Despite the fact that the foreign language category is the most unpredictable, and oftentimes the statuette goes to films that no one ever saw coming (witness last year’s “The Secret In Their Eyes”), it’s the one area of the Oscars that I feel compelled to predict. Because as much as the foreign-language committee is hard to figure out, you can pretty much assume with near certainty that they’re not going to pick anything that’s too controversial, racy or experimental, and that simplistic or uplifting films, with a political or historical slant, often go the distance.
I used to think that an art-house distributor with a hefty Oscar campaign budget mattered, but now, I’m not so sure. Get a bunch of old-time Oscar voters in front of a bunch of subtitled movies, and what they want is something easy on the eyes–and it doesn’t matter who will eventually release it, whether Sony Classics, Zeitgeist, Kino Lorber, or whomever.
Having said all that, here are my best guesses of the top five (and I fully expect to be wrong on certain predictions–“Uncle Boonmee” is for the cinephiles out there, but hey, you never know):
South Africa – Life, Above All, directed by Oliver Schmitz
Mexico – Biutiful, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
France – Of Gods and Men, directed by Xavier Beauvois
Italy – The First Beautiful Thing, directed by Paolo Virzì
Thailand – Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives