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Oscars 2017: Best Foreign Language Film Submissions

They announced the submissions for Foreign Language Film a while back. I’m only just getting around to them now. Mostly because this is my unofficial kick off to Oscar season, and I really like Oscar season. So I try to hold off as late as I can so I can really focus my attention on it. The only reason I even do this article is because of how much I love Oscar season.

There was a record 92 submissions for the category this year. Every year a couple of films don’t end up as official submissions or are disqualified for whatever reason. Still, 92 countries is pretty great.

What we do with this article is get acquainted with what each country submitted and what each of the films is about. And then I just sort of guess about what I think could end up getting shortlisted and/or nominated, which means very little but at least can make me feel pretty good if I get remotely close in the end.

Anyway, this tends to run long, so let’s just get into it.

  1.  Afghanistan
    • A Letter to the President — Soraya, a low-level government official, is imprisoned when she defends a woman from village lords. Behind bars, she writes the Afghan President for help.
  2. Albania
    • Daybreak — Leta has not been able to pay the rent for several months. When she and her one-year-old son are thrown out of their apartment, they move in with Sophie, an old woman confined to bed, whose daughter has just employed Leta as a caretaker. In order to keep her job and a roof over their head, Leta has to keep Sophie alive at any cost.
  3. Algeria
    • Road to Istanbul — Elisabeth lives with her daughter Elodie in Belgium. When the police inform her that her daughter has left the country to join the ranks of Islamic State in Syria, she begins to investigate.
  4. Argentina
    • Zama — Based on the novel by Antonio Di Benedetto written in 1956, on Don Diego de Zama, a Spanish officer of the seventeenth century settled in Asunción, who awaits his transfer to Buenos Aires.
  5. Armenia
    • Yeva — Yeva is a young woman who escapes her influential in-laws with her daughter Nareh, after her husband’s tragic death and takes refuge in one of the villages of Karabakh, Armenia – Yeva is a complete stranger in this village and is obliged to live her daily life in disguise.
  6. Australia
    • The Space Between — Marco (Flavio Parenti) is a 35 year-old ex-chef who has given up his career and any sense of hope to return to Udine in Northern Italy to nurse his ailing father. Even when offered a job at a restaurant in Melbourne, he declines using his father as the excuse. When tragedy strikes, the only glimmer of joy arrives in the form of Olivia (Maeve Dermody), a spirited Australian chasing her dream of working in design while on a family mission in Udine. Against the stunning vineyards, rugged mountains and blue Adriatic of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, these two very different people find themselves at a crossroads that will change their lives forever.
  7. Austria
    • Happy End — A drama about a family set in Calais with the European refugee crisis as the backdrop.
  8. Azerbaijan
    • Pomegranate Orchard — Gabil returns home to the humble family farmstead, surrounded by an orchard of venerable pomegranate trees; since his sudden departure twelve years ago he was never once in contact. However, the deep emotional scars he left behind cannot be erased from one day to the next.
  9. Bangladesh
    • The Cage — Revolves around a Hindu family trying to migrate to India from East Pakistan.
  10. Belgium
    • Racer and the Jailbird — Set against the background of a brutal crime gang in Brussels, a tragic love story between Gigi (Matthias Schoenaerts), a high-flying gangster, and Bibi (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a young racing driver with very upper-class roots.
  11. Bolivia
    • Dark Skull — Elder Mamani’s immaturity and recklessness make him a liability as a Huanuni tin mine, where he’s filled his recently deceased father’s job. Elder spirals further out of control until his fellow workers petition to have him removed.
  12. Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • Men Don’t Cry — In an empty Serbian hotel becomes one more battleground in the ceaseless Yugoslav Wars. Nearly 20 years after the official end of hostilities, many former combatants have still never truly escaped.
  13. Brazil
    • Bingo: The King of Mornings — Follows a famous TV clown who is frustrated by his lack of public recognition, as his contract forbids him to reveal his identity to the public.
  14. Bulgaria
    • Glory — A reclusive Bulgarian railway trackman finds millions of cash spilled on the tracks and turns them in to the police. When the transport ministry’s head of PR Julia Staikova decides to use him as a diversion from a corruption scandal, his simple life falls victim to the grinder of bureaucracy.
  15. Cambodia
    • First They Killed My Father — Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung recounts the horrors she suffered as a child under the rule of the deadly Khmer Rouge.
  16. Canada
