Yes, it may seem massively premature, but film aficionados never really stop thing about the Oscars and next year’s Academy Awards are already really starting to get going. In the last couple of weeks the longlist of nominations for Best Foreign Language Film have been announced. A huge 81 film have been announced as contenders for next year’s award, which will almost impossibly be narrowed down to a final list of 5 by January 14th. The film critics are getting in their predictions early, so if you’re looking to seek out a foreign film for a night of cultured cinema, or just want to be in the know, here are the films most hyped for the 88th Academy Awards.
Son Of Saul – Hungary
Popular consensus pips Hungary’s Son Of Saul as the most likely winner, especially after its success at this year’s Cannes. Set within the stark horror of 1944 Auschwitz, it centres on the struggle of one prisoner, desperately trying to find some moral salvation whilst he is forced to help burn the bodies of his fellow prisoners, including that of a young boy he has taken as his own son. Described as painfully precise and delicately produced, it’s the rawest, most original look at the sombre topic of the Holocaust in years, and it treats the subject with great dignity.
The Club – Chile
Continuing with the dark themes, as foreign films are so wont to do, The Club broaches the taboo of the Catholic Church’s relationship with child abuse. In an isolated Chilean beach town those the Church have declared guilty are heavily supervised, and shaken by a new arrival, they are forced to relive and remember their crimes. The Catholic Church would probably prefer that this film was never made, but it is a brutal, unflinching approach to a difficult subject. Advertised as a black comedy, but its little humour is, is dark, pointed and damaging.
Goodnight Mommy – Austria
What makes Goodnight Mommy stand out is its resolute genre – it is most definitely a horror movie. Two young boys become convinced that, after their Mother has undergone cosmetic surgery, the woman hidden under the ghoulish looking bandages is their mother no longer. The intuition of children is a familiar trope perhaps, but here it is perfectly executed and the result is a sinister and suspenseful classic horror film. Beautiful wide-screen cinematography transforms every shot into highly saturated art, but such beauty is in direct contrast to the unsettling mood that hangs over the piece.
The Assassin – Taiwan (pictured)
Director Hou Hsiao-hsien is a veteran in the Taiwanese film industry, and here lends his name to the martial arts genre. But the film is less about its slow burning plot, and more about the richly detailed and frankly stunning images the films deals in. When the film is still, waiting, ready to pounce, you can focus instead on the beautiful colours, and when the action comes, the choreography is exquisitely fluid. Painstakingly well crafted, The Assassin plunges its audience into its style and period flawlessly.
The Labyrinth Of Lies – Germany
Drawing on the aftermath of the Holocaust, the film follow a group of lawyers trying to uncover Germany’s attempt to hide the war crimes committed by the Nazis. It has been receiving increasing buzz, and is a popular choice.
Mustang – France
Detailing the lives of five girls in Turkey, the film is wonderfully acted, and has been said to be inspired by Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides. Despite the subject, it often manages to be upbeat and light, whilst making some important points about the oppression of women. However, to some it’s a controversial stereotype of rural Turkey.