the major US newspapers and in the film trade publications like Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, cocktail receptions and other marketing tools.
It also takes a lot of money to hold as many screenings as possible to reach a lot of Academy voters. The increasing cost of lobbying for an Oscar nomination is seen by critics as unfair to entries from developing nations with no cash-rich film organizations or companies to spend for their films to be noticed by voters.
As Rodrigo Perez from the Playlist describes the situaiton, “People are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.”
Discuss: Have you seen the films on Oscar’s Foreign-Language Short List, and which ones did you like? What other foreign-language films would you like to have seen on the shortlist?