Certain countries over the decades have done better with foreign language Oscar wins.
Italy and France lead the field with the most Oscars
. (Poland’s “Ida” won in 2015, Italy’s “The Great Beauty” the year before, and Austria’s French-language “Amour” in 2013). And they’ve landed the most nominations, too.
The trick with getting nominated–the Oscar
is prized around the world–is for the country to choose the movie most likely to appeal to Academy voters’ tastes. But most Oscar entries are chosen by some government cultural body that is often concerned about representing the country, or gets caught in internal politics. Some make no attempt to worry about the outside world: Israel always submits the winner of its Academy Award-equivalent, the Ophirs.
Some have suggested changing the rules so that the Oscar submission for each country was the film that earned the most prizes at film festivals. By that measure India’s 2013 release “The Lunchbox”–which became an indie hit stateside–might have landed on the shortlist over official submission “The Good Road.” But the Academy prefers to let each country submit their choice. Last year Russia, whose government has close ties to its film industry, submitted critically-hailed Cannes best-screenplay winner “Leviathan,” even though it was overtly critical of Russian government corruption, and landed a nomination.
This year Hungary has already submitted Cannes prize-winner “Son of Saul,” which Sony Pictures Classics will release stateside. It is widely considered the frontrunner for the Oscar without knowing what its competition will be. That’s because it takes a unique aesthetic approach to a powerful holocaust story. Will France enter the Palme d’Or-winner from Jacques Audiard, moving emigre drama “Dheepan” (Sundance Selects), or take another route?
Last year Germany had three selections in the Cannes competition, including Grand Prix winner “The Wonders,” but all were co-productions. It finally selected Dominik Graf’s “Beloved Sisters,” which did not get nominated. The last German film to win the Oscar was 2006 release “The Lives of Others.”
Here’s how it works in Germany. Producers submit films for consideration as the German entry for Oscars. The official submission is chosen by an annually appointed selection committee of independent representatives from nine associations and institutions. German Films, the responsible umbrella organization, does not participate in the selection committee.
(Missing from the list of eight finalists below is Christian Petzold’s anticipated follow-up to “Barbara,” also starring Nina Hoss, “Phoenix,” which premiered at Venice/Toronto but did not open within the eligible time frame.)
This year the German films are:
13 MINUTES by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Lucky Bird Pictures, Delphi Medien, Philipp filmproduction)
SANCTUARY by Marc Brummund (Zum Goldenen Lamm Filmproduktion)
HEAD FULL OF HONEY by Til Schweiger (Barefoot Films, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Seven Pictures Film)
LABYRINTH OF LIES by Giulio Ricciarelli (Claussen + Putz Filmproduktion, naked eye filmproduction, which has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics)
JACK by Edward Berger (Port-au-Prince Film & Kultur Produktion, cine plus Filmproduktion, Neue Bioskop Film, Mixtvision Mediengesellschaft, zero west filmproduktion)
SCHMIDTS KATZE by Marc Schlegel (FFL Film- und Fernsehlabor Ludwigsburg)
VICTORIA by Sebastian Schipper (MonkeyBoy, deutschfilm, RadicalMedia) (this submission awaits a final decision from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences regarding the proportion of English in the film; the Berlin premiere has played many festivals and will show in Toronto before it opens in the U.S. via Adopt Films)
WE ARE YOUNG. WE ARE STRONG. by Burhan Qurbani (UFA Fiction, cine plus Filmproduktion, UFA Cinema)
The announcement of the five foreign films nominated for the Oscar® will be January 14, 2016. The Oscar® ceremony takes place in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on February 28, 2016.