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Oscars 2018: Foreign Language Film – The Cases for THE INSULT (Lebanon), A FANTASTIC WOMAN (Chile) and THE SQUARE (Sweden)

Just as we were ready to call our 5 Foreign Language Film predictions locked, IN THE FADE (which was not in our final 5) surprised and snatched the Golden Globe (one of the very few surprises of the night). It later won the Critics Choice. Golden Globe Foreign Language Film winners that were on the shortlist are rarely snubbed at the Oscars (ELLE won the Globe last year but wasn’t on the shortlist. In most previous years, shortlisted Golden Globe FLF winners ended up nominated). This made us re-think our predictions and do some re-shuffling. Results and final predictions next week – but IN THE FADE may very well be looking at a nomination. Can it even win? That’s a question for another day.

2018 Oscars: Foreign Language Film – The Cases for THE WOUND (South Africa) and IN THE FADE (Germany)

In this week’s analysis, we look at three strong Foreign Language Film contenders ahead of our final predictions next week.

 

The Case for THE INSULT

We saw this film at the Venice Film Festival and called it “Lebanon’s A SEPERATION”. It immediately joined our shortlist predictions as one of the most universal films in the race.

 

  • Save or popular choice? Popular for sure. This is a film that plays well to AMPAS voters and has everything they like to go for: drama, importance, conflict, showy scenes, powerful acting and a fresh storytelling approach.
  • Why AMPAS liked it: The film’s depiction of the Lebanese-Palestinian animosity resonated surely among AMPAS voters who had probably never seen an Arab film step away from depicting Palestinians as flawless victims. Ziad Doueiri took a look of thematic risks with this film and it paid off incredibly well. Plus, the film does share some similarities with A SEPERATION and THE SALESMAN in that it centers on a conflict that is a symbol of class, ethnic or social divides.
  • If it earns a nom, it’s because: The film is very timely at a time where Palestinian-Israeli conflict is all over the news. Moreover, the film’s campaign centers on how ‘words can change everything’. At a time when Trump’s words are causing waves of critiques and raising questions, this is such a powerful and timely narrative.
  • Will it make the final 5? It has very strong chances. Our final predictions are next week.

2018 Oscars: Foreign Language Film – The Cases for Israel’s FOXTROT and Hungary’s ON BODY AND SOUL

The Case for THE SQUARE

Hours before the Palme d’or was announced, we managed to catch this film on the final day of Cannes 2017. We really liked its blend of comedy and drama and despite being overlong, this is still a very audacious, out-of-the-box film.

 

  • Save or popular choice? This is tricky – but we think it was a save (assuming the 3 saves this year: Félicité, On Body and Soul and The Square). That’s not say this is not an accessible film, but we think some voters may have been turned off by its length. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is popular in some circles. In fact, it’s more popular in Europe (where it swept the European Film Awards) than state-side.
  • Why AMPAS liked it: Or rather why the exec committee liked it. It’s a film that takes risks and doesn’t have a traditional narrative. Plus it sends a message of compassion and has a rousing critique of pretentious arts curators who may never really experience the real world around them.
  • If it earns a nom, it’s because: It’s entertaining and funny. It’s the only humorous film in the race (the other 8 are rather grim, serious takes on modern-day issues). It could be this year’s A MAN CALLED OVE.
  • Will it make the final 5? Our final predictions will be posted next week, but it’s currently in our top 6.

2018 Oscars: Foreign Language Film – The Cases for LOVELESS (Russia) and FÉLICITÉ (Senegal)

The Case for A FANTASTIC WOMAN

This is a great example of a ‘film of the moment’. At a time where women are speaking out and there is a real movement calling for respect and tolerance, this is a film that quietly sends a strong message against transphobia and does so very beautifully without plate-smashing scenes.

 

  • Save or popular choice? Reports are that this was one of the very well-received films within the AMPAS committee. It’s important, timely and urgent.
  • Why AMPAS liked it: While AMPAS typically ignores women’s stories in this category, this is the year of women in Hollywood. AMPAS definitely caught the tune and wanted to champion more female-driven stories after years of male-led FLF contenders. And the film is also important, dramatic and well-balanced. It makes you feel good as a voter to support that calls for LGBTQ rights and tells a story of a strong woman who defies all odds to find her voice and keep her dignity.
  • If it earns a nom, it’s because: It’s a film that corresponds to the current climate in Hollywood, champions female issues, and is an important story the world needs to see.
  • Will it make the final 5? Our final predictions will be posted next week, but it’s currently in our top 6.

Stay tuned for our final FLF predictions next week!

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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