The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces shortlists in consideration for the 91st Oscars in nine categories: Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Foreign Language Film, Makeup and Hair styling, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film and Visual Effects.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Nine films will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 91st Academy Awards. Eighty-seven films had originally been considered in the category.
Los Angeles-based Academy members from all branches screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 10.
The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist. Academy members eligible to participate in the Nominations round of voting will view the shortlisted films. Members must see all nine films before casting their ballots.
Colombia, “Birds of Passage”, Denmark “The Guilty”, Germany “Never Look Away”, Japan “Shoplifters”, Kazakhstan “Ayka”, Lebanon “Capernaum”, Mexico “Roma”, Poland “Cold War”, and South Korea “Burning”.
Birds of Passage (Spanish: Pájaros de verano) is a 2018 crime film directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra. It was selected to open the 50th edition of the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.It was selected as the Colombian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. The film chronicles a Wayuu family’s rise and fall during the early days of illegal drug trading in Colombia. Spanning the late 60s and 70s, the film is divided into five chapters (“cantos”): Wild Grass, The Graves, Prosperity, The War and Limbo.
Tracing the origins of the Colombian drug trade as it slowly corrupts a native Wayúu family, Birds of Passage stars Jose Acosta, Carmiña Martínez and Natalia Reyes (the upcoming Terminator reboot). The film premiered as the opening-night selection of the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in May and screened at Telluride and the Toronto and BFI film festivals. It recently won three Fenix Film Awards, including Best Fictional Film and Best Actress, and was nominated in 9 categories.
The Guilty – The thriller, Möller’s directorial debut, was acquired by Magnolia Pictures in Park City and is hitting U.S. theaters October 19 in 25 markets. It next screens at Fantastic Fest which launches today.
The film centers on a police officer (Jakob Cedergren), who, when demoted to desk work, expects a sleepy beat as an emergency dispatcher. That changes when he answers a panicked phone call from a kidnapped woman who then disconnects abruptly. Confined to the police station, he is forced to use others as his eyes and ears as the severity of the crime slowly becomes more clear, with all the action set in his single location.
Never Look Away – A Golden Globe nominee for the Best Morion Picture – Foreign Language and Germany’s Best Foreign Language Oscar entry is directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Never Look Away is inspired by real events and spanning three eras of German history.
NEVER LOOK AWAY tells the story of a young art student, Kurt (Tom Schilling) who falls in love with fellow student, Ellie (Paula Beer). Ellie’s father, Professor Seeband (Sebastian Koch), a famous doctor, is dismayed at his daughter’s choice of boyfriend, and vows to destroy the relationship. What neither of them knows is that their lives are already connected through a terrible crime See band committed decades ago.
Shoplifters – Is a 2018 Japanese drama film directed, written and edited by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Starring Lily Franky and Sakura Ando, it is about a family that relies on shoplifting to cope with a life of poverty.
The film premiered on 13 May 2018 at the Cannes Film Festival, where it went on to win the Palme d’Or. The film was released in Japan on 8 June 2018 and was a critical and commercial success. Shoplifters won the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Feature Film, and is nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
In Tokyo, a family lives in poverty. Osamu is forced to miss work on a construction site after breaking his ankle. His wife Nobuyo works in a laundrette and steals things she finds in pockets. Aki, who lives with the family, works as a stripper. They have taken in a young boy, Shota, who they found in a car.
Osamu and Shota routinely shoplift goods using a system of hand signals to communicate. One evening, they discover a young girl, Yuri, in the cold, and take her home. She is covered in scars and is not keen to return home. Osamu teaches her to shoplift with Shota. He urges Shota to see him as his father and Yuri as his sister, but Shota is reluctant.
Yuri bonds with Nobuyo, who tells her a real family would not have mistreated her. She shows her similar scars from her abusive ex-husband, who she killed in self-defense. The family see a news report about Yuri, who has been found missing, and cut her hair. Nobuyo is forced to give her work hours to her coworker after she tells Nobuyo she knows she has Yuri.
Hatsue, the family matriarch, routinely visits Aki’s wealthy parents, who give her money. After she dies in her sleep, Osamu and Nobuyo bury her under the house and continue to withdraw her pension without informing the government of her death. Shota steals fruit from a grocery store and is pursued by staff. Cornered, he jumps from a bridge, breaking his leg. The authorities discover Yuri and the death of Hatsue.
Nobuyo takes the blame for the family’s crimes, allowing Osamu to go free. Yuri is returned to her birth mother. Shota is placed in a new home in an orphanage. When Osamu and Shota visit Nobuyo in prison, she gives Shota details of the car they found him in, so he can search for his birth parents. Shota stays overnight with Osamu, against his orphanage rules, and they make a snowman. Before he leaves, he tells Osamu he allowed himself to be caught.
