Cannes Grand Prix Winner Out: Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Semifinalists + DGA Awards Surprise

Gomorrah: Best Foreign Language Film Oscar snubGomorrah: Best Foreign Language Film Oscar absentee. Based on Roberto Saviano's book about the Camorra, Italy's Naples-centered crime syndicate, Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah has been one of the best-received releases of 2008. Two entities, however, have been left unmoved by the film's acclaim: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose Best Foreign Language Film voters & committees failed to include Gomorrah among the nine semifinalists in contention for the 2009 Oscar, and the Camorra itself, which has threatened to eliminate author/co-screenwriter Saviano.

Best Foreign Language Film Oscar semifinalists: Cannes Grand Prix winner 'Gomorrah' out of the running

Wide acclaim, the Cannes Film Festival's Grand Prix, and a handful of major European Film Awards didn't help Italy's Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award entry – Matteo Garrone's mafia drama Gomorrah – land a spot on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' list of nine semifinalists in that perennially controversial Oscar category.

Also missing in action is Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In / Låt den rätte komma in. Why?

Well, even though the Swedish vampire drama has been the Best Foreign Language Film pick of numerous U.S.-based critics' groups this awards season, Sweden's Oscar submission was veteran Jan Troell's period drama Everlasting Moments – which can be found on the list below. (See also: 2009 Guldbagge Awards honors Jan Troell and Harriet Andersson.)

Out of this year's 65 (qualifying) Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submissions, the semifinalists are (in alphabetical order by country):

  • Austria, Revanche, dir.: Götz Spielmann.
  • Canada, The Necessities of Life / Ce qu'il faut pour vivre, dir.: Benoît Pilon.
  • France, The Class / Entre les murs, dir.: Laurent Cantet.
  • Germany, The Baader Meinhof Complex / Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, dir.: Uli Edel.
  • Israel, Waltz with Bashir / Vals Im Bashir, dir.: Ari Folman.
  • Japan, Departures / Okuribito, dir.: Yojiro Takita.
  • Mexico, Tear This Heart Out / Arráncame la vida, dir.: Roberto Sneider.
  • Sweden, Everlasting Moments / Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick, dir.: Jan Troell.
  • Turkey, Three Monkeys / Üç Maymun, dir.: Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Punishing Best Foreign Language Film Phase I voters

In recent years, the Oscars' Best Foreign Language Film nominees have been chosen in two phases:

The Phase I committee, consisting of “several hundred” Los Angeles-based Academy members (usually of very advanced age), vote on the 65 eligible submissions. How many members actually sit through at least 15 or 20 of those films, is anyone's guess.

One important change this year was that for the first time the Phase I committee was allowed to choose only six semifinalists. The other three – their titles haven't been made public – were handpicked by the Academy's Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, chaired by producer Mark Johnson (Rain ManWhat Lies Beneath).

Clearly, Phase I voting members are being punished for having failed to select Cristian Mungiu's Palme d'Or-winning abortion drama 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days / 4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile last year.

During the upcoming Phase II, the list of semifinalists will be streamlined so that only five films – the official nominees – will remain in the running. These will be selected by two committees comprising a total of two dozen or so New York City- and Los Angeles-based members, who'll be spending next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday watching three films per day. Tough luck for the third film each evening.

Foreign Language band-aids

Despite all the band-aids used to cover the potholes littering the Academy Awards' Best Foreign Language Film nomination process, the category remains problematic.

The issue here is not a matter of taste. Instead, it's a matter of inane rules and regulations preventing quality non-English-language films from even having a chance at landing an Oscar nomination. Not to mention the fact that the relatively small number of Best Foreign Language Film voters aren't representative of the Academy as a whole.

The 2009 Academy Award nominations will be announced on Jan. 22 at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The Oscar ceremony will be held on Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles.

Hollywood-dominated BAFTA longlists

From the Academy Awards to the British Academy Awards: As usual, Hollywood and Anglo-American productions dominate the longlists (semifinalists) of the 2009 British Academy of Film and Television Awards.

David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon were listed 14 times each, followed by Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, Stephen Daldry's The Reader, Sam MendesRevolutionary Road, Clint Eastwood's Changeling, and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight with 13 listings; and Gus Van Sant's Milk and Joel and Ethan Coen's Burn After Reading with 11.

Small British films were included only a handful of times: three nods for Steve McQueen's Hunger and Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky; two for Toa Fraser's Dean Spanley.

Non-English-language films fared just as poorly: five inclusions for Philippe Claudel's I've Loved You So Long / Il y a longtemps que je t'aime, three for Waltz with Bashir, two for Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's Persepolis, plus screenplay nods for Gomorrah and The Baader Meinhof Complex.

The BAFTA Award nominations will be announced on Jan. 15. The ceremony will take place on Feb. 8 at London's Royal Opera House.

Waltz with Bashir Ari Folman surprising DGA Award winnerWaltz with Bashir, directed by DGA Award winner Ari Folman. Set during the 1982 Israel-Lebanon War, Ari Folman's autobiographical animated documentary depicts his experiences as a soldier on the ground. The National Society of Film Critics' Best Film, Waltz with Bashir was the co-winner – along with James Marsh's Man on Wire – of the International Documentary Association's Best Feature Documentary award.

