Michael Haneke‘s Amour is going to win the Best Foreign Language Oscar on February 26th — locked, done, sealed. Anyone who writes “whoa, not so fast…the winner might be Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano‘s The Intouchables!” is just wanking the pot. Yes, some prefer this film’s emotional clam-broth to Haneke’s icy austerity, but their numbers are relatively few.
If I was a behind-the-scenes godfather-poobah who could just point and dictate the winner, I would give the Best Foreign Language Oscar to Pablo Larrain‘s brilliant and mesmerizing No. Amour, which I’ve been completely turned around on (respectful repulsion in Cannes morphing into hardcore admiration after watching it three more times in LA), has been feted enough. But that’s me. And if I couldn’t order a win for No, I’d give the Oscar to Christian Petzold‘s Barbara, which won me over in Telluride.
Is there anything valid to say about the general Academy situation facing foreign-language contenders? Yes, says L.A. Times reporter Mark Olsen in a 1.6 article. Kill the rule that allows the country of origin to determine the nominee — a process that inevitably makes this selection almost entirely about local back-scratching.
“Some see the [Best Foreign Language selection] process as perennially flawed until the academy reconsiders the one-film-per-country rule,” Olsen writes. “At the Golden Globes, for example, where no such rule exists, the official French Oscar submission of The Intouchables and another well-regarded French film, Rust and Bone were both nominated.”
Four of the Oscar shortlisted films are in French, he notes, but Rust and Bone, Jacques Audiard‘s meditative relationship drama that everyone was approving in Cannes, couldn’t be nominated by the Academy because The Intouchables had the favor of the French film establishment because it made a lot of money.