In 1966 three major films competed for what was then called the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar — Claude Lelouch‘s A Man and a Woman**, Milos Forman‘s Loves of a Blonde and Gillo Pontecorvo‘s The Battle of Algiers.
Which is the most admired by today’s standards? Easily The Battle of Algiers followed by Loves of a Blonde. The Lelouch film is an effectively made, slow-burn romantic drama, and a fairly big hit stateside. Which film won? The Lelouch, of course.
“People often complain about undeserving films that won the Best Picture Oscar or deserving films that failed to win it,” a journo pally wrote this morning. “But no one really talks about bad foreign language calls. I didn’t do any research on the matter, but there must be a few.”
The only blatant wrongo that comes to mind is when Roberto Benigni‘s Life Is Beautiful (’98) elbowed aside Walter Salles‘ Central Station (ditto). This happened during the 71st Oscars, which were handed on 3.21.99.
** Wiki anecdote: “Once the A Man and a Woman script was drafted, the film was made relatively quickly, with one month of preproduction work, three weeks of principal photography, and three weeks editing.”