We continue our category breakdowns with Best International Feature. They’ve been tweaking this one a bunch in recent years and all of the changes seem to be impacting this category for the better.
On top of changing the name of the category to be more inclusive, they increased the shortlist from 9 to 10 last year and this year increased it from 10 to 15. I’m not sure that change was meant to be permanent but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be. It eliminates all of the nonsense they had to implement about ‘executive committee saves’ and all that. Because, if you remember, after I believe 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days didn’t make the shortlist despite being one of the consensus best films of that year, they implemented a system whereby the top six vote-getters would automatically make the shortlist but reserved three spots for ‘saves’, which allowed the heads of the branch to basically pick three other movies to automatically make the shortlist no matter how many votes they got. Which kept a lot of higher profile films in competition and also seemingly allowed them to get a lot of newer countries into the fray, rather than having the category just be France, Germany, Italy and Russia every year. But now, making the shortlist 15 allows all those higher profile films to make the shortlist and allows for more countries to make it on.
This year, I think the only negative about the expanded shortlist was that there were about 3-4 spots that clearly were just people voting for directors they respected rather than simply quality of film. But other than that, it feels like this is as close to improvement this category’s seen in a long time (since people not watching more than a small handful of films is an Academy-wide problem. So you can’t expect this category to be the outlier). (more…)