Ayka – A young Kyrgyz girl named Ayka,lives and works illegally in Moscow. After giving birth to her son she leaves him in hospital. Some time later, however, her motherly yearning leads her to desperate attempts of finding the abandoned child.
Having kicked up plenty of dust on the steppes of the Palais at Cannes in 2008 with Un Certain Regard entry Tulpan, an almost universally admired blend of warmth, drama and wide-open spaces, Kazakh writer-director Sergey Dvortsevoy returns to the Croisette with competition hopeful Ayka, a far dourer affair set in the drabbest, grubbiest hellholes of Moscow. And if you know Moscow, you know it does drab, grubby hellholes in a big way.
Pivoting around an intense, committed performance from Samal Yeslyamova, who played the main character’s sister in Tulpan, this almost feels like a remake of the Dardenne brothers’ Rosetta (1999) as the heroine, filmed often in close-up by a handheld camera, treads the snowy pavements in search of work, frantic for money to pay back a debt. Except Dvortsevoy raises the misery stakes by showing in the first minutes that protagonist Ayka has just given birth and, after abandoning her infant at the maternity ward, must contend not only with poverty, rejection and menacing loan sharks and landlords, but also intense postpartum bleeding and mastitis in her painfully milk-filled breasts.
The script, credited to Dvortsevoy and Gennadi Ostrowski, parcels out clues to Ayka’s backstory in dinky little increments, but by the end it’s clear (and this isn’t a spoiler) that she’s originally from Kyrgyzstan, borrowed money she couldn’t afford from a loan shark to open a clothing factory, and now has no money, only a bunk to sleep on at an overcrowded flat and an expired work permit. That last problem means almost no one dares hire her for a job, and those who will are the type of people who have no compunction about clearing off without paying her and her colleagues for two weeks of work, like the boss at a filthy chicken slaughterhouse.
That’s the gig to which Ayka first runs from the maternity ward, terrified she will be late and lose wages she never gets anyway. She tries to get back to another job, possibly in the costume department (although it’s unclear) at a TV station, but a former friend has muscled her out of the position (another possibly unintentional echo of Rosetta). She offers her services to a body shop and car-cleaning service, but they won’t touch her without papers. While there, a fancy looking Muscovite woman offers her work as a waitress if she can get to an address written on a card in two hours. Ayka scours the neighborhood but can’t find the address in the snow-choked streets as a blizzard rages. She does manage to get some work shoveling snow, but by that point the poor woman is nearly dead on her feet.
The only people who show her the teensiest modicum of kindness are another Kirgiz woman (Zhipargul Abdilaeva ), a cleaner who asks Ayka to fill in for her at the veterinary practice she works at, and a black-market female doctor. The latter spots immediately that Ayka is lying about just having had a “miscarriage” and gives her an IV drip to replace some of the fluids she’s lost through bleeding while the doctor attends to a late-stage abortion another client is willing to pay top ruble to get sorted out.
Capernaum – While serving a five-year sentence for a violent crime, a 12-year-old boy sues his parents for neglect.Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum,” the winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, has been selected by Lebanon as its candidate for the upcoming foreign-language Oscar race.
“Capernaum,” which was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics ahead of its world premiere at Cannes, features mostly non-professional actors and tells the story of a 12-year-old boy, Zein, who takes his parents to court “for giving me life” in a world of pain and suffering.
“Capernaum” was written by Labaki, along with Jihad Hojeily, Michelle Kesrouani, Georges Khabbaz and Labaki’s husband, Khaled Mouzanar, who also produced the film and composed the music. The movie opens in Lebanon on Thursday. Sony Pictures Classics will release it in the U.S. on Dec. 14. SPC had previously handled “Where Do We Go Now?”, Labaki’s 2011 film.
Roma – A 2018 drama film written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Cuarón also produced, co-edited and photographed the film. It stars Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Enoc Leaño and Daniel Valtierra. Set in the early 1970s, the film is a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón’s upbringing in Mexico City, and follows the life of a live-in housekeeper to a middle-class family. The title refers to the Colonia Roma a neighborhood in Mexico City.
Roma had its world premiere at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on August 30, 2018, where it won the Golden Lion. It began a limited theatrical run on November 21, 2018, and started streaming on Netflix on December 14, 2018. The film was acclaimed by critics, who called it “achingly beautiful” and “engrossing”, and was chosen by Time magazine and the New York Film Critics Circle as the best film of 2018, and by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten best films of 2018. At the 76th Golden Globe Awards, it earned nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, and has been selected as the Mexican entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.