    • Hochelaga, Land of Skulls — Mohawk archaeologist Baptiste Asigny engages in a search for his ancestors following a tragic terrain slump in the Percival Molson Stadium.
  17. Chile
    • A Fantastic Woman — Marina, a waitress who moonlights as a nightclub singer, is bowled over by the death of her older boyfriend.
  18. China
    • Wolf Warrior 2 — China’s deadliest special forces operative settles into a quiet life on the sea. When sadistic mercenaries begin targeting nearby civilians, he must leave his newfound peace behind and return to his duties as a soldier and protector.
  19. Columbia
    • Guilty Men — Mariana, Willington’s eternal love, is preparing her marriage with René, the cousin of her ex boyfriend. While Willington tries to get her back, the rumour of a thief in town and a series of violent deaths that remind them of a fearful past, will endanger Mariana’s new family.
  20. Costa Rica
    • The Sound of Things — A young and dedicated nurse is trying to avoid the pain left by her dear cousin’s suicide.
  21. Croatia
    • Quit Staring at My Plate — When Marijana’s dominant father falls seriously ill, she takes over his role as the head of the family, taking care of her irresponsible mother and mentally disabled older brother. The new power constellation allows her to explore her sexuality and her inner strength and gives her a taste of freedom.
  22. Czech Republic
    • Ice Mother — After her husband’s death, Hana lives on alone in the family villa. Her two sons visit her with their families, but these visits frequently end in quarrels. When Hana meets Brona, a hardy fellow, inured to winter swimming, a new world opens before her. Brona’s team-mates absorb her into their team and Hana gradually learns to overcome her fear of icy water. Her relation with Brona grows into love.
  23. Denmark
    • You Disappear — A teachers’ world is turned upside down when her husband, a successful headmaster, is caught embezzling from their own school. Did he do this of his own free will – or has his personality been altered by the tumor lurking in his brain? As the teacher is assisting an attorney in providing a legal defense, recent neuroscience forces her to rethink who her husband really is.
  24. Dominican Republic
    • Woodpeckers — Julián finds love and a reason for living in the last place imaginable: the Dominican Republic’s Najayo Prison. His romance, with fellow prisoner Yanelly, must develop through sign language and without the knowledge of dozens of guards.
  25. Ecuador
    • Alba — An 11 year old girl has to move to her father’s house due to her mother’s illness. She barely knows him and sharing time with him at home feels weird. Both are shy, both feel lonely but they can’t find a way to approach each other.
  26. Egypt
    • Sheikh Jackson — An Islamic cleric has a crisis of faith when he hears the news that his childhood idol, Michael Jackson, has died.
  27. Estonia
    • November — Set within an impoverished hamlet, where the dead come back to life and farmers sometimes find themselves with mischievous supernatural servants.
  28. Finland
    • Tom of Finland — Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski brings to screen the life and work of one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture.
  29. France
    • BPM (Beats Per Minute) — 120 BPM. The average heart rate. The protagonists of 120 battements par minute are passionate about fighting the indifference that exists towards AIDS.
  30. Georgia
    • Scary Mother — A 50-year-old housewife, Manana, struggles with her dilemma – she has to choose between her family life and her passion, writing, which she had repressed for years – she decides to follow her passion and plunges herself into writing, sacrificing to it mentally and physically.
  31. Germany
    • In the Fade — Katja’s life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. After a time of mourning and injustice, Katja seeks revenge.
  32. Greece
    • Amerika Square — Tattoo artist Billy and unemployed Nakos are best friends from Athens. Old bachelor Nakos is a racist, obsessed with the victim mentality, and he rages at Greece’s increasing immigrant numbers. Billy, however, is in favor of foreigners coming. They meet in Amerika Square in Athens because of Syrian refugee Tarek.
  33. Haiti
    • Ayiti Mon Amour — A magical fable weaves together the lives of three different people in Haiti five years after a devastating earthquake.
  34. Honduras
    • Morazán — 1842, Morazán is the Head of the State of Costa Rica. The National Assembly authorizes him to organize a military force for the restoration of the Central American Republic. However, conservative leaders of the Catholic Church and the local oligarchy, instigate soldiers to rebel against the legitimate government. Morazán faces his last battle.
  35. Hong Kong
    • Mad World — A mentally ill stockbroker struggles to reconcile with his estranged father and his perturbed ex-fiancée.
  36. Hungary