More awards season winners: DGA's animated surprise + Critics' Choice Awards' choices

More awards season news: Danny Boyle was the expected winner of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award in the (narrative) feature film category for the Mumbai-set sleeper hit Slumdog Millionaire, while Ari Folman somewhat unexpectedly was named Best Documentary Director for the animated Israeli feature Waltz with Bashir. This awards season, the documentary category has been dominated by James Marsh's Man on Wire.

The DGA Awards, by the way, has no animation category. To date, Waltz with Bashir has been the top choice of several U.S.-based groups in a field otherwise dominated by Andrew Stanton's WALL-E.

As unsurprising as Danny Boyle's DGA Awards victory was Slumdog Millionaire being named Best Film at the Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics' Choice Awards, held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Jan. 8. Starring Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, and Irrfan Khan, Slumdog Millionaire topped four other categories: Best Director, Best Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy), Best Composer (A.R. Rahman), and Best Young Actor (Dev Patel).

The biggest loser of the evening was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett: 8 nominations x 0 wins.

Best Actress tie + notable absentees & one particularly surprising nominee

Expect the Academy's choices to be quite similar to the Broadcast Film Critics' selections in most categories, from Best Picture to Best Original Song. Do not, however, expect a Best Actress Oscar tie between former The Devil Wears Prada co-stars Meryl Streep (for Doubt) and Anne Hathaway (for Rachel Getting Married). That said, one of the two will likely be the Academy's choice come next February.

Notably absent from the Critics' Choice Awards' nominations roster were the Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet marital drama Revolutionary Road, which was totally shut out; Michael Sheen for Frost/Nixon; Kristin Scott Thomas for I've Loved You So Long; and Clint Eastwood, who failed to get a Best Director nod for either Gran Torino or Changeling.

Notably present on the roster was Rod Lurie's little-seen Nothing But the Truth, with two nods: Best Actress (Kate Beckinsale) and Best Supporting Actress (Vera Farmiga). All but ignored elsewhere this awards season, Nothing But the Truth may have had its Critics' Choice Award chances boosted by director Lurie's “direct marketing” approach.

'Baler' tops Manila

From Santa Monica to Manila: At the Metro Manila Film Festival, which ran Dec. 25–Jan. 7, Mark Reily's period romantic drama Baler was the big winner, collecting 10 awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Anne Curtis), Best Supporting Actor (Phillip Salvador), Best Screenplay (Roy Iglesias), and the unusual Gender Sensitive Award (for promoting equality of men and women through film).

Lastly, the Central Ohio Film Critics Association chose Andrew Stanton's animated blockbuster WALL-E as 2008's Best Film, while the Kansas City Film Critics Circle opted for Slumdog Millionaire. Both groups chose Mickey Rourke and Heath Ledger as their, respectively, Best Actor (The Wrestler) and Best Supporting Actor (The Dark Knight).

Below are – partial – lists of the following awards season groups: BAFTA, DGA, Critics' Choice, and Metro Manila Film Festival; in addition to the full list of Central Ohio and Kansas City film critics winners.

Baler Anne Curtis Jericho Rosales: Bigotry + Philippines' independence siegeBaler with Anne Curtis and Jericho Rosales. Set in 1898, when Spanish domination of The Philippines was about to come to an end, Baler tells the story of the forbidden love between a Filipina cutie (Anne Curtis) and a handsome, part-Filipino/part-Spanish soldier (Jericho Rosales): the young woman's father is a local revolutionary; the young man is fighting on the side of the Spaniards, eventually getting stuck – along with a few dozen other soldiers – in the local church, in what became known as the Siege of Baler. Ironically, Spanish domination would be replaced by American domination; The Philippines became officially independent only in 1946.

BAFTA longlists

Best Film
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
Burn After Reading.
Changeling.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The Dark Knight.
Doubt.
Frost/Nixon.
In Bruges.
I've Loved You So Long.
Milk.
The Reader.
Revolutionary Road.
Slumdog Millionaire.
WALL-E.
The Wrestler.

Best Actress
Angelina Jolie - Changeling.
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married.
Cate Blanchett - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Frances McDormand - Burn After Reading.
Kate Winslet - Revolutionary Road.
Kate Winslet - The Reader.
Keira Knightley - The Duchess.
Kristin Scott Thomas - I've Loved You So Long.
Meryl Streep - Mamma Mia!.
Meryl Streep - Doubt.
Nicole Kidman - Australia.
Penélope Cruz - Elegy.
Rebecca Hall - Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky.
Scarlett Johansson - Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Best Actor
Benicio Del Toro - Che: Part One.
Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Christian Bale - The Dark Knight.
Colin Farrell - In Bruges.
Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire.
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon.
George Clooney - Burn After Reading.
Javier Bardem - Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Josh Brolin- W.
Leonardo DiCaprio - Revolutionary Road.
Michael FassbenderHunger.
Michael Sheen - Frost/Nixon.
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler.
Richard Jenkins- The Visitor.
Sean Penn - Milk.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams - Doubt.
Charlotte Rampling - The Duchess.
Elsa Zylberstein - I've Loved You So Long.
Emma Thompson- Brideshead Revisited.
Freida Pinto - Slumdog Millionaire.
Judi Dench - Quantum of Solace.
Julie Walters - Mamma Mia!.
Kathy Bates - Revolutionary Road.
Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler.
Penélope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Rebecca Hall - Frost/Nixon.
Tilda Swinton - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Tilda Swinton - Burn After Reading.
Vera Farmiga - The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
Viola Davis - Doubt.

