So, first of all I only got 4/10.....I'm not terribly upset about that, but I am terribly upset that this is one of the weakest lists I've ever seen. I saw 49 of the 92 Oscar submissions and these are simply not the best of the best.
I think we have seven films competing for five slots. My predictions are:
1. KOREA- "Parasite"
2. SPAIN- "Pain and Glory"
3. FRANCE- "Les Miserables"
ON THE BUBBLE
4. POLAND- "Corpus Christi"
5. RUSSIA- "Beanpole"
6. MACEDONIA- "Honeyland"
7. SENEGAL- "Atlantique"
8. ESTONIA- "Truth and Justice"
9. CZECH REPUBLIC- "The Painted Bird"
10. HUNGARY- "Those Who Remained"
Of course it's true that Parasite is one of the two best films of 2019 (along with "Jojo Rabbit"). And of course, it will be nominated and win the Oscar. But what of the rest of the list?
We have two to three more great films! Les Miserables exceeded all my expectations by presenting a complex look at the war between French police and the residents of a mostly Black and Arab suburb. I was fascinated at how the film skillfully creates complex heroes and villains....but that audiences themselves will disagree who is who. Honeyland is also a real delight! This story of an elderly woman beekeeper living in rural Macedonia is the only film on the list that could rightfully be called "charming". It works on so many levels- as a documentary, a feature, as a character study, as an environmental allegory- and it's definitely a threat for nominations in both Best International Film and Best Documentary (though I fear it may lose both!). And while I wouldn't rank Almodovar's meditation on aging- Pain and Glory- in my Top Ten, there's no dying that it's a well-acted and skillfully made film, and one that resonates internationally because of Almodovar's fearless analysis of the human condition.
These films belong here. Corpus Christi, while not one of my personal favorites, is also good enough that I'm not terribly upset to see it on the list.
But that's where things go wrong. I didn't see The Painted Bird so I can't judge that one.....But the rest of the films on the list range from "fine" (Hungary and Russia) to "dull" (Estonia and Senegal). With so many dozens of films to choose from, I find it inexplicable that neither committee recognized any of the LGBT stories- including the genre-bending Tu me manques (with the best ending sequence of the year) and the critical darling And Then We Danced- nor films with original and exceptional filmmaking (Monos), storytelling (The Steed), cinematography (Aga), or that at least were entertaining (Tel Aviv on Fire).
Enough complaining. We'll see on Monday.