    • On Body and Soul — Endre and Mária work together in a slaughterhouse and have the same dream every night. They meet as deer in the forest. They realize this during an investigation when a psychologist interrogates everybody at the company where they work. Endre is the CFO and Mária is the precise quality inspector who has autistic behavior. They are searching for the love that they have found as deer in their dreams, but it is more difficult in real life.
  37. Iceland
    • Under the Tree — When Baldwin and Inga’s next door neighbours complain that a tree in their backyard casts a shadow over their sundeck, what starts off as a typical spat between neighbours in the suburbs unexpectedly and violently spirals out of control.
  38. India
    • Newton — A government clerk on election duty in the conflict ridden jungle of Central India tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the apathy of security forces and the looming fear of guerrilla attacks by communist rebels.
  39. Indonesia
    • Turah — The residents of Kampung Tirang live in dilapidated shacks just to earn for their next meal. The hardworking and reliable Turah has been appointed by the cooperative leader to tend to complaints or settle conflicts that arise in the village. Peace in the settlement is disrupted when the alcoholic Jadag starts questioning the governance of the village. His accusations towards the leaders soon land both Turah and the whole village into further trouble.
  40. Iran
    • Breath — Breath is about an Iranian family. It tells the story of Bahar, who is living with her father, Ghafour and Grandmother during the 70s. She is living in her childish and surreal world, filled with their dreams and fantasies.
  41. Iraq
    • Reseba: The Dark Wind — Radical Islamist militants attack a village in Iraq where a young Yazidi love couple prepares for marriage. From that moment onwards their lives are turned into a nightmare.
  42. Ireland
    • A Song of Granite — Acclaimed filmmaker Pat Collins brings the dramatic life story of legendary seannós singer Joe Heaney to the screen in THE SONG IN GRANITE, an audacious exploration of the man and his music. With an approach that marries traditional narrative episodes with documentary footage, the film will celebrate the music Joe Heaney created while painting an unflinching portrait of Heaney, the man.
  43. Israel
    • Foxtrot — A troubled family face the facts when something goes terribly wrong at their son’s desolate military post.
  44. Italy
    • A Ciambra — In A CIAMBRA, a small Romani community in Calabria, Pio Amato is desperate to grow up fast. At 14, he drinks, smokes and is one of the few to easily slide between the region’s factions – the local Italians, the African refugees and his fellow Romani. Pio follows his older brother Cosimo everywhere, learning the necessary skills for life on the streets of their hometown. When Cosimo disappears and things start to go wrong, Pio sets out to prove he’s ready to step into his big brother’s shoes but soon finds himself faced with an impossible decision that will show if he is truly ready to become a man.
  45. Japan
    • Her Love Boils Bathwater — A strict, but caring mother has an awakening when she is told she has cancer and it is terminal. She has a few months. She needs to complete her tasks in that short time frame. She needs to retrieve her husband who has vanished and get the family business restarted. She needs to help her daughter be able to pick after herself. Will the family bonds grow stronger or wither?
  46. Kazakhstan
    • The Road to Mother — Traces the country’s history from the 1930s to present day by focusing on several generations of one Kazakh family.
  47. Kenya
    • Kati Kati — A young woman with no memory of her life or death, is helped with assimilation to the afterlife by a ghost.
  48. Kosovo
    • Unwanted — A lonely boy, who lives in Amsterdam with his refugee mother from Kosovo, keeps getting into trouble while yearning for her acceptance. But the traumas caused by the war, which his mother hides away from him, turn his world upside down.
  49. Kyrgyzstan
    • Centaur — Centaur lives a modest life with his family in rural Kyrgyzstan until he abruptly becomes the center of attention when he is caught stealing a racehorse at night. A story inspired by the myth when horses became the wings of men.
  50. Lao People’s Democratic Republic
    • Dearest Sister — A village girl travels to the Lao capital, Vientiane, to care for her rich cousin who has lost her sight and gained the ability to communicate with the dead.
  51. Latvia
    • The Chronicles of Melanie — In the early morning of June 14, 1941, under Stalin’s orders, over 40,000 people from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania were arrested, shoved into cattle cars and dispatched to permanent exile in Siberia. Among them – journalist Melanie and her 8 year old son Andrejs, forcibly separated from husband and father Aleksandrs. In the Siberian village women, ignorant of the fate of their husbands, are settled in badly built barracks and forced to work like slaves. Melanie keeps herself alive for her son and husband to whom she writes hundreds of love letters that are never sent, since his address remains unknown. She keeps her personal integrity in the face of starvation, hard work or disease. After 16 years, Melanie is released and returns to Riga, only to find out that her husband Alexander died in the camps in 1942.
