The Foreign Language features have been parred down from 92 entries to just 9 eligible for the five slots and a shot at the Oscar. Interestingly enough, Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father” was not on the list, nor was Norway’s entry “Thelma” or the two-time Academy Award nominated director Michael Haneke’s “Happy End.” Here are the nine that were chosen:

  • Chile, “A Fantastic Woman” – Sebastián Lelio
  • Germany, “In the Fade” – Fatih Akin
  • Hungary, “On Body and Soul” – Ildikó Enyedi
  • Israel, “Foxtrot” – Samuel Maoz
  • Lebanon, “The Insult” – Ziad Doueiri
  • Russia, “Loveless” – Andrey Zvyagintsev
  • Senegal, “Félicité” – Alain Gomis
  • South Africa, “The Wound” – John Trengove
  • Sweden, “The Square” – Ruben Östlund

Here’s a little further analysis on each film:

A FANTASTIC WOMAN (Una mujer fantástica)
Release: April 6, 2017 / US: February 2nd, 2018
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Country: Chile (Spanish)
Run-time: 104 minutes
Box Office: $1.1 million
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Odds of Nomination: VERY STRONG: Despite having not predicted this to make the cut, “A Fantastic Woman” probably has the best chance of getting nominated. With LBGT support and ads touting that the film comes from the producers of “Jackie,” “Spotlight,” and “Toni Erdmann,” which were all Oscar nominated, this was also in contention for the Golden Bear in the main competition section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. It currently has a nomination for Best International Film in the Independent Spirit Awards and has a nomination for the Golden Globes as well. It also landed on the National Board Of Review’s top five foreign films of the year. Chile has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Feature once before in 2012 and actually had an Animated Short win, titled “Bear Story” in 2015. Director Sebastián Lelio’s “Gloria” was the Chilean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards but was not nominated.

Trailer:


IN THE FADE (Aus dem Nichts)
Release: November 23, 2017 / US: December 27th, 2017
Director: Fatih Akin
Country: Germany (German)
Run-time: 106 minutes
Box Office: $1.5 million (Germany)
Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Odds of Nomination: STRONG: With recognizable Diane Kruger giving an award winning performance alone puts this film at the top of the list for making the cut. Kruger won Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Director Faith Akin is a well-known German director who has had several of his previous films compete in the Cannes Film Festival and Venice International Film Festival. Germany has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language feature ten times, producing two wins from “Nowhere In Africa” (2002) and “The Lives Of Others” (2006). Faith Akin’s “The Edge Of Heaven” was the official German entry in 2007 but never made the cut. The New York Film Critics Online named this the Best Foreign Language Film of the year. The film is part revenge thriller, part courtroom drama as Kruger plays the wife and mother of a man and boy who are killed in an explosion by Neo-Nazis and her trip down the rabbit hole in finding the truth and getting vengeance. This was also nominated for this year’s Golden Globes.

Trailer:


ON BODY AND SOUL (Testről és lélekről)
Release: March 2, 2017 / US: February 21, 2018
Director: Ildikó Enyedi
Country: Hungary (Hungarian)
Run-time: 116 minutes
Box Office: $431,455
Distributed by: Netflix

Odds of Nomination: STRONG: “On Body and Soul” has been winning awards wherever it goes, winning the FIPRESCI Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 67th Hun Berlin International Film Festival. Alexandra Borbély also won the European Actress award at the European Film Awards for her performance in the film. Hungary has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar nine times including two wins: “Memphisto” in 1981 and “Son Of Saul” in 2015. Ildikó Enyedi’s “My 20th Century” was Hungary’s official entry in 1989 but did not make the final cut. The film looks rather interesting, as two people find that they are sharing the same dream where they are deer in love with another and try to find the same love while awake, despite their differences.

Trailer:


FOXTROT (פוֹקְסטְרוֹט‎)
Release: September 2, 2017 / US: December 8, 2017
Director: Samuel Maoz
Country: Israel (Hebrew)
Run-time: 113 minutes
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Odds of Nomination: FAIR: “Foxtrot” is not only winning tons of awards, including the Grand Jury Prize award at the Venice Film Festival, the Ophir Award for Best Film which is the Israeli version of the Oscars and is what decides which entry will be submitted for the country, and the National Board of Reviews Best Foreign Language film of the year, it’s also gaining notoriety for being banned by Israel’s cultural minister. The film depicts a few Israeli soldiers being killed followed by some parents finding out, then following the events leading up to their son’s death. The trailer offers very little, as it’s just a man dancing, but it’s shot extremely well and just by being elevated with those awards and the news headlines, it could easily ween its way in. Israel has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar ten times with no wins.

