Oscar Watch: Sony Pictures Classics Lands Three on Foreign Short List

by Anne Thompson
January 20, 2010 6:29 AM
4 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
The Academy has announced the foreign film short list of nine, culled from 65 submissions. The foreign branch voted for six of these, while three were added by the foreign branch executive committee led by producer Mark Johnson, just in case such films as the critically-hailed Cannes entries A Prophet or The White Ribbon (both released by Sony Pictures Classics) failed to make the Phase One selection. Another committee of 30 voters from New York and L.A. will whittle the nine down to five for nominations morning, February 2.

Word on the Argentinian film El Secreto de Sus Ojos has been outstanding--Sony Pictures Classics is also releasing this, which brings their total on the short list to three. Australia's Samson & Delilah was well-reviewed at Cannes, but the intense look at a down-and-out Aborigine couple has failed to land a stateside distributor. I also expected Israeli/Palestinian cinema verite hit Ajami to make the list of nine, even though the complex narrative, performed by non-actors, is tough to follow. Kino International is releasing.

A plethora of World War II movies may account for why Norway's Max Manus didn't make the cut. The Netherlands' Winter in Wartime seems to have landed the perennial holocaust slot. Denmark's drolly dark film noir Terribly Happy was probably a tad too nasty for this group. So was Mexico's The Backyard, a dark tale of abduction, rape and murder. Also omitted was Italy's gorgeous but dull period epic, Giuseppe Tornatore's Baaria. And Bong Joon-ho's critics' fave Mother, an Independent spirit Award nominee, was also snubbed. (Magnolia will release March 12.) And IFC isn't happy that Romania's Police, Adjective was passed over.

My best guess on the final five: A Prophet, The White Ribbon, El Secreto de Sus Ojos, The Milk of Sorrow and Ajami.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:

Argentina, “El Secreto de Sus Ojos,” Juan Jose Campanella, director;
Australia, “Samson & Delilah,” Warwick Thornton, director;
Bulgaria, “The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner,” Stephan Komandarev, director;
France, “Un Prophète,” Jacques Audiard, director; 
Germany, “The White Ribbon,” Michael Haneke, director; 
Israel, “Ajami,” Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, directors; 
Kazakhstan, “Kelin,” Ermek Tursunov, director;
The Netherlands, “Winter in Wartime,” Martin Koolhoven, director;
Peru, “The Milk of Sorrow,” Claudia Llosa, director.

The Film Experience has data on all the submissions.

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4 Comments

  • jl | January 21, 2010 6:27 AMReply

    @ Salesindie, I agree Moon was a terrific film! Sam was terrific and the film was thought-provoking and entertaining, given the budget for a sci-fi. I agree that SPC did a piss poor job of marketing the film and Sam.

    I'm sorry many people will miss this film.

  • spcfan | January 21, 2010 5:59 AMReply

    your're sooo on it salesindie. its no wonder after so many accolades and smart acqisitions, they're still around after all these years. the worst. i say. the worst.

  • Salesindie | January 21, 2010 4:35 AMReply

    Why Sony Pictures Classics has three movies from the list? If Sony Pictures Classics has them, then those three movies probably won't make the cut on the final list.

    Sony Pictures Classics is the worst studio indie division. It screwed up too many films that should have done much better at box office, like MOON, AN EDUCATION, and THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS (a Johnny Depp/Heath Ledger movie won't gross more than $10 million at box office? It is embrassing!) In the hand of Fox Searchlight, those three movies would have grossed more than $30 million at box office.

  • ryan werner | January 21, 2010 3:07 AMReply

    we never expected POLICE, ADJECTIVE to make the shortlist. we had this conversation with the filmmakers from day 1. in my opinion it's one of the great films of the year and that will have to be enough!

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