  52. Lebanon
    • The Insult — In today’s Beirut, an insult blown out of proportions finds Toni, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, in court. From secret wounds to traumatic revelations, the media circus surrounding the case puts Lebanon through a social explosion, forcing Toni and Yasser to reconsider their lives and prejudices.
  53. Lithuania
    • Frost — Follows a young Lithuanian couple on a road trip from the Baltics to Ukraine’s war-torn Donbass region.
  54. Luxembourg
    • Barrage — After ten years abroad, Catherine returns to Luxembourg to catch up with her daughter Alba, brought up by Catherine’s mother Elisabeth. She then kidnaps Alba and takes her on a trip to a lake up North.
  55. Mexico
    • Tempestad — The emotional journeys of two women victimized by corruption and injustice in Mexico and of the love, dignity and resistance that allowed them to survive.
  56. Mongolia
    • The Children of Genghis — A young boy in the Mongolian countryside trains for a horse race.
  57. Morocco
    • Razzia — The streets of Casablanca provide the centerpiece for five separate narratives that all collide into one.
  58. Mozambique
    • The Train of Salt and Sugar — A very dangerous train journey through war torn Mozambique. Civilian passengers are both protected and harassed by a troop of ill-disciplined soldiers on board to fight off a rebel army in the bush. All must work together to repair sabotaged track and reach safety.
  59. Nepal
    • White Sun — Anti-regime partisan Chandra confronts physical, social and political obstacles for his father’s funeral. His search for a solution takes him to neighboring mountain villages and encounters with the police and rebel guerrillas. A portrait of post-civil war Nepal during the fragile deadlocked peace process.
  60. Netherlands
    • Layla M. — A teenage Muslim growing up in Amsterdam becomes radicalised.
  61. New Zealand
    • One Thousand Ropes — When a father reconnects with his estranged teenage daughter, he is given a rare chance to reshape the future of his family in unexpected ways.
  62. Norway
    • Thelma — A woman begins to fall in love, only to discover that she has fantastic powers.
  63. Pakistan
    • Saawan — A handicapped 9-year old boy who lives in a valley in the mountains of Balochistan is rejected by his father, intimidated by society, harassed by friends and left alone due to his disability. Strengthened by memories and dreams of the love of his mother, he begins a perilous journey back to his family in the main city.
  64. Palestine
    • Wajib — A father and his estranged son must come together to hand deliver his daughter’s wedding invitations to each guest as per local Palestinian custom, in this rousing family drama from Annemarie Jacir (When I Saw You).
  65. Panama
    • Beyond Brotherhood — Two young siblings ended up living on the streets, having nothing left but their love. It’s a story about survival, second chances and second falls, with an unexpected turn at the end.
  66. Paraguay
    • Los Buscadores — Los Buscadores follows Manu (Tomás Arredondo), a newspaper delivery boy who lives in La Chacarita and works in the outskirts of Asunción, who one day receives a book that talks about the history of Paraguay, but later discovers that he is hiding a map that may or may not reveal the exact location of a treasure hidden at the time of the Triple Alliance War. Together with his friend Fito (Christian Ferreira) and Don Elio (Mario Toñanez), a gentleman who knows about the adventures of the silver “los buscadores” of Yvyguy, they decide to follow the clues and look for the treasure, which would put an end to the economic problems that everybody is going through living very close to the flooding of the Paraguay River.
  67. Peru
    • Rosa Chumbe — Rosa is a mature police officer with both a gambling and a drinking problem. She lives with her daughter Sheila, who has a little baby. One day, after a big fight between them, Sheila steals her mother’s savings and storms out of the house leaving her baby behind. Rosa is forced to spend some time with her grandson. Something changes inside her heart of stone. However, everything takes a wrong turn one night. Only a miracle can save her.
  68. Philippines
    • Birdshot — “Birdshot” is a mystery-thriller film that tells a story of a young Filipina farm girl who wanders into the boundaries of a Philippine reservation forest. Deep within the reservation she mistakenly shoots and kills a critically endangered and protected Philippine Eagle. As the local authorities begin a manhunt to track down the poacher of a national bird, their investigation leads them to an even more horrific discovery.
  69. Poland
    • Spoor — Janina Duszejko, an elderly woman, lives alone in the Klodzko Valley where a series of mysterious crimes are committed. Duszejko is convinced that she knows who or what is the murderer, but nobody believes her
  70. Portugal
