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Oscars 2018: Best Foreign Language Film Submissions

The Foreign Language Film eligibles are usually the first thing to be announced at the beginning of Oscar season. But it’s just such an intense and unwieldy list, I typically don’t get to it until closer to the end of the year. And since generally the end of the year is pretty booked for me, here we are.

Typically what I do with this article is go over the full list and familiarize myself with them (since odds are I’m only gonna have heard of like, a dozen of them at most). And then I try to guess which ones feel like they have the best chance at making the shortlist. Which is a lot to do, so let’s just get into it. Last year there were 92 submitted films. This year there are 87. So I got my work cut out for me.

1. Afghanistan, Rona Azim’s Mother

Azim, an afghan refugee, who works at the municipality at night, lives in Tehran along with his family. Being the head of entire family and as the eldest brother, he arranges for his brother Faroogh, and his family along with their mother to be smuggled into Germany. But at the last moments Faroogh, shamefully makes his decision known to Azim that he’s not going to take their mother who is very attached to her grandchildren. Azim who feels lonely and is furious, accidentally finds out that his mother is in dire need of a kidney transplant, otherwise she’ll die in 2 months. During his search for a donor, he discovers that Iranians are not legally permitted to donate their organs to foreigners and he is the only donor although the doctor recommends him seriously not to do so. Now, he has to choose between his own life and his mother’s whom he has always claimed as the most important one in his life.

2. Algeria, Until the End of Time

In the remote cemetery of Sidi Boulekbour, Ali, an elderly gravedigger, meets 60-year-old widow Johar, who is visiting her sister’s grave for the first time after the death of her husband. Johar wants her final resting place to be next to her sister, so she decides to organize her own funeral and asks Ali to help her. But preparations for the final journey go awry when Ali and Johar unexpectedly start to realize they have feelings for each other.

3. Argentina, El Ángel

Carlitos is a seventeen-year-old youth with movie star swagger, blond curls and a baby face. As a young boy, he coveted other people’s things, but it wasn’t until his early adolescence that his true calling–to be a thief–manifested itself. When he meets Ramon at his new school, Carlitos is immediately drawn to him and starts showing off to get his attention. Together they will embark on a journey of discoveries, love and crime. Killing is just a random offshoot of the violence, which continues to escalate until Carlitos is finally apprehended. Because of his angelic appearance, the press dubs Carlitos “The Angel of Death.” Showered with attention because of his beauty, he becomes an overnight celebrity. Altogether, he is believed to have committed over forty thefts and eleven homicides. Today, after more than forty-six years in jail, Carlos Robledo Puch is the longest- serving prisoner in the history of Argentina.

4. Armenia, Spitak

Gor is trying to fly to Armenia from Moscow to search for his family stuck at the very epicentre of the earthquake. Once there, Gor rushes through what’s left from the town in search of his small house. On his way, he meets various characters, each one of them with his or her personal tragedy and challenge. The locals strive to find their loved ones – alive or dead, where dead is almost as good as alive because it means that people can get a proper burial. Medics try to help those who survived, working day and night despite the shortage of the medicaments and performing surgeries with the materials on hand. Soldiers and volunteers risk their lives to clear the debris. As Gor doesn’t give up looking for his family, his wife and small daughter are still alive under the debris. But as long as there is love, there is hope.

5. Australia, Jirga

Former Australian soldier, Mike Wheeler, returns to Afghanistan, seeking redemption from the family of a civilian man he killed during the war.

6. Austria, The Waldheim Waltz

A documentary about Kurt Josef Waldheim, former UN Secretary General and the controversy of his participation and role in the Nazi regime during WW II.

7. Bangladesh, No Bed of Roses

A story surrounding a person named Javed Hasan and about his family, love, fallout and reunion.

8. Belarus, Crystal Swan

In 1990s Belarus, a wanderlust young DJ is derailed by a typo in a forged US Visa application, forcing her to a backwater village where she is determined to fake her way to the American dream.

9. Belgium, Girl

Lara is a 15-year-old girl, born in the body of a boy, who dreams of becoming a ballerina.

10. Bolivia, The Goalkeeper

Jorge “Muralla” Rivera was a famous goalkeeper. Today he’s an alcoholic bus driver that sells a girl to a sex trafficking network to pay for his sick son’s surgery. The boy dies and his ghost torments Jorge who seeks redemption trying to rescue the girl he sold, although it can mean his own downfall.

11. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Never Leave Me

This is a story about pain, search for meaning in life and friendship of orphaned. Syrian boys – Isa, Ahmed and Muataz – who live a difficult life as refugees in the magical, mythical Turkish city of Sanliurfa. In their search for recovery from traumatic past, the children will cross the path from destructiveness and hostility to meaningfulness and love. By finding friends in each other, the boys will find their inner peace.

12. Brazil, The Great Mystical Circus

Follows a century in the lives of the Knieps, an Austrian family of circus owners.

13. Bulgaria, Omnipresent

Centered around Emil, writer and owner of advertising agency who gradually becomes obsessed with spying on his family, friends and employees via hidden spy cameras. What starts as an innocent hobby ends up as a total disaster, as in the process he abuses his new power and eventually comes to realize that some secrets should be left uncovered.

14. Cambodia, Graves without a Name

In Rithy Panh’s latest exploration of the lasting effects of the Cambodian genocide, a 13-year-old boy who loses most of his family begins a search for their graves.

15. Canada, Family First

A man tries to maintain a proper balance between the numerous needs of his family, the job he is doing with his brother, and his involvements in his uncle’s drug cartel.

16. Chile, …And Suddenly the Dawn

Pancho Veloso, an old writer of celebrity articles, returns to his hometown of Chilean Patagonia after more than 40 years of having fled. When trying to write “salable” stories about that area so called “the end of the world”, he will face his past and leave his imposture.

17. China, Hidden Man

A young swordsman in 1930’s China returns home to try and solve a five-year-old murder case. Described as the third installment of the gangster trilogy that includes “Let The Bullets Fly” and “Gone With The Bullets.”

18. Colombia, Birds of Passage

During the marijuana bonanza, a violent decade that saw the origins of drug trafficking in Colombia, Rapayet and his indigenous family get involved in a war to control the business that ends up destroying their lives and their culture.

19. Costa Rica, Medea

María José is 25. Her life moves back and forth between the monotony of class at the university, her eternally distant parents, and a couple of alternative spaces where she can explore her own and others’ limits. One day, she meets Javier, a boy she really likes and tries to have a relationship with, but her behavior starts changing radically. In fact, she’s a few months into her pregnancy and no one knows.

20. Croatia, The Eighth Commissioner

Sinisa Mesjak is an ambitious politician who gets involved in a scandal. In order to keep him away from the public eye, the government sends him to Trecic, an isolated Croatian island with no telephone or internet signal.

21. Czech Republic, Winter Flies

Two mischievous adolescent boys embark on a journey of imaginative misadventure and coming-of-age self-discovery, in Olmo Omerzu’s road-trip comedy celebrating the need to indulge the innocence, impulsiveness, and irrepressibility of youth.

22. Denmark, The Guilty

A police officer assigned alarm dispatch duty enters a race against time when he answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman.

23. Dominican Republic, Cocote

An Evangelical Christian man attends the funeral services of his father in his hometown, where he has to participate in religious rites that clash with his beliefs and finds himself pressured to take revenge on the murderer.

24. Ecuador, A Son of Man

Pipe is invited to join his mysterious father on a quest for the lost Inca gold. But as they journey deeper into the jungle, he understands that they cannot escape the family demons that are traveling with them.

25. Egypt, Yomeddine

A Coptic leper and his orphaned apprentice leave the confines of the leper colony for the first time and embark on a journey across Egypt to search for what is left of their families.

26. Estonia, Take It or Leave It

One sleepy Saturday morning a 30-year-old construction worker Erik gets some earth shattering news: his ex-girlfriend Moonika who he hasn’t even seen for the past six months is about to go into labor. She however is not ready for motherhood and if Erik doesn’t want the kid either, the little girl will be put up for adoption.

27. Finland, Euthanizer

A man who euthanizes animals as a side job runs afoul of a white supremacist.

28. France, Memoir of War

Marguerite must navigate through the hardships of the Liberation after losing her husband and starting a relationship with the enemy during the War.

