Oscars 2016: Best Foreign Language Film Submissions

(*UPDATED with Official Eligible films as announced by AMPAS.*)

The deadline to submit entries for Best Foreign Language Film was tonight. And because I felt like it, I went and previewed all 82 of the films that were submitted as of the posting of this article.

The Academy will announce at some point soon the actual submissions list. That is, which ones they’ve accepted. So it might not be this exact list. For now, if anything it’s a good entry into what could be nominated and maybe something that helps me out in three months. If not, it’s something to kill time that vaguely relates to the Oscars, which I think you guys all know I can’t get enough of.

Most years, I ignore the submissions lists and work purely from the shortlist. But last year I got bored and wrote it up. This year, I did it again, but this time I put a little more work into it. This is how things become normalized for me. Pretty soon this will not only be a thing I do, but something I’ve developed an entire system for, and have stored away in my brain all the different “oh no, they never nominate South America in an odd numbered year” random pieces of trivia or whatever that I allegedly think mean something.

Anyway, here is the list of films that have been submitted for Best Foreign Language Film for 2016:

  1. Albania
    • Chromium — While a mute and lonely mother lives a life that is far from easy, she nevertheless bares her lot with dignity and courage. Her 15-year-old son is trying to stand on his own two feet, but in so doing he only complicates the grim situation in the family. (78 min)
  2. Algeria
    • The Well — Women and children from a village in southern Algeria find themselves besieged by soldiers and can not get out the risk of dying. Gradually, these villagers are faced with thirst. At the point where soon arises for them the dilemma of choosing their death. (96 min)
  3. Argentina
    • The Distinguished Citizen — After refusing big and prestigious awards all over the world, Mr. Mantovani, Literature Nobel Prize winner, accepts an invitation to visit his hometown in Argentina, which has been the inspiration for all of his books. It turns out that accepting this invitation is the worst idea of his life. Expect the unexpected when you have used real people as characters in your novels!
  4. Australia
    • Tanna — Set on a remote Pacific island, covered in rain forest and dominated by an active volcano, this heartfelt story, enacted by the Yakel tribe, tells of a sister’s loyalty, a forbidden love affair and the pact between the old ways and the new. (100 min)
  5. Austria
    • Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe — Before Dawn charts the years of exile in the life of famous Jewish Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, his inner struggle for the “right attitude” towards the events in war torn Europe and his search for a new home. (106 min)
  6. Bangladesh
    • The Unnamed — The coffin of an expatriate worker with manipulated identity intense the identity crisis when another person’s corpse is found inside.
  7. Belgium
    • The Ardennes — A brutal home-jacking goes hopelessly wrong. Dave, one of the two robbers, manages to run off, leaving his brother Kenneth behind. Four years later, Kenneth is released from prison and much has changed. Dave has his life back on track and is trying to help Kenneth however possible, but is witnessing how the highly strung Kenneth tries to win back his ex-girlfriend Sylvie. (96 min)
  8. Bolivia
    • Sealed Cargo — A bunch of potentially toxic minerals are found in the Andes. And the government tells a local cop to get them out of the country by any means. (107 min)
  9. Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • Death in Sarajevo — An aging hotel becomes an ideological powder keg during centennial commemorations for the outbreak of the First World War. (85 min)
  10. Brazil
    • Little Secret — Based on true events Little Secret is a film with three interlocked stories all connected by a single secret that converge to reveal the tragic yet beautiful lives of three families and how hope, dreams and destiny can unite people from very different parts of the world. Adopted at childhood by a loving family after facing the loss of her parents, Kat led a life full of adventures. Now in her teenage years she is trying to fit into a “normal” life, as the world shows her how cruel living can be. After discovering a secret which threatens her life, she wonders if her dreams are still possible. Heloisa is a dedicated mother who has been entrusted with the secret and will do everything to keep her family together; however, she knows that the future is unpredictable. Jeanne, a beautiful young Amazonian native, falls in love with Robert, a New Zealander, with whom he discovers that her possibilities are infinite, however she forgets that destiny has plans of its own. Barbara, an older English woman, who became cold and lonely, is capable of doing anything to get what she wants. When the past knocks on her door, she sets out on a journey to rediscover love. Stories that cross borders and show that in this world people are pulled apart by destiny, racism and tragedy, but can be pulled together by friendship, tolerance and love. An inspiring film that will challenge the way you look at life. (107 min)
  11. Bulgaria
    • Losers — Elena, Koko, Patso and Gosho are high school students in a small provincial town. They are inseparable friends that share the belief that they are «losers». Koko is in love with Elena. The girl wants to be a singer. She is really excited about the visiting concert of a famous rock band. The event shakes up the whole town giving birth to new love affairs, disappointments and complicated relationships. (97 min)
  12. Cambodia
    • Before the Fall — A stunning nightclub singer engages in a battle of wits and deception with two lovers in a bid to escape a rapidly collapsing city under siege. Super cool style and razor sharp action drive this rich, noir thriller.
  13.  Canada
    • It’s Only the End of the World — Louis (Gaspard Ulliel), a terminally ill writer, returns home after a long absence to tell his family that he is dying.
  14.  Chile
    • Neruda — An inspector hunts down Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, who becomes a fugitive in his home country in the late 1940s for joining the Communist Party. (107 min)
  15. China
    • Xuan Zang — Depicts the legendary seventh-century spiritual journey of Buddhist monk Xuanzang from China to India. Huang Xiaoming plays the monk who took 17 years to complete his journey.
  16.  Colombia
    • Alias Maria — A vision of Colombia’s inhuman armed conflict, seen through the eyes of a young – and pregnant – girl soldier. (91 min)
  17. Costa Rica
    • About Us — Diego, a hopeless romantic desperately trying to salvage his relationship with long time girlfriend Sofía, plans a beach getaway to propose and clear the air. A ‘chance’ encounter with Sofía’s old friend Malena will cast doubts on his relationship and skewed understanding of love, quickly turning a perfect weekend in paradise into Diego’s worst nightmare.
  18.  Croatia
    • On the Other Side — 20 years ago, Vesna moved her family to Zagreb, away from the events that almost destroyed their lives. However, an unexpected call will bring back the memory of a secret that she has been trying to hide all these years. (85 min)
  19. Cuba
