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“Son of Saul”: Looking at potential Best Foreign Language Feature contenders

Son of Saul
Ahoy there folks! For the next installment of my still ongoing category/contender rundown, I’m moving on again from the big eight categories and taking a look now at one of the in betweens, or as I call them “mini-majors”, which happens this time to be the always intriguing Best Foreign Language Feature race. Obviously, this is a hard one to pin down early on, but frankly…I’m up for a challenge. Take a gander below and obviously keep in mind that this one will be more fluid than normal going forward…

Here now are the five foreign films that I have currently cracking the unofficial lineup later on this year:

1. Son of Saul – Easily the frontrunner here, probably ever since its debut earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival. The first film from László Nemes, it’s a Holocaust drama set inside the Auschwitz death camp, focused like a laser on the experience of one prisoner within the concentration camp. I’ve seen this one and can vouch for it being a brutal experience, made with impeccable skill and featuring a terrific lead performance from Géza Röhrig. It’s among the best directed films of 2015, so it seems like not just a surefire nominee, but a very likely winner as well.

2. The Assassin – Another big success from Cannes, this new movie from Hou Hsiao-Hsien is as beautiful to look at as any this year. A rather unique and artful take on the martial arts genre of films, it rewards patience and an eye for cinematography. This is another that I’ve seen first hand and fully expect to be in the lineup when all is said and done. It would be a big snub otherwise, that’s for sure.

3. The Second Mother – A dark horse, if you will, this drama from Anna Muylaert has been slowly building steam since first bowing at the beginning of the year during the Sundance Film Festival. I have my doubts that it could end up becoming a winner, but there’s no reason not to have it down right now as a nominee, or at least in the top six or seven of your rankings. Honestly, only the top two seem locked in currently, but this one has a strong shot at a nod as well.

4. Labyrinth of Lies – This Giulio Ricciarelli helmed drama has been also taking a slow road to contention, actually beginning to build buzz at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. It’s one of the titles that just kind has to hope to make it to the long list of flicks that make the first cut. If it gets there, then a nom is definitely in the cards. Stay tuned there…

5. A War – Finally, we have Tobias Lindholm’s war drama, which I opted to put in the top five ahead of two others that it was closely bottled up with in my rankings. What makes this Goodnight Mommy or A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting on Existence? Well, nothing really, if we’re being technical, but I have a hunch that this could be one of the nominees in the end, so I’m putting it in now to see how it feels.

Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans my own personal commentary here) for Best Foreign Language Feature:

6. Goodnight Mommy
7. A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting on Existence
8. Mustang
9. The Clan
10. Wolf Totem
11. Theeb
12. Arabian Nights Vol. 2 – The Desolate one
13. The Throne
14. Xenia
15. The Paradise Suite

And here’s another small group to give you 25 contenders in total right now:

16. Court
17. The Wave
18. Rams
19. Void
20. 600 Miles
21. Jackpot
22. Sand Dollars
23. Loreak
24. Sivas
25. Men Who Save the World

Stay tuned ladies and gentlemen, as I’ll be back here with another new category in the next week or so!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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