29. Georgia, Namme

Ali’s family has inherited a mission – taking care of a local healing water and curing sick fellow villagers with it. Three sons are skeptical and only the young daughter Namme stays as the guardian of family traditions. In parallel, a hydro power station is being constructed locally and environmental changes are at stakes. One day the spring water starts to disappear. Father remembers the old tradition: the water will not return unless sacrifice is made.

30. Germany, Never Look Away

German artist Kurt Barnert has escaped East Germany and now lives in West Germany, but is tormented by his childhood under the Nazis and the GDR-regime.

31. Greece, Polyxeni

In 1955 a couple of prominent Greek Istanbulites adopt an orphan Greek girl from the town of their origin. They offer her a powerful family name and ensure her devotion. Twelve-year-old Polyxeni is separated from her younger brother. She embarks on a new life and a future that looks bright. She receives an education, comes of age and falls in love. She has a lust for life, while unsuspicious of the devious plan of annihilation that others are weaving behind her back, targeting her large inheritance.

32. Hong Kong, Operation Red Sea

PLA Navy Marine Corps launch a hostage rescue operation in the fictional Republic of Ihwea and undergo a fierce battle with rebellions and terrorism.

33. Hungary, Sunset

A young girl grows up to become a strong and fearless woman in Budapest before World War I.

34. Iceland, Woman at War

Halla, a woman in her fifties, declares war on the local aluminum industry to prevent it from disfiguring her country. She risks all she has to protect the highlands of Iceland-but the situation could change with the unexpected arrival of a small orphan in her life.

35. India, Village Rockstars

A young village girl in northeast India wants to start her own rock band.

36. Indonesia, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

Marlina lives quietly in Sumba until one day a man named Markus and his gang try to rob her house and she kills him. Eventually, she is haunted by Markus, and her life turns in 180 degrees.

37. Iran, No Date, No Signature

Kaveh Nariman is a coroner in the medical examiner’s office. One day at his work he meets a corpse which is very familiar to him.

38. Iraq, The Journey

As Sara stands on the cusp of committing an unthinkable act, an unforeseen and awkward encounter gives her the opportunity to witness the potential consequences of her destructive action. But is this a second chance or an admission of guilt?

39. Israel, The Cakemaker

A German pastry maker travels to Jerusalem in search of the wife and son of his dead lover.

40. Italy, Dogman

Marcello, a small and gentle dog groomer, finds himself involved in a dangerous relationship of subjugation with Simone, a former violent boxer who terrorizes the entire neighborhood. In an effort to reaffirm his dignity, Marcello will submit to an unexpected act of vengeance.

41. Japan, Shoplifters

A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find on the street.

42. Kazakhstan, Ayka

A poor woman without a job struggles to raise her child.

43. Kenya, Supa Modo

Story of a young girl whose dream of becoming a superhero is threatened by terminal illness, inspiring her village to rally together to make her dream come true.

44. Kosovo, The Marriage

Bekim and Anita are getting married, but she is unaware that he is still in love with his best friend Nol.

45. Latvia, To Be Continued

Over the course of two years, director Ivars Seleckis profiles seven children from all walks of life across Latvia.

46. Lebanon, Capernaum

While serving a five-year sentence for a violent crime, a 12-year-old boy sues his parents for neglect.

47. Lithuania, Wonderful Losers: A Different World

They’re called water carriers, domestics, ‘gregarios’, ‘Sancho Panzas’ of professional cycling. Always at the back of the group, with no right for a personal victory. These wonderful losers are the true warriors of professional cycling.

48. Luxembourg, Gutland

A surrealist rural noir about a German thief who flees to a small Luxembourg village only to discover that the locals have secrets of their own.

49. Macedonia, Secret Ingredient

An underpaid train mechanic gives his father a cake made of stolen marijuana to relieve his cancer pain, but he is cornered by the criminals who are searching for their drugs and the nosy neighbors who want a recipe for the “healing” cake.

50. Malawi, The Road to Sunrise

Exploited by men and ridiculed by the world, two sex workers find hope in each other as they search for the road to redemption.

51. Mexico, Roma

A story that chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

52. Montenegro, Iskra

Petar is a retired detective and all he has left is his daughter Iskra. His pensioner’s days are interrupted when Iskra disappears. The pursuit to find Iskra begins and the investigation takes Petar back to his past..

