On January 23, the Oscar nominations were revealed in all categories and as expected, there were a few surprises in the Foreign Language Film category. There were surprises, snubs and sure bets that made it in. This year’s race was one of the most interesting to follow and it looks like several important records were broken this year.
Here are the 7 most interesting observations that we have about this very exciting FLF race as it currently stands:
- SPC gets 2/3
Sony Pictures Classics is consistently one of the strongest campaigners in the FLF category – they tend to have a great eye on which contenders to buy early on (last year, they acquired Russia’s LOVELESS on May 17th just as it world premiered in Cannes). SPC had 3 very strong contenders – and most pundits expected they are going 3/3 on Oscar morning. We had correctly predicted the very sad FOXTROT snub – believing that Chile’s A FANTASTIC’S WOMAN powerful narrative and timely elements – given the current climate in the US and Hollywood in particular – would help it edge Israel’s FOXTROT and make the cut. Interestingly, their 3 films were all winners in the major fests – A FANTASTIC WOMAN had Berlin screenplay, LOVELESS had the Cannes Jury Prize and FOXTROT had the Venice Grand Prix. But they could not get them all in (and FOXTROT had curiously missed a GG nod as well). They now have A FANTASTIC WOMAN and LOVELESS. Can they secure a win for either of them?
- No Surefire Frontrunner
With sure bets such as FOXTROT snubbed, the race is officially without a strong frontrunner. There is a case to be made for each of the 5 nominated films (and we will go through them in detail in an upcoming article), but one can’t deny 2018 is not a TONI ERDMANN year (a year where there is one strongly beloved FLF contender that people widely expect to win – only to then lose to a film that fits the political climate – THE SALESMAN). This opens up an opportunity for all 5 films to amp up their campaign narratives.
For the first time in 11 years, a Golden Globe Foreign Language Film winner was not nominated for an Oscar. In 2007, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY won the Globe but was not nominated in the FLF category (it did, however, earn several other nominations). In fact, this is the first year when the GG FLF winner did not earn any Oscar nomination.
In 2003, OSAMA won the GG FLF and had zero Oscar noms. In 2008, DIVING BELL earned 4 Oscar nods (excluding FLF) and in 2017, ELLE earned an Oscar nod for Best Actress but was not on the shortlist. With IN THE FADE missing out, it became the first GG FLF winner to earn zero Oscar nods in 15 years!
- Netflix Enters the FLF Race for the First Time
Netflix has entered the documentary Oscar race several times before – and 2018 continues their streak in this category – but this is the first time they also have a contender in the FLF race: Hungary’s ON BODY AND SOUL. That was a late acquisition and word on the street is that they are planning a solid campaign for it.
- Cohen Media is Officially a Force in This Category
CMG are not getting the coverage or credit they deserve in this category – they are now the second savviest campaigners in this category after SPC. Let’s look at their fantastic nominations streak in the past few years:
2018 – THE INSULT (Lebanon – a first for the country)
2017 – THE SALESMAN (Iran – winner and Farhadi’s 2nd win in this category)
2016 – MUSTANG (France – last nomination for France in this category in the past 3 years)
2015 – TIMBUKTU (Mauritania – first ever nomination for Mauritania and first ever submission for the country in this category)
They also have FACES PLACES in the Documentary Feature category. Can they actually land double wins with this and THE INSULT?
- A 21-year-old Record Has Been Broken!
A major record has been broken – and no one is talking about it. This is the first FLF race in 21 years in which the Palme d’or, Golden Bear and Golden Lion winners all earned Oscar nominations! The last time this happened was 21 years ago when MICHAEL COLLINS, SENSE & SENSIBILITY and SECRETS AND LIES earned the top festival prizes at Cannes, Venice and Berlin and went on to earn nods. But these 3 films were British productions so it’s more impressive for Sweden’s THE SQUARE and Hungary’s ON BODY AND SOUL.
- A Strong Return for the Palme d’or
Since 2012, when AMOUR won the Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festival and won the FLF Oscar, no Cannes Palme d’or winner went on to earn an FLF Oscar nod until 2018’s THE SQUARE, marking a return for the Palme d’or winners in this category.
Stay tuned for more exclusive Foreign Language Film coverage on AwardsWatch in the coming weeks leading up to the Oscars.