    • The Companion — Pavel Giroud’s powerful new film is set during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, when the Castro regime established Los Cocos, a sanatorium in Havana’s suburbs where all HIV patients mandatorily cohabited under military watch. Each patient was assigned a “companion” who would monitor the patient’s activities at the sanatorium and accompany her or him on rare incursions to the city. Horacio (Latin Grammy-winning singer Yotuel Romero), a former Olympic boxing champion involved in a doping scandal, is obliged to earn his redemption by serving as companion to Daniel (Armando Miguel), a soldier infected by an African prostitute while on an internationalist mission—and one of Los Cocos’ most defiant patients. Despite the strained situation—and Daniel’s determination to escape—the relationship between these fallen heroes gradually materializes into one of solidarity and friendship.
  20. Czech Republic
    • Lost in Munich — Sir “P” a 90 year old gray parrot, formerly living with Edouard Daladier, the French prime minister responsible for signing the Munich Treaty, comes to Prague to give his “account” of the past events. But can he do it, being just a bird? In a series of weird events sir is kidnapped by a Czech journalist undergoing his midlife crisis. The guy has him publicly say some really controversial statements, causing a diplomatic scandal. At the end of the day it is the French who decide to assassinate their own national hero….And that’s only the half of the story.
  21. Denmark
    • Land of Mine — A young group of German POWs are made the enemy of a nation, where they are now forced to dig up 2 million land-mines with their bare hands.
  22. Dominican Republic
    • Sugar Fields — A young peasant is forced to flee for killing involuntarily an abusive guard. After an entire year hiding in a remote fishing island, he decides to return to his countryside and reunite with his wife and daughters.
  23. Ecuador
    • Such Is Life in the Tropics — Everything begins with a stray bullet… And a wealthy young man trying to evict 250 families who are squatting on the land he inherited from his father. The leader of the squatter settlement is ready to negotiate, knowing that an eviction will not happen without blood. Suspecting a betrayal, the dwellers voice their concern.
  24.  Egypt
    • Clash — Set entirely in an 8m police truck, a number of detainees from different political and social backgrounds are brought together by their inevitable fate, during the turmoil that followed the ousting of former president Morsi from power.
  25. Estonia
    • Mother — This darkly comic crime mystery set in small-town Estonia centers on Elsa, the mother and full time caretaker of Lauri, a teacher who has been in a coma since being shot under shadowy circumstances. Attentive in her duties but at the end of her tether, Elsa receives Lauri’s visitors-friends, students, his girlfriend, his boss, and others-who come to update the unconscious Lauri on their lives and unburden themselves of their troubles. But as the police inquiry into the crime progresses, some of his closest ties are called into question. Director Kadri Kõusaar cunningly navigates a script that slowly pieces together the truth behind Lauri’s shooting through his visitors’ confessionals to the comatose protagonist, cleverly building a web of motives among the tight-knit community. Bathed in the pastel tones of post-Soviet life, Mother is a smartly-crafted whodunit set in a small town where just about everyone is dreaming of something bigger and some are willing to do whatever it takes to get out.
  26. Finland
    • The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki — The true story of Olli Mäki, the famous Finnish boxer who had a shot at the 1962 World Featherweight title.
  27. France
    • Elle — A successful businesswoman gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.
  28. Georgia
    • House of Others — Two families have physically survived the ‘real’ war, but are incapable of building a new life in peace: war continues in everyday life because the chaos is inside human beings.
  29. Germany
    • Toni Erdmann — A father tries to reconnect with his adult daughter.
  30. Greece
    • Chevalier — In the middle of the Aegean Sea, six men on a fishing trip on a luxury yacht decide to play a game. During this game, things will be compared. Things will be measured. Songs will be butchered, and blood will be tested. Friends will become rivals and rivals will become hungry. But at the end of the journey, when the game is over, the man who wins will be the best man. And he will wear on his smallest finger the victory ring: the Chevalier.
  31. Hong Kong
    • Port of Call — The film is based on a real murder case where a dismembered corpse of a murdered 16-year-old female prostitute was found in Hong Kong in 2008.
  32. Hungary
    • Kills on Wheels — Two disabled teenagers looking for a reason to live, team up with a wheelchaired hitman.
  33. Iceland
    • Sparrows — Ari’s teenage lifestyle in the big city is disrupted as he is sent by his mother to live with his uninvolved father and his grandmother in a small fishing village.
  34. India
    • Interrogation — A group of immigrants (Pandi, Murugan, Afsal and Kumar) are detained by the local state police, tortured and forced to admit to a crime they have no knowledge of. When all hope seems to be lost, a policeman from their hometown speaks on their behalf at the court hearing, setting them free. The policeman asks for a return favor and the boys oblige, oblivious to the ill fate that awaits them. As they unwittingly bear witness to a political treason, the system seeks to silence them, at any cost. But Pandi is determined to be heard.
  35. Indonesia
    • Letters from Prague — Larasati (Julie Estelle) has to fulfill the will of his mother, Sulastri (Widyawati), to deliver a box and a letter to Jaya (Tio Pakusadewo) in Prague. Raised in the middle of disharmonious family life, Larasati’s relationship with her mother was never really good. Jaya, her mother’s former fiance, failed to fulfill promises to return decades ago due to changes in the political situation. Meeting with Jaya makes Larasati know the real problem. She accuses Jaya and the his letters were the cause of family disharmony, a situation that brings bad consequences for her life. Jaya feels cornered and has to explain to her what he had sincerely given up.
  36. Iran
    • The Salesman — The story of a couple whose relationship begins to turn sour during their performance of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.
  37. Iraq
    • El Clasico — Two Kurdish little people in Iraq risk their lives to fulfill their dreams and that is to meet football hero Cristiano Ronaldo.
  38. Israel
    • Sand Storm — When their entire lives shatter, two Bedouin women struggle to change the unchangeable rules, each in her own individual way.
  39. Italy
    • Fire at Sea — Capturing life on the Italian island of Lampedusa, a frontline in the European migrant crisis. (Documentary)
  40. Japan
    • Nagasaki: Memories of My Son — Set in post-World War II Japan, midwife Nobuko is resolved to move on as she stands at the grave of her son Koji who died, alongside thousands of others, when the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on the civilians in the southern city of Nagasaki. However, upon returning home she is visited by an apparition. which continues to return in order to commiserate and reminisce with the woman about the past, family, affection and war.
  41. Jordan
    • 3000 Nights — A young Palestinian schoolteacher gives birth to her son in an Israeli prison where she fights to protect him, survive and maintain hope.
  42. Kazakhstan
    • Amanat — A story that spans three periods in Kazakh history, it links mid 19th century struggles against the Russians to two 20th century episodes revolving around the fate of former political prisoner Ermukhan Bekmakhanov, who was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for writing historical books about Kazakh national hero Kenesary Kasymov and his national liberation movement.
