Given its universal acclaim, strong box office, a nomination in the original screenplay category and the fact that it's won pretty much every other foreign-language film award this year, one would assume it's in the bag for Iran's "A Separation." But making any assumption in this category is ill-advised. After all, "The Secret in Their Eyes" beat "A Prophet" in 2010. "Depatures" beat "The Class" the year before. And back in 2002, "No Man's Land" beat "Ameile," even though it had four nominations in other categories.
That all said, given the political climate in Iran and the effect it's had on filmmakers from that country, sentiment is also on the side of "A Separation." So while betting against it is still not recommended, if there's any category where a favorite could fall, it's this one. Poland's "In Darkness" takes on standard Academy-friendly fare in its Holocaust theme, and would definitely be the one to beat it if anything does (they oddly share a U.S. distributor in Sony Pictures Classics -- as did "The Secret in Their Eyes" and "A Prophet"). We'll see come Oscar night.
Best foreign language film predictions below. Check out all predictions in all the categories here.
In Darkness (Poland)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)
The Predicted Winner: A Separation (Iran)
The Possible Spoiler: In Darkness (Poland)
Shoulda Been Here: Miss Bala (Mexico)