Predicting the eventual five Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language Film is made difficult by the two-step process that will begin after the Oct. 2 deadline for countries to submit entries. (Scroll down for the most up-to-date predictions for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film race.)
First, the several hundred academy members of the Foreign-Language Film screening committee are divided into groups and required to watch a number of the submissions over a two-month period that ends in mid December. They will rate them from 6 to 10 and their top six vote-getters make it to the next round, as will three films added by the 20 members of the executive committee.
Those nine semi-finalists will be screened three per day beginning in early January by select committee members in both New York and Hollywood who will then vote for the final five which will be revealed, along with the other Oscar nominations on Jan. 23, 2018.
The entire academy membership will get screeners of these five films and vote for the winner, which will be revealed on the Oscars on March 4, 2018.
Last year, a record 85 countries submitted entries in the Foreign-Language Film race at the Academy Awards. That was up by four from 2016 and broke the benchmark of 83 set in 2015. The nations represented ranged from A (Albania) to Y (Yemen). Three other submissions — Afghanistan (“Parting”), Armenia (“Earthquake”) and Tunisia (“As I Open My Eyes”) — were not deemed eligible by the academy. And five countries that entered in 2016 — Ethiopia, Guatemala, Ireland, Ivory Coast and Paraguay — were not part of the 2017 roster.
UPDATED: August 8, 2017
Only one country, Switzerland, has announced its entry: Petra Volpe‘s period drama “The Divine Order” in which Marie Leuenberger plays an activist determined to get women the right to vote. Internal politics occasionally prevents seemingly sure-fire Oscar nominees from being submitted. Assuming no such fate befalls them, there are a slew of titles that debuted at film festivals earlier this year that would make worthy entries.
At Berlin, the Hungarian psychological drama “On Body and Soul” by Ildiko Enyedi won the Golden Bear. Finland’s Aki Kaurismaki won Best Director at Berlin for “The Other Side of Hope,” a timely comedy-drama about the Syrian refugee crisis. He boycotted the 2003 Oscars when his film “The Man Without a Past” contended; it lost to the German entry “Nowhere in Africa.” And Chilean director Sebastian Lelio shared in the Best Screenplay award with Gonzalo Maza for “A Fantastic Woman,” which is a showcase for transgender actress Daniela Vega.
At Cannes, Ruben Ostlund’s “The Square” claimed the top prize, the Palme d’Or. His savage satire, which is set in the high stakes art world, has dialogue in both Swedish and English and stars Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, and Dominic West.
Austria’s Michael Haneke followed up his 2012 Cannes and Oscar winner “Amour” with “Happy End,” which also stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert. This dour family drama is set against the backdrop of the escalating refugee crisis in Calais.
As usual, the French are spoiled for choice, including three films that screened at Cannes. Robin Campillo‘s “120 Beats per Minute,” a docudrama about the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s in France, took the Grand Prix. And Agnes Varda won Best Documentary for “Faces Places,” in which the 88-year-old filmmaker travels across rural France with graffiti artist JR. Critics were disappointed by “Based on a True Story,” the latest from Oscar winner Roman Polanski (“The Pianist”) who, with Olivier Assayas, adapted Delphine de Vignan‘s bestseller about a writer (Emmanuelle Seigner) struggling to complete a new novel, while followed by an obsessed fan (Eva Green).
Germany’s Fatih Akin scored a big hit at Cannes with his political drama “In the Fade.” Diane Kruger won the Best Actress award for her riveting performance as a grieving wife and mother. The film just secured a US distributor, Magnolia Pictures, and a year-end release making Kruger a strong contender in this competitive Oscar race.
Three years ago, Russian filmmaker Andrey Zvyagintsev reaped a bid in this race with “Leviathan.” He could contend again with his family drama “Loveless,” which won the Jury Prize at Cannes. However, his film, which is less than flattering about present-day conditions in Russia, could be bumped by the crime drama “Tesnota,” which was well-received when it screened in the Un Certain Regard section.
Iran is coming off its second win in six years and has Mohammad Rasoulof’s “A Man of Integrity,” a provocative drama about persecution which won the top award in Un Certain Regard section.
And Mexico could enter Michel Franco‘s domestic drama “April’s Daughter,” which won the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be predicting all 24 of the competitive categories at the Oscars.
Best Picture | Best Director | Best Original Screenplay | Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actor | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actor | Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography | Best Costume Design | Best Film Editing | Best Production Design
Best Makeup & Hairstyling | Best Sound Editing | Best Sound Mixing | Best Visual Effects
Best Original Score | Best Original Song
Best Animated Feature | Best Documentary Feature | Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Short | Best Documentary Short | Best Live-Action Short