The Academy Foreign Language Executive Committee, comprised of about 20 people, met Thursday to choose three movies to create a shortlist of nine. The other six reflect the most popular, highest-ranked films of the 85 screened by a larger committee of about 300 voters between mid-October and December 12. (For more details about the arcane way that the Academy chooses the foreign language films, read here.)
Another committee of 30 — 10 people in New York, 10 in L.A. and 10 in London — will screen the nine films over three days, from Friday, January 13, through Sunday, January 15, viewing three films each day. They will then cast their ballots for the final five to be announced on Oscar nominations morning January 24.
Those five films will be sent to the entire Academy to vote for the Oscar winner, which last year was “Son of Saul” (Hungary).
The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:
Australia, “Tanna,” Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, directors (Lightyear, September 16)
Canada, “It’s Only the End of the World,” Xavier Dolan, director (Telefilm Canada)
Denmark, “Land of Mine,” Martin Zandvliet, director (Sony Pictures Classics, February 17)
Germany, “Toni Erdmann,” Maren Ade, director (Sony Pictures Classics, December 25)
Iran, “The Salesman,” Asghar Farhadi, director (Cohen Media Group, January 27)
Norway, “The King’s Choice,” Erik Poppe, director
Russia, “Paradise,” Andrei Konchalovsky, director
Sweden, “A Man Called Ove,” Hannes Holm, director (Music Box Films, September 30)
Switzerland, “My Life as a Zucchini,” Claude Barras, director (GKids, 2017)
All of these films had gathered some buzz on the screening circuit. Three films are from Scandinavia, “Land of Mine,” “A Man Called Ove” and “The King’s Choice;” “My Life as a Zucchini” is an animated film nominated for both an Annie Award and a Golden Globe, and only one of the nine was directed by a woman, Critics Choice, Indie SPirit and Globe nominee “Toni Erdmann,” which at this stage as the winner of five European Film Awards and Best foreign film from the New York Film Critics, has to be the frontrunner.
The question is which three films were added by the executive committee, which left off, we must note, critically hailed titles such as Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary “Fire at Sea”; Israel’s Ophir-winner “Sandstorm”; Paul Verhoeven’s psycho-sexual thriller “Elle” (France), whose star Isabelle Huppert is a contender for Best Actress; Pablo Larrain’s literary chase film “Neruda” (Chile), whose English-language film “Jackie ” is in awards contention; and Pedro Almodovar’s Hitchcockian thriller “Julieta.”
The 89th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, and aired live on ABC.