Editor’s note: This is part of a 37-part series dissecting the 86th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Nearly every day leading up to the Oscars, at least one new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. Also, every Best Picture and Best Director nominee gets its own post. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Missing Picture (L’image Manquante) – Rithy Panh (Cambodia)
Winner of the Un Certain Regard Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. This is the 3rd film from Cambodia ever submitted to the Academy Awards, and their first to be nominated. It’s a powerfully haunting memoir from Cambodian born, French based director Rithy Panh, who was 13 at the time of the Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975. In it, he mixes his own voiceover with rare surviving archival footage, and most poignantly, a series of still dioramas featuring hand sculpted clay figures as a substitute for lost photographs and childhood memories. Of course, this is not at all an easy to watch film, and I don’t think it has the strength to win, but it is an uniquely assembled personal reflection of a dark period in recent history that deserves to be seen.
The Broken Circle Breakdown – Felix van Groeningen (Belgium)
Winner of the Panorama Audience award at the 2013 Berlinale, where it premiered. Belgium’s entry (their 7th nomination in history) is a beautifully shot, highly charged roller coaster of emotions. Felix van Groeningen uses a non-linear narrative and a wonderful blugrass soundtrack to follow the bumpy relationship of a young couple, through all their highs and lows. It’s a film that blatantly and suddenly pulls the audience’s heartstrings, where one scene can be hopelessly sad and the next one gloriously uplifting. The technique works to some extent, thanks to some solid acting from the leads, but gradually loses its effect as the film goes on. Audiences tend to love this film so it’s not a surprise finalist, but it’s highly unlikely to take home Belgium’s first Foreign Language Film Oscar.
The Hunt (Jagten) – Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark)
Here’s a film that had its world premiere in competition at Cannes back in May of 2012—where lead Mads Mikkelsen won the Best Actor award against some of the strongest performances in recent memory—but due to a late box office release in its home country of Denmark, only became eligible for the Academy Awards this year. It’s the story of a well-liked small-town man who gets falsely accused of improper conduct with a young girl, and the harrowing aftermath that ensues. As I wrote in my review last year: ‘The scenario might not be so original, but this is a perfectly executed picture where all of the parts come together in compelling fashion.’ Denmark has a tremendous record in this category, with 10 nominations now and 3 previous wins. So don’t count this one out.
The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza) – Paolo Sorrentino (Italy)
Italy has a storied history at the Academy Awards, and no other country has as many nominations (28) or wins (13) in this category. Italian helmer Paolo Sorrentino, delivers an exquisite film that draws on the inspiration of those past Italian greats; presenting Roman decadence with a modern twist to produce a breathtaking cinematic experience that entirely lives up to its title. Remarkably, it failed to win recognition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered in the competition program. However, it has since racked up an impressive amount of awards, including Best Film at the European Film Awards, and Best Foreign Language Film at the recently held Golden Globes. The latter fact can’t be ignored because for the past three years, the Golden Globe winner has also gone on to win the Oscar. If i could vote, this would be my film, and it’s the one I expect to win.
Omar – Hany Abu-Assad (Palestine)
The only nominated title that I haven’t seen yet. What I can tell you is that it’s the sixth Palestinian film ever submitted to the Academy Awards, and the second time they have earned a nomination. The other being Paradise Now (2005), and both are directed by Hany Abu-Assad. Omar, premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where it took home the Jury Prize. It is billed as a thriller, with a narrative that follows its title character. A young Palestinian man from the West Bank forced to work as an informant for Israel after he is implicated in the killing of an Israeli soldier.
Tags: LAMB Devours The Oscars