Oscars 2018: Best Foreign Language Film Shortlist

Our second shortlist is Best Foreign Language Film.

This is the one they do every year and it makes my life so much easier. This year, in particular, they’ve made it easier for people to see more of the eligible films by having screenings throughout the process. However, they did kind of narrow the field down with those screenings, and while I don’t care enough to do this, I’d be really interested to see if these films were featured in those screenings.

That said, there were 87 eligible films (all of which I previewed here), and now they’ve whittled it down to nine. Well… the branch voted in the top six, and then a committee added three more, which is always how you end up with the countries that are submitting for the first time. You gotta wonder why no one’s called them out on that. They straight up just shortlist three movies based on a board of people going, “Yeah, put that one on.”

But anyway, we have 9 films left, and 5 of them will be nominated. Here is your Best Foreign Language Film shortlist:

Birds of Passage (Columbia)
The Guilty (Denmark)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Shoplifters (Japan)
Ayka (Kazakhstan)
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Roma (Mexico)
Cold War (Poland)
Burning (South Korea)

I got six of these right from my list. (Quite possibly the six the branch voted in before the committee just added extras.) I missed Birds of Passage, Ayka and Never Look Away. I did include those on my longer list, so there’s that.

At this point, I don’t really care how they ended up with this list — this is the list. Now I gotta see as many of these as I can, and then figure out which five are gonna be nominated.

Currently, I’ve seen Roma, I’ve seen Cold War. I have copies of Never Look Away, Capernaum and Burning, so I will see those in the next two weeks. The Guilty I think I also should be able to see in the next two weeks. That just leaves me with Shoplifters (which I think is also a possibility for me to see before the end of the year), Birds of Passage and Ayka. Those two might be tougher. But we’ll see what I can do. My goal is to see all nine before nominations so I can properly diagnose the category. So just over a month.

As for what’s here —

Roma seemed like a lock all the way through and the only question is whether or not it sweeps and how they’ll respond to it in the broader categories and here. If it gets nominated for Best Picture, does that mean it won’t win here, or is this the consolation prize? Hard to know before nominations, but all stuff we need to think about.

Capernaum was pushed pretty hard and made sense. That and Never Look Away are Sony Classics, which sent out screeners for them. That usually means a shortlist is coming.

Never Look Away, meanwhile… now we all have to watch a 3 hour and 10 minute drama about post-Holocaust trauma. Thanks guys. It is by the guy who did The Lives of Others, so there’s that too.

Cold War was always gonna make it. That’s Amazon and also came out as a screener. So far all of the foreign films that got screeners sent out are shortlisted, save one (Dogman, but that was clearly sent by an independent body trying to get more people to see it. The others all had major studio backing).

Burning and Shopliters — one won Cannes and the other has been a critical darling throughout the year. Not particularly surprised at either of those.

Birds of Passage — by the guy who did Embrace of the Serpent, right? Why do I feel like that might have been a committee decision? Still, here we are. Maybe it’s great, who knows.

Ayka — definitely a committee decision. There’s no way a movie from Kazakhstan comes out of nowhere to make a shortlist without the committee putting it on. Maybe it’s good enough to get votes, who knows

The Guilty — okay. Denmark is always right there and I thought it was gonna be shortlisted, so it’s either because of what it’s about or the fact that they’ve pushed it. Either way, not that big a surprise to see it here.

– – – – –

Way too early to call, but if I’m picking a category here, just for the moment… Roma and Cold War are on. The rest, no fucking clue.


Birds of Passage


Cold War


That’s my pure guess. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned from them, they will put the weird shit on just to spite everyone else. I would guess that in all likelihood probably Shoplifters or Burning (or both) makes it in, but you don’t know with this branch. They do weird shit. So those are five I threw together for now, because I’m not remotely briefed enough in this category to feel one way or the other about it. It’s already a weird one because you just assume either Cold War or Roma is winning this no matter what. So really that just makes me more focused on trying to get the rest of the category right.

P.S. You’ll notice that I spent zero time focusing on the “snubs” or what didn’t make it on here. The reason for that is — doesn’t matter. We don’t know how voting for this worked, we don’t know if anyone really saw all the nominees, and we don’t really know what 90% of the eligible films even were. So to discuss three movies that got some press and say they were unfairly left off is really just some time-wasting, clickbait writing, and I just refuse to get into that stuff. You know what category we can shit talk for snubs? Documentary Feature. Because at least those nominees have some profile.

(We’ll get to that one soon enough. Maybe even next. I don’t know what I’m writing up after this, so let’s find out together, shall we?)

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