I know I’ve declared the unofficial opening of awards season with a few reviews and previews over the last month, but now we can actually say that the competition for next year’s Oscars has truly begun. This week, the Academy released the official list of 93 countries that have submitted an entry for Best International Feature Film!
Now, if you’re like me, your first thought was, “What’s with the new name?” Well, apparently every possible problem with the Academy Awards has been solved, and so AMPAS has taken it upon themselves to fix the only outstanding issue that could possibly be conceived of – the word “Foreign” in the Best