February 01, 2006


...and not a single Asian movie is among the bunch. And please don't point out the few nominations for MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. Please. The only Asian film that got a nod was HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE which is one of the three movies up for "Best Animated Feature Film". The "Best Foreign Language Film" nominations were a dismal array of compromise and apology.

Italy, whom the Academy had ticked off by disqualifying PRIVATE, had DON'T TELL nominated, which seems awfully convenient. Same as PARADISE NOW being nominated. Didn't the Academy say that Palestine wasn't a country back in 2002 when they disqualified DIVINE INTERVENTION?

France's JOYEUX NOEL and Germany's SOPHIE SCHMIDT again demonstrate that while Germany is sentenced to always make movies about Nazis as far as the Academy is concerned, and that France will never get to nominate one of their movies that is actually released in American theaters (where was A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT last year? Where was THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED or KINGS AND QUEENS this year? Although K&Q was technically a 2004 movie, so was Vietnam's BUFFALO BOY).

And TSOTSI, while being a very good movie, got the unofficial Miramax slot, whereas the Weinstein company's one shot at a Foreign Language Oscar, THE PROMISE, got thrown to the dogs in a disagreement over Oscar campaigning for the film. Were the Weinstein's prescient? Or did their abandonment of THE PROMISE keep it out of the final five?

February 1, 2006 at 09:26 AM in News | Permalink


The producer of "Divine Intervention" claimed back in 2002 that the Academy refused to nominate the film because Palestine isn't a real country. The Academy claimed the film was never submitted for their consideration in the first place. It ended up becoming Palestine's 2003 submission instead, at which point the Academy explained that they were treating Palestine as an "exception" in the same sense Hong Kong is an "exception."

Posted by: Jean-Michel | Feb 1, 2006 5:27:08 PM

There may be arguments re whether Palestine's a bona fide country but surely there ought to be little doubt that Palestine's in Asia? As such, I see the American Academy as sticking to its thoroughly lame "only one final nominee from Asia (vs three from Europe and one from "the rest of the world")" rule once again.

Posted by: YTSL | Feb 1, 2006 8:05:36 PM

JOYEUX NOEL (MERRY CHRISTMAS) will be released in US theaters on March 3 by Sony Classics. The anti-war sentiment may be familiar, but the film strikes a new chord on the theme, as does the excellent TSOTSI. Both are undeniably audience friendly, but so is WELCOME TO DONGMAKGOL, the Korean entry. The big surprise to me was not that THE PROMISE (weird, wacky, and probably too perplexing for the Academy) was shut out, but that WELCOME was denied.

Posted by: Peter Martin | Feb 2, 2006 4:34:09 AM

I actually like TSOTSI quite a bit and I strongly recommend that people seek it out when it's released. Interestingly, Miramax has been able to get one of their movies in the final five almost every year for the past 6 or so years.

What's the story with France, though? I assume Sony pushed JOYEUX for a Foreign Film nomination, but France had BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED and KINGS AND QUEENS (K&Q; is a 2004 film, but even if it missed the deadline (Oct. 2004?) with a little foresight they could have fudged it over, like BUFFALO BOY from Vietnam) both of which were wildly popular (relatively speaking) in the US. Either movie could have been their nomination and maybe even won thanks to their good reviews.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Feb 2, 2006 8:28:58 AM

What an odd scenario. According to the Academy web site, "The film must be first released in the country submitting the film between October 1, 2004 and September 30, 2005." According to IMDB, KINGS AND QUEEN was released in France December 22, 2004." So it made the deadline, as did THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED. However, again according to IMDB, JOYEUX NOEL was not released until November 9, 2005. Perhaps it received a special one-week qualifying engagement in France before its general release. If that didn't happen, and if IMDB is accurate (never a sure thing), it would appear that JOYEUX NOEL should not be eligible for the award. In any event, THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED is the edgier, more accomplished picture, and KINGS AND QUEEN the US critical fave, so wonder what the French deciders were thinking?

Posted by: Peter Martin | Feb 2, 2006 4:58:30 PM

I've not seen JOYEUX NOEL yet, but THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED and KINGS AND QUEEN both seem like risky propositions for the aesthetically conservative Foreign Language Oscar nominating crew; based on their success rate, I get the feeling that the French selectors have gotten picking the French film each year most likely to appeal to the Academy down to a science, even if it means overlooking better, more critically-acclaimed films.

Posted by: Frisco Brian | Feb 3, 2006 5:17:02 PM

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