  43. Kosovo
    • Home Sweet Home — Tells the story of Agron, who was long considered dead after his army friends witnessed his death in the Kosovo conflict. But when he returns home alive, joy at his survival soon turns to consternation, as he is forced by circumstances to remain dead — at least for official purposes.
  44. Kyrgyzstan
    • A Father’s Will — After living as an immigrant in the USA for 15 years, Azat flies to Kyrgyzstan to his family village. His father, Murat, died in the USA a year ago. It was his dying wish to pay back the money he owed to the villagers. Azat discovers the family home derelict. Choro, the younger brother of Murat, and their relations left a long time ago. Despite most villagers not liking him, Azat repairs the family home and repays the money his father owed. One day, Choro, who was imprisoned because of Murat, arrives and the most important question about Murat’s will is decided.
  45. Latvia
    • Dawn — Little Janis is a pioneer, who lives in the Soviet collective farm “Dawn”. His father opposes the creation of a collective farm in the Soviet era bore the proud name of the “kolkhoz”.In Soviet times, all those who opposed the great ideas offered by the Communists, the enemy of the Soviet people and the whole of the Soviet system His father wants to burn down its headquarters. Little Janis betrays his father. The father is taking revenge on his son. Who, in this old Soviet fairy-tale, is good and who is evil? The new film by one of the most important and original talent from Latvia Laila Pakalnina is based on Soviet propaganda story about “Young Pioneer” (soviet equivalent to the “Boy Scouts”) Pavel Morozov, who denounced his father to Stalin’s secret police and was in turn killed by his family. His life exemplified the only moral duty of all good Soviet citizens: the good of the state is utmost importance. In the Soviet Union this story was a subject of many books, songs, plays, a symphonic poem, opera and also the basis of Bezhin Meadow’s filmed in 1937 the famous Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein and the destruction of the Sovietregime. The director manages to create a powerful visual opus, which mixed all epochs of Soviet history and the myth of the Soviet ideology and morality suddenly grows into Latvian soil. Creating a new myth or deconstruction of one of the foundationsmorals of the new Soviet man?
  46. Lebanon
    • Very Big Shot — Intending to smuggle drugs across the borders, a small-time Lebanese drug-dealer slyly manipulates public opinion with the help of an underrated filmmaker.
  47. Lithuania
    • Seneca’s Day — Action unfolds on the eve of Independence of Lithuania and in our day. Several eighteen-Soviet period last year set up a Seneca Society, whose members motto “Live every day as if it were the last.” Love Triangle young maximized Society unravels when the Baltic nation on the road experiencing a sense of belonging. Twenty-five years ago, the hero Simon, a successful man, there is often remembered himself once in his youth refused to deep feelings. Frustration myself bitterness pushes the hero to remember moments of life that return a sense of self-esteem, is reconciled with reality.
  48. Luxembourg
    • Voices from Chernobyl — This film does not deal with Chernobyl, but rather with the world of Chernobyl, about which we know very little. Eyewitness reports have survived: scientists, teachers, journalists, couples, children… They tell of their old daily lives, then of the catastrophe. Their voices form a long, terrible but necessary supplication which traverses borders and stimulates us to question our status quo.
  49. Macedonia
    • The Liberation of Skopje — Zoran, an eight-year old boy, is the hero of this story. It is through his eyes that we experience all the cruelty of war, the poverty, suffering and the images of the occupation of Skopje, the city which the Germans occupied in 1942 with the help of their Bulgarian allies.
  50. Malaysia
    • Beautiful Pain — Upon the discovery that their only son Danial is autistic, Alina and Razlan’s world crumbles as the family struggles to confront the harsh realities of raising a child disabled by a condition they hardly know about. Razlan’s inability to accept the truth causes friction within the family, but Alina’s perseverance and maternal instinct help wade through the difficult times in raising Danial. With her sister and close friend by er side, they may have found a way to improve Danial’s quality of life until a tragic accident causes the family to re-think its strategy.
  51.  Mexico
    • Desierto — A group of people trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States encounter a man who has taken border patrol duties into his own racist hands.
  52. Montenegro
    • The Black Pin — Peter, a misanthropic orthodox priest returns to his idyllic Montenegrin peninsula to nurse his demented mother. He quickly gets into a conflict with superstitious villagers who will seek creative ways to chase him away.
  53. Morocco
    • A Mile in My Shoes — Tells the story of a poor teenager, mired in suffering and oppression, who would make up his mind to take revenge from an oppressing society wherein immorality and intolerance prevail.
  54. Nepal
    • The Black Hen — We are in the year 2001, a temporary ceasefire brings a much-needed break to a small war-torn village in Northern Nepal, bringing much joy among the residents. Prakash and Kiran, two young close friends, are also starting to feel the change in the air. Though they are divided by caste and social creed, they remain inseparable, and start raising a hen given to Prakash by his sister, with hopes to save money by selling her eggs. However, the hen goes missing. To find it, they embark on a journey, innocently unaware of the tyranny brought by the fragile ceasefire.
  55. Netherlands
    • Tonio — On 23 May 2010, 21-year-old Tonio van der Heijden (played by Chris Peters) was hit by a car and taken in a critical condition to hospital, where he died. A tragic event that drastically changed the lives of his parents (played by Pierre Bokma and Rifka Lodeizen), who watched their only son pass away in intensive care. Reminded of his life by everything around and inside them, Tonio’s life left a legacy of phantom pain for his parents who mourn, and struggle to prevent their own lives from being dragged into a downward spiral of sorrow. A.F. Th. van der Heijden based his novel TONIO (de Bezige Bij) on the tragis accident that took the life of his only son. The book won the Libris Prize and the NS Publieksprijs (Public Award), and its author the prestigious P.C. Hooft Award. Over 200,000 copies of the book have been sold to date.
  56. New Zealand
    • A Flickering Truth — As Afghanistan teeters on an unpredictable future, A FLICKERING TRUTH unwraps the world of three dreamers, the dust of 100 years of war and the restoration of 8000 hours of film archive. What surprises will emerge from the cloak of time? (Documentary)
  57. Norway
    • The King’s Choice — On the 9th of April 1940, the German war machine arrive in the city of Oslo. The Norwegian King faces a choice that will change his country forever.
  58. Pakistan
    • Mah e Mir — A modern poet Jamal who is against the traditional Urdu Poetry reads the biography of Mir Taqi Mir,one of the greatest poets of the 18th century. And sees Mir’s reflection on his personality.
  59. Palestine
    • The Idol — Mohammed Assaf, an aspiring musician living in Gaza, sets a seemingly impossible goal: to compete on the program “Arab Idol.”
  60. Panama
    • Salsipuedes — The story of a young boy, Andres Pimienta, that is sent to the United States to be kept away from the bad influences, but returns 10 years later and meets his father, Bobby, an encounter that will change his destiny.
