It's that time of year again....Soon, each of the countries of the world will select what they believe to be their Best Picture of the year, in order to compete for the Best Foreign Language Film award.
Last year, I saw four of the five nominees (ISRAEL's "Footnote" isn't on DVD yet) plus the submissions from Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, India, Norway, Peru, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, the UK and Uruguay. IRAN and "A Separation" was clearly the best film in the running.
With New Zealand's debut last year, 103 nations have now participated in the Foreign Oscar race, ranging from France (the only country to have a film competing each and every year since 1956) to Pakistan (which hasn't sent a film in four decades).
Here are my predictions for the first 26 countries on the list. Only 11 of them sent films last year but I try to give everyone an equal shot. My computer mysteriously erased my assessment of BRAZIL (where I predict "Xingu").
One big question revolves around one of the frontrunners- Michael Haneke's "Love". Will AMPAS allow it as a majority Austrian production? I think so. Winning the Palme d’Or is nearly a guarantee that your country will send your film to the Oscars. Just ask Apichatpong Weerasethakul ("Uncle Boonmee" repped Thailand two years ago even though Apichatpong Weerasethakul's film was not well-liked...nor should it be). A bit of trivia: since 1979, every non-English language Palme d'Or winner was sent to the Oscars except in 1983 (Japan sent “Antarctica” instead of the remake of “Ballad of Narayama"), 1987 (France sent eventual nominee “Au Revoir, Les Enfants” instead of Gerard Depardieu’s “Under the Sun of Satan”) and 1997 (when co-winners Japan and Iran snubbed “Unagi” and “A Taste of Cherry” for blockbuster anime “Princess Mononoke” and eventual nominee “Children of Heaven” respectively). A bit more trivia...AMPAS bent the rules twice to allow two Palme d’Or winners to be sent by countries that didn’t make them (China’s “Farewell My Concubine” represented Hong Kong...Turkey’s banned “Yol” represented Switzerland) but they disqualified a third when Sweden sent Palme d’Or winner “Best of Intentions” which had aired as a TV miniseries prior to its release in Swedish cinemas.
Let the games begin!