The film’s events take place in 1970 and 1971, predominantly in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. Cleo (named after the Cléo character in Agnès Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7) is a maid in the household of Sofia, whose household consists of her husband Antonio, their four young children, Sofia’s mother, Teresa, and another maid, Adela. Antonio, a doctor, leaves for a conference in Quebec. Among scenes of Cleo’s life with the family – her cleaning, cooking, taking the kids to and from school, serving them meals, putting the kids to bed and waking them up – it becomes clear that Sofia and Antonio’s marriage is strained. After a brief return, Antonio leaves again, saying he is going to Quebec for a few weeks.
In their time off, Cleo and Adela go out with their boyfriends, Fermín and Ramón, to the theater. At the entrance, Cleo and Fermín decide to rent a room instead of seeing the movie. Fermín, while naked, shows off his martial arts skill using the shower curtain rod as a pole. At another date, both couples meet in a movie theater, where Cleo tells Fermín that she thinks she is pregnant. As the movie is about to end, Fermín says he is going to the rest room and will be back, but then does not return and is nowhere to be found when Cleo goes outside. Cleo reveals the same concern to Sofia, who takes her to get checked at the hospital where Antonio works. The doctor there confirms her pregnancy.
Sofia takes Cleo, Adela, and her children to a family friend’s hacienda for New Year’s. Both the landowners and the workers mention recent tensions over land in the area. During the celebrations, a fire erupts in the forest. Everyone helps put out the fire as a man counts down the remaining seconds of 1970 before singing in the foreground.
Cold War – A passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatefully mismatched and yet condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, the film depicts an impossible love story in impossible times. Cold War (Polish: Zimna wojna) is a 2018 Polish historical period drama film directed by Paweł Pawlikowski. The film, set during the Cold War in the 1950s, tells the story of a musical director (Tomasz Kot) who discovers a young singer (Joanna Kulig), and follows their subsequent love story over the years. The film is loosely inspired by the lives of Pawlikowski’s parents.
Cold War received universal acclaim from critics. It competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where Pawlikowski won the award for Best Director. It also received the Golden Lions Award at the 43rd Gdynia Film Festival, five 2018 European Film Awards, and was selected as the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.
Burning (Hangul: 버닝; RR: Beoning) is a 2018 South Korean mystery drama film directed by Lee Chang-dong. The film stars Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, and Jeon Jong-seo. The film is based on the short story “Barn Burning” by Haruki Murakami. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. It was also selected as the South Korean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards that now has made it to the shortlist.
Lee Jong-su performs odd jobs in Paju. One day he runs into Shin Hae-mi, a childhood neighbor and classmate whom he does not remember at first. She proposes that the two go out for dinner that night. There, Hae-mi confesses that she liked Jong-su when she was younger, but that he always ignored her. She tells him about her upcoming trip to Africa, and asks him to feed her cat while she is away. Later that night, they have sex in her apartment. She departs a few days later.
Jong-su dutifully feeds the cat while Hae-mi is away, although he never sees it. Hae-mi ends up getting stuck at Nairobi Airport for three days after a terror warning. When Jong-su comes to pick her up, she arrives with Ben, whom she met and bonded with during the crisis. The three go out for dinner, where Hae-mi recalls a sunset she witnessed during her travels. Moved by the memory, she cries and confesses that she wanted to disappear. Ben responds that he does not really understand people who cry, and that he has never cried himself.
Ben is well-off and confident, though it’s never entirely clear what he does for a living. Jong-su, an aspiring writer struggling to get by and taking care of his family farm while his father is in prison, envies Ben and his relationship with Hae-mi from afar. On a visit to Ben’s apartment, Jong-su snoops around and finds a drawer full of women’s jewelry and decorations in the bathroom. Jong-su later joins the couple at a social gathering in a posh area of Seoul. There, Hae-mi tells the group about a dance she learned in Africa. As she begins to reenact it to the joy of most everyone, Jong-su notices Ben sitting stoically, unamused.
Hanging out at Jong-su’s farm, Hae-mi recalls a childhood memory wherein Jong-su rescued her after she fell into a well near her home. The trio get high and Hae-mi dances topless. After Hae-mi has fallen asleep on the sofa, Ben confesses a strange hobby: Every two months, he burns an abandoned greenhouse. He notes that Jong-su’s rural neighborhood is full of greenhouses. When asked when his next burning will take place, Ben claims it will be very soon and close to Jong-su’s house. Ben tells Jong-su that Hae-mi considers him her best friend, but Jong-su calls her a whore as they depart..