Foreign language Film Issues 2013: A Simple Plan (Part 5 of 5)

A Simple Plan

I didn’t initially think of a plan to propose for this year, but a rather simple solution came to mind. I think that using the existing rule about qualifying American of English-language films with regards to running time and a one-week engagement in Los Angeles (maybe for this category they can even add New York) that the Academy can shortlist some outstanding foreign films that have already gotten US exposure, and thus, hedge their bets about having some further interest in the potential pool of nominees. That would be Phase One.

Phase Two would, and could, operate in much the same way the foreign language submissions currently work. The US-released foreign films that could get shortlisted would likely encompass many of the nations that could benefit from additional submissions due to their history and high quality (France, Sweden, Germany, Japan, etc.) as well as those who may have multi-cultural populations and produce films in multiple languages (China, India, Belgium, Canada, etc.).

Essentially, this idea would be the smallest increase in eligible films of any I’d proposed. My first was the largest with a World-Cup-inspired merit system, the next also nearly doubled things. If a shortlist is, for the sake of argument 12 titles, this years submissions would be up to 88.

The Oscars do signify something, a much larger something to those whose eyes and ears are not glued to the process. I can’t argue that there isn’t prestige and that I don’t love the show. I have come to embrace the fact that Oscar winners are really about films easiest to build consensus around. Therefore, the committees, at least to some degree, operate correctly. What needs to be rectified is the fallacy that only one film per nation is worthy of Oscar consideration. The Oscars are the ultimate audience and judge so let them, add to the pot along with whatever films come their way via national committees.

The bottom line is that every year there’s a new facet I consider about the imperfections of the system. And, in fairness, based on what I’ve read, the Academy is working towards improvements on this category. I’m not sure that the entire membership voting on the winner is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s a change. More changes still need to be made, more things taken into consideration when pooling candidates as I think I’ve shown in a number of ways.

Foreign Language Film Issues 2013: Hollywood Rules (Part 4 of 5)

As has been the case in years past I will here look at some of the issues plaguing the Best Foreign Language Film nomination process at the Oscars. Since this year I am touching on a large array of interrelated topics I thought it best to post my thoughts in a series. To read the introductory post of the series go here.

This text picks up immediately where the last part left off.

Hollywood Rules

Oscar Envelope

It has been suggested that the Academy, or an offshoot thereof, should select the foreign films eligible. My newest suggestion will feature a compromise on that notion.

However, it is worthy of consideration of the fact that, no matter what amount of importance or disdain you view the Academy with, this is their awards. There was a time when the cinematic revolutions worldwide filled independently-owned movie theaters and had the college set watching and artsy-er breed of cinema, but times have changed. Therefore, taking a hard look at what the Academy is short-listing, and ultimately nominating and why, is something we and national committees should be doing. If the films being chosen with the Academy in mind is this just not cutting out the middle man? I’m not a fan of playing Devil’s advocate, which is what I was doing there, but I can’t find a lot of room to argue against it; save for the fact that I don’t care for it much and have an alternate idea, which will be presented in the final installment.

The Golden Globes, really?

Golden Globe Statue

If you follow critics and movie geeks on Twitter, or even if you just Google The Golden Globes and find some brutal op-eds on them you’ll see how dubious their nominating process is. This is excluding the fact that the membership is so small. Yet, even this much-maligned body accepts multiple nominations from nations, but the Oscars can’t?



The Academy this year disqualified Blue is the Warmest Color, which is a Palme d’Or winner and one of the most talked about foreign arthouse releases of the year solely on the basis of the fact that its release date IN FRANCE was too late.

One recent argument that has emerged is that a US release date should be a requirement. That has its pros and cons, but surely if a film has seen European festival dates and has already seen a US release that qualifies it, how can you disqualify it because of its domestic release date. It’s beyond counter-intuitive.

Eligibility for Oscars in Other Categories and Snubs

Central Station (1998, Sony Pictures Classics)

While on the topic of snubs that brings related topics this year. I’ve not yet seen the film, but have seen fairly universal raves and lauds for Lea Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos in the aforementioned Blue is the Warmest Color. Due to the fact that the Academy has ruled said film ineligible for Best Foreign Language Film it is also ineligible for other categories.

Yes, there have been instances of foreign films being nominated for multiple awards: three instances jumping quickly to mind would be Amour (5), Central Station (2) and Fanny and Alexander (6) in all those cases those films were submitted as the foreign language selection for their respective nation, therefore, eligible in additional categories. Any snub this year can also write off any chance at nominations in ancillary categories.

Committee Submissions

O Palhaço (2011, Bananeia/Globo Filmes)

With all the case-studies discussed prior, and with most countries I’m sure; it’s a small body making the decision of which film to select. Whenever you’re dealing with a small body I get the feeling, even though I was offered no proof of it, that undue influences could affect outcomes. I’m not saying they haven’t; it’s possible. I think most people who watch film and know the mechanics understand that the “best” isn’t always sought out. Sometimes it’s the most commercial, sometimes the most “Oscar-friendly”, sometimes other factors can be seen as coming into play.

This series will conclude tomorrow with part 5.