9 feature films have been selected from a list of 80 to advance to the next round of voting for the foreign Language Film category for the 88th Academy Awards. While Hungarian entry Son of Saul. and France’s Mustang both advanced as expected, several critically-acclaimed titles have missed out. Surprisingly, the entire Asian region has been entirely shut out of the competition. It was expected that at least Taiwan’s The Assassin (directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien) would make the cut. While I am not a huge fan of the film, it has been highly praised. The Assassin was announced as BFI Sight & Sound magazine’s number 1 film of 2015.
South America and the Middle East are represented by one film each, Columbia’s Embrace of the Serpent, and Jordan’s Theeb respectively, with the remaining 7 films from the short-list coming from Europe. Although Europe is the most represented, there are some big films missing. The wonderfully dark Rams from Iceland was widely tipped to make the cut, as was Sweden’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence from director Roy Andersson.
As I am yet to see a single film from the list below, I am unable to have an opinion on any of them. The 5 films which will compete for the Oscar will be announced along with the other nominees on January 14.
The short-list is:
Belgium, “The Brand New Testament,” Jaco Van Dormael, director;
Colombia, “Embrace of the Serpent,” Ciro Guerra, director;
Denmark, “A War,” Tobias Lindholm, director;
Finland, “The Fencer,” Klaus Härö, director;
France, “Mustang,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director;
Germany, “Labyrinth of Lies,” Giulio Ricciarelli, director;
Hungary, “Son of Saul,” László Nemes, director;
Ireland, “Viva,” Paddy Breathnach, director;
Jordan, “Theeb,” Naji Abu Nowar, director.