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5 LGBT-Interest Films In This Year’s Foreign Language Oscar Race

5 LGBT-Interest Films In This Year's Foreign Language Oscar Race

Tomorrow is the deadline for submissions for the foreign language film category at the Oscars, and the vast majority of countries have already announced the films they are sending off in hopes of gold. And there’s an impressive array of queer-interest titles among them:

The Circle

Country: Switzerland
Language: German
Director: Stefan Haupt
The Basics: Documentary “The Circle” (which won the Teddy Award for best documentary at the Berlin Film Festival) tackles Zurich gay organization (known as “the mother” of all European homosexual groups) “Der Kreis” (The Circle) through the relationship of shy teacher Ernst Ostertag and trans star Röbi Rapp. It’s a fantastic piece of LGBT world history that is definitely essential viewing.
Oscar Chances: Documentaries don’t tend to do very well in this category, as essential as they may be.  So we definitely wouldn’t be on this one making it to the Oscars (as happy as we’d be if it did).


Country: Canada
Language: French
Director: Xavier Dolan
The Basics:  The only film on this list without any actual queer content (unless an epic Celine Dion sing-a-long counts), Xavier Dolan remains undeniably a queer icon (whether he likes it or not) with fans eagerly anticipating whether he can make Oscar’s ranks of his fifth feature film. “Mommy” reunites Dolan with actresses Anne Dorval (“I Killed My Mother”) and Suzanne Clement (“Laurence Anyways”) for a tale of a single, windowed mother trying to cope with her violent teenage son.
Oscar Chances: An incredibly emotional and inspired film that’s unlike anything else Oscar voters are going to see in this category, “Mommy” is actually as sure a thing as one can find in this category (which tends to be remarkably unpredictable). Reviews have been excellent, and the film has a prize from Cannes to its name to aid in its Oscar quest. The fact that Dolan is still only 25 also makes for an interesting considerarion: If he wins, he’d be the youngest director ever to take home a foreign language Oscar. 

Saint Laurent

Country: France
Language: French
Director: Bertrand Bonello
The Basics:  This biopic of Yves Saint Laurent (not to be confused with Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent” — generally regarded as the weaker of the two and also a release this year) will be competing for France over another LGBT film many thought would make it, “Blue is the Warmest Color.” It stars Gaspard Ulliel as the fashion designer and Jérémie Renier as his lifelong partner Pierre Bergé. 
Oscar Chances: Reasonable given generally warm reviews, the prestige of premiering in competition in Cannes, and the fact that Sony Pictures Classics is backing it in France. Not a safe(ish) bet on the level of its French-language comrade “Mommy,” but definitely this list’s second most likely to succeed. 

The Way He Looks

Country: Brazil
Language: Portuguese
Director: Daniel Ribeiro
The Basics:  A thoughtful, optimistic and incredibly heartwarming coming of age drama, “The Way He Looks” follows a blind teenager Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) as he falls in love with Gabriel (Fabio Audi).  The film is refreshingly more about Leonardo’s independence than his sexuality, and it all makes for something very well observed and endlessly sweet.
Oscar Chances: It’s definitely the kind of crowdpleasing story Oscar voters could warm up to (its won audience awards left and right at film festivals — not to mention like “The Circle,” the Teddy Award in Berlin — Have two Teddy winners ever both got submitted here?). But it has a low profile relative to too many films in contention to call it a genuine contender.

What Now, Remind Me?

Country: Portugal
Language: Portuguese
Director: Joaquim Pinto
The Basics: Film industry veteran Joaquim Pinto offers this 164-minute portrait of his one-year experience taking experimental medication for AIDS and Hepatitis-C. An absolutely incredible feat of first-person filmmaking, Pinto films his day-to-day life with his husband, Nuno while going back into his personal history with art and cinema. It’s a tall order to pull off what Pinto does, taking his story and turning into what is truly a universal statement about love and work and life. 
Oscar Chances: A considerable longshot with the Academy given how much it breaks from conventional filmmaking (documentaries also rarely if ever factor into this category — see “The Circle”). But still, it’s great Portugal submitted it. And find a way to see if it you haven’t!

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