  61. Peru
    • Videophilia (and Other Viral Syndromes) — A teenage misfit spends her first days out of school slacking and experimenting with drugs and cybersex. She meets Junior online, he’s an amateur porn dealer on a delusional journey regarding the Mayan Apocalypse and other conspiracy theories. Once they meet in the ‘real world’ unusual events start to unfold as bizarre characters appear in this contemporary non-love story that portrays a post-modern Lima, an internet glitchy virus, corruption, psychedelia and ancient ruins.
  62. Philippines
    • Ma’ Rosa — Ma’ Rosa has four children. She owns a small convenience store in a poor neighborhood of Manila where everybody likes her. To make ends meet, Rosa and her husband, Nestor, resell small amounts of narcotics on the side. One day, they get arrested. Rosa and her children are ready to do anything to buy her freedom from the corrupt police.
  63. Poland
    • Afterimage — The great Polish director Andrzej Wajda returns with this passionate biopic about avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski (brilliantly played by Polish superstar Boguslaw Linda), who battled Stalinist orthodoxy and his own physical impairments to advance his progressive ideas about art.
  64. Portugal
    • Letters from War — Based on António Lobo Antunes’s novel, a collection of letters written by a young soldier, doctor and a aspirant writer, to his wife while he was serving in Angola between 1971 and 1973, during the Portuguese Colonial War, a war between Portugal with its former overseas provinces.
  65. Romania
    • Sieranevada — Centers around a family gathering on the anniversary of a patriarch’s recent death.
  66. Russia
    • Paradise — Follows three people whose paths cross during a terrible time of war: Olga, a Russian aristocratic emigrant and member of the French Resistance; Jules, a French collaborator; and Helmut, a high-ranking German SS officer.
  67. Saudi Arabia
    • Barakah Meets Barakah — A guy from the middle class, meets a girl from A wealthy family, and they start a romance in a country that frowns upon it.
  68. Serbia
    • Train Driver’s Diary — Statistics show that during their career every railroad engineer working unintentionally kills 15 to 20 people. This is a story about the innocent mass murderers and their lives.
  69. Singapore
    • Apprentice — Aiman is a 28-year-old Malay correctional officer who is recently transferred to the territory’s top prison. He lives with his older sister Suhaila in a modest housing estate. At his new workplace, Aiman begins to take an interest in a 65-year-old sergeant named Rahim. Soon, it is revealed that the charismatic Rahim is actually the long-serving chief executioner of the prison. Rahim also takes notice of the principled and diligent Aiman. When Rahim’s assistant suddenly quits, he asks Aiman to become his apprentice. Aiman tells Suhaila of his new job position, but Suhaila becomes upset, as their father was actually executed by Rahim. Aiman knew this all along. Can Aiman overcome his conscience and a haunted past to possibly take over as the next chief executioner?
  70. Slovakia
    • Eva Nova — Eva would do anything to regain the love of the one she hurt the most – her son. She is a recovered alcoholic but decades ago she was a famous actress.
  71. Slovenia
    • Houston, We Have a Problem! — A film based on the true life story of a young man who becomes a storyteller in jail. (Documentary)
  72. South Africa
    • Call Me Thief — A film based on the true life story of a young man who becomes a storyteller in jail.
  73. South Korea
    • The Age of Shadows — Set in the late 1920s, The Age of Shadows follows the cat-and-mouse game that unfolds between a group of resistance fighters trying to bring in explosives from Shanghai to destroy key Japanese facilities in Seoul, and Japanese agents trying to stop them. A talented Korean-born Japanese police officer, who was previously in the independence movement himself, is thrown into a dilemma between the demands of his reality and the instinct to support a greater cause.
  74. Spain
    • Julieta — After a casual encounter, a brokenhearted woman decides to confront her life and the most important events about her stranded daughter.
  75. Sweden
    • A Man Called Ove — Ove, an ill-tempered, isolated retiree who spends his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife’s grave, has finally given up on life just as an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbors.
  76. Switzerland
    • My Life as a Courgette — Courgette is an intriguing nickname for a 9-year-old boy. Although his unique story is surprisingly universal. After his mother’s sudden death, Courgette is befriended by a police officer Raymond, who accompanies him to his new foster home filled with other orphans his age. At first he struggles to find his place in this strange, at times, hostile environment. Yet with Raymond’s help and his new-found friends, Courgette eventually learns to trust, finds true love and at last a new family of his own. (Stop motion)
  77. Taiwan
    • Hang in There, Kids! — In a secluded indigenous tribe, 3 kids who grew up in the mountains and the woods. They are all very optimistic, energetic and playful; yet, they are also troubled by their own family issues. Their handicapped teacher opened an after school session to help them with their schoolwork. For the children, it’s like a ray of love shone on them. The teacher has a beautiful voice, but never sings. One day, the 3 kids find a tape of their teacher’s recording and are amazed by her voice. They decide to bring this tape to Taipei…. What changes will this trip bring to all of their lives?
  78. Thailand
    • Karma — Tells the story of a young man who is forced by his father to become a monk. The young man later develops an intimate relationship with a village girl.
  79. Turkey
    • Cold of Kalandar — Pictures within a unique pastoral atmosphere the realist, passionate and emotional story of Mehmet and his family living far from modern life, in a mountain village.
    • Won the Istanbul festival and at Tokyo too
  80.  Ukraine
    • Ukranian Sheriffs — A tragicomic portrait of a two-man team of sheris in a remote Ukrainian village disturbed by everyday incidents and political developments. (Documentary)
  81. United Kingdom
    • Under the Shadow — As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war-torn Tehran of the 1980s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.
  82. Uruguay
    • Breadcrumbs — A political drama that tells the story of Liliana, who decides to return to Uruguay and will have to face up the last great dilemma of her life: To choose between supporting a collective case for female prisoners, raped during the time of the dictatorship, or to reconcile with her son and be able to live tranquilly as mother and grandmother.
  83. Venezuela
    • From Afar — Armando, a 50 year man, seeks young men in Caracas and pays them just for company. One day he meets Elder, a 17 years boy that is the leader of a criminal gang, and that meeting changes their lives forever.
  84. Vietnam
    • Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass — About lives in a small Vietnamese village.
  85. Yemen
    • I Am Nojoom — Ten year old Jemenite girl asks a judge in Sana’a to grant her a divorce from a horrible marriage, after she was married away to prevent a public scandal after a rape of her sister.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Since this is just to familiarize ourselves with the potential nominees, I’m not gonna break all 82 of them down, one by one. I’m just gonna list what I think sound like possible contenders and then go from there.

