October 1st is the official submission deadline for countries to choose which film they are going to submit for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, which means that there will be a lot of announcements coming over the next several weeks. Previous to this week there were only three nations who had announced their choices for the 85th Academy Awards: Germany (Barbara), Serbia (When Day Breaks), and Venezuala (Rock, Paper, Scissors). This week three more films can be added to that list including the potential winner.
The first announcement came from Poland who selects Waldemar Krzystek’s Communist-era thriller 80 Millions. Several days later Austria announced they would be sending Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winning drama Amour, and Japan announced they would be sending Yang Yong-hi’s domestic drama Our Homeland. Let’s take a closer look at these submissions, shall we?
AUSTRIA: Amour, Michael Haneke
Plot: Retired music teachers Anne and Georges have their love for one another tested when Anne suffers an attack and begins to deteriorate physically and mentally.
Oscar Chances: Consider this one the frontrunner. It’s biggest barrier will be the bizarre rules in the Foreign branch of the Academy that have caused Haneke’s films to be disqualified in the past. This is an Austrian, German, and French production and the language is French. In 2005, Haneke’s Caché was deemed ineligible because it wasn’t Austrian enough. If Amour makes it through the bureaucracy, it could go all the way.
JAPAN: Our Homeland, Yang Yong-hi
Plot: A Korean/Japanese man returns to his family in Japan after living in North Korea for 25 years where he finds it difficult to connect with his aging mother and his anti-North sister.
Oscar Chances: The Hollywood Reporter gave Our Homeland a rather unfavorable review when it played at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. Japan frequently makes the Academy short list and they won as recently as 2008 with their film Departures. They seem unlikely to have success this year, but never count them out.
POLAND: 80 Million, Waldemar Krzystek
Plot: Based on the true story of Polish military leader Wojciech Jaruzelski’s standoff with the pro-Democracy Solidarity movement, 80 Million follows a group of opposition leaders who attempt to withdraw 80 million zlotys from the movement’s bank account.
Oscar Chances: Oftentimes when a country submits a movie that is tightly focused on their own politics and history it does not play as well as movies that have more universal appeal. Poland received nominations in 2011 and 2007 for World War II set movies, which this branch adores. They are less fond of more recent period dramas.
Soon there will be a page on Film Misery dedicated to all of the Best Foreign Language film submissions. Stay tuned for predictions and more coverage as countries continue to announce their selections.
What Foreign Films are you most anticipating this year?