    • Saint George — In 2011 Portugal began the so-called “year of the Troika” (EU, IMF and ECB budget cuts and economic restructuring), with the level of debt among the Portuguese people reaching staggering amounts and a growing number of families and companies unable to repay their installment loans. Jorge is an unemployed boxer on the verge of losing his son and his wife, who has decided to return to Brazil. As a means of paying off his debt and persuading his wife to remain in Portugal, Jorge accepts a job with a debt-collection agency, which will drag him into a world of violence and crime.
  71. Romania
    • Fixeur — The film is inspired by true events and centers on a young journalist, who goes to Transylvania together with a French TV crew led by a top reporter, to deal with a case of a young prostitute repatriated from France.
  72. Russia
    • Loveless — A couple going through a divorce must team up to find their son who has disappeared during one of their bitter arguments.
  73. Senegal
    • Félicité — Félicité sings in a bar in Kinshasa. When her 14-year-old son has a motorcycle accident, she goes on a frantic search through the streets of Kinshasa, a world of music and dreams. And her path crosses that of Tabu.
  74. Serbia
    • Requiem for Mrs. J. — Mrs. J is depressed by the death of her husband, who passed away one year ago and she is planning to commit suicide as she can’t deal with the problems of her family.
  75. Singapore
    • Pop Aye — On a chance encounter, a disenchanted architect bumps into his long-lost elephant on the streets of Bangkok. Excited, he takes his elephant on a journey across Thailand, in search of the farm where they grew up together.
  76. Slovakia
    • The Line — There are borders you cross only once… Criminal thriller about traffickers and smugglers from Ukrainian border. The feature film about the borders and the life on their edge.
  77. Slovenia
    • The Miner — Alija discovers thousands of bodies of people executed during World War II in an abandoned mine. His employer, wanting to sell the mine, pressures him to keep quiet, but he risks his job by alerting police.
  78. South Africa
    • The Wound — Xolani, a lonely factory worker, travels to the rural mountains with the men of his community to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood.
  79. South Korea
    • A Taxi Driver — A widowed father and taxi driver takes a German reporter from Seoul to Gwangju to cover the 1980 uprising.
  80. Spain
    • Summer 1993 — After her mother’s death, six-year-old Frida is sent to her uncle’s family to live with them in the countryside. But Frida finds it hard to forget her mother and adapt to her new life.
  81. Sweden
    • The Square — The Square is a poignant satirical drama reflecting our times – about the sense of community, moral courage and the affluent person’s need for egocentricity in an increasingly uncertain world.
  82. Switzerland
    • The Divine Order — In 1971, a young housewife organizes the women of her town to petition for the right to vote.
  83. Syria
    • Little Gandhi — The story of iconic Syrian peace activist Ghiyath Matar whose brutal torture and death at the age of 26 outraged the international community and erupted into one of the most violent uprisings in modern history.
  84. Taiwan
    • Small Talk — Taiwanese filmmaker Hui-chen Huang knows her mother is a lesbian, but just about nothing else about her. They have lived like strangers under one roof for decades, and almost never talk to each other.One day Hui-chen finally summons up the courage to sit her down and make her mother talk. But is she ready to hear what she has to say?
  85. Thailand
    • By the Time It Gets Dark — In 1970, She was student activist, a waitress who keeps changing her job, now a film director. All lives loosely connected to each others.
  86. Tunisia
    • The Last of Us — Centers on a young man attempting to emigrate from Tunisia.
  87. Turkey
    • Ayla: The Daughter of War — During the Korean War, a young girl nearly frozen to death is saved by Süleyman, a sergeant in the Turkish Brigade, who gives her the nickname Ayla. The two form a friendship despite the language barrier between them, but are torn apart when Süleyman must return home.
  88. Ukraine
    • Black Level — Loneliness dwells in a big city; Kostya, the wedding photographer, dwells there too. At work, he is surrounded by happy people celebrating special moments in their lives. Kostya is about to turn 50, and he is drastically losing everything he used to cherish. Will he cope with his despair and regain the joy of life?
  89. United Kingdom
    • My Pure Land — Three women defend their home against a group of armed men who want to take it forcibly from them.
  90. Uruguay
    • Another Story of the World — Revolves around two friends living in the fictitious town of Mosquitos who plan an uprising against the local authorities.
  91. Venezuela
    • El Inca — A tragic love story based in the life of the great Latin American boxer Edwin “El Inca” Valero. The only fight he lost, was the one against himself.
  92. Vietnam
    • Father and Son — Living by a river, a father and son make their living by fishing every day. The little boy, Ca, contracts a serious illness. The treatment is very expensive. Will the father be able to catch enough fish to pay for it?

