This has been an unusual year in this category where the eventual Oscar winner will not have won the Golden Globe, Critics Choice and sneaks in with just 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 and was probably close to winning the BAFTA in Film Not in the English Language, where Another Round ultimately prevailed.
There had been a sense of default frontrunner status for Another Round all season as the most realistically widely seen non-English language film and on top of its BAFTA win it was also nominated in Best Actor for Mads Mikkelsen and Best Director for Thomas Vinterberg. Then frontrunner status was all but locked when Vinterberg also received a Best Director Oscar nomination and it was likely that Mikkelsen and the film’s screenplay were both very much in Oscar contention as well.
As the International Feature Film branch goes through ever-changing rules and regulations to release the formerly constrictive demands on what and how a film can film, ever since the voting in this category broke from being branch-based and was made open to the general membership that brought with it a move to populist entertainment and certainly which film has the most visibility. We all remember the 2000s when Amélie lost to No Man’s Land or Pan’s Labyrinth lost to The Lives of Others. That isn’t to denigrate those winners but to highlight examples of the branch pushing back on two films that achieved popularity, nominations and wins outside of the (then named) foreign language film category. It was in part those decisions that forced the hand of the branch to make changes.
This year, if we were in that era I think that Jasmila Zbanic’s harrowing Quo Vadis, Aida? (from Bosnia, just like No Man’s Land), about a translator for the UN in the small town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war, would prevail as or winner. It’s the ‘important’ film, despite the critical acclaim and love of Denmark’s highly entertaining Another Round, which at times can feel like and adult version of Superbad.
The 93rd Oscars will be held on April 25 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and the Union Station in Los Angeles.
Here are my ranked final Oscar predictions for International Feature Film.
1. Another Round (Denmark) – GG, BAFTA, BFCA
2. Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – BAFTA
3. Collective (Romania) – BFCA
4. The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia)
5. Better Days (Hong Kong)