Best Foreign Language is a tough category in 2019. There are a lot of strong candidates. Pretty much every one of the nine shortlisted films have a good case for why they should be in the top five. Of course, in a year where Roma is on the shortlist, it will be hard for any other film to win. But anything could happen.
Let’s take a look at the shortlist.
- Cold War
- Never Look Away
In the Mix:
- The Guilty
- Birds of Passage
The heavy favorite to win this outright is Roma, which will pick up nominations in multiple categories barring a crazy snubbing by the Academy. Cold War, too, has a shot at nabbing a Best Cinematography nomination. Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida was a winner at the award show a few years back. He has a proven track record that should earn him a spot here, given the similar stylistic substance in Cold War.
One would assume Shoplifters will get into the top five, but the Palme D’or and the Academy Award do not often intersect. Kore-eda’s film is such a brilliant and beloved film, though, that it is hard to imagine it getting snubbed. Getting into the Golden Globes race doesn’t hurt its chances, either.
What is left hurting after the Golden Globes is Burning, another critical favorite this year. While the Golden Globes and the Oscars are two entirely different beasts, the stock of Burning is slipping some as we get closer to nomination time. I put it in the top five nonetheless, but it could conceivably be beaten out by Cannes Jury Prize winner Capernaum or The Guilty.
Never Look Away is also on the chopping block. While coming from the director of the Oscar-winning The Lives of Others, it is a film that not a lot of people have been talking about. It also carries a hefty three-hour runtime that could have burdened the voting committee (which is required to watch all nine of the shortlisted films in a rather short period of time).
Further down the shortlist are Birds of Passage and Ayka. Neither have received a lot of buzz or other major awards. But Birds of Passage comes from the same minds as the Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent, which is a beautifully-shot film. And Ayka was a Cannes contender, where it won for Best Actress. Both are the long-shot choices in this race, but both are contenders nonetheless.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)