Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Oscar's foreign-language short list

Oscar's short list of films qualifying for this year's best foreign-language film has been released, according to Variety. I've seen three of the nine movies. If I had to bet, I'd put my money on director Ari Folman's animated "Waltz With Bashir" to win the Oscar, but the two other films I've had the pleasure of seeing -- "The Class" and "3 Monkeys'' -- are equally worthy. The final five will be announced Jan. 22.

Austria, “Revanche,” Gotz Spielmann, director.
Canada, “The Necessities of Life,” Benoit Pilon, director.
France, “The Class,” Laurent Cantet, director.
Germany, “The Baader Meinhof Complex,” Uli Edel, director.
Israel, “Waltz with Bashir,” Ari Folman, director.
Japan, “Departures,” Yojiro Takita, director.
Mexico, “Tear This Heart Out,” Roberto Sneider, director.
Sweden, “Everlasting Moments,” Jan Troell, director.
Turkey, “3 Monkeys,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan, director.

p.s. Carping about Oscar omissions can become a pastime whose only effect is to add misery to the life of the person doing the carping. Writing on an LA Weekly blog, critic Scot Foundas Tuesday lamented the fact that Italy's "Gomorrah" didn't make Oscar's short list. He's right to complain, but the Oscar for best foreign film doesn't necessarily go to the best picture. I'm not sure that you could find 10 people who could tell you which picture won last year's award for best foreign-language film. It was "The Counterfeiters" (Germany). Two great films -- "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" (Romania) and "Persepolis" (France) -- were overlooked in this usually troublesome category. "Persepolis," by the way, received a nomination for best animated feature, but lost to "Ratatouille." I know an Oscar nomination and certainly an award can mean more viewers and, therefore, more money, but it's no determinant of greatness.

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