...and then there were nine. After sixty-three submissions, we're down to the last batch hoping to make it the final five when the Oscar nominations are announced next Tuesday. The process is an odd one, with L.A.-based Academy members voting in the top six, and three more films added by the branch committee headed by chief Mark Johnson. Now, invite-only members in New York and Los Angeles will vote and weigh in with the final five. But before we get to those, let's see who got left out.
Christian Bale wasn't enough to boost two-time nominee Zhang Yimou's "The Flowers of War." Cannes breakout "Miss Bala" has been riding a wave of heat and praise, though it didn't make it over the finish line and won't be appearing at the Kodak Theater. Nor will Aki Kaurismaki's critically acclaimed "Le Havre," even with the director lifting his self-imposed ban on attending the ceremonies. Same goes for "Once Upon a Time In Anatolia," a revered arthouse fave.
So, who are the favorites? Iran's "A Separation" seems like a lock here, earning nearly universal rave reviews and touching upon an Important Subject, always a fave with Academy voters. Agnieska Holland's World War II tale "In Darkness" could be a dark horse, a film long talked about being an Oscar contender, and it seems to be winning a slow but steady race. Meanwhile, Wim Wenders' 3D dance doc "Pina" has been finding lots of favor, more than we ever thought it would. And don't count out Canada with "Monsieur Lazhar"; it was recently nominated for five Genie Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. It's playing to good business and reviews in its native land, and the Academy has liked Québécois films in the past.
In just under a week we'll see who is left standing. The shortlist below. [Thompson On Hollywood]
Belgium, "Bullhead," Michael R. Roskam, director
Canada, "Monsieur Lazhar," Philippe Falardeau, director
Denmark, "Superclásico," Ole Christian Madsen, director
Germany, "Pina," Wim Wenders, director
Iran, "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi, director
Israel, "Footnote," Joseph Cedar, director
Morocco, "Omar Killed Me," Roschdy Zem, director
Poland, "In Darkness," Agnieszka Holland, director
Taiwan, "Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale," Wei Te-sheng, director.