Before we do that, here’s a list of every submitted country’s history at the Oscars. This may get more complicated as the years go on, but for now, this is much more of a start than I ever thought possible:

  1. Albania — 9 submissions, 0 nominations
  2. Algeria — 17 submissions, 5 nominations (29%)
  3. Argentina — 42 submissions, 7 nominations (17%)
  4. Australia — 9 submissions, 0 nominations
  5. Austria — 39 submissions, 4 nominations (10%)
  6. Bangladesh — 11 submissions, 0 nominations
  7. Belgium — 40 submissions, 7 nominations (18%)
  8. Bolivia — 7 submissions, 0 nominations
  9. Bosnia and Herzegovina — 15 submissions, 1 nomination (7%)
  10. Brazil — 43 submissions, 4 nominations (9%)
  11. Bulgaria — 26 submissions, 0 nominations
  12. Cambodia — 4 submissions, 1 nomination (25%)
  13. Canada — 41 submissions, 7 nominations (17%)
  14. Chile — 20 submissions, 1 nomination (5%)
  15. China — 29 submissions, 2 nominations (7%)
  16. Colombia — 24 submissions, 1 nomination (4%)
  17. Costa Rica — 4 submissions, 0 nominations
  18. Croatia — 24 submissions, 0 nominations
  19. Cuba — 18 submissions, 1 nomination (6%)
  20. Czech Republic (and Czechoslovakia) — 45 submissions, 9 nominations (20%)
  21. Denmark — 53 submissions, 13 nominations (25%)
  22. Dominican Republic — 8 submissions, 0 nominations
  23. Ecuador — 4 submissions, 0 nominations
  24. Egypt — 30 submissions, 0 nominations
  25. Estonia — 13 submissions, 1 nomination (8%)
  26. Finland — 29 submissions, 1 nomination (3%)
  27. France — 63 submissions, 39 nominations (62%)
  28. Georgia — 14 submissions, 1 nomination (7%)
  29. Germany (incl. E/W Germany) — 59 submissions, 18 nominations (31%)
  30. Greece — 35 submissions, 5 nominations (14%)
  31. Hong Kong — 34 submissions, 2 nominations (6%)
  32. Hungary — 51 submissions, 9 nominations (18%)
  33. Iceland — 36 submissions, 1 nomination (3%)
  34. India — 48 submissions, 3 nominations (6%)
  35. Indonesia — 17 submissions, 0 nominations
  36. Iran — 21 submissions, 2 nominations (10%)
  37. Iraq — 6 submissions, 0 nominations
  38. Israel — 48 submissions, 10 nominations (21%)
  39. Italy — 62 submissions, 31 nominations (50%)
  40. Japan — 62 submissions, 15 nominations (24%)
  41. Jordan — 2 submissions, 1 nomination (50%)
  42. Kazakhstan — 10 submissions, 1 nomination (10%)
  43. Kosovo — 2 submissions, 0 nominations
  44. Kyrgyzstan — 8 submissions, 0 nominations
  45. Latvia — 7 submissions, 0 nominations
  46. Lebanon — 12 submissions, 0 nominations
  47. Lituania — 8 submissions, 0 nominations
  48. Luxembourg — 12 submissions, 0 nominations
  49. Macedonia — 13 submissions, 1 nomination (8%)
  50. Malaysia — 3 submissions, 0 nominations
  51. Mexico — 48 submissions, 8 nominations (17%)
  52. Montenegro — 3 submissions, 0 nominations
  53. Morocco — 11 submissions, 0 nominations
  54. Nepal — 7 submissions, 1 nomination (14%)
  55. Netherlands — 48 submissions, 7 nominations (15%)
  56. New Zealand — 3 submissions, 0 nominations
  57. Norway — 37 submissions, 5 nominations (14%)
  58. Pakistan — 5 submissions, 0 nominations
  59. Palestine — 8 submissions, 2 nominations (25%)
  60. Panama — 2 submissions, 0 nominations
  61. Peru — 22 submissions, 1 nomination (5%)
  62. Philppines — 27 submissions, 0 nominations
  63. Poland — 47 submissions, 10 nominations (21%)
  64. Portugal — 32 submissions, 0 nominations
  65. Romania — 31 submissions, 0 nominations
  66. Russia (incl. Soviet Union) — 47 submissions, 15 nominations (32%)
  67. Saudi Arabia — 1 submissions, 0 nominations
  68. Serbia — 22 submissions, 0 nominations
  69. Singapore — 9 submissions, 0 nominations
  70. Slovakia — 19 submissions, 0 nominations
  71. Slovenia — 19 submissions, 0 nominations
  72. South Africa — 12 submissions, 2 nominations (17%)
  73. South Korea — 27 submissions, 0 nominations
  74. Spain — 58 submissions, 19 nominations (33%)
  75. Sweden — 54 submissions, 14 nominations (26%)
  76. Switzerland — 43 submissions, 5 nominations (12%)
  77. Taiwan — 41 submissions, 3 nominations (7%)
  78. Thailand — 22 submissions, 0 nominations
  79. Turkey — 22 submissions, 0 nominations
  80. Ukraine — 8 submissions, 0 nominations
  81. United Kingdom — 13 submissions, 2 nominations (15%)
  82. Uruguay — 15 submissions, 1 nomination (7%)
  83. Venezuela — 25 submissions, 0 nominations
  84. Vietnam — 11 submissions, 1 nomination (9%)
  85. Yemen — This is Yemen’s first submission.

