The Academy’s occasionally shortsighted foreign language film committee has released a list of nine finalists for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, culled from a roster of 89 films, and, incredibly, they’ve blown off Paul Verhoeven‘s Elle — a critically acclaimed career rebirth for the Dutch auteur as well as a vessel for Isabelle Huppert‘s hailed lead performance, which has already won several stateside awards and nominations.
And yet they’ve approved (i.e., included among the nine) one of the most deeply loathed foreign-language films of the year — Xavier Dolan‘s It’s Only The End of the World, which was all but spat upon by critics when it played at last May’s Cannes Film Festival.
The committee has also tossed (a) Pedro Almodovar‘s Julieta (Spain), a well-respected midrange effort (I called it “a Joan Crawford mother-daughter hairshirt film”), (b) Palo Larrain‘s Neruda with Gael Garcia Bernal (i.e., “Where is that fat Communist?”) and (c) Gianfranco Rosi‘s Fire at Sea, which won the Berlinale’s Golden Bear last February.
The Dolan aside, the remaining eight shortlisted films:
Tanna (Australia), directed by Bentley Dean, Martin Butler
Land of Mine (Denmark), directed by Martin Zandvliet
Toni Erdmann (Germany), directed by Maren Ade
The Salesman (Iran), directed by Asghar Farhadi [HE preferred]
The King’s Choice (Norway), directed by Erik Poppe
Paradise (Russia), directed by Andrei Konchalovsky
A Man Called Ove (Sweden), directed by Hannes Holm
My Life as a Zucchini (Switzerland), directed by Claude Barras