AMPAS Selects Nine Foreign Language Films – overlooks ‘Barbara,’ ‘Blancanieves,’ and ignores most of the globe

Thelma Adams
The Reel Breakdown

2012 has been a particularly strong year for foreign language films, with Michael Haneke’s much-praised “Amour” leading many top-ten lists and immediately finding its place as Oscar frontrunner. With only nine slots, and seventy-one official entries from around the world, there are bound to be a few snubs, including the stark German character study “Barbara,” the black-and-white fairy-tale beauty, “Blancanieves” (translated Snow White) from Spain, as well as Australia’s “Lore” and South Korea’s “Pieta.” Another notable omission, “Rust and Bone,” was ineligible because France chose the sentimental favorite “The Intouchables” instead. The Golden Globe nominated drama about an animal trainer who loses her legs to a killer whale but finds her will to live afterwards stars Marion Cotillard, who will likely be represented in the Best Actress race.

The Academy’s foreign language shortlist includes four of the five Golden Globe nominees: “Amour” (Austria), “The Intouchables” (France), “Kon-Tiki” (Norway) and “A Royal Affair” (Denmark). In addition, “No” (Chile), “War Witch” (Canada), “Beyond the Hills” (Romania), “Sister” (Switzerland) and “The Deep” (Iceland) made the cut.

The shortlist contains no Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern or African submissions. It is overwhelmingly European with one film from North America and another from South America.

Getting to nine from seventy-one was a challenge met by several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members over two months this fall. Their top six picks joined three more selections chosen by the Academy's twenty-member Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee.

After the holidays, from January 4th thru 6th, an elite committee of Academy members will screen these nine films, three-a-day, to cull the final five that will comprise the official nominees to be announced on the morning of January 10th.

The full list follows:

Austria, "Amour," Michael Haneke, director;

Canada, "War Witch," Kim Nguyen, director;

Chile, "No," Pablo Larraín, director;

Denmark, "A Royal Affair," Nikolaj Arcel, director;

France, "The Intouchables," Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, directors;

Iceland, "The Deep," Baltasar Kormákur, director;

Norway, "Kon-Tiki," Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, directors;

Romania, "Beyond the Hills," Cristian Mungiu, director;

Switzerland, "Sister," Ursula Meier, director.