53. Morocco, Burnout

Starts with the young Ayoub’s long-sighted look at a shop window. He is 13 years old and works as a shoe shopper, hoping to earn enough money to buy a bone prosthesis for his mother. Director and Scriptwriter Nour Eddine Lakhmari gives us perspectives for several different people in the city of Casablanca: a medicine student who eventually confronts his privileged customer; The Jaguar-driving, confined Jad and his unhappy wife Ines; a whimsical, car enthusiast.

54. Nepal, Panchayat

Based in Nepalese panchayat system.

55. Netherlands, The Resistance Banker

In Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, banker brothers Walraven and Gijs van Hall face their greatest challenge yet when they decide to help fund the Dutch resistance.

56. New Zealand, Yellow Is Forbidden

A brave designer chases the dream – to be crowned haute couture. But she comes from China, the land of knock offs and production lines. Will her Cinderella story end at the Met Ball?

57. Niger, The Wedding Ring

A young woman from Niger returns to her home village after finishing college abroad.

58. Norway, What Will People Say

Sixteen year-old Nisha lives a double life. At home with her family she is the perfect Pakistani daughter, but when out with her friends, she is a normal Norwegian teenager. When her father catches her in bed with her boyfriend, Nisha’s two worlds brutally collide. To set an example, Nisha’s parents decide to kidnap her and place her with relatives in Pakistan. Here, in a country she has never been to before, Nisha is forced to adapt to her parents’ culture.

59. Pakistan, Cake

A woman who takes care of her aging parents and their land is joined by her sister when their parents’ health worsens.

60. Palestine, Ghost Hunting

Director Raed Andoni places a newspaper advertisement in Ramallah. He is looking for former inmates of the Moskobiya interrogation centre in Jerusalem. In his ad he asks that the men should also have experience as craftsmen, architects or actors. After a casting process that almost feels like role play, he arranges for a replica of the centre’s interrogation rooms and cells to be built to scale inside a hall – under close supervision from the former inmates and based on their memories. In this realistic setting the men subsequently re-enact their interrogations, discuss details about the prison, and express the humiliation they experienced during their detention. Using techniques that are reminiscent of the so-called ‘theatre of the oppressed’ they work together to dramatise their real-life experiences. Their reconstruction brings long repressed emotions and undealt with trauma to the fore. Working on the film takes its toll on the men – both physically and mentally.

61. Panama, Ruben Blades Is Not My Name

Latin American icon Ruben Blades was at the center of the New York Salsa revolution in the 1970’s. His socially charged lyrics and explosive rhythms brought Salsa music to an international audience. Blades has won 17 Grammys, acted in Hollywood, earned a law degree from Harvard and even ran for President of his native Panama. He lives in New York, where he shares his life at home and on tour with the camera. Critically acclaimed director Abner Benaim takes us on a journey through Ruben’s 50 year career, revealing that Ruben might still have both musical and political ambitions. The film is a celebration of this living legend and his struggle to come to terms with his legacy.

62. Paraguay, The Heiresses

Chela and Chiquita are both descended from wealthy families in Asunción and have been together for over 30 years. But recently, their financial situation has worsened and they begin selling off their inherited possessions. But when their debts lead to Chiquita being imprisoned on fraud charges, Chela is forced to face a new reality. Driving for the first time in years, she begins to provide a local taxi service to a group of elderly wealthy ladies. As Chela settles into her new life, she encounters the much younger Angy, forging a fresh and invigorating new connection. Chela finally begins to break out of her shell and engage with the world, embarking on her own personal, intimate revolution.

63. Peru, Eternity

A couple of elderlies try to survive in Los Andes of Peru while they wait for their son.

64. Philippines, Signal Rock

Intoy takes care of his parents when his sister moved out to work overseas. Since he lives in a remote area in Samar, the only way he could contact his sister is by going to strange rock formations on the island.

65. Poland, Cold War

A passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatefully mismatched, set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris.

66. Portugal, Pilgrimage

A movie that relates the diaries of a Portuguese explorer and adventurer. Fernão Mendes Pinto was his name. He wandered for twenty-one years in the coasts of Birmany, Tzion, the Isles of Sonda, Maluku Islands, China, and Japan.

