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Oscars: Best International Feature Film Race Faces Deadline, and a Stacked Field

As the last stragglers meet the Academy deadline, we will soon know the final eligible films vying for Best International Feature Film. Many of them have already gained serious momentum.

Parasite

“Parasite”

Last year’s final foreign-language Oscar nominations — for what is now called the Best International Feature Film category — were culled from 87 submissions from around the world, and this year’s crop could be close to that number. The Academy will announce its list of eligible submissions after the official deadline of today, October 1.

Leading the crowded field is “Parasite” (Neon) from Bong Joon Ho (“Okja”), who returned to Cannes and took home the Palme d’Or, the first Korean filmmaker to do so. He could also become the first Oscar nominee from South Korea. 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.

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 an 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.

The French selection was “Les Misérables” (Amazon), the riveting feature debut of documentary filmmaker Ladj Ly, who shared the Cannes jury prize and was scooped up by CAA. Notably, this marks the first film by a black filmmaker to be submitted by France.

Brazil submitted another well-reviewed Cannes entry, Karim Aninouz’s Un Certain Regard award-winner “The Invisible Life” (Amazon). Italy went with Competition title “The Traitor” (Sony PIctures Classics), a mafia true story from veteran Marco Bellocchio, while Russia submitted Cannes favorite “Beanpole” (Kino Lorber) from Kantemir Balagov.

May el-Toukhy’s Trine Dyrholm-starrer “Queen of Hearts” (Breaking Glass Pictures), which won the Sundance 2019 World Cinema audience award, beat out two finalists for Denmark’s submission. Colombia selected Berlin critics’ fave “Monos” (Neon). Hungary went with Barnabás Tóth’s well-received Telluride premiere “Those Who Remained.”

The Netherlands picked Locarno entry “Instinct” by Halina Reijn, starring “Game of Thrones” fan favorite Carice van Houten. Japan selected Makoto Shinkai’s animated feature “Weathering with You,” while Macedonia went with visually striking Sundance documentary “Honeyland.”

And as always, Israel went with the winner of this year’s Best Picture Ophir winner, “Incitement,” hoping for a win after 10 nominations.

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