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81 countries will compete for Best Foreign Language Feature at the Oscars

Son of Saul
I wonder if Oscar’s ears were burning. A day after I took a preliminary look at the Best Foreign Language Feature race, the Academy has gone ahead and revealed the 81 countries, and as such 81 titles, that will be competing for a citation at their ceremony. It’s a large slate, full of pretenders but also more than its fair share of contenders as well. The 88th Academy Awards will be announce their nominations on January 14th, with five of the 81 set to go for the gold. A handful of players seem likely to be nominated, but at this stage in the game…anything is possible, give or take one very big frontrunner.

Of the 81 countries, only one is a first time submitter, and that’s Paraguay, oddly enough. Everyone else here has been competing for Oscars before, regardless of if they’ve been given nominations before or not. It’s always interesting to see how smaller countries do here. Sure, Australia has a contender in Arrows of the Thunder Dragon that could get in, as does Canada with Félix and Meira, France with Mustang, Japan with 100 Yen Love and the United Kingdom with Under Milk Wood, but so could Iraq with Memories on Stone or Slovenia with The Goat, for example. Anything is possible, so it will clearly be fascinating to watch it all unfold, even if I feel confident that we know the winner already.

Of the main players here, the ones to keep an eye on mostly right now are the ones I spoke about earlier this week. Those would be The Assassin (from Taiwan), Labyrinth of Lies (from Germany), The Second Mother (from Brazil), Son of Saul (from Hungary), and A War (from Denmark). That could be the final five, but there’s also things like Arabian Nights – Volume 2, The Desolate One (from Portugal) Goodnight Mommy (from Austria), A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (from Sweden), and more. Of these titles, I really think that Son of Saul is going to cake walk its way to an Academy Award. If something else is going to swoop in and pull off an upset at the Oscars, and yes, I think this is all but locked in and would be an upset, it would be The Assassin, Goodnight Mommy, or perhaps The Second Mother. That being said, the frontrunner is so far ahead at this early stage that it would be folly to bet against it.

Here are all 81 titles in contention for a potential nomination at the Academy Awards:

Afghanistan, “Utopia,” Hassan Nazer, director
Albania, “Bota,” Iris Elezi, Thomas Logoreci, directors
Algeria, “Twilight of Shadows,” Mohamed Lakhdar Hamina, director
Argentina, “The Clan,” Pablo Trapero, director
Australia, “Arrows of the Thunder Dragon,” Greg Sneddon, director
Austria, “Goodnight Mommy,” Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, directors
Bangladesh, “Jalal’s Story,” Abu Shahed Emon, director
Belgium, “The Brand New Testament,” Jaco Van Dormael, director
Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Our Everyday Story,” Ines Tanović, director
Brazil, “The Second Mother,” Anna Muylaert, director
Bulgaria, “The Judgment,” Stephan Komandarev, director
Cambodia, “The Last Reel,” Sotho Kulikar, director
Canada, “Félix and Meira,” Maxime Giroux, director
Chile, “The Club,” Pablo Larraín, director
China, “Go Away Mr. Tumor,” Han Yan, director
Colombia, “Embrace of the Serpent,” Ciro Guerra, director
Costa Rica, “Imprisoned,” Esteban Ramírez, director
Croatia, “The High Sun,” Dalibor Matanić, director
Czech Republic, “Home Care,” Slavek Horak, director
Denmark, “A War,” Tobias Lindholm, director
Dominican Republic, “Sand Dollars,” Laura Amelia Guzmán, Israel Cárdenas, directors
Estonia, “1944,” Elmo Nüganen, director
Ethiopia, “Lamb,” Yared Zeleke, director
Finland, “The Fencer,” Klaus Härö, director
France, “Mustang,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director
Georgia, “Moira,” Levan Tutberidze, director
Germany, “Labyrinth of Lies,” Giulio Ricciarelli, director
Greece, “Xenia,” Panos H. Koutras, director
Guatemala, “Ixcanul,” Jayro Bustamante, director
Hong Kong, “To the Fore,” Dante Lam, director
Hungary, “Son of Saul,” László Nemes, director
Iceland, “Rams,” Grímur Hákonarson, director
India, “Court,” Chaitanya Tamhane, director
Iran, “Muhammad: The Messenger of God,” Majid Majidi, director
Iraq, “Memories on Stone,” Shawkat Amin Korki, director
Ireland, “Viva,” Paddy Breathnach, director
Israel, “Baba Joon,” Yuval Delshad, director
Italy, “Don’t Be Bad,” Claudio Caligari, director
Ivory Coast, “Run,” Philippe Lacôte, director
Japan, “100 Yen Love,” Masaharu Take, director
Jordan, “Theeb,” Naji Abu Nowar, director
Kazakhstan, “Stranger,” Yermek Tursunov, director
Kosovo, “Babai,” Visar Morina, director
Kyrgyzstan, “Heavenly Nomadic,” Mirlan Abdykalykov, director
Latvia, “Modris,” Juris Kursietis, director
Lebanon, “Void,” Naji Bechara, Jad Beyrouthy, Zeina Makki, Tarek Korkomaz, Christelle Ighniades, Maria Abdel Karim, Salim Haber, directors
Lithuania, “The Summer of Sangaile,” Alanté Kavaïté, director
Luxembourg, “Baby (A)lone,” Donato Rotunno, director
Macedonia, “Honey Night,” Ivo Trajkov, director
Malaysia, “Men Who Save the World,” Liew Seng Tat, director
Mexico, “600 Miles,” Gabriel Ripstein, director
Montenegro, “You Carry Me,” Ivona Juka, director
Morocco, “Aida,” Driss Mrini, director
Nepal, “Talakjung vs Tulke,” Basnet Nischal, director
Netherlands, “The Paradise Suite,” Joost van Ginkel, director
Norway, “The Wave,” Roar Uthaug, director
Pakistan, “Moor,” Jami, director
Palestine, “The Wanted 18,” Amer Shomali, Paul Cowan, directors
Paraguay, “Cloudy Times,” Arami Ullón, director
Peru, “NN,” Héctor Gálvez, director
Philippines, “Heneral Luna,” Jerrold Tarog, director
Poland, “11 Minutes,” Jerzy Skolimowski, director
Portugal, “Arabian Nights – Volume 2, The Desolate One,” Miguel Gomes, director
Romania, “Aferim!” Radu Jude, director
Russia, “Sunstroke,” Nikita Mikhalkov, director
Serbia, “Enclave,” Goran Radovanović, director
Singapore, “7 Letters,” Royston Tan, Kelvin Tong, Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Tan Pin Pin, Boo Junfeng, K. Rajagopal, directors
Slovakia, “Goat,” Ivan Ostrochovský, director
Slovenia, “The Tree,” Sonja Prosenc, director
South Africa, “The Two of Us,” Ernest Nkosi, director
South Korea, “The Throne,” Lee Joon-ik, director
Spain, “Flowers,” Jon Garaño, Jose Mari Goenaga, directors
Sweden, “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” Roy Andersson, director
Switzerland, “Iraqi Odyssey,” Samir, director
Taiwan, “The Assassin,” Hou Hsiao-hsien, director
Thailand, “How to Win at Checkers (Every Time),” Josh Kim, director
Turkey, “Sivas,” Kaan Müjdeci, director
United Kingdom, “Under Milk Wood,” Kevin Allen, director
Uruguay, “A Moonless Night,” Germán Tejeira, director
Venezuela, “Gone with the River,” Mario Crespo, director
Vietnam, “Jackpot,” Dustin Nguyen, director

Stay tuned to see which films make it to the next stage of the Best Foreign Language Feature game and get closer to Oscar nominations!

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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