Best Supporting Actor
Brad Pitt - Burn After Reading.
Brendan Gleeson - In Bruges.
David Kross - The Reader.
Eddie Marsan - Happy-Go-Lucky.
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight.
John Malkovich - Burn After Reading.
John Malkovich - Changeling.
Josh Brolin - Milk.
Kevin Bacon - Frost/Nixon.
Peter O'Toole - Dean Spanley.
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt.
Ralph Fiennes - The Duchess.
Ralph Fiennes - In Bruges.
Ralph Fiennes - The Reader.
Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder.

 

DGA Awards: Winners & nominations

Narrative Feature
* Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon.
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight.
Gus Van Sant, Milk.

Documentary
Gonzalo Arijon, Stranded: I've Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains.
Elizabeth Farnsworth & Patricio Lanfranco, The Judge and the General.
* Ari Folman, Waltz with Bashir.
Peter Gilbert & Steve James, At the Death Door House.
James Marsh, Man on Wire.

TV Movies / Mini-Series
Bob Balaban, Bernard and Doris.
Tom Hooper, John Adams.
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun.
* Jay RoachRecount.
Mikael Solomon, The Andromeda Strain.

Honorary Life Member Award: Film Critic & Author Roger Ebert.

 

Critics' Choice Awards

Best Picture
Changeling.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The Dark Knight.
Doubt.
Frost/Nixon.
Milk.
The Reader.
* Slumdog Millionaire.
Wall-E.
The Wrestler.

Best Foreign Language Film
A Christmas Tale / Un conte de Noël.
Gomorrah.
I've Loved You So Long.
Let the Right One In.
Mongol.
* Waltz with Bashir.

Best Actress (tie)
Kate Beckinsale, Nothing But the Truth.
Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
* Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married.
Angelina Jolie, Changeling.
Melissa Leo, Frozen River.
* Meryl Streep, Doubt.

Best Actor
Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino.
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor.
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon.
* Sean Penn, Milk.
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler.

Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Viola Davis, Doubt.
Vera Farmiga, Nothing But the Truth.
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler.
* Kate Winslet, The Reader.

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, Milk.
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt.
* Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.
James Franco, Milk.

Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Ensemble: Milk.

Best Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Documentary: Man on Wire.

Best Animated Feature: WALL-E.

Best Composer: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Song: “The Wrestler,” Bruce Springsteen, The Wrestler.

Best TV Movie: John Adams.

 

Metro Manila Film Festival winners

Best Film: Baler.

Best Director: Mark Meily, Baler.

Best Actor: Christopher De Leon, Magkaibigan.

Best Actress: Anne Curtis, Baler.

Best Supporting Actress: Manilyn Reynes, One Night Only.

Best Supporting Actor: Phillip Salvador, Baler.

Best Screenplay: Roy Iglesias, Baler.

Best Original Story: Jose Javier Reyes, One Night Only.

Best Cinematography: Lee Meily, Baler.

Best Editor: Danny Anonuevo, Baler.

Best Musical Score: Jessie Lasaten, Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalia.

Best Production Design: Aped Santos, Baler.

 

Central Ohio Film Critics winners

Best Film: WALL-E.

Best Foreign Language Film: 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

Best Actress: Melissa Leo, Frozen River.

Best Supporting Actress: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler.

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.

Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler.

Best Ensemble: The Dark Knight.

Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Original Screenplay: Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, WALL-E.

Best Score: Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Best Documentary: Man on Wire.

Best Animated Film: WALL·E.

Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work): Robert Downey Jr. for Iron ManTropic Thunder.

Breakthrough Film Artist: Melissa Leo, Frozen River (for acting).

Best Overlooked Film: Ghost Town, dir.: David Koepp.

 

Kansas City Film Critics winners

Best Film: Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Foreign Language Film: Let the Right One In.

Best Actress: Meryl Streep, Doubt.

Best Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.

Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler.

Robert Altman Award for Best Director: Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler.

Best Original Screenplay: Robert Siegel, The Wrestler.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Documentary: Man on Wire.

Best Animated Film: WALL-E.

Vince Koehler Award for Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror Film: The Dark Knight.

 

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website.

British Academy of Film and Television Arts website.

Gomorrah image: Fandango.

Waltz with Bashir image: Sony Pictures Classics.

Anne Curtis and Jericho Rosales Baler image: Bida Productions / Viva Films.

“Cannes Grand Prix Winner Out: Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Semifinalists + DGA Awards Surprise” last updated in October 2018.

Cannes Grand Prix Winner Out: Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Semifinalists + DGA Awards Surprise © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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