67. Romania, I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians

These words, spoken in the Council of Ministers of the summer of 1941, started the ethnic cleansing on the Eastern Front. The film attempts to comment on this statement.

68. Russia, Sobibor

Based on the history of the Sobibór extermination camp uprising during WWII and Soviet officer Alexander Pechersky. When he was a POW in Sobibor, he managed to do the impossible – to organize a revolt and mass escape of the prisoners. Many of the escapees were later caught and died – the rest led by Pechersky managed to join the partisans. Script based on the book by Ilya Vasiliev: “Alexander Pechersky: Breakthrough to Immortality”

69. Serbia, Offenders

Guided by their maverick sociology professor, three students set up separate experiments around the city to prove his “Tetris” theory of chaos: that human nature inevitably deteriorates from order to anarchy.

70. Singapore, Buffalo Boys

Two brothers named Jamar and Suwo came back to the land of Java to avenge their father, who was a Sultan, after years of exile in America.

71. Slovakia, The Interpreter

80-year-old Ali Ungar comes across a book by a former SS officer describing his wartime activities in Slovakia. He realises his parents were executed by him. He sets out to take revenge but finds instead his 70-year-old son, Georg, a retired teacher. Georg, who had avoided his father all his life, decides to find out more about him and offers Ali to be his interpreter. The two old men, in everything opposite, embark on a bittersweet journey to meet surviving witnesses of the wartime tragedy. They discover a country eager to forget its past. They realise their memories are fragments mixed with their imagination and interpretation. They connect in silence and manage to discover their own identity.

72. Slovenia, Ivan

Caught amid a violent corruption affair, a young woman is forced to make an impossible choice between the man she obsessively loves and her newborn son.

73. South Africa, Sew the Winter to My Skin

In a racially-charged and violent 1950’s rural South Africa, a liberal journalist recounts the epic chase, edge-of-your-seat capture and intriguing trial of a flamboyant, native “Robin Hood”. His captivating re-imagining, paints a portrait of a divisive outlaw – hunted by the Republic, elusive even to his loved ones, all whilst remaining a champion of the disenchanted.

74. South Korea, Burning

Jong-su, a part-time worker, bumps into Hae-mi while delivering, who used to live in the same neighborhood. Hae-mi asks him to look after her cat while she’s on a trip to Africa. When Hae-mi comes back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met in Africa, to Jong-su. One day, Ben visits Jong-su’s with Hae-mi and confesses his own secret hobby.

75. Spain, Champions

A basketball coach is sentenced to community service, forced to work with a team of mentally disabled players.

76. Sweden, Border

A customs officer who can smell fear develops an unusual attraction to a strange traveler while aiding a police investigation which will call into question her entire existence.

77. Switzerland, Eldorado

Drawing inspiration from his personal encounter with the Italian refugee child Giovanna during World War II, Markus Imhoof tells how refugees and migrants are treated today: on the Mediterranean Sea, in Lebanon, in Italy, in Germany and in Switzerland.

78. Taiwan, The Great Buddha+

Pickle is a night security guard at a bronze statue factory. His colleague, Belly Bottom, works as a recycling collector during the day, and Pickle’s biggest pleasure in life is flicking through the porn magazines Belly Bottom collects in the small hours in the security room. Having late night snacks and watching television are an integral part of their dull lives. One day when the television is broken, their lives are changed forever. The story involves gods, the middle-aged men’s sexual desire and the conversation between ghosts and humans. Maybe the audience will find it preposterous, but isn’t life itself a farce?

79. Thailand, Malila The Farewell Flower

A man returns to his old village to care for his ex-boyfriend, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

80. Tunisia, Beauty and the Dogs

During a student party, Mariam, a young Tunisian woman, meets the mysterious Youssef and leaves with him. A long night will begin, during which she’ll have to fight for her rights and her dignity. But how can Justice be made when it lies on the side of the tormentors?

81. Turkey, The Wild Pear Tree

An aspiring writer returns to his native village, where his father’s debts catch up to him.

82. Ukraine, Donbass

In eastern Ukraine, society begins to degrade as the effects of propaganda and manipulation begin to surface in this post-truth era.

