Nominees for the Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language at 76th annual Golden Globe Awards were announced today. The five nominated films are: “Capernaum”, “Girl”, “Never Look Away”, “Roma” and “Shoplifters”
Capernaum (Arabic: کفرناحوم), also known as Capharnaüm, is a 2018 Lebanese drama film written and directed by Nadine Labaki. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival,where it won the Jury Prize. The film received a 15-minute standing ovation following its premiere at Cannes on 17 May 2018.
Sony Pictures Classics, which had previously distributed Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now?, bought North American and Latin American distribution rights for the film, while Wild Bunch retained the international rights.
Girl (Belgium) Golden Globe nominee and Oscar submission is about a transgender girl debuted to a standing ovation at Cannes, where it scooped up multiple awards. It also has a 95 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet the near-unanimous praise for the film has been exclusively generated by critics who are not transgender. Some have pointed out the backlash against the pic’s casting, which finds a cisgender (non-transgender) actor in trans role. As problematic as that is, it’s the least of Girl’s issues. The film isn’t just another case of irresponsible casting or harmful stereotypes, like much of Hollywood’s long, ugly treatment of the trans community; it’s the most dangerous movie about a trans character in years. If Girl takes home an Oscar, it would be a drastic step backwards for trans representation in Hollywood.
Directed by Lukas Dhont and co-written by him and Angelo Tigssens — both cisgender men — Girl stars Victor Polster as Lara, a 15-year-old trans girl with dreams of becoming a ballerina. The film has a disturbing fascination with trans bodies, from the leering opening shots of Lara stretching to a horrific, bloody finale. Cinematographer Frank van den Eeden uncomfortably lingers over Lara’s lower body with a persistent focus on her crotch. Even when Lara’s gaze is actively turned away from her body while showering and changing, the camera invasively presses in on her groin. Dhont’s voyeuristic eye can’t wait to learn what’s between Lara’s legs, and he wastes no time revealing it. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Never Look Away (Germany) directed by Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck 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 Seeband committed decades ago.
With his third feature film, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, winner of the Academy Award® for Best Foreign Language Film, three European Film Awards (including for Best Film and Best Screenwriter), and seven German Film Awards (including for Best Feature Film, Best Direction, and Best Screenplay) for his debut film THE LIVES OF OTHERS (2006), returns to Germany. Here he explores a subject matter that is both unusual and ompellingly ambitious, spanning three decades of German post-war history in a suspense-packed drama. It also makes use of a sweeping historical backdrop to tell a highly personal and emotional story through the portrayal of three human destinies. A gripping drama and moving family story inspired by real events, by what it means to create art, and by the search for an artistic voice of one’s own.
Roma (Mexico) is 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 middle-class family and its live-in housekeeper. The title refers to the Colonia Roma district of the city.
Roma film 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 is scheduled to be streamed 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 its best film of 2018, as well as by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten best films of 2018. It earned a nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, 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 Mexico City. Cleo is a maid in the household of Sofia, her husband Antonio, their four young children, Sofia’s mother, Teresa, and another maid, Adela. Antonio, a doctor, returns from 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. He finally leaves against Sofia’s will. Sofia keeps his departure a secret from the kids, telling them he’s on another long trip.
In their time off, Cleo and Adela go out with their boyfriends, Fermín and Pepe, 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 soon as the movie ends, Fermín says he’s going to the rest room and will be back, but then does not return and is nowhere to be seen 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 sings in the foreground.
Back in the city, Cleo accompanies the children and their grandmother to another movie theater as Antonio is seen rushing in the other direction with a young woman. Sofia tries to hide Antonio’s departure from the children, but her older son learns of it by eavesdropping in on a phone conversation. She asks him to not tell his younger siblings who believe their father is still away on business in Canada.
Through Adela’s boyfriend, Cleo finds Fermín at an outdoor martial arts training class, but he violently refuses to acknowledge that the baby is his and runs off. Teresa takes Cleo shopping for a crib for her baby as students protest in the streets. As they are browsing in the furniture store, the protests below turn murderous between police clubbings while bands of roving youths, implied to be Halcones, randomly shoot at protestors. When a wounded man and a woman run into the store trying to hide, several youths find the man and kill him with a gunshot as the shop patrons take cover. Another gunman pointing a gun at Cleo turns out to be Fermín, who glares momentarily before running off with the other youths. Just then, Cleo’s water breaks.
Cleo, Teresa, and their driver try to get to the hospital quickly but are impeded by violence in the streets and car traffic. Cleo is taken into the delivery room. Antonio comes by to reassure her, but makes an excuse to avoid staying with her. The doctors hear no heartbeat in Cleo’s womb and take her into surgery, where they deliver a stillborn baby girl. Multiple attempts to resuscitate the infant fail. The doctors give the body to Cleo for a few moments before taking it away.
Soon after, Sofia plans a family trip to the beaches at Veracruz, partly to help Cleo cope with her loss. Sofia tells the children over dinner that she and their father are separated and that the trip was so their father could take his belongings from their home. At the beach, the two smaller children are almost carried off by the strong current until Cleo wades into the ocean to save them from drowning even though she herself does not know how to swim. As Sofia and the children affirm their love for Cleo for such selfless devotion, she breaks down from intense guilt, revealing that she hadn’t wanted the baby. They return to their house, with the bookshelves gone and various bedrooms reassigned. Sofia soon after drives home with a new car as another sign of the new family dynamic with Cleo as essential as ever.
Shoplifters (万引き家族 Manbiki Kazoku, literally Shoplifting Family) 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 who rely 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.
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 on purpose.