37 countries have never been nominated. They usually like to shortlist or even nominate one of those each year, if they can. Or at least in my head, that’s what they do. So I kept that in mind and looked at the 0 nominations countries to see which ones had a shot. I got about six or seven that I’d consider. Some of which made it on my initial markdown list.

I also have one thing I always do, which bit me on the ass once, but generally is a good rule of thumb for this category, which is throw out all the documentaries. They nominated Cambodia in 2013 with a documentary, but I feel like that was them trying to get another country in there. The only country I think who might have a shot with a documentary is Italy, but ehh. I’ll take my chances tossing it out.

– – – – –

One more thing to take into account — here are the last six shortlists, to see what the country breakdown looks like (nominees italicized and winners bolded).

  • 2015 shortlist: Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Colombia, Denmark, France, Jordan, Hungary

7 out of 9 Europe, one Asia/Middle East, one South America. The category included both non-European films.

  • 2014 shortlist: Georgia, Netherlands, Sweden, Venezuela, Argentina, Estonia, Mauritania, Russia, Poland

One Africa, two South America, and the rest Europe (unless you consider Georgia part of Asia). They put one South American and the African film in the category.

  • 2013 shortlist: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, Palestine, Italy

Two Asia, One Asia/Middle East, the rest Europe. And both non-European places were represented within the category.

  • 2012 shortlist: France, Iceland, Romania, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Norway, Austria

One North America, one South America, seven Europe. Again, both non-European ones were in the category.

  • 2011 shortlist: Denmark, Germany, Morocco, Taiwan, Belgium, Canada, Israel, Poland, Iran

One Africa, one Asia, one North America, two Asia/Middle East. Both Middle East films and the North American film made it on.

  • 2010 shortlist: Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Algeria, Canada, Greece, Mexico, Denmark

Two Africa, one North America, one Asia. One African film and the North American film made it on.

The one thing I’m noticing, especially in the more recent years, is if they have non-European films on the shortlist, they will work to get those nominated. So that’s something to consider later on.

For now, I think I’m good to whittle down a bunch of movies.

– – – – –

At first glance, I was able to come up with 30 movies I think they could shortlist:

  1. Algeria (The Well)
  2. Argentina (The Distinguished Citizen)
  3. Bolivia (Sealed Cargo)
  4. Bosnia and Herzegovina (Death in Sarajevo)
  5. Canada (It’s Only the End of the World)
  6. Chile (Neruda)
  7. Colombia (Alias Maria)
  8. Cuba (The Companion)
  9. Denmark (Land of Mine)
  10. Egypt (Clash)
  11. Finland (The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki)
  12. France (Elle)
  13. Germany (Toni Erdmann)
  14. Greece (Chevalier)
  15. Hong Kong (Port of Call)
  16. Iceland (Sparrows)
  17. Iran (The Salesman)
  18. Israel (Sand Storm)
  19. Japan (Haha to Kuraseba)
  20. Jordan (3000 Nights)
  21. Mexico (Desierto)
  22. Philippines (Ma’Rosa)
  23. Poland (Afterimage)
  24. Romania (Sieranevada)
  25. Russia (Paradise)
  26. Saudi Arabia (Barakah Meets Barakah)
  27. Spain (Julieta)
  28. Sweden (A Man Called Ove)
  29. Thailand (Karma)
  30. Venezuela (From Afar)

Cool? Cool.

