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Oscars 2020: Best International Feature Film Predictions

Bong Joon-Ho's Palme d'Or winner "Parasite" leads the early field of Oscar submissions; it's likely to be South Korea's first Oscar nominee. Updated 9/5/19

Parasite

“Parasite”

Neon

The Cannes Film Festival always introduces a selection of ultimate foreign-language contenders for what is now called the Best International Feature Film Oscar. Last year’s final Oscar nominations were culled from 87 submissions from around the world.

Bong Joon Ho (“Okja”) returned to Cannes with “Parasite” (Neon) and took home the Palme d’Or, the first Korean filmmaker to do so. The movie earned raves from critics and was the inevitable Oscar submission from South Korea, which has yet to score a foreign-language nomination. Neon is pushing the film in multiple categories, hoping for the range of Oscar nods scored by Netflix’s “Roma” and Amazon’s “Cold War” last year.

Penelope Cruz, Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas'Pain and Glory' photocall, 72nd Cannes Film Festival, France - 18 May 2019

Penelope Cruz, Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas
‘Pain and Glory’ photocall, 72nd Cannes Film Festival, France – 18 May 2019

David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

Winning Best Actor at Cannes was Antonio Banderas, star of Oscar winner Pedro Almodóvar’s autobiographical “Pain & Glory” (October 4), who is long overdue for a Best Actor Oscar nomination. Banderas gives a subtle, naturalistic performance unlike anything he has done as an aging Spanish arthouse director based on Almodóvar; Oscar winner Penélope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) is his mother. Sony Pictures Classics is resurfacing the film at the fall festivals; inevitably, it’s Spain’s Oscar selection out of three finalists this year.

The French selection included two prize-winning Competition entries from women filmmakers: Screenplay and Queer-Palm winner Céline Sciamma’s stunning 18th-century drama “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Neon/Hulu), a bodice-ripping lesbian romance inspired by Jane Campion’s “The Piano,” and Grand Prix winner “Atlantics” (Netflix), an atmospheric ghost story from rookie director Mati Diop, the first black woman director in competition, which is expected to be submitted by Senegal. France could also choose “Les Misérables” (Amazon), the riveting feature debut of documentary filmmaker Ladj Ly, who shared the jury prize and was scooped up by CAA. Surprisingly, Belgium did not submit for Oscar consideration Cannes Best Director winners Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardennes’ thriller “The Young Ahmed,” but rather, César Díaz’s Spanish-language “Our Mothers.”

“Monos”

Neon/Participant

Unlike 2016 Cannes title “Aquarius,” this time Brazil included on its shortlist of 12 Juliano Dornelles and Kleber Mendonça Filho’s western “Bacurau,” which won the Cannes jury prize, but the final submission went to another well-reviewed Cannes entry, Karim Aninouz’s Un Certain Regard award-winner “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão” (Amazon). Colombia selected Berlin critics’ fave “Monos” (September 13, Neon). Hungary selected Barnabás Tóth’s well-received Telluride premiere “Those Who Remained.” And the Netherlands picked Locarno entry “Instinct” by Halina Reijn, starring “Game of Thrones” redhead Carice van Houten.

Many of these entries will screen at the fall film festivals.

Contenders are listed in alphabetical order; no film will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen it.

Frontrunner:
“Parasite” (Bong Joon Ho, South Korea)

Contenders:
“Adam” (Maryam Touzani, Morocco)
“Ága” (Milko Lazarov, Bulgaria)
“And Then We Danced” (Levan Akin, Sweden)
“Bridges of Time” (Kristine Briede and Audrius Stonys, Lithuania)
“Bulbul” (Binod Paudel, Nepal)
“The Chambermaid” (Lila Avilés, Mexico)
“Commitment” (Semih Kaplanoğlu, Turkey)
“Dear Son” (Mohamed Ben Attia, Tunisia)
“Everybody Changes” (Arturo Montenegro, Panama)
“Finding Farideh” (Kourosh Ataee, Azadeh Moussavi, Iran)
“A Herdad” (Tiago Guedes, Portugal)
“Homeward” (Nariman Aliev, Ukraine)
“Honeyland” (Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov, North Macedonia)
“In the Life of Music” (Caylee So, Sok Visal, Cambodia)
“Instinct” (Halina Reijn, Netherlands)
“The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão (Karim Aïnouz, Brazil)
“In the Life of Music” (Caylee So, Sok Visal, Cambodia)
“The Longest Night” (Gabriela Calvache, Ecuador)
“It Must Be Heaven” (Elia Suleiman, Palestine)
“Joy” (Sudabeh Mortezai, Austria)
“King Peter of Serbia” (Petar Ristovski, Serbia)
“Let There Be Light” (Marko Škop, Slovakia)
“Mali” (Antonio Nuić, Croatia)
“Monos” (Alejandro Landes, Colombia)
“Our Mothers” (César Díaz, Belgium)
“Out Stealing Horses” (Hans Petter Moland, Norway)
“Papicha” (Mounia Meddour, Algeria)
“Poisonous Roses” (Fawzi Saleh, Egypt)
“The Projectionist” (Jose Maria Cabral, Dominican Republic)
“Retablo” (Alvaro Delgado-Aparicio, Peru)
“Shindisi” (Dito Tsintsadze, Georgia)
“Spider” (Andrés Wood, Chile)
“The Son” (Ines Tanović, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
“Stupid Young Heart” (Selma Vilhunen, Finland)
“System Crasher” (Nora Fingscheidt, Germany)
“Those Who Remained” (Barnabas Toth, Hungary)
“A Translator” (Rodrigo Barriuso, Sebastián Barriuso, Cuba)
“Truth and Justice” (Tanel Toom, Estonia)
“Tu Me Manques” (Rodrigo Bellott, Bolivia)
“Weathering with You” (Makoto Shinkai, Japan)
“The Whistlers” (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)
“Wolkenbruch’s Wondrous Journey Into the Arms of a Shiksa”  (Michael Steiner, Switzerland)

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