This is going to be one of few times in recent memory where the eventual Oscar winner will not have won the Golden Globe, Critics Choice and possibly BAFTA. The reason? The somewhat purgatory-level existence of Minari in this race. A distinctly American film, Minari won the Globe and Critics Choice for Foreign Language Film, is nominated for the BAFTA in Film Not in the English Language where it could win, and is obviously not eligible for this category at the Oscars.
That still leaves us with some hearty contenders and what I feel is a pretty good frontrunner here. Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round from Denmark would probably be going into Oscar nomination morning were it not for those Minari wins and the film showed its strength in its clean sweep of the European Film Awards. Add that Vinterberg and star Mads Mikkelsen are stealth contenders in Best Director and Best Actor, respectively and you have a frontrunner.
Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Quo Vadis, Aida? has been coming on super strong and will definitely carve out a spot here. It has a BAFTA and Spirit Award nomination. After that it gets rather muddy. Guatemala’s La Llorona has Globe, Critics Choice and Spirit Award nominations but it’s still a horror film and the IFF branch has yet to show its willing to embrace that. The lesbian drama Two of Us also has those two but France, which is the biggest powerhouse country in this category, has done quite poorly here in recent years. Once a yearly nominee almost by default, they’ve only managed to get two films in over the last 10 years, often struggling to even make the shortlist.
The First-Time Director DGA nomination for Fernando Frías de la Parra (Mexico’s I’m No Longer Here) was a delightful surprise inclusion there and it definitely bumped up the film’s chances, which were already strong. The IFF branch is finally letting the chokehold of Euro-centric submissions dominate the nominations so we could see a wide range of continents represented once again. Ivory Coast’s Night of the Kings could get in for Africa but outside of South Africa it’s been a largely underserved region. Tunisia’s The Man Who Sold His Skin is the only other film from Africa on the shortlist. The last nominee from an African country was 2014’s Timbuktu from Mauritania.
Romania’s Collective is probably a sure bet for Documentary Feature but could also make it in here. Chile’s The Mole Agent will also attempt to hit both categories.
Here are my final 2021 Oscar nomination predictions in International Feature Film.
- 1. Another Round (Denmark, Samuel Goldwyn Mayer) – GG, BAFTA, BFCA
- 2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia-Herzegovina, NEON/SUPER LTD) – BAFTA
- 3. Dear Comrades! (Russia, Hulu) – BAFTA
- 4. I’m No Longer Here (Mexico, Netflix)
- 5. Night of the Kings (Ivory Coast, NEON)
Watch out for: Two of Us (France, Magnolia Pictures) – GG, BFCA
Oscar shortlist contenders: Better Days (Hong Kong), Charlatan (Czech Republic, Strand Releasing), Collective (Romania, Magnolia Pictures), Hope (Norway), La Llorona (Guatemala, Shudder), The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia, Samuel Goldwyn Mayer), The Mole Agent (Chile, Gravitas Ventures), A Sun (Taiwan), Sun Children (Iran, Strand Releasing)
Photo courtesy of SUPER LTD/NEON