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Oscars 2016 Category Breakdown: Best Foreign Language Film

Every year before the Oscars I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category, how it typically goes, voting-wise, historically and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

What I do is go over each category’s history, give you all the previous winners and nominees, then list the current year’s nominees. And then I’ll go over how each of the guilds (if there is a corresponding guild) have voted, how that corresponds to the Oscars (some guilds mean a lot to how a category will play out. Others mean nothing). It’s basically everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision when you make your picks on Oscar night. And then I also rank the nominees at the end in terms of where I see them in terms of their likelihood to win. So you know what the general favorites are.

Today is Best Foreign Language Film. The category that is either locked or you’re just kinda like “…. this one?”

Year Best Foreign Language Film Winners Other Nominees
1947 Shoe-Shine None. They just announced a winner.
1948 Monsieur Vincent None. They just announced a winner.
1949 The Bicycle Thief None. They just announced a winner.
1950 The Walls of Malpaga None. They just announced a winner.
1951 Rashomon None. They just announced a winner.
1952 Forbidden Games None. They just announced a winner.
1953 No Award Given. No Category.
1954 Gate of Hell None. They just announced a winner.
1955 Samurai, The Legend of Musashi None. They just announced a winner.
1956 La Strada The Captain of Köpernick

Gervaise

Harp of Burma

Qivitoq

1957 Nights of Cabiria The Devil Came at Night

Gates of Paris

Mother India

Nine Lives

1958 Mon Oncle Arms and the Man

La Venganza

The Road a Year Long

The Usual Unidentified Theives

1959 Black Orpheus The Bridge

The Great War

Paw

The Village on the River

1960 The Virgin Spring Kapo

Le Vérité

Macario

The Ninth Circle

1961 Through a Glass Darkly Harry and the Butler

Immortal Love

The Immortal Man

Placido

1962 Sundays and Cybele Electra

The Four Days of Naples

Keeper of Promises (The Given Word)

Tlayucan

1963 Knife in the Water

Los Tarantos

The Red Lanterns

Twin Sisters of Kyoto

1964 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Raven’s End

Sallah

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Woman in the Dunes

1965 The Shop on Main Street Blood on the Land

Dear John

Kwaidan

Marriage Italian Style

1966 A Man and a Woman The Battle of Algiers

Loves of a Blonde

Pharaoh

Three

1967 Closely Watched Trains El Amor Brujo

I Even Met Happy Gypsies

Live for Life

Portrait of Chieko

1968 War and Peace The Boys of Paul Street

The Firemen’s Ball

The Girl with the Pistol

Stolen Kisses

1969 Z Adalen ‘31

The Battle of Neretva

The Brothers Karamazov

My Night with Maud

1970 Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion First Love

Hoa-Binh

Paix Sur Les Champs

Tristana

1971 The Garden of the Finzi Continis Dodes’ka-Den

The Emigrants

The Policeman

Tchaikovsky

1972 The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie The Dawns Here Are Quiet

I Love You Rosa

My Dearest Señorita

The New Land

1973 Day for Night The House on Chelouche Street

L’Invitation

The Pedestrian

Turkish Delight

1974 Amarcord Cats’ Play

The Deluge

Lacombe, Lucien

The Truce

1975 Dersu Uzala Letters from Marusia

The Promised Land

Sandakan No. 8

Scent of a Woman

1976 Black and White in Color Cousin, Cousine

Jacob, the Liar

Nights and Days

Seven Beauties

1977 Madame Rosa Iphigenia

Operation Thunderbolt

A Special Day

That Obscure Object of Desire

1978 Get Out Your Handkerchiefs The Glass Cell

Hungarians

Viva Italia!

White Bim Black Ear

1979 The Tin Drum The Maids of Wilko

Mama Turns a Hundred

A Simple Story

To Forget Venice

1980 Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears Confidence

Kagemusha

The Last Metro

The Nest

1981 Mephisto The Boat is Full

Man of Iron

Muddy Water

Three Brothers

1982 Vovler a Empezar (“To Begin Again”) Alsino and the Condor

Coup de Torchon (“Clean Slate”)

1983 Fanny and Alexander Carmen

Entre Nous

Job’s Revolt

Le Bal

1984 Dangerous Moves Beyond the Walls

Camila

Double Feature

Wartime Romance

1985 The Official Story Angry Harvest

Colonel Redl

Three Men and a Cradle

When Father Was Away on Business

1986 The Assault Betty Blue

The Deline of the American Empire

My Sweet Little Village

‘38’

1987 Babette’s Feast Au Revoir Les Enfants

Course Completed

The Family

Pathfinder

1988 Pelle the Conqueror Hanussen

The Music Teacher

Salaam Bombay!

Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

1989 Cinema Paradiso Camille Claudel

Jesus of Montreal

Waltzing Regitze

What Happened to Santiago

1990 Journey of Hope Cyrano de Bergerac

Ju Dou

The Nasty Girl

Open Doors

1991 Mediterraneo Children of Nature

The Elementary School

The Ox

Raise the Red Lantern

1992 Indochine Close to Eden

Daens

A Place in the World

Schtonk!

1993 Belle Époque Farewell My Concubine

Hedd Wyn

The Scent of Green Papaya

The Wedding Banquet

1994 Burnt by the Sun Before the Rain

Eat Drink Man Woman

Farinelli: Il Castrato

Strawberry and Chocolate

1995 Antonia’s Line All Things Fair

Dust of Life

O Quatrilho

The Star Maker

1996 Kolya A Chef in Love

The Other Side of Sunday

Prisoner of the Mountains

Ridicule

1997 Character Beyond Silence

Four Days in September

Secrets of the Heart

The Thief

1998 Life is Beautiful Central Station

Children of Heaven

The Grandfather

Tango

1999 All About My Mother Caravan

East-West

Solomon and Gaenor

Under the Sun

2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Amores Perros

Divided We Fall

Everybody Famous!

The Taste of Others

2001 No Man’s Land Amélie

Elling

Lagaan

Son of the Bride

2002 Nowhere in Africa The Crime of Father Amaro

Hero

The Man Without a Past

Zus & Zo

2003 The Barbarian Invasions Evil

The Twilight Samurai

Twin Sisters

Zelary

2004 The Sea Inside As It Is in Heaven

The Chorus

Downfall

Yesterday

2005 Tsotsi Don’t Tell

Joyeux Noël

Paradise Now

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days

2006 The Lives of Others After the Wedding

Days of Glory

Pan’s Labyrinth

Water

2007 The Counterfeiters 12

Beaufort

Katyn

Mongol

2008 Departures The Baader Meinhof Complex

The Class

Revanche

Waltz with Bashir

2009 The Secret in Their Eyes Ajami

The Milk of Sorrow

A Prophet

The White Ribbon

2010 In a Better World Biutiful

Dogtooth

Incendies

Outside the Law

2011 A Separation Bullhead

Footnote

In Darkness

Monsieur Lazhar

2012 Amour Kon Tiki

No

A Royal Affair

War Witch

2013 The Great Beauty The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Hunt

The Missing Picture

Omar

2014 Ida Leviathan

Tangerines

Timbuktu

Wild Tales

2015 Son of Saul Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang

Theeb

A War

The only interesting thing about this one is how the shortlist happens. After the shortlist, it’s pretty easy to guess what the category’s gonna be. This year, there’s really only one big film and the rest are just kinda there.

This category was pretty cut and dry once you had the shortlist. Three seemed like obvious choices, one was probable, and when you looked at the other choices, the fifth made sense.

Best Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman

Tanna

Toni Erdmann

I’ve seen all of these, so I feel like I’ve got a firm handle on this one.

Rankings:

5. Tanna — Australian movie, in Nauvhal. Romeo and Juliet with indigenous peoples. It’s decent. No one’s gonna vote for this. Clear fifth choice.

4. Land of Mine — This just came out domestically, has no real presence, but a screener was sent out, which means there’s a chance people have or will see this. Still, it won’t make any play for this. Clear fourth choice. You know how, in the acting categories, you can spot a fourth choice? This is the Foreign Language equivalent.

3. A Man Called Ove — Nice film. Not a chance it wins. No one’s gonna have seen it. The nomination is the reward. The extra nomination is meaningless. There are only two movies with enough visibility and word of mouth to get a win here, and they’re the next two films. Solid dark horse, but not even one I’d really entertain as having a chance at winning.

2. The Salesman — Asgar Farhadi won this category for A Separation. People will have heard of this and/or seen it. Him not being able to get into the country because of the Muslim ban helps the visibility of this film a lot, and may even get him more votes. I don’t think it’s the favorite, but I do think there’s a legitimate chance this could win. Definitely the alternate choice at the moment, and we’ll see if anything changes over the next two weeks.

1. Toni Erdmann — This is the movie with all the buzz, all the notice, and should be the film that wins this category. Nothing else should be considered the favorite. That doesn’t mean it’s going to win, but it definitely needs to be considered your frontrunner going through to Oscar night. It’ll be between this and The Salesman, and I can’t imagine this doesn’t win. But you never know.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we go over Best Editing.

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