– – – – – – – – – – –

Here’s a quick rundown of how each country has done throughout history. (Note: The number of submissions includes this year. Since only five of them will actually be nominated, most of these percentages are and will be correct. Oh, and any country crossed out didn’t have a film this year.)

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

– – – – – – – – – –

And, for easy reference, here are all the shortlists going back to 2010 (nominees italicized and winners bolded).

  • 2016: Canada, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Iran
  • 2015: Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Colombia, Denmark, France, Jordan, Hungary
  • 2014: Georgia, Netherlands, Sweden, Venezuela, Argentina, Estonia, Mauritania, Russia, Poland
  • 2013 shortlist: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, Palestine, Italy
  • 2012: France, Iceland, Romania, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Norway, Austria
  • 2011: Denmark, Germany, Morocco, Taiwan, Belgium, Canada, Israel, Poland, Iran
  • 2010: Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Algeria, Canada, Greece, Mexico, Denmark

– – – – – – – – – –

Okay, based on all of that, here’s a giant list of films that feel like they could end up shortlisted this year:

  1. Road to Istanbul (Algeria)
  2. Happy End (Austria)
  3. Racer and the Jailbird (Belgium)
  4. Glory (Bulgaria)
  5. A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
  6. You Disappear (Denmark)
  7. Woodpeckers (Dominican Republic)
  8. B.P.M. (France)
  9. In the Fade (Germany)
  10. Ayiti Mon Amour (Haiti)
  11. Under the Tree (Iceland)
  12. Foxtrot (Israel)
  13. A Ciambra (Italy)
  14. Kati Kati (Kenya)
  15. The Insult (Lebanon)
  16. The Train of Salt and Sugar (Mozambique)
  17. Layla M. (Netherlands)
  18. White Sun (Nepal)
  19. Thelma (Norway)
  20. Wajib (Palestine)
  21. Beyond Brotherhood (Panama)
  22. Spoor (Poland)
  23. One Thousand Ropes (New Zealand)
  24. Loveless (Russia)
  25. The Square (Sweden)
  26. The Divine Order (Switzerland)
  27. Little Gandhi (Syria)
  28. Small Talk (Taiwan)
  29. Ayla: The Daughter of War (Turkey)
  30. Father and Son (Vietnam)

I am so not dialed into the international film market, so this is based on blind guessing, my knowledge of how they generally vote for these things (look for a country newly into the game to get shortlisted, the big countries like Italy and Germany and France tend to get on more than others, look for auteurs whose movies they like) and seeing what the Academy has organized screenings for and/or sent out screeners for. Typically if they’re spending the money to get the film to the voting body at large, that tends to show confidence in at least a shortlisting. Doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s generally helpful.

For example, last year, the foreign language screeners that were sent out before nominations were: The Salesman, The Handmaiden, Neruda, Julieta, Toni Erdmann, Land of Mine, Elle, Fire at Sea and My Life as a Zucchini. Everything but the last two came before the shortlist was announced (for Foreign Language, anyway).

