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This Year's Foreign Oscar Snubs: "Separation" In; "Bala" Out

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik January 18, 2012 at 1:38PM

Oh, why do I even still bother? Predictably disappointing, but still somewhat grating, the Academy Awards have announced their short-list for the Best Foreign Language Film of the year, and the resulting 9 films aren't going to surprise anyone--except for the few noteworthy omissions that should rankle critics.
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Oh, why do I even still bother? Predictably disappointing, but still somewhat grating, the Academy Awards have announced their short-list for the Best Foreign Language Film of the year, and the resulting 9 films aren't going to surprise anyone--except for the few noteworthy omissions that should rankle critics.

Most surprising is the lack of inclusion of France's "Declaration of War" and Mexico's "Miss Bala"--both films by relatively new directors, that experiment with narrative and style, and their omission suggests once again how middlebrow the tastes of the Academy run. (In another stunner, Aki Kaurismaki's much beloved "Le Havre" also did not make the cut.)

I think Iranian favorite "A Separation" is a solid film, and as the likely frontrunner, it'd be the first to say how awesome it would be for an Iranian film to win the Oscar during this political climate. (And if Joseph Cedar's Israeli entry "Footnote" wins, what kind of international conflict could arise?)

No matter, there are many more bold cinematc films that are perennially glossed over in the Oscar race, i.e. Greece's terrific "Attenberg," Peru's "October" and Bela Tarr's "The Turin Horse." I guess that's just Oscar.

Here is my prediction for the final five:

Belgium, "Bullhead," Michael R. Roskam, director;
Canada, "Monsieur Lazhar," Philippe Falardeau, director;
Iran, "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi, director;
Israel, "Footnote," Joseph Cedar, director;
Poland, "In Darkness," Agnieszka Holland, director;