Hollywood Contenders – Nine finalists are left in the race for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations

Son of Saul
Yesterday, the Academy announced the nine films that are left in the running for the five slots in Best Foreign Language Feature. As you might expect, the movies put on the short list here include both some surprising inclusions as well as some odd snubs. It’s a tight race for those spots, with a definite frontrunner for the win, but little else that we can be sure of. I made some predictions early on about what this category could look like, and it seems like I was way off. That’s just the name of the Oscar prognostication game, so it’s time to re-evaluate and try to figure out the Academy Award category of Best Foreign Language Feature, more so in terms of nominees than winners, as you’ll see below…

When it was announced that 81 films were eligible in the category, this is what I wrote, analysis wise: “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.” Well now…that didn’t go so well for me, did it? As you can see, I really only hit on Labyrinth of Lies, Son of Saul, and A War. I slept on Mustang, which is my own fault, but the rest seem to be surprises.

So what is going to happen? With presumed second in line The Assassin not making the cut, I think Son of Saul walks away with it, especially since there isn’t a really unique other player like Goodnight Mommy to mix things up. Prediction wise, I think the top four seem to be Labyrinth of Lies, Mustang, Son of Saul, and A War, with he fifth more or less being a crapshoot. I’m sure some will back The Brand New Testament or The Fencer, but something tells me to watch out for Theeb. I’m not sure why, and I might even be out on a limb with A War, but I think they could be the other ones hanging around here. To be clear, Son of Saul is winning, but Labyrinth of Lies and Mustang might at least be able to put up a small fight. The rest likely have no chance at all.

Here are the nine short listed titles for Best Foreign Language Feature at the Oscars:

Belgium, The Brand New Testament, Jaco Van Dormael director
Colombia, Embrace of the Serpent, Ciro Guerra director
Denmark, A War, Tobias Lindholm director
Finland, The Fencer, Klaus Haro director
France, Mustang, Deniz Gamze Ergüven director
Germany, Labyrinth of Lies, Giulio Ricciarelli director
Hungary, Son of Saul, Laszlo Nemes director
Ireland, Viva, Paddy Breathnach director
Jordan, Theeb, Naji Abu Nowar director

Stay tuned to see which five are nominated for Best Foreign Language Feature at the Academy Awards!

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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