Per usual, Sony Pictures Classics boasts four entries this year: Incendies, Of Gods and Men, In a Better World and Life, Above All, so many in fact that co-president Tom Bernard was hard-pressed to name them all. Most years, at least one SPC film winds up being nominated, so I'm putting all four on my lead contenders (having not yet seen most of the films) list, below:
-Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Biutiful (Roadside Attractions, Mexico), starring the incandescent Javier Bardem, who will be vying for a nomination for best actor as well, which won't hurt. Roadside Attractions knows how to work an Oscar campaign.
-Danis Tanovic Cirkus Columbia (Bosnia and Herzegovina); his 2001 United Artists Cannes entry No Man's Land won the Oscar.
-Iciar Bollain's Even The Rain (Vitagraph, Spain) stars Gael Garcia Bernal as a director shooting a film about Latin American identity.
-Susanne Bier's In a Better World (SPC, Denmark); the internationally acclaimed director was nominated for After the Wedding in 2007.
-Denis Villeneuve's Incendies (SPC, Canada) played like gangbusters at Toronto.
-Oliver Schmitz's Life, Above All (SPC, South Africa) is an emotionally moving AIDS drama.
-Milcho Manchevski's Mothers (Macedonia); his film Before the Rain was nominated in 1995.
-Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods and Men (SPC, France) played well at Cannes and deals with religious passion.
-Rachid Bouchareb's controversial Cannes entry Outside the Law (Cohen Media Group, Algeria) is a follow-up to his Oscar-nominated 2006 film Days of Glory.
-Amir Khan-produced Peepli Live (India), a socially conscious indie film, played well at Sundance and Toronto.
-Apichatpong Weerathesakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Strand, Thailand) won the Palme d'Or; it could be the sort of film the executive committee votes in.
And here's the full list (complete coverage at indieWIRE):
Albania - East, West, East, directed by Gjergj Xhuvani
Algeria - Outside the Law, directed by Rachid Bouchareb
Argentina - Carancho, Pablo Trapero
Austria - La Pivellina, directed by Tizza Covi & Rainer Frimmel
Azerbaijan - Precinct, directed by Ilgar Safat
Bangladesh - Third Person Singular Number, directed by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki
Belgium - Illegal, directed by Olivier Masset-Depasse
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Cirkus Columbia, directed by Danis Tanovic
Brazil - Lula, o filho do Brasil, directed by Fábio Barreto
Bulgaria - Eastern Plays, directed by Kamen Kalev
Canada - Incendies, directed by Denis Villeneuve
Chile - The Life of Fish, directed by Matías Bize
China - Aftershock, directed by Feng Xiaogang
Colombia - Crab Trap, directed by Oscar Ruíz Navia
Costa Rica - Of Love and Other Demons, directed by Hilda Hidalgo
Croatia - The Blacks, directed by Goran Devic and Zvonimir Juric
Czech Republic - Kawasaki’s Rose, directed by Jan Hrebejk
Denmark - In a Better World, directed by Susanne Bier [pictured]
Egypt - Messages From The Sea, directed by Daoud Abdel Sayed
Estonia - The Temptation of St. Tony, directed by Veiko Öunpuu
Ethiopia - The Athlete, directed by Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew
Finland - Steam of Life, directed by Joonas Berghail & Mika Hotakainen
France - Of Gods and Men, directed by Xavier Beauvois
Georgia - Street Days, directed Levan Koguashvili
Germany - When We Leave, directed by Feo Aladag
Greece - Dogtooth, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos [pictured]
Greenland - Nuummioq, directed by Torben Bech and Otto Rosing
Hong Kong - Echoes of the Rainbow, directed by Alex Law
Hungary - Bibliteque Pascal, directed by Szabolcs Hajdu
Iceland - Mamma Gógó, directed by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson
India - Peepli Live, directed by Anusha Rizvi
Indonesia - How Funny (This Country Is), directed by Deddy Mizwar
Iran - Farewell Baghdad, directed by Mehdi Naderi
Iraq - Son of Babylon, directed by Mohamed Al-Daradji
Italy - The First Beautiful Thing, directed by Paolo Virzì
Israel - The Human Resources Manager, directed by Eran Riklis
Japan - Confessions, directed by Tetsuya Nakashima
Kazakhstan - Strayed, directed by Akan Satayev
Latvia - Hong Kong Confidential, directed by Maris Martinsons
Macedonia - Mothers, directed by Milcho Manchevski
Mexico - Biutiful, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Netherlands - Tirza, directed by Rudolph van den Berg
Nicaragua - Le Yuma, directed by Florence Jaugey
Norway - Angel, directed by Margreth Olin
Peru - Undertow, directed by Javier Fuentes-León
Philippines - Noy, directed by Dondon Santos
Poland - All That I Love, directed by Jacek Borcuch
Portugal - To Die Like A Man, directed by João Pedro Rodrigues
Puerto Rico - Miente, directed by Rafi Mercado
Romania - If I Want to Whistle…I Whistle, directed by Florin Serban
Russia - The Edge, directed by Aleksei Uchitel
Serbia - Besa, directed by Srdjan Karanovic
Slovakia - The Border, directed by Jaroslav Vojtek
Slovenia - 9:06, directed by Igor Sterk
South Africa - Life, Above All, directed by Oliver Schmitz
South Korea - A Barefoot Dream, directed by Tae-gyun Kim
Spain - Even The Rain, directed by Iciar Bollain
Sweden - Simple Simon, directed by Andreas Ohman
Switzerland - La petite chambre, directed by Stéphanie Chaut & Véronique Reymond
Taiwan - Monga, directed by Doze Niu
Thailand - Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, directed by Apichatpong Weerathesakul
Turkey - Honey, directed by Semih Kaplanoglu
Venezuela - Hermano, directed by Marcel Rasquin