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2018 Oscars: Final Predictions for the Foreign Language Film Shortlist

It’s been an exciting 10 weeks during which we analyzed almost 30 films in the Foreign Language Film Oscar race, a number that represents around 30% of the total films in contention. These 30 films included some of the highest-profile and most obscure films vying for the noms, and represented countries from Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

While it’s almost impossible to watch all 90+ films in the race, we believe the shortlist will no doubt surprise even those who watched more than 30-40 films, simply because it’s impossible to accurately predict what the FLF committee will save and what the voters will love.

To create this predictions piece, we took a look at the 30 films we’ve seen and analyzed here at Awards Watch since late September and until now. Around 12 films emerged and stood out from the pack, from which we selected our final 9. All these films had scored 65% or more in our predictions pieces in the past 10 weeks based on factors like: their content, themes, their appeal to voters and others. From these 12 films, we picked 9 films and predicted three snubs.

In all cases, it’s been such an exciting year for this category with a large number of worthy contenders with audacious stories, amazing performances and out-of-the-box execution.

Here are our final predictions for the FLF shortlist:

From Israel: FOXTROT

Why it’s getting in: It’s masterfully executed, timely, smart, funny and touching – all in a creatively made film about grief, fate and military life. Sublime.

Why it may be snubbed: It’s very unlikely it gets snubbed, and could very well be the FLF winner this year. Perhaps some voters may see it as a cold film, but we doubt it.

From Russia: LOVELESS

Why it’s getting in: It’s a marvelous film about the lack of compassion in Russian society. Voters love films with political and social undertones. Plus, it has stunning cinematography and great performances and very emotional scenes.

Why it may be snubbed: Also unlikely, because it’s a film that stays in your mind after viewing it. Perhaps some may feel it’s too harsh, dark and grim – but again, we’re pretty confident this is in.

From Cambodia: FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER

Why it’s getting in: Voters in this category love war films and children-led films have also done well here. This is a high-profile film that played very well in Telluride (where many AMPAS voters attended) and it doesn’t hurt that Angeline Jolie has led a strong campaign for it. Plus, it’s a very well-made film with a moving story and tremendous vision. It’s tailor-made for the FLF category.

Why it may be snubbed: Perhaps some voters may not want to reward Jolie, on the basis that she’s not that great of a filmmaker. But with this film she’s proven she has the chops.

From Sweden: THE SQUARE

Why it’s getting in: It’s a very entertaining and accessible film that makes for a fun watch on a screener. And its message of compassion is quite timely too. The fact that it won the Palme d’or and did very well recently with critics also helps. It may not be the lock that, say, Foxtrot or Loveless are, but we’re thinking voters will appreciate its unique approach and satirical tone.

Why it may be snubbed: It could be too bizarre for some voters, or ‘too out there’ for them to reward it, and some may feel it’s overlong. But we think the negatives outweigh the positives.

From Germany: IN THE FADE

Why it’s getting in: It’s the type of film voters in this category love: melodramatic, has a lot of fireworks, a superb performance from Dianne Kruger and most importantly, a ‘timely and important’ tag on it – a reflection on extremism and racial hate. It’s also an engaging film that’s accessible and showy.

Why it may be snubbed: Reviews have been a bit tepid – indicating some divisiveness. But we suspect that divisiveness is more of a critics thing than an industry thing.

From Lebanon: THE INSULT

Why it’s getting in: It’s a macho drama that’s very entertaining, has all the fireworks and extremely timely especially today. It’s true that its second half drags down a bit due to the long court scenes, but this is a film we keep coming back to. It sticks with you for some reason even if you’re not downright impressed by it at first sight.

Why it may be snubbed: Perhaps the film’s over-the-top court scenes may strike some as excessive or too obvious. Plus, Arab films in general have a very weak track record in this category.

From Brazil: BINGO: KING OF MORNINGS

Why it’s getting in: This is a film about the industry, about the actors, about their struggles, about the shift from fame to obscurity. Plus, it’s really entertaining and flashy. It’s also a very macho-film.

Why it may be snubbed: It doesn’t have the buzz and may not be seen enough. It also didn’t have a solid festival run or factor in the year-end critics awards. But every year, this category includes some under-the-radar contenders and this might be the one.

From South Africa: THE WOUND

Why it’s getting in: It’s a window to Africa that we don’t often see on screen. Plus, it’s one of the most beautifully made and captivating films in the FLF race. Voters love this sort of ‘discovery’ films.

Why it may be snubbed: The one thing that may be against is it that FLF voters haven’t been kind to LGBT films before.

From Spain: SUMMER 1993

Why it’s getting in: It’s a heartbreaking family drama with a child in the lead giving a tremendous performance. Voters appreciate kid-centric films and this is an accessible and touching film that has had a solid festival run where it was beloved by audiences.

Why it may be snubbed: Female-led films don’t always do well here and kid-centric films may go either way depending on whether voters are willing to give them due attention.

Our final predictions:

  1. FOXTROT – Israel (Asia)
  2. LOVELESS – Russia (Europe_
  3. FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER – Cambodia (Asia)
  4. THE SQUARE – Sweden (Europe)
  5. IN THE FADE – Germany (Europe)
  6. THE INSULT – Lebanon (Asia)
  7. BINGO: KING OF MORNINGS – Brazil (Latin America)
  8. THE WOUND – South Africa (Africa)
  9. SUMMER 1993 – Spain (Europe)

 

Next in Line/Potential Spoilers:

  1. A CIAMBRA – Italy (Europe)
  2. BPM – France (Europe)
  3. A FANTASTIC WOMAN – Chile (South America)
  4. TOM OF FINLAND – Finland (Europe)
  5. THE DIVINE ORDER – Switzerland (Europe)
  6. AYLA: THE DAUGHTER OF WAR – Turkey (Europe)

 

Stay tuned for more FLF analysis articles once the FLF shortlist comes out!

Mina Takla

Mina Takla is a foreign correspondent for AwardsWatch and the co-founder of The Syndicate, an online news agency that offers original content services to several film brands including Empire Magazine’s Middle East edition and the Dubai Film Festival. Takla has attended, covered and written from over 10 film festivals online including the Dubai International Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Cannes, Venice and Annecy Film Festivals. He has been following the Oscar race since 2000 with accurate, office-pool winning predictions year after year. He writes monthly in Empire Arabia, the Arabic version of the world’s top cinema magazine and conducts press junkets with Hollywood stars in the UK and the US. He holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Marketing from Australia’s Wollongong University and is currently based in Dubai, UAE.
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