Which Shortlisters Will Be This Year's Foreign-Language Oscar Nominees?


The Academy this afternoon narrowed its Best Foreign-Language contenders of 2009 into a convenient list of nine. While a few critical favorites were notably omitted (the acclaimed South Korean submission Mother, historically snubbed Romania's Police, Adjective), the front runners you know and love (or at least expect to see) are represented as usual. The others, meanwhile? Your guess as to the finalists is as good as ours. Let's attempt to make heads, tails and odds of it after the jump.


· The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke (Germany)

The Cannes Palme d'Or winner enjoyed an even bigger splash with its Golden Globe win last weekend, giving audiences around the world their first -- and not likely last -- chance to see the great Michael Haneke played off stage by a swelling awards-show theme. ODDS: 3-5

· El Secreto de Sus Ojos, Juan Jose Campanella (Argentina)

As the beneficiary of a Sony Classics deal it's virtually guaranteed a spot, though voters ticked off that Argentina went with this thriller as opposed to its more roundly celebrated and/or seen comedy The Maid -- which scored nomination love with awards bodies as diverse as Sundance, the Gothams and even the Golden Globes -- could ultimately slow its Oscar march. ODDS: EVEN [CORRECTION: The Maid was in fact snubbed by Chile. I regret the error.]


· The Milk of Sorrow, Claudia Llosa (Peru)

With a title like that -- the kind of thing you'd see on a marquee in a South Park episode satirizing this very race -- it almost has to be included. It literally is about a legacy of violence and oppression passed on through breast milk. Watch out, Haneke! ODDS: 3-1

· Ajami, Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani (Israel)

Israel has had a nominee each of the last two years, and was upset in infamous fashion in 2008 when the animated documentary Waltz With Bashir lost to the Japanese drama Departures. The Oscars don't quite work according to cosmic justice, but this crime drama -- which itself upset the heavy-hitter Lebanon in Israel's Ophir Awards, thus making it the country's official Oscar submission -- has enough festival and kudos juice to nudge it into contention. ODDS: 5-1


· Samson & Delilah, Warwick Thornton (Australia)

The most acclaimed film in recent Australian history tracks the journey of two indigenous teens who steal a car to run away from their Aboriginal community. It was Cannes' Camera d'Or for first-time filmmakers, and try finding a single person who's seen it who'll say a single bad word. It's the kind of thing -- like Departures -- that Oscar voters can make their own, but unlike Departures not hate themselves in the morning. ODDS: 9-1

· Un Prophet, Jacques Audiard (France)

Audiard's violent prison epic was another Cannes winner, and is widely presumed to be a front-runner for both a nomination and a win this year. But with Ajami and El Secreto de Sus Ojos already bringing the prestigious genre muscle, is there really enough room for a third crime-and-punishment saga? Plus, some major shortlister has to be snubbed. ODDS: 10-1

· Winter in Wartime, Martin Koolhoven (The Netherlands)

All right, fine, it's because I'm Dutch. ODDS: 15-1


· The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner, Stephan Komandarev (Bulgaria)

Just because the title also happens to be the unofficial motto of the beleaguered Foreign-Language Film nominating committee doesn't qualify it for a nomination. Nice try, though, Bulgaria. ODDS: 25-1

· Kelin, Ermek Tursunov (Kazakhstan)

Looks great, very moving -- but there's no dialogue. This being nominated wouldn't even be a controversy. It'd be a transgression. ODDS: 1,000 to 1


  • Luke says:

    Mmmh The Maid is from Chile, El Secreto de Sus Ojos form Argentina. They were never opposed. You're confusing it with Dawson, Isla 10 which was Chile's selection to the Oscars.
    The only thing that could stop El Secreto de Sus Ojos are the voters that may vote without watching the movie.
    This uncut scene from El Secreto de Sus Ojos is amazing

  • NP says:

    Yeah I don't understand why Chile did not submit _The Maid_ as its potential contender. Blergh.
    I think _The White Ribbon_ is going to take it.

  • JCS says:

    I strongly disagree that "El Secreto de Sus Ojos" will get nominated because of Sony Classics; I think it won't get nominated because of Sony Classics.
    Sony Classics is the most terrible indie distributor. It screwed up too many movies that deserved to have wider release and bigger box office success, like JUNEBUG, THE WACKNESS, FROZEN RIVER, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED and MOON.
    I don't know why Paramount Vintage and Miramax were killed, but Sony Classics can survive. There is no justice in Hollywood.