Trailer:


THE INSULT (L’insulte)
Release: September 14, 2017 / US: January 26, 2018
Director: Ziad Doueiri
Country: Lebanon (Arabic / French)
Run-time: 112 minutes
Distributed by: Cohen Media Group

Odds of Nomination: FAIR: “The Insult” is a court drama between two men who had an altercation all because of something one of the men said. Kamel El Basha won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the  74th Venice International Film Festival. Lebanon has submitted fourteen films for the award, but none of them were nominated for an Oscar. The producers want you to know that they have released the Oscar nominated films “Timbuktu,” “Mustang,” and “The Salesman,” that of which actually won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Feature.

Trailer:


LOVELESS (Nelyubov)
Release: May 18, 2017 / US: December 1, 2017
Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Country: Russia (Russian)
Run-time: 128 minutes
Box Office: $3.3 million
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Odds of Nomination: STRONG: Andrey Zvyagintsev had a film nominated in 2014 titled “Leviathan.” He also had a submitted entry in 2003 titled “The Return” but it was not selected. With “Loveless,” Zvyagintsev has already seen it win several awards including the Silver Frog at Camerimage, the Jury Prize at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Best Film at the London Film Festival, Best International Film at the Munich International Film Festival, and it tied for the Los Angeles Film Critics pick for Best Foreign Language of the year with “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” and was included on the National Board Of Review’s top five foreign films of the year. The subject matter of a missing boy whose mother was never really thrilled to have him in the first place is quite interestingly displayed in the trailer, with some great cinematography as well. This was also one of the films nominated at this year’s Golden Globes.

Trailer:


FELICITE
Release: February 11, 2017 / US: October 27th, 2017
Director: Alain Gomis
Country: Senegal (Lingala & French)
Run-time: 123 minutes
Box Office: $259,098
Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Odds of Nomination: LOW: Despite winning six awards at the 2017 Africa Movie Academy Awards, which is the highest for a film in the history of the award ceremony, including categories for best film, best actress, best supporting actor, best editing, best soundtrack and best film in an African language, this is the first time Senegal had sent a film for consideration for the Best Foreign Language film. The film tells a story on how a bar entertainer struggles to get funds after her child is hospitalized. However, it also won the Jury Grand Prix award at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, so it definitely lands in the right places, but it just does not match the quality that are other films are bringing.

Trailer:


THE WOUND
Release: January 22, 2017 / US: August 16th, 2017
Director: John Trengove
Country: South Africa (Xhosa)
Run-time: 88 minutes
Box Office: $29,963
Distributed by: Kino Lorber

Odds of Nomination: FAIR: The story tracks a closeted relationship between two men in the context of the Xhosa initiation ritual. It is possible it could gain the support of the LBGT community but it has yet to win any actual awards, was not selected by any of the critics groups, and although it has played at places like the Sundance Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival and even opened the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, it is really the least awarded film of all the entries.

Trailer:


THE SQUARE
Release: June 15, 2017 / US: October 27th, 2017
Director: Ruben Östlund
Country: Sweden (Swedish / English / Danish)
Run-time: 142 minutes
Box Office: $7.1 million
Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Odds of Nomination: VERY STRONG: We go from one of the least known and least awarded films in contention to one of the most widely known and most awarded film in the category; “The Square.” Starring Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, and Terry Notary, it definitely has the appeal for American voters to flock to it, especially with the year Elisabeth Moss has had. There is a quirky humor the film that the Academy often gravitates towards, with the synopsis reading: “Disaster strikes when a curator hires a public relations team to build some buzz for his renowned Swedish museum.” The film has won the Best Foreign Language feature from the Boston Society Of Film Critics, the Toronto Film Critics Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, as well as being nominated for the year’s Golden Globes and landing on the National Board Of Review’s top five foreign films of the year. It has also won the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival, which places this, in my opinion, as the film to beat.

Trailer:


NOMINATION PREDICTIONS

  1. Chile, “A Fantastic Woman” – Sebastián Lelio
  2. Germany, “In the Fade” – Fatih Akin
  3. Hungary, “On Body and Soul” – Ildikó Enyedi
  4. Russia, “Loveless” – Andrey Zvyagintsev
  5. Sweden, “The Square” – Ruben Östlund

Strong Contender

Israel, “Foxtrot” – Samuel Maoz

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