83. United Kingdom, I Am Not a Witch

Following a banal incident in her local village, 8-year old girl Shula is accused of witchcraft. After a short trial she is found guilty, taken into state custody and exiled to a witch camp. At the camp she takes part in an initiation ceremony where she is shown the rules surrounding her new life as a witch. Like the other residents, Shula is tied to a ribbon which is attached to a coil that perches on a large truck. She is told that should she ever cut the ribbon, she’ll be cursed and transformed into a goat.

84. Uruguay, Twelve-Year Night

1973. Uruguay is governed by a military dictatorship. One autumn night, three Tupamaro prisoners are taken from their jail cells in a secret military operation. The order is precise: “As we can’t kill them, let’s drive them mad.” The three men will remain in solitary confinement for twelve years. Among them is Pepe Mujica – later to become president of Uruguay.

85. Venezuela, The Family

Andres and his 12 year old son Pedro lives in a blue-collar violent neighborhood in the outskirts of Caracas but hardly see each other. One day Andres comes home Pedro has gotten himself in serious trouble after hurting a boy in a fight.

86. Vietnam, The Tailor

The re-enactment of the long dress era in 1960s, Saogon, thought to be the heyday of traditional Vietnamese costumes. Interwoven into that transformation in fashion and style of the ao dai in modern times told through the story of the character of Ba. Audiences will also see somewhere the image of the 60s, 70s full of honest women. An image of Saigon in the past, gentle and steeped in contrast to the rush of a dynamic city will be described by fashion, namely long dress – traditional costumes in Vietnam. All of them are cleverly nested in the story between two families, between mothers and their children, between a tailor and a fabric shop filled with dramatic rage.

87. Yemen, 10 Days Before the Wedding

A number of obstacles stands in the way of a young couple as only 10 days are left for their wedding, each obstacle is in one way or another caused by the aftermath of the 2015 war in Yemen.

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

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

  • 2017: Germany, Israel, Senegal, South Africa, Hungary, Lebanon, Russia, Sweden, Chile
  • 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

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Cool. So that’s here we are. 87 submissions, 9 will be shortlisted, 5 will be nominated. So for anyone trying to guess how this is gonna go, you’re gonna be eliminating a lot of films.

Usually how I do this is just kind of read through and do a quick pull of the ones that seem like they have a general shot. Then I try to whittle it down based on three things: 1) the obvious countries (you can never go wrong with France, Italy and Germany) and the newbies (they love shortlisting countries on their first submission), 2) what ones sound the best, and 3) which ones won festivals, auteur directors, and which ones are getting pushed to voters.

Based on absolutely nothing, here’s the first batch I pulled out as possibilities:

  1. El Angel (Argentina)
  2. The Waldheim Waltz (Austria)
  3. Girl (Belgium)
  4. Never Leave Me (Bosnia)
  5. Omnipresent (Bulgaria)
  6. Birds of Passage (Colombia)
  7. Winter Flies (Czech Republic)
  8. The Guilty (Denmark)
  9. Euthanizer (Finland)
  10. Memoir of War (France)
  11. Namme (Georgia)
  12. Never Look Away (Germany)
  13. Polyxeni (Greece)
  14. Sunset (Hungary)
  15. Woman at War (Iceland)
  16. Dogman (Italy)
  17. The Cakemaker (Israel)
  18. Shoplifters (Japan)
  19. The Marriage (Kosovo)
  20. To Be Continued (Latvia)
  21. Capernaum (Lebanon)
  22. Wonderful Losers: A Different World (Lithuania)
  23. The Road to Sunrise (Malawi)
  24. Roma (Mexico)
  25. Iskra (Montenegro)
  26. The Resistance Banker (Netherlands)
  27. The Wedding Ring (Niger)
  28. What People Will Say (Norway)
  29. Cold War (Poland)
  30. Sobibor (Russia)
  31. Border (Sweden)
  32. Burning (South Korea)
  33. Eldorado (Switzerland)
  34. The Wild Pear Tree (Turkey)
  35. I Am Not a Witch (UK)

Not bad. I could probably have gotten it to 30 if I tried, but whatever. It’s all the same.

