Best Foreign Language Film Oscar: Obvious Choices

Semih Kaplanoglu's Bal / Honey
Semih Kaplanoglu's Bal / Honey

Some of the 65 movies vying for the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar are obvious choices. [List of Oscar 2011 Foreign Language Film Submissions.]

For instance, Semih Kaplanoglu's Bal / Honey (Turkey) won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival; Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand) won the Palme d'Or at Cannes; and Igor Sterk's 9:06 (Slovenia) swept the Slovene Film Festival awards.

Also, Denis Villeneuve's Incendies was chosen Best Canadian Film at the Toronto Film Festival; Biutiful (Mexico) was directed by a world-renowned filmmaker, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and features an international star, Javier Bardem; and Giorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth (Greece) was given the Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes in 2009 (the film opened in Greece in November of that year, thus qualifying it for the 2011 Oscar).

Many others are understandable choices, e.g., Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods and Men (France) didn't win any top awards at Cannes, but was one of the best-received films at the festival;In a Better World (Denmark) was directed by Susanne Bier, whose After the Wedding received a surprising nomination a few years ago; and Javier Fuentes-León's Undertow (Peru) was the World Cinema Audience Award winner at Sundance.

The most notable curiosity on the list is probably the Brazilian entry.

As mentioned in a previous article, Fábio Barreto's expensive flop Lula, the Son of Brazil was hardly the best-received Brazilian production released in the past year. Its submission, in fact, caused quite a bit of a stir in that country.

Also, indieWIRE has remarked that Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love, which stars Tilda Swinton, would have been a more obvious Italian choice than Paolo Virzi's David di Donatello nominee The First Beautiful Thing. But the problem with I Am Love may have been the fact that the Academy has strict rules about the amount of English-language dialogue allowed in a Foreign Language Film submission.

Recently, Israel's The Band's Visit was disqualified because of too much English dialogue. Five years ago, Italy's original submission, Saverio Costanzo's Private, was disqualified because its dialogue was in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. (Since then the Academy has changed its rules to allow countries to submit films in other languages – except English.)

Another curiosity: Algeria, as usual, is submitting what is mostly a French production, Rachid Bouchareb's Outside the Law. The director/screenwriter is French-born – of Algerian ancestry – and so is much of the film's financing.

And finally, missing from the list is Sonia Nassery Cole's Black Tulip (Afghanistan), a previously announced contender that may not have met the Academy's release date requirements.

Nine semi-finalists in the Best Foreign Language Film category will be announced on January 20, 2011. The final list of nominees will come out five days later.

Sixty-five countries (including a couple of territories) have submitted films for the 2011 Oscar's Best Foreign Language Film category. Ethiopia and Greenland, the latter an "autonomous" territory that is part of the Danish Commonwealth, have sent in entries for the first time, The Athlete and Nuummioq, respectively.

How many of those 65 movies will actually be considered eligible for the award is unclear, as just about every year some movie or other is disqualified on a technicality — or, at times, more than that; say, if the Academy doesn't get a screening print or if the movie opened in its country of origin before or after the eligibility window.

Nine semi-finalists in the Best Foreign Language Film category will be announced on January 20, 2011. The final list of nominees will come out five days later.

The 2011 Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The 2011 Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the US, it'll be broadcast live on ABC.

The 2010 submissions are:

Albania, East, West, East, Gjergj Xhuvani, director;

Algeria, Hors la Loi / Outside the Law, Rachid Bouchareb, director;

Argentina, Carancho, Pablo Trapero, director;

Austria, La Pivellina, Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, directors;

Azerbaijan, The Precinct, Ilgar Safat, director;

Bangladesh, Third Person Singular Number, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, director;

Belgium, Illegal, Olivier Masset-Depasse, director;

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Circus Columbia, Danis Tanovic, director;

Brazil, Lula, the Son of Brazil, Fabio Barreto, director;

Bulgaria, Eastern Plays, Kamen Kalev, director;

Canada, Incendies, Denis Villeneuve, director;

ChileThe Life of Fish, Matias Bize, director;

ChinaAftershock, Feng Xiaogang, director;

Colombia, Crab Trap, Oscar Ruiz Navia, director;

Costa Rica, Of Love and Other Demons, Hilda Hidalgo, director;

Croatia, The Blacks, Goran Devic and Zvonimir Juric, directors;

Czech Republic, Kawasaki's Rose, Jan Hrebejk, director;

Denmark, In a Better World, Susanne Bier, director;

Egypt, Messages from the Sea, Daoud Abdel Sayed, director;

Estonia, The Temptation of St. Tony, Veiko Ounpuu, director;

Ethiopia, The Athlete, Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew, directors;

Finland, Steam of Life, Joonas Berghall and Mika Hotakainen, directors;

France, Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois, director;

Georgia, Street Days, Levan Koguashvili, director;

Germany, When We Leave, Feo Aladag, director;

Greece, DogtoothYorgos Lanthimos, director;

Greenland, Nuummioq, Otto Rosing and Torben Bech, directors;

Hong Kong, Echoes of the Rainbow, Alex Law, director;

Hungary, Bibliotheque Pascal, Szabolcs Hajdu, director;

Iceland, Mamma Gogo, Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, director;

India, Peepli / Live, Anusha Rizvi, director;

Indonesia, How Funny (Our Country Is), Deddy Mizwar, director;

Iran, Farewell Baghdad, Mehdi Naderi, director;

Iraq, Son of Babylon, Mohamed Al-Daradji, director;

Israel, The Human Resources Manager, Eran Riklis, director;

Italy, La Prima Cosa Bella / The First Beautiful Thing, Paolo Virzi, director;

Japan, Confessions, Tetsuya Nakashima, director;

KazakhstanStrayed, Akan Satayev, director;

Korea, A Barefoot Dream, Tae-kyun Kim, director;

Kyrgyzstan, The Light Thief, Aktan Arym Kubat, director;

Latvia, Hong Kong Confidential, Maris Martinsons, director;

Macedonia, Mothers, Milcho Manchevski, director;

Mexico, Biutiful, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, director;

Netherlands, Tirza, Rudolf van den Berg, director;

Nicaragua, La Yuma, Florence Jaugey, director;

Norway, The Angel, Margreth Olin, director;

Peru, Undertow / Contracorriente, Javier Fuentes-Leon, director;

Philippines, Noy, Dondon S. Santos and Rodel Nacianceno, directors;

Poland, All That I Love, Jacek Borcuch, director;

Portugal, To Die Like a Man, Joao Pedro Rodrigues, director;

Puerto Rico, Miente / Lie, Rafael Mercado, director;

Romania, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, Florin Serban, director;

Russia, The Edge, Alexey Uchitel, director;

Serbia, Besa, Srdjan Karanovic, director;

Slovakia, Hranica / The Border, Jaroslav Vojtek, director;

Slovenia, 9:06, Igor Sterk, director;

South AfricaLife, Above All, Oliver Schmitz, director;

SpainTambien la Lluvia / Even the Rain, Iciar Bollain, director;

Sweden, Simple Simon, Andreas Ohman, director;

Switzerland, La petite chambre, Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond, directors;

Taiwan, Monga, Chen-zer Niu, director;

Thailand, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, director;

Turkey, Bal / Honey, Semih Kaplanoglu, director;

Uruguay, La Vida Util, Federico Veiroj, director;

Venezuela, Hermano, Marcel Rasquin, director.

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