So, Son of Saul is winning this in a cakewalk, right? Eh, not so fast. This is one of the categories at next week’s Oscar ceremony that has a built-in spoiler ready to pounce on the frontrunner. While Son of Saul, the brutal and brilliant Hungarian Holocaust film from first time (!!) film maker László Nemes, is a Cannes-winning masterpiece is the Academy still as tuned in to Holocaust films as they used to be? Like the Documentary Feature category, the rules for voting changed a few years ago so that instead of a handful of (sometimes) self-righteous film snobs deciding the winner, now the entire Academy does. And like Documentary, it probably means that frontrunners, populist and/or the most seen film is probably going to win. For Doc that’s Amy (or is it…) and for FLF it seems like Son of Saul has the highest profile. But Sony Pictures Classics, who grabbed two back-to-back Best Actress wins in 2014 and 2015, have really fumbled the release and campaign for Son of Saul. It feels like it’s been non-existent and like a vote for it will be out of conscience and not content.
That leaves the door open for France’s Mustang to gallop in and ride off into the horizon with Oscar in hand. The Cohen Media Group, the company distributing Mustang in the U.S., might be small and mostly unknown but they’ve worked the campaign circuit like nobody’s business. Screenings, Q&As and a strong social media presence have really kept it in the conversation far and above any of the nominated films. The movie, about five orphaned Turkish girls forced into arranged marriages, is a hot button issue and the film presents a powerful feminist message in the best way possible. The film also comes from a first time film maker in Deniz Gamze Ergüven. Can the film go all the way and win the big one? It very well might.
Now, that isn’t to dismiss the other three films in this category. They just have a harder road to win than Son of Saul and Mustang do. Denmark’s A War is a powerful about how war affects soldiers and their families back at home. Embrace of the Serpent, from Colombia, is a stunningly photographed drama about two scientists doing field work in the Amazon and the shaman who assists them on a 40-year mission. Theeb, from Jordan, tells the coming of age story of a young Bedouin boy during the Ottoman Empire. All excellent films, all worthy winners, to be honest. That doesn’t happen all the time in this category.
Here are the predictions for Foreign Language Film from The Gold Rush Gang.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
|Son of Saul, Hungary||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||50||1|
|A War, Denmark||4||4||3||4||4||4||4||4||4||3||22||4|
|Embrace of the Serpent, Colombia||5||5||5||5||5||5||5||5||5||5||10||5|