'Omar', 'The Great Beauty' make foreign-language Oscar short list
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Among the nine movies on the short list for this year's best foreign-language film Oscar are Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s "The Great Beauty", Wong Kar-wai’s "The Grandmaster" and Palestinian thriller "Omar".
As Oscar speculation reaches fever pitch – will Robert Redford be squeezed out of the Best Actor race? Does Adèle Exarchopoulos of "Blue is the Warmest Colour" have a shot? – the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday released its short list of films vying for the best foreign language film award.
Selected from a roster of 76 titles, the movies that will compete for the final five slots are: Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino’s visually luscious existential comedy “The Great Beauty”; Hany Abu-Assad’s tense Palestinian thriller “Omar”; Felix Van Groeningen’s Flemish-language musical melodrama “The Broken Circle Breakdown”; Wong Kar-wai’s martial arts film “The Grandmaster”; “The Hunt”, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s bleak allegory about a man accused of pedophilia; Cambodian director Rithy Panh’s French-language documentary “The Missing Picture”, which uses clay figurines to recount the deadly Khmer Rouge regime; Danis Tanović’s Bosnian drama “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker”; German spy thriller “Two Lives”; and Hungarian World War II drama “The Notebook”.
The nominees will be announced on January 16.
‘The Past’, ‘Wadjda’ snubbed
One notable absence from the finalists was French-language Iranian drama “The Past”, starring Bérénice Bejo and directed by Asghar Farhadi, who won the foreign language Oscar in 2012 for “A Separation”.
Another film widely expected to make the cut was Haifaa al-Mansour’s “Wadjda”, the first feature-length film ever made by a female Saudi director, and the first to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia.
No South American films ended up on the short list this year – somewhat surprisingly, given that Chile’s critically lauded “Gloria”, directed by Sebastian Lelio and revolving around a middle-aged divorcee, was considered a strong contender.
Meanwhile, Abdellatif Kechiche’s three-hour lesbian romance “Blue is the Warmest Colour”, named best foreign film by several top US critics groups, was ineligible, as it was released in France after the September 30 deadline.
The inclusion of Wong Kar-wai on the short list is bound to delight fans of the Hong Kong director, best known for lush, lyrical romances like “Chungking Express” and “In the Mood for Love”; if he makes it to the final round, it will be the filmmaker’s first Oscar nomination.
The Academy Awards will be handed out in Los Angeles on March 2.