You know what last year’s shortlist was? The Salesman, Toni Erdmann, Land of Mine, My Life as a Zucchini, A Man Called Ove, Paradise, The King’s Choice, It’s Only the End of the World and Tanna. And Fire at Sea was nominated for Best Documentary, while Isabelle Huppert got the Best Actress nomination. So yeah. The Handmaiden, Neruda and Julieta were all filmmakers that are mainstays in the category. It does help.

It’s early (and I wanted to wait as long as possible before they actually did announce the shortlist, but if it’s not now then I don’t know when I’ll actually write this up), the films eligible they’ve sent out so far are: B.P.M., Thelma, (technically) First They Killed My Father, A Fantastic Woman and The Insult. That’s SO FAR. We still have about three weeks left of stuff to get.

Of all of those, the only one I’m discounting is First They Killed My Father. If an Angelina Jolie Netflix movie gets so much as shortlisted for this award, then I’m calling the whole thing fixed. That’s not a true foreign language film. Or maybe I’m just biased because Netflix seems to be paying for nominations lately. Maybe it does get shortlisted and I have to live with that. If I know this branch, it’s not happening. But my history with this branch illustrates that I don’t know them, so who the hell knows.

Anyway, taking those, and taking the films that are “duh and/or hello” obvious, these are the films that, to me, stand the most likely chances of getting shortlisted:

  1. Happy End (Austria)
  2. Racer and the Jailbird (Belgium)
  3. A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
  4. B.P.M. (France)
  5. In the Fade (Germany)
  6. Foxtrot (Israel)
  7. A Ciambra (Italy)
  8. Thelma (Norway)
  9. Spoor (Poland)
  10. Loveless (Russia)
  11. The Square (Sweden)
  12. The Insult (Lebanon)

In my mind, that’s the majority of your shortlist, right there. Of everything else:

  1. Ayiti Mon Amour (Haiti)
  2. Kati Kati (Kenya)
  3. The Train of Salt and Sugar (Mozambique)
  4. One Thousand Ropes (New Zealand)
  5. Beyond Brotherhood (Panama)
  6. Little Gandhi (Syria)

These are all countries that just submitted their first film or are on their first handful. The Academy has liked shortlisting those in recent years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those happened. (Also, One Thousand Ropes had an Academy screening, which tells me there’s at least some sort of push to try to get it nominated.)

Small Talk is a documentary, and I’m just more attuned to those here, since in recent years I think I’ve seen two get either shortlisted or straight up nominated (one being the country’s first or second submission). Highly doubt it happens, but at least this way I can say I mentioned it. Denmark has been shortlisted for six of the past seven years and nominated five of those six times, so You Disappear has to be considered a major contender. The others are all based on subject matter or their countries, which tend to get shortlisted or nominated a bunch.

Just picking straight up nine to be shortlisted, here are my guesses:

  • Racer and the Jailbird (Belgium)
  • A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
  • B.P.M. (France)
  • Foxtrot (Israel)
  • A Ciambra (Italy)
  • The Insult (Lebanon)
  • Thelma (Norway)
  • Loveless (Russia)
  • The Square (Sweden)

Leaving off In the Fade and Happy End deliberately. I feel like In the Fade is one of those destined to never get anywhere, and I just have a hunch that they’ll leave Haneke off. Maybe that hunch is something better-suited to the actual nominations and I’m doing this a the risk of my own peril, but something tells me that it’s not a gimme for even the shortlist.

The Square I think is on just because of how badly they ignored Force Majeure, even though most people think the film is not as good as Force Majeure. And Loveless I think ends up more as a shortlist than a nomination (though that’s sight unseen). After Leviathan, I have to assume a shortlist here. But I haven’t seen it, so I can’t say for sure.

One of those, for sure, will be something I never saw coming. It’s not feasible to think I’m gonna get the whole thing right, so at this point, if I can get five of these straight up, I’ll be really happy. If I can get six from my guesses and that longlist of possibilities, then to me I feel as dialed in as I’m gonna get. We’ve also still got about three weeks before they announce the shortlist, so it’s possible in two days my opinions will change wildly once I find out some new piece of information. But that’s what I got for now.

I got some major movie watching to do the next two days, including two really big movies I’m gonna get to see that are probably my two most anticipated films left for the year.

Three more weeks til wrap-up. Hang in there. It’s almost go-time.

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