Sunday, February 26, 2017

FINAL PREDICTION- A second win for Farhadi

While here in Pakistan, I haven't been able to see as many Oscar nominees as I usually do....

This year's foreign film race is a competitive four-way race for the first time in years. That's kind of exciting after the "bleh" years of "Son of Saul" and "Ida", which romped through the precursors to predictable, boring Oscar wins.

Only "Tanna", the lovely film from VANUATU (but representing Australia) is out of the running. They were a shock nominee and should be happy finishing a respectable fifth place out of the 83 countries competing.

"A Man Called Ove" and "Toni Erdmann" will benefit from the new rule established a few years ago that you don't have to prove you've seen all five nominees to vote. SWEDEN's "A Man Called Ove" got the widest release of any of the five films, grossing 3.5 million dollars in the USA. GERMANY's three-hour dramedy "Toni Erdmann" has been the critic's choice most of the year, which means it has the highest name recognition for any voters that just vote for what they heard was good.

"Land of Mine" is the traditional choice to win the award....a World War II movie that pushes all the right buttons and packs an emotional wallop. For most of the year, I was pretty certain it would be the eventual winner. But it has been the least visible of the five and American viewers have barely been able to see it (though it did have a qualifying Oscar release) unlike "Tanna" (currently on VOD) or the others which got a wider viewing.

Ultimately, I'm going to predict "The Salesman" and a second win for Asghar Farhadi from IRAN. It seems like very few people think "The Salesman" is the best Foreign Film of the year....But reviews have been solid across the board unlike "Toni" (overlong....touted as a hilarious comedy even though it is really a comic drama), "Ove" (which many think is formulaic and standard) and "Tanna" (slow and obscure). Most of all, "The Salesman" could benefit from a political bump due to liberal voters in Hollywood wanting to show that they are against the campaign of Islamophobia pushed by this administration. When the travel ban (now rescinded) seemed to bar director Farhadi and actress Taraneh Alidoosti from attending the ceremony (which they are now boycotting), Americans got angry. I think "The Salesman" has the best shot at winning, though it's by no means a lock


I also managed to watch 11 of the 15 nominated short films

Best Live Action Short
Will Win:    Enemies Within (France), A-  
Should Win:  The Woman and the TGV (Switzerland), A 
Could Win: Sing (Hungary) C+
No Chance: the disappointing Timecode (Spain) D and Silent Night (Denmark) C-

Best Animated Short
Will Win: Piper, A
Should Win:  Piper
Could Win: chilling 6-minute western "Borrowed Time", A-
No Chance: the original 360 degree animation "Pearl" B+, Pear Cider and Cigarettes (which I admit I didn't see) and Blind Vaysha, C