Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

18 February 2014

Oscar Nominees 2014: Part 10 of 14


La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty)
1 Nomination
  • Foreign Language Film: Italy (Don't Tell, Life Is Beautiful, The Starmaker, Mediteranneo, Open Doors, Cinema Paradiso, The Family, Three Brothers, To Forget Venice, Viva Italia!, A Special Day, Seven Beauties, Scent of a Woman, Amarcord, Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Girl with a Pistol, The Battle of Algiers, Marriage Italian Style, Yesterday Today and Tomorrow, 8 1/2, The Four Days of Naples, The Great War, Kapò, Big Deal on Madonna Street, Nights of Cabiria, La Strada, The Bicycle Thief, The Walls of Malapaga, Shoeshine)
Cast: Toni Servillo, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Verdone, Galatea Ranzi, Pamela Villoresi, Carlo Buccirosso, Iaia Forte, Giovanna Vignola, Giusi Merli, Sonia Gessner, Luca Marinelli

I have written about this enough times, I suppose. It is the best movie of the year, and there is simply nothing like it. I have even seen it a second time. I had a chance to see the film in the local IMAX theatre and I jumped at the chance. It hit me just as hard the second time, and my friends and I talked about it for days afterward. You will notice that Italy's previous nominations include films by Fellini, Tornatore, De Sica, Pontecorvo, Risi, Monicelli, and Scola (but strangely not Antonioni, Bertolucci, or Bellocchio): Sorrentino is in good company. And if some of the Italian masters have been left off of this list, the film to which La Grande Bellezza has most often been compared is La Dolce Vita, which also missed out on a Best Foreign Language Oscar nomination. In who's-going-to-win news, they just recently changed the rules for voting for the winner of this Oscar. Formerly, an Academy member had to see all five of the nominees in order to vote for the winner. This is no longer the case, which means that voting for the winner of Best Foreign Language film will follow the same type of group-think as the rest of the winners. This year, however, that means that the best film of the year in any language will win Best Foreign Language picture.
Will Win: Foreign Language Film
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #1 out of 81

The Broken Circle Breakdown
1 Nomination
  • Foreign Language Film: Belgium (Bullhead, Everybody's Famous, Farinelli: il Castrato, Daens, The Music Teacher, Peace in the Fields)
Cast: Johan Heldenbergh, Veerle Baetens, Nell Cattrysse

This is Belgium's second recent nomination (their most recent was the totally awesome Bullhead – check it out). I haven't seen this picture yet, but Netflix assures me it will be out on DVD on the eleventh of March, a good nine days late for the Oscars. So I will see it then, I suppose. I can tell you that this is a melodrama about a relationship between a bluegrass musician – the film is filled with Bluegrass music, in English no less – and a tattoo artist. It is based on a play by Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels, and Van Groeningen's film was nominated for six European film awards where Veerle Baetens won Best Actress. The film was also nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the Césars. You can watch the trailer here.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Foreign Language Film
My Rating: Not ranked

Omar (عمر)
1 Nomination
  • Foreign Language Film: Palestine (Paradise Now)
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Cast: Adam Bakri, Waleed Zuaiter, Leem Lubany, Baher Agbariya, Majd Bitar, Walid Abed Elsalam, David Gerson

Here's another one I haven't seen. This is Hany Abu-Assad's second nomination in this category, but the film looks, well to be honest, it doesn't look all that great. You can watch the trailer here. Omar played at Cannes in 2013 and will be released in the U.S. on the 21st. The poster features the back of Omar's head as he kisses his love-interest in the film, and above their heads are the words "An incredible love story". Apparently, they are assuming we won't watch the trailer so that we can know what the film is actually about. Actually, if you're feeling like you probably will see this film, take my advice and don't watch the trailer. It gives way too much away.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: Not ranked

L'Image Manquante (The Missing Picture)
1 Nomination
  • Foreign Language Film: Cambodia
Director: Rithy Panh
Cast: Randal Douc

This is Cambodia's first nomination ever, and it is very exciting for another reason, too. L'Image Manquante is a documentary about atrocities perpetuated by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, and this is the first time in a very long time that a documentary has been nominated for Best Foreign Language film. This is a huge deal all around. I don't think the film can win, but this nomination does demonstrate the Academy's interest in cinema from all parts of the globe. This was never in doubt, really, but there has not been a film from the Asian mainland nominated in this category for over five years. The Academy has for the last twenty years consistently ignored submissions by India, South Korea, Vietnam, China, even Hong Kong. I am not saying this is instantly going to change, but this nomination is a step in the right direction. The film is slated for release stateside on March nineteenth. You can see the trailer here.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: Not ranked

Jagten (The Hunt)
1 Nomination
  • Foreign Language Film: Denmark (A Royal Affair, In a Better World, After the Wedding, Waltzing Regitze, Pelle the Conqueror, Babette's Feast, Harry and the Butler, Paw, Qivitoq)
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Thomas Bo Larsen, Susse Wold, Anne Louise Hassing, Alexandra Rapaport, Lasse Fogelstrøm

Mads Mikkelsen has starred in three of the last four nominees for Denmark in this category. Apparently it is a winning combination. Obviously, Mikkelsen is a big star, and this goes a long way to making this film as good as it is and in it getting this nomination. In fact, though, the high quality of Jagten has as much to do with the legendary director of the first Dogme 95 film, Thomas Vinterberg, as it does with Mikkelsen. Jagten is a kind of Arthur Miller's The Crucible for the twenty-first century. It is a terrifying, nail-biting witchhunt, that drove me and my roommate absolutely nuts watching it. One wants to scream at the movie screen. This film gets its hooks into you and then drags you around for a little bit. This is excellent, unsparing filmmaking, and it is totally in line with Vinterberg's other work. Denmark has won this award recently, though – for Susanne Bier's 2010 In a Better World (a much-deserved win) – and it won't be taking home the trophy this year unless there is an enormous upset.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Foreign Language Film
My Rating: #19 out of 81