Every once in a while a foreign-language film like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” or “Amour” breaks into the Best Picture race at the Oscars, but it’s still the exception and not the rule. So am I crazy to predict a sweep of Picture, Director (Laszlo Nemes) and Actor (Geza Rohrig) nominations for Hungary’s “Son of Saul“?
Rohrig plays the title character, a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz tasked with burning the bodies of gas-chamber victims. After witnessing the death of a young boy, he makes it his mission to give the child a proper Jewish burial against all odds. The film is as harrowing as it sounds, but it’s no secret that Holocaust stories strongly resonate with the academy, who awarded Best Picture to “Schindler’s List” (1993) and also nominated “Life is Beautiful” (1998), “The Pianist” (2002) and “The Reader” (2008) in recent years.
“Life is Beautiful” is the most pertinent example. The Italian film about a Jewish father trying to protect his sons from the horrors of the Holocaust was nominated for Picture and Director and won Best Actor for Roberto Benigni. It won two other prizes: Best Foreign Language Film and Best Dramatic Score.
AviChristiaans: I have had it in for Picture and Directing for a long while now. I am adamant this is a director’s film, the same way “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” was. It has the same technical appeal, the same emotional resonance (albeit more harrowing).
CanadianFan: Geza Rohrig would be an unprecedented nom in the lead actor field. His performance is so understated, and hits the same beat over and over. He has no emotional scene and no Oscar baitiness. Sure, it’s a movie about the Holocaust, but it’s a harrowing one that holds the viewer at arm’s length.
GusCruz: These have been my predictions for awhile now anyway.
Jhaddad: I’ve had “Son of Saul” in my best picture predictions for a while but have been hesitant about Nemes in the directing race. I seem to be switching him in and out constantly. Glad to see others are considering him as well!
JackO: I had it earlier in the summer but took it out once “The Martian” opened. Hasn’t been an opening in my predicts to add it since. Too many big names in too many big films. Needs many more dominoes to drop before I come back around to it.
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Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics