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Taking a look at potential Best Foreign Language Feature contenders

Well, ahoy there folks! For the next installment of my still ongoing category/contender rundown (which I haven’t forgotten about), 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 most years, but frankly…I’m always up for the challenge (plus, it’s essentially a slam dunk this year). Take a gander below and obviously keep in mind that this one will be a bit more fluid than normal going forward…

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

1. Roma – Easily the frontrunner here, Alfonso Cuaron’s deeply personal character study is set to contend for many more awards than just this one. Best Foreign Language Film is a no doubter win, barring something bizarre, but this also will potentially be nominated in big eight categories like Best Picture, Best Director (for Cuaron), and Best Original Screenplay (also for Cuaron). There’s also Best Actress (for Yalitza Aparicio) and Best Supporting Actress (for Marina de Tavira) to consider. Hell, Cuaron could also end up nominated in Best Cinematography. It’s an across the board player, that’s for sure. Bet against Roma at your own risk!

2. Cold War – Seemingly assured of a nomination, the latest from Ida director Paweł Pawlikowski is one of the best looking of the year. If not for Roma (another black and white title, ironically), Pawlikowski’s flick would probably be in the pole position here. Cold War lives up to its name, but the emotions involved are also well earned. More on this one soon…

3. Capernaum – If there’s a long shot spoiler in the Best Foreign Language Film category, it is this movie. Nadine Labaki’s festival favorite has been gaining fans at all spots. Capernaum may even be a bigger threat to Roma than Cold War. Both will probably fall short, but this just shows how strong the lineup could be this year. There’s a really rock solid top three here, as good as in any year.

4. Shoplifters – The Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, here’s a flick that probably can’t win, but does seem likely to score a nod. Coming from highly regarded filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, it may end up being one of the shocking snubs when the short list comes out, though the odds favor it getting in. Until then, Shoplifters has a place here on this list.

5. Burning – Rounding out the top five, I could have just as easily cited The Guilty, Never Look Away, or Sunset, but for now, Burning gets the placement. It’s just a hunch that may change before new predictions go up at the end of the week, so keep that in mind. The film has a solid shot at a nom, but so do those other ones listed alongside it. For now, the Lee Chang-dong directed movie has the fifth slot. The spot is very much in flux though, so keep that in mind…

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

6. Never Look Away
7. The Guilty
8. Sunset
9. Dogman
10. Birds of Passage
11. The Angel
12. Border
13. Girl
14. Ghost Hunting
15. The Cakemaker

And here’s another small group to give you 25 contenders in total for Best Foreign Language Feature right now:

16. I Am Not a Witch
17. The Journey
18. Champions
19. Operation Red Sea
20. Yellow is Forbidden
21. Women at War
22. Jirga
23. The Road to Sunrise
24. And Suddenly the Dawn
25. The Wedding Ring

Stay tuned ladies and gentlemen, as I’ll be back here with another new category in the next week or so, likely looking at Best Animated Feature or Best Documentary Feature!

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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