Monday, January 17, 2011

2010 Foreign Language Film Oscar Candidates

I have seen 9 of the 65 candidates in the foreign film category for the 83rd Academy Awards. That is a decent number considering that only Peepli Live received a proper theatrical release and the remaining 8 just had a single screening on the film festival circuit:

Canada, Incendies, Denis Villeneuve;
Colombia, Crab Trap, Oscar Ruiz Navia;
Finland, Steam of Life, Joonas Berghall and Mika Hotakainen;
Germany, When We Leave, Feo Aladag;
Greece, Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos;
India, Peepli [Live], Anusha Rizvi;
Kyrgyzstan, The Light Thief, Aktan Arym Kubat;
Thailand, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul;
Uruguay, La Vida Util, Federico Veiroj;

A handful of the 56 remaining films will get Canadian theatrical/DVD distribution but most likely a majority of the films will disappear if they do not get a nomination.

Here are some of the titles that I am most interested in and hopefully they will see the light of day in Canada later this year, be it in a theater or on DVD. Biutiful is already slated for a February Canadian theatrical release and after last night's win at the Golden Globes, In a Better World will likely get a theatrical run. I missed seeing The Temptation of St. Tony and Street Days at Rotterdam last year but both titles look very promising.

Argentina, Carancho, Pablo Trapero;
China, Aftershock, Feng Xiaogang;
Denmark, In a Better World, Susanne Bier;
Estonia, The Temptation of St. Tony, Veiko Ounpuu;
France, Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois;
Georgia, Street Days, Levan Koguashvili;
Mexico, Biutiful, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu;
Peru, Undertow (Contracorriente), Javier Fuentes-Leon;
Portugal, To Die Like a Man, Joao Pedro Rodrigues;
Romania, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, Florin Serban;
Russia, The Edge, Alexey Uchitel;
Turkey, Bal (Honey), Semih Kaplanoglu;

note: Undertow is already available in the UK on DVD.

[Update, Jan 20 2011]

9 films have been shortlisted and it is not surprizing to see Incendies, In a Better World and Biutiful in that list. However, Dogtooth stands out as the most radical choice.

Algeria -- Outside the Law
Canada -- Incendies
Denmark -- In a Better World
Greece -- Dogtooth
Japan -- Confessions
Mexico -- Biutiful
South Africa -- Life Above All
Spain -- Even the Rain
Sweden -- Simple Simon


Sam Juliano said...

I never connected with DOGTOOTH, which I found course and disjointed, and with an over-the-top mean-spiritedness. I managed to see the Romanian film IF I WANT TO WHISTLE this past week, and thanks to a wonderful friend in India, I will get to see OF GODS AND MEN and HONEY within a week. I have the screener of UNCLE BOONME here, but have purposely avoided seeing it, as the USA Film Forum opening is imminent in March. Still, I may bite before then anyway. Geez, Sachin there are so many here yet to see, and I applaud you for seeing as many as you did!

Sachin said...

Thanks Sam. When I saw Dogtooth in 2009, I found it hard to like the film and like you say, it was over the top with its mean spirit. But I could not dismiss the film either and understood what the director wanted to show. I just didn't think he had to go that far to get his point across. The film never made my cut of 57 films that I loved in 2009 but it was one that has stayed in memory, for better or worse :)

Uncle Boonmee was the first film by Joe that I saw in a theater and I wish I had instead seen it on DVD. I have loved all his previous films because I was isolated with his work. But in a packed movie theater, I could not concentrate as much because there were too many distractions and people were either leaving or moving in their seats because they got restless. Part of me wishes I had sat in the front row away from everyone or seen the film on DVD where I could have enjoyed it in leisure.

I am hesitant to offer the best advice to see this film though. If you have waited this long to see it, then it won't be bad to wait a bit longer to see it on the big screen. And if the experience is not as fruitful, you can always treat yourself to it on DVD in isolation afterwards.