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Oscars 2020: Best International Feature Film Predictions

Bong Joon Ho's Palme d'Or winner "Parasite" leads the crowded field of Oscar submissions; it's likely to be South Korea's first Oscar nominee. Updated 11/26/19

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, and this year’s crop of eligible entries came in at a record 93, exceeding 2017’s 92.

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 record-breaking global box-office smash 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 and 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 Cannes French selection included Grand Prix winner “Atlantics” (Netflix), an atmospheric ghost story from rookie director Mati Diop, the first black woman director in competition, which was submitted by Senegal, and “Les Misérables” (Amazon), the riveting feature debut of documentary filmmaker Ladj Ly, who shared the jury prize and was scooped up by CAA. Notably, this marks the first film by a black filmmaker to be submitted by France.

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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

Brazil’s submission went to a 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” (September 13, 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” redhead Carice van Houten. And as always, Israel went with the winner of this year’s Best Picture Ophir winner, “Incitement,” hoping for a win after ten nominations.

Many of these entries are screening at the fall film festivals.

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

Frontrunners:

“Honeyland” (Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov, North Macedonia)
“Les Misérables” (Ladj Ly, France)
“Out Stealing Horses” (Hans Petter Moland, Norway)
“Pain and Glory” (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
“Parasite” (Bong Joon Ho, South Korea)

Contenders:
“Adam” (Maryam Touzani, Morocco)
“Atlantics” (Mati Diop, Senegal)
“And Then We Danced” (Levan Akin, Sweden)
“Beanpole” (Kantemir Balagov, Russia)
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” (Chiwetel Ejiofor, United Kingdom)
“Corpus Christi” (Jan Komasa, Poland)
“The Chambermaid” (Lila Avilés, Mexico)
“Incitement” (Yaron Zilberman, Israel)
“Instinct” (Halina Reijn, Netherlands)
“The Invisible Life” (Karim Aïnouz, Brazil)
“It Must Be Heaven” (Elia Suleiman, Palestine)
“Monos” (Alejandro Landes, Colombia)
“Our Mothers” (César Díaz, Belgium)
“Papicha” (Mounia Meddour, Algeria)
“The Perfect Candidate” (Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia)
“Queen of Hearts” (May el-Toukhy, Denmark)
“Retablo” (Alvaro Delgado-Aparicio, Peru)
“Those Who Remained” (Barnabas Toth, Hungary)
“The Traitor” (Marco Bellocchio, Italy)
“The Whistlers” (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)

Long Shots
“1982”(Oualid Mouaness, Lebanon)
“Ága” (Milko Lazarov, Bulgaria)
“Alpha” (Nasiruddin Yousuff, Bangladesh)
“Antigone” (Sophie Deraspe, Canada)
“The Awakening of the Ants” (Antonella Sudasassi, Costa Rica)
“Aurora” (Bekzat Pirmatov, Kyrgyzstan)
“Azali” (Kwabena Gyansah, Ghana)
“Being Impossible” (Patricia Ortega, Venezuela)
“Blood, Passion and Coffee” (Carlos Membreño, Honduras)
“Bridges of Time” (Kristine Briede and Audrius Stonys, Lithuania)
“Bulbul” (Binod Paudel, Nepal)
“Buoyancy” (Rodd Rathjen, Australia)
“Commitment Asli” (Semih Kaplanoğlu, Turkey)
“Dear Ex” (Mag Hsu, Hsu Chih-yen, Taiwan)
“Dear Son” (Mohamed Ben Attia, Tunisia)
“Debut” (Anastasia Miroshnichenko, Belarus)
“The Delegation” (Bujar Alimani, Albania)
“The Domain” (Tiago Guedes, Portugal)
“Everybody Changes” (Arturo Montenegro, Panama)
“Finding Farideh” (Kourosh Ataee, Azadeh Moussavi, Iran)
“Furie” (Le Van Kiet, Vietnam)
“Gaza” (Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell, Ireland)
“Gully Boy” (Zoya Akhtar, India)
“Hava, Mayam, Ayesha” (Sahraa Karimi, Afghanistan)
“Heroic Losers” (Sebastian Borensztein, Argentina)
“History of Love” (Sonja Prosenc, Slovenia)
“Homeward” (Nariman Aliev, Ukraine)
“Hot Bread” (Umid Khamdamov, Uzbekistan)
“I Miss You” (Rodrigo Bellott, Bolivia)
“In the Life of Music” (Caylee So, Sok Visal, Cambodia)
“Kazakh Khanate. The Golden Throne” (Rustem Abdrashov, Kazakhstan)
“King Peter the First” (Petar Ristovski, Serbia)
“Knuckle City” (Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, South Africa)
“Krasue: Inhuman Kiss” (Sitisiri Mongkolsiri,Thailand)
“Laal Kabootar” (Kamal Khan, Pakistan)
“A Land Imagined” (Yeo Siew Hua, Singapore)
“Let There Be Light” (Marko Škop, Slovakia)
“Lengthy Night” (Edgar Baghdasaryan, Armenia)
“The Longest Night” (Gabriela Calvache, Ecuador)
“M for Malaysia” (Dian Lee, Ineza Roussille, Malaysia)
“Mali” (Antonio Nuić, Croatia)
“Memories of My Body” (Garin Nugroho, Indonesia)
“The Moneychanger” (Federico Veiroj, Uruguay)
“The Mover” (Dāvis Sīmanis, Latvia)
“Ne Zha” (Yu Yang, China)
“Neverending Past” (Andro Martinovic, Montenegro)
“The Painted Bird” (Václav Marhoul, Czech Republic)
“Poisonous Roses” (Fawzi Saleh, Egypt)
“The Projectionist” (Jose Maria Cabral, Dominican Republic)
“Running Against the Wind” (Jan Philipp Weyl, Ethiopia)
“Shindisi” (Dito Tsintsadze, Georgia)
“Spider” (Andrés Wood, Chile)
“The Son” (Ines Tanović, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
“The Steed” (Erdenebileg Ganbold, Mongolia)
“Stupid Young Heart” (Selma Vilhunen, Finland)
“System Crasher” (Nora Fingscheidt, Germany)
“Subira” (Ravneet Cippy Chadha, Kenya)
“A Translator” (Rodrigo Barriuso, Sebastián Barriuso, Cuba)
“Tel Aviv on Fire” (Sameh Zoabi, Luxembourg)
“Truth and Justice” (Tanel Toom, Estonia)
“Verdict” (Raymund Ribay Gutierrez, Philippines)
“Weathering with You” (Makoto Shinkai, Japan)
“When Tomatoes Met Wagner” (Marianna Economou, Greece)
“The White Storm 2 – Drug Lords” (Barnabas Toth, Hungary)
“A White, White Day” (Hlynur Palmason, Iceland)
“Wolkenbruch’s Wondrous Journey Into the Arms of a Shiksa”  (Michael Steiner, Switzerland)
“Zana” (Antoneta Kastrati, Kosovo)

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