Because we are teeth-baring territorial creatures when it comes to cinema, Jesse left the Foreign Language Film category out of his mostly exhaustive Oscar preview, knowing that I would not release the subtitled-film beat from between my steely jaws. One more Oscar pick below:
Foreign Language Film
Ajami (Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani), Israel
The Milk of Sorrow (Claudia Llosa), Peru
A Prophet (Jacques Audiard), France
The Secret in Their Eyes (Juan Jose Campanella), Argentina
The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke), Germany
WILL WIN: On the heels of his freaking New Yorker profile, look for Haneke to be imprinted with the same rubber stamp the Academy last used on Pedro Almodovar.
SHOULD WIN: It’s hard to say—The Milk of Sorrow screened a few times uptown last fall and winter as part of larger series, and The Secret in Their Eyes got a New York theatrical release after its nomination; it’s coming in April. I don’t recall reading much about either when they took the festival circuit. Ajami and A Prophet are both in theaters; I haven’t seen the former, which The L’s Nic Rapold says is pretty ok, and I recently reviewed the latter, which is very ambitious, well-made, and pretty ok. For reasons The L’s Michael Rowin articulates, I don’t particularly care for The White Ribbon—or quite a few of Haneke’s films, actually—but I find the worldly, pessimistic, personable moralist and cool-handed formalist to be weirdly endearing, and he’s the only world-class filmmaker nominated. I love it when the Academy belatedly recognizes foreign talent and then blindly elevates it to cross-cultural godhead status.
MISSING: For simplicity’s sake—the L generally has a lot of ideas about foreign films—let’s leave this to the films actually submitted by their country of origin. Strange to see the Academy pass on South Korea’s Mother, an accomplished, entertaining, not unprofound work from Asian cinema’s recently anointed populist king, Bong Joon-ho. Look for Bong to win this award about eight years from now, for a much worse movie.