Sunday, February 19, 2012

Predictions, docs and foreign films

The prediction game continues. Today, best guesses for the documentary feature and foreign-language categories. Putting these two together is not meant to diminish the importance of either, but to save a little space. Know that most predictions about the year's best foreign-lanuage film are made by people who haven't seen them all. That's certainly true in my case, but when it comes to Oscar, you don't always have to have seen every film to know which way the winds of victory are blowing. Anyway, here are today's predictions:

Best documentary, the nominees:
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls
Paradise Lost 3

Another difficult category, but Wim Wenders 3-D look at the work of choreographer Pina Bausch might be the best reviewed of all these films, a combination dance and interview film that introduced many viewers to Buasch's daring work. If there's an upset in this category, it's likely to come from Hell and Back Again, director Danfung Denis'examination of the life of Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris, who we meet in the midst of battle in Afghanistan and who we watch struggle after being severely wounded and returning to his North Carolina home.

Best foreign-language film, the nominees:
Bullhead (Belgium)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)

I've only seen two of these films, but I'm going with A Separation because it's one of the best films of 2011, a beautifully nuanced look at a deteriorating Iranian marriage and the difficulties that arise when the husband hires a young woman to take care of his father, an aging man who's suffering from dementia. Agnieszka Holland's In Darkness is considered the best challenger in this category. Holland tells the story of Jews forced to hide in the sewers of Lvov during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

Don't you hate all the self-promotion you find on the Web? I certainly do. Having said that, let me once again invite you to join me, Denver Post Film Critic Lisa Kennedy, Starz Denver Film Festival Director Britta Erickson and Oscar maven Bob Becker for an Oscar preview Cinema Salon, 7:30 p.m., Wed., Feb. 22 at the FilmCenter/Colfax, 2510 E. Colfax Ave. We'll predict, I'm sure, but we'll also talk about why we still care (if we do) about the whole damn business. I enjoy doing these lively, informal Salon programs, in part because the audiences can be fun. I encourage you to try one.

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