International films at the Oscars in the 2020 race


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After the Palme d’Or, the Golden Globes and a slew of critics’ gongs, it’s highly likely that screenwriter Bong Joon Ho’s masterful multi-level black comedy “Parasite” will secure the triple crown of prestigious congratulations by snagging along international Oscar feature. Surprisingly, this is the first South Korean film to be nominated in this category, although last year’s “Burning”, directed by Lee Chang-dong, was selected in December.

More uncertain is whether “Parasite” will score in the other five categories in which it is nominated: best film of the year, direction, cut (by Yang Jinmo), direction in production design (by Lee Ha Jun, with set set by Cho Won Woo) and original screenplay (by Bong and Han Jin Wong, based on a story by Bong). These additional nominations mark a series of commendations for a non-English title.

The film was a hit for distributor Neon in the United States and is the highest-grossing foreign-language title ever to be released, with more than $ 25 million in gross to date. Indeed, it has been on screen since it opened in November and more and more theaters continue to be added.

Critics, punters and the industry seem to agree that the entertaining “Parasite” is the favorite, and rightly so. It remains to be seen whether Hollywood will attempt a remake or attempt to bottle Bong’s acerbic blend of humor and social criticism.

The very personal “Pain and Glory” marks the third nomination in the category formerly known as Foreign Language Film for the prolific Spanish director and screenwriter Pedro Almodóvar. It was here that he rose to Oscar glory with “All About My Mother” (1999), was nominated for “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (1988) and shortlisted for “Volver” (2006).

“Pain and Glory” is widely regarded as a return to form after several less convincing titles. It’s a metafiction about a suffering and creatively stuck filmmaker, which beautifully incorporates the director’s signature touches such as bright colors, passionate hugs, and underhanded references to his cinematic inspirations.

One of the aspects of this film on memory and reflection concerns the director’s reunion with the main actor of one of his first films, from which he was long separated. So Antonio Banderas’ cast as a tired and pain-consumed filmmaker gets an added thrill, given that he was part of Almodóvar’s early work before their falling out and eventual reconciliation.

The heartwarming performance of Banderas, a duly award-winning career at the 2019 Cannes film festival, is nominated in the lead actor category and seems more likely to be awarded than the film.

Sony Pictures Classics launched the film in October, but it didn’t match the revenue from Almodóvar’s earlier and more upbeat titles. Nonetheless, the nominations spurred a reissue in some cities, starting Jan. 17.

“I am very happy with these appointments,” Almodóvar said. “It’s the happiest end of the film’s career. Antonio has been part of my films and my life for over 30 years. It makes me very proud that he received his first nomination for this film.

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Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Another personal film, “Les Misérables”, marks the impressive and daring first feature film of Mali-based France-based Ladj Ly, recently named one of the Variety‘s 10 directors to watch. The result of years of filming short documentaries by Ly on life in Montfermeil, a subdivision on the outskirts of Paris, it has a rare authenticity.

After the film premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival where it won a jury prize, it traveled extensively, garnering additional kudos including a Golden Globe nomination. Amazon Studios opened the film in select cities on January 10, and the nomination is the icing on the cake of its already slated expansion. Additionally, in another year of #OscarsSoWhite, “Les Misérables” is one of a handful of nominees featuring a director and lead characters of color.

“I consider myself a citizen of the world – and I can take my camera almost anywhere,” Ly says. “I make films to bring emotions and of course messages to the big screen. I hope to move the borders not only in France and I hope to open other film schools.

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Courtesy of New Europe Film Sales

Unlike the other four nominees, the intense Polish drama “Corpus Christi”, directed by Jan Komasa, has yet to air in the US, but potential audiences don’t have much to look forward to.

Distributor Film Movement plans to launch it at the Film Forum in New York on February 19. Although this is an unknown amount in the United States, the film enters the Oscar race with a lot of buzz.

After entering the Venice Days section of the Venice Film Festival 2019 where he won several congratulations, including the Europa Cinemas Label award from distributors, he took part in many other festivals where he won the best film awards, director and audience as well as a stack of golden statuettes for the fascinating theatrical Bartosz Bielenia in his first leading role.

Inspired by the surprisingly widespread phenomenon of false priests in Poland, Mateusz Pacewicz’s screenplay centers on a 20-year-old violent offender in free placement who, following a spiritual awakening in his juvenile detention center, poses as a priest. in a small parish still reeling from the tragedy. The universal themes of forgiveness and second chance come forcefully and mark Komasa and her team as talents to watch out for.

Documentary in the land of honey

Only the second North Macedonian film to be nominated in this category – “Before the Rain” by Milcho Manchevski in 1994 was the first – and the second non-fiction feature film to get a name (the first was “The Missing Picture” by Rithy Panh in 2013) the creative documentary “Honeyland”, directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska, also received a nomination for directing a feature documentary. The startling truthful portrayal of a wild beekeeper living in harmony with nature in a difficult part of the Balkans first struck a chord with American audiences at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival where he won the Grand Prize for Film Documentary. world as well as a cinematography award. It turned out to be a savvy pickup for Neon, who put on a successful arthouse rollout last summer.

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Darcy J. Skinner

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