The academy determines the nine films that make the Foreign-Language Feature shortlist in a two-stage process. First, the several hundred members who serve on the screening committee have been divided into groups to watch the 81 submissions over two months beginning in mid October. They are rating them from 6 to 10 with their top six vote getters make it to the next round. We’ve already profiled the 10 films that we think likeliest to appeal to them. The other three films on the shortlist will be decided on by the 20 members of the executive committee in mid December. Below, we consider five contenders that could be added at this stage.
(The five Oscar nominees will be determined by select committee members in both Gotham and Hollywood who will screen the nine semi-finalists in early January.)
1. “A War” (Denmark)
Many of our forum posters have pegged Denmark’s entry, set against the backdrop of the war in Afghanistan, as one of the top contenders for a nomination. Director Tobias Lindholm may be familiar to academy members for his co-writing credits on Denmark’s 2014 nominee “The Hunt.”
Denmark, which has racked up three wins from 10 nominations has been on a streak as of late, with two nominations and a shortlist appearance in the last four years.
2. “Labyrinth of Lies” (Germany)
Sony Pictures Classics, which has a strong contender with Hungary’s “Son of Saul,” also has this Holocaust-themed film that exposes the conspiracy of prominent German institutions and government branches to cover up Nazi crimes.
While the reunified Germany was a mainstay in the category in the first decade of this century with two wins from six nominations, it has yet to return to the big show since 2009 when “The White Ribbon” contended.
3. “Theeb” (Jordan)
This WWI drama that pairs a young Bedouin boy and a British officer won Naji Abu Nowar the Best Director prize at the Venice Film Festival award as well as honors from various festivals throughout the Middle East.
Jordan entered the race for the first time in 2008 with “Captain Abu Raed,” the first feature film to be made in the country in 50 years.
4. “600 Miles” (Mexico)
Gabriel Ripstein’s debut as director won the Best First Feature award at the Berlin Film Festival. Tim Roth plays an ATF agent kidnapped by an arms dealer who he then befriends on the 600 mile trip to his captor’s bosses.
Mexico was most recently in this race in 2006 with Guillermo del Toro’s“Pan’s Labyrinth,” but has yet to claim the prize despite eight bids.
5. “Goodnight Mommy” (Austria)
This horror film pits twin boys against their mother who has been transformed by comestic surgery to the extent they do not recognize her.
Austria has won two of its four nominations, with “The Counterfeiters” (2007) and “Amour” (2012).