Also, not gonna specifically guess it, but I also would not be surprised if Yemen made a shortlist. Sometimes they feel the need to put first-time nominees on the shortlist to include them or whatever. I don’t think it’ll happen, but don’t rule it out.

Now, of these, the ones that I think are in the lowest tier of actually getting nominated are:

  1. Algeria (The Well)
  2. Bolivia (Sealed Cargo)
  3. Egypt (Clash)
  4. Finland (The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki)
  5. Japan (Haha to Kuraseba)
  6. Hong Kong (Port of Call)
  7. Poland (Afterimage)

That’s based on nothing, really. They just sound like the slightest entries of the 30. Poland is Andrzej Wajda, which counts for a lot. The man made Ashes and Diamonds. Though how many people will deliberately vote for it because of him? Hard to tell. That’s why I have him there. Hong Kong seems like a mainstream film. Those don’t usually do well here. They prefer the art films out of Asia. Or the gut-wrenching dramas. Japan hasn’t been nominated since Departures in 2008, and Hong Kong hasn’t been nominated since 1993. So I’m not sure why I put them on there, really. Egypt has never been nominated, and the film sounds cool, but knowing nothing, it doesn’t sound like it fits their “tastes.” Bolivia’s never been nominated, and that film does feel like it has the best shot of any of these at a shortlist. But I don’t know. My gut says no. Finland’s only been nominated once, despite being shortlisted last year for The Fencer. This is a boxing movie. Would they shortlist that? Sounds doubtful, but who knows.

– – – – –

This next tier are ones that could get nominated/shortlisted, because they have one big thing going for them, but otherwise I’m not sure if they will actually make it that far:

  1. Argentina (The Distinguished Citizen)
  2. Colombia (Alias Maria)
  3. France (Elle)
  4. Mexico (Desierto)
  5. Spain (Julieta)
  6. Thailand (Karma)

Argentina is always a threat to be shortlisted or even nominated. It played at Venice and got write ups. It sounds like a comedy, and doesn’t feel like something they would shortlist, but I could be wrong. I mention it because they do feel like they usually factor heavily into this race.

Alias Maria seems to have gotten so-so reviews and while it does feel like something they might go for, I’m not feeling a shortlist at the moment.

Elle is a controversial movie, and it’s Paul Verhoeven. I’m not sure they’ll consider him international enough to even shortlist. Maybe they do. But I feel like this has a better shot with something like a Best Actress nomination (if that) than anything. Seems unlikely, though you have to consider it, given the profile.

Desierto is Jonas Cuaron. But it sounds like a lot of it is in English, and it’s getting a wide release here. Not unfathomable that it gets nominated, but will they go with such a low-hanging choice? Doesn’t feel like they would. Feels more American than anything. But again, have to consider it.

Almodovar is interesting because he’s won the category before. This will be his sixth film submitted for this category. Last time he had Volver, which was shortlisted but not nominated. Before that he won with All About My Mother. He was submitted but not shortlisted twice before that, and was nominated for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. This seems unlikely that they’d even shortlist him, since he’s basically crossed over into a filmmaker they like and will nominate for things (see: Talk to Her). I doubt it, but who knows with them.

Thailand — ehh. It’s a horror drama. It doesn’t feel like them, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see it make a shortlist. Weird things get shortlisted.

– – – – –

To get the easy ones out of the way, your absolute favorites for a shortlist here are:

  1. Germany (Toni Erdmann)
  2. Chile (Neruda)
  3. Iran (The Salesman)

If any of these three don’t make it on, consider that a major upset. At this point, I’d look to considering these three a likely 3/5 of your final category.

Toni Erdmann and Neruda feel like your frontrunners for the win at the moment. I feel like Erdmann is more likely to be left off either a shortlist or a final category, knowing how the Oscars work. If that’s the case, Neruda should win, but again, this is October 3rd. I’m just guessing with zero knowledge of anything except what I hear around town.

– – – – –

That leaves these 14 sort of hanging there.

  1. Bosnia and Herzegovina (Death in Sarajevo)
  2. Canada (It’s Only the End of the World)
  3. Cuba (The Companion)
  4. Denmark (Land of Mine)
  5. Greece (Chevalier)
  6. Iceland (Sparrows)
  7. Israel (Sand Storm)
  8. Jordan (3000 Nights)
  9. Philippines (Ma’Rosa)
  10. Romania (Sieranevada)
  11. Russia (Paradise)
  12. Saudi Arabia (Barakah Meets Barakah)
  13. Sweden (A Man Called Ove)
  14. Venezuela (From Afar)

Death in Sarajevo sounds promising, and exactly the kind of movie that would be shortlisted or even nominated. Though aside from a win in 2001, Bosnia and Herzegovina have only been shortlisted once since then. I feel like if I guess this to be shortlisted and it isn’t, then I’m an idiot who thought to much into it. And if I don’t pick it, and it is, then I feel like an idiot because it seemed so obvious.

Xavier Dolan has been submitted three times, and made the shortlist for Mommy two years ago, but they’ve yet to nominate him. This won the Grand Jury at Cannes, so if he’s gonna make it for anything, this would be the one. Canada had a solid run from 2010-2012, with three consecutive nominations, but they haven’t been shortlisted since then.

The Companion sounds right up their alley, subject-wise, and with the recent opening of the borders to Cuba, I feel like this is something they’ll look to shortlist at the very least. Cuba only has one previous nomination and no shortlists. Beware with this one, but I’m high on it since it fits exactly what they want in this category.

