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Best Foreign Language Film Oscar: '4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days' of Outrage

Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu in 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Anamaria Marinca, Laura Vasiliu in 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days

In the LA Weekly, Scott Foundas wonders, “How do you say 'Oscar scandal' in Romanian”?

Oscar scandaliu perhaps?

Cristian Mungiu's widely praised Cannes Film Festival winner 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days has been bypassed by Academy voters who pick the potential nominees for best foreign-language film.

I generally find the Academy's choices pathetic, but that organization's best foreign-language film voters make its best picture voters seem like arbiters of cinematic quality. (Of course, I know that taste is personal, etc., etc., but the loads of money poured into Oscar vote-buying and all the internal politicking that goes on ain't.)

“I thought we had made big strides last year, but apparently not big enough,” Mark Johnson – perhaps ignoring the omission of Pedro Almodóvar's Volver – told Foundas with regard to the two-phase nominating process for best foreign-language film; a process that has actually made things even less representative of the Academy as a whole, since only about 30 of its nearly 6,000 members end up choosing the five nominees in the foreign-language film category.

“Asked if further retooling (including the possible involvement of more active Academy members earlier in the nominating process) may lie in the future, Johnson was unambiguous,” Foundas writes. “'That's what has to be done, because in my mind it can't continue like this,' he said. 'I don't believe these choices reflect the Academy at large.'"

Francisco Rabal in Nazarin by Luis Bunuel Among the foreign-language films that failed to make the cut in years past – whether due to inane Academy rules or voter apathy – are: The Seventh Seal, Nazarin (right), La Notte, Last Year in Marienbad, The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser, Bye Bye Brasil, Pixote, Fitzcarraldo, The Sacrifice, Law of Desire, Wings of Desire, Jean de Florette, The Double Life of Veronique, Toto le héros, Three Colors: Blue, Three Colors: White, Three Colors: Red, To Live, The Story of Qiu Ju, Talk to Her, City of God, Hidden, Volver, Black Book, and this year's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

How about getting rid of the current “special category” status and one-film-per-country regulation? (The latter an idiotic rule akin to having a one-film-per-studio limit for the best film category.) Countries could still submit their films, special screenings for those films could still be held in Los Angeles and New York, but screeners would be allowed into the proceeding, and voters would also be able to choose any non-English-language film or foreign film with a significant percentage of non-English dialogue (à la The Band's Visit) that opens in Los Angeles and New York City (Manhattan, if you wish) during the calendar year.

For no matter how much revamping is done, as long as the “special” label remains attached to the foreign-language film category its nomination process will go on being both myopic and dishonest.

Oh, by the way, the word for “scandal” in Romanian – as per an online dictionary I found – is bârfa. Then perhaps Foundas' phrase would be bârfa d'Oscar or some such. (Note: It should not. See comments section below.) As for the Academy's omission of 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, it was nothing short of scandalos.

“A date that shall live in Academy Awards infamy,” Foundas writes. “One more date …” would have been a more apt sentence. In fact, a couple of years ago Cristi Puiu's much admired The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Romania's submission for the Oscars, also failed to get a nomination. So, there…

Addendum: Actually, this may be a more accurate way of saying Oscar scandal' in Romanian: Scandalul Oscarurilor.

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4 Comments to Best Foreign Language Film Oscar: '4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days' of Outrage

  1. Cristina-Alexandra Nita

    It is not fair what is happening. We should boycott The OSCARS. It didn't happen only this year, but in previous years aswell. In this case i wonder exactly how reliable the winnings are.

  2. Andre

    Those untrustworthy online dictionaries!

  3. relu

    actually barfa means gossip

  4. Iulia

    One correction - in Romanian the word “bârfa” means “gossip”. “Scandal” would be simply “scandal”, just like in English.