Of the bunch:

  • The Waldheim Waltz, Eldorado and Wonderful Losers are documentaries
  • Birds of Passage is by the director of Embrace of the Serpent
  • Never Look Away is by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who did Downfall
  • Sunset is by Laszlo Nemes, who did Son of Saul
  • Dogman is by Mateo Garrone, who did Gomorrah
  • Roma is Alfonso Cuaron, Netflix, and is solidly in the Best Picture race
  • Cold War is by Pawel Pawlikowski, who did Ida
  • The Wild Pear Tree is by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who did Winter Sleep
  • Shoplifters won Cannes
  • I Am Not a Witch won a BAFTA award for Best Debut last year and was nominated for an Indy Spirit award
  • The Road to Sunrise (Malawi) and The Wedding Ring (Niger) are their countries’ first submission

None of these necessarily mean anything, but it’s worth pointing out.

Also, historically, the most nominated countries for this award are France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Japan, Denmark, Hungary, Germany, Poland and Israel. So usually you’re served pretty well by including those.

Another thing to always keep into account when doing this — they’re gonna leave stuff off. What you might consider to be an amazing film, they’ll find a way to not put it on. Some years, the obvious choices make it through. Other years, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Elle, Goodnight Mommy… there are always movies each year that seem like obvious choices that don’t get shortlisted. It’s all random. You can’t take this stuff seriously. Just go with your gut and not your feelings.

I guess I should pick a shortlist, huh.

Honestly, I have no idea. And I barely have the brain space to figure this shit out.

Honestly, I need to assume Cold War gets on. It’s been the most lauded one so far and he won this category last time. I’m not leaving Roma off, even though they probably should just leave it to the inevitable Best Picture race and give something else a chance here. But they have to shortlist it, right? I feel like either Burning or Shoplifters gets left off, but I’ll leave both on and see which it is. (My gut says Shoplifters gets left off, which means Burning will get left off.) Sunset stays on for me. He won the category, so let’s say he gets shortlisted again. Always safe going with France, so let’s put Memoir of War on, though that seems likely to get left off in favor of a newbie. The Guilty just feels like something that gets shortlisted and/or nominated, so that’s on. Border seems to be pretty prevalent, so let’s put that on. And then… Capernaum is Sony Classics and I’ve seen it get pushed, so that’s there too. Is that 9? Cool, that’s my nine.

Border (Sweden)

Burning (South Korea)

Capernaum (Lebanon)

Cold War (Poland)

The Guilty (Denmark)

Memoir of War (France)

Roma (Mexico)

Shoplifters (Japan)

Sunset (Hungary)

Clearly I put no thought into this, but honestly playing it safe is probably gonna get me a pretty good number when they announce the final nine.

I guarantee you something big will be left off. I guarantee you some random country will get on, because they always do. That’s how this works. No one knows anything. The point of this article was to familiarize you with the potential nominees, and maybe get you to want to watch some of them. I just pick because I can and because it’s fun for me. I don’t even care how I do. I just wanna see how things play out from this initial stage until later.

Anywho, it’s December now, guys. We’ve got one more mini Oscar preview to go, and then it’s basically year-end lists and precursor awards. This is all just screwing around until then.

Oh, but I should also mention — the way this voting process works — and why no one really knows how it’s gonna go — they changed the voting process this year. There was a whole system in the past, and now they’ve made it much easier for people to see the films when they have a chance. Obviously almost no one sees them all, but I have noticed that this year they are screening more of the films than I’m used to. Which should make voters more informed at the very least.

The way they do things now is, people go see the movies (and they lowered the minimum requirement on how many need to have been seen, which theoretically skews toward the higher profile/studio-acquired films), and then vote. The top 6 automatically get on, and then the committee that heads the branch will agree upon three more films. Which is why there’s always those films that seem to come out of nowhere. The first-timers and such. It’s like the NFL Hall of Fame. They vote for who they want, and then there’s the veteran’s committee that adds on extra people. So once that’s done, they have their nine films, and then do a voting round to see which five make it on the final list.

With all that, trying to pick a shortlist is a fool’s errand. But it’s fun and gives me something to do while also educating me to the category. And hey, we just filled a day with something to talk about.

– – – – – – – – – –

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One response

  1. To bad “Der Dreigroschenfilm” didn’t make the list. But I guess it is too, well, communist for an US audience anyway. Being about Brecht and all.

    December 1, 2018 at 1:53 pm

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