Denmark always feels like they’re right there, and these war dramas do well. A War got nominated last year. You think they can go to the well again? My guess is a shortlist at best. But this also sounds like a red herring that’ll be left off. Fun fact, no country has been a repeat nominee in this category for consecutive years since Denmark did it in 2012 and 2013. They tend to do well in this category and always contend for a shortlist. In fact, of Denmark’s last six submissions, only one hasn’t been at the very least shortlisted. That was 2014. Three nominations around that, a shortlist in 2011 and a win in 2010.

Greece got one nomination for Dogtooth, and that’s the only impact they’ve made on this category in 40 years. Seems really unlikely this could be their year, but Chevalier is a movie I’ve heard of. So I’ll consider it strongly for a shortlist, but given their history in the category (and I don’t know if the political situation helps or hurts them), I’m not sure if this makes it to a shortlist.

Iceland had one nominee 25 years ago and they made a shortlist in 2012. After missing with Rams last year, which was very well regarded, I suspect they might make a shortlist here. Wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but keep an eye on this one to potentially sneak in there. Also, fun thing I noticed: their last four submissions all have animals in the title. Thought that was interesting.

Israel had a good run in the late 2000s but has been silent since. They always seem to nominate their Best Picture winners. Typically if they get shortlisted, they get nominated, so that’s something to keep in mind. Otherwise, it sounds like something they’d like. This is an all or nothing deal. Either it will be nominated or it won’t be shortlisted. I doubt they’d shortlist this to not nominate it. Especially given the history.

Jordan has had three submissions now. Last year was their first nomination. I don’t think they’d get two in a row, and I don’t think this really makes a shortlist, but the subject matter could push it through. I probably should have had this on the “unlikely” list, but ehh. Maybe.

The Philippines has never even been shortlisted here. But apparently this movie’s done well overseas. So I’ll consider it. But since they’ve never even been shortlisted, it’s hard to put my faith in this being the one. If they get shortlisted though, I’d fast track them to their first nomination. That sounds like something they’d do.

Romania has only made a shortlist once. And it wasn’t for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. It was for that guy’s follow up to that. Which is something to keep in mind. If a movie does well internationally but isn’t shortlisted, look for that filmmaker’s next movie to do better. Which is why I think Canada has a legitimate shot at a nomination/shortlist here. Anyway, this director has been submitted before, with no luck. It could happen, but sounds unlikely given the fact that it’s almost three hours. Not sure they go in for that.

Russia surprisingly hasn’t done well here the past twenty five years. Two nominations and no other shortlists. Andrei Konchalovsky directed this one. He did Runaway Train back in the day. He won Best Director at Venice for this. Though looking back, it doesn’t seem like that’s a forbearer to a nomination. It looks gorgeously shot, though, which would help it. I’d consider this a very strong possibility for a shortlist.

Saudi Arabia’s only had one other submission, which was Wadjda in 2013, which I really liked. That wasn’t even shortlisted. Which leads me to believe that not only will this likely get shortlisted, but it’ll probably get nominated too. Look at Theeb last year.

Sweden hasn’t been nominated in over a decade, though they’ve made three shortlists. Most recently for Force Majeure, which was one of the shock omissions in this category in the past decade. Last year was also A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, which people also loved. It sounds like a movie that both would and would not be shortlisted by them. I might not have this on my list of 9, but this would be hovering around 12 or 13 at the worst. Because it does feel right there in that conversation.

Venezuela has been shortlisted once. Ever. And that was 2014, for a not very great film. This one did great at the festivals and won Venice. Then again, so did A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. Actually, looking back, that doesn’t mean a whole lot for this category at all. And given Venezuela’s history, either this is the year and this is their best bet, or again, they’ll just be ignored. Hard to tell.

Right now, if I had to pull a shortlist out of my ass, I’d say:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (Death in Sarajevo)
  • Canada (It’s Only the End of the World)
  • Chile (Neruda)
  • Cuba (The Companion)
  • Denmark (Land of Mine)
  • Germany (Toni Erdmann)
  • Iran (The Salesman)
  • Israel (Sand Storm)
  • Saudi Arabia (Barakah Meets Barakah)

Again, totally guessing here. I swapped Venezuela and Saudi Arabia at the last minute because I’d have felt worse not putting Saudi Arabia on there. Venezuela seemed easy. So I feel okay leaving that off because I did so knowingly.

If all 9 of the eventual shortlisted films were on my list of 30, I’d feel pretty happy. Last year only 6 of them were. And then of my 9 that I guessed, I think I had 3 that were actually shortlisted. So anything better than that would be nice. Shit, if I go 6 of 9 straight up from my shortlist, I’d be ecstatic. But we have a ways to go before then. This is just me killing time.

– – – – – –

Sometime later this month they’ll announce who the official recognized submissions are, which may not be all 82 of these movies.

Then, on January 17th, they’ll announce the shortlist of 9. Which means we’ll then have a week to figure out who’s gonna get nominated from those 9, since nominations are on the 24th.

There really won’t be a whole lot of Oscar stuff at all for the next two months. We don’t start getting shortlists or anything until December.


5 responses

  1. Great analysis. I think Iran’s “Salesman” will definitely get a nomination. I really wish Russia’s “Paradise” will also land a nomination, but I know it will not. My other favourites are Spain’s “Julieta” and France’s “Elle”. I also think Canada’s “It’s Only the End of the World” will not get a nomination, but strangely many people think it will…

    October 4, 2016 at 7:03 am

    • Even though Dolan’s film won the Grand Prix at Cannes, didn’t it get scathing reviews from the critics who attended the screening?

      October 4, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      • Yeah..well, the Academy likes to go for the director’s reputation when nominating its films, and it does look at the Cannes’s results and nominations.

        October 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

  2. chinoiserie

    Pity Finland did not get nominated last year. That % for us is sad.

    November 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    • On the bright side, I hear Olli Maki is great, and may get to see it in the next two weeks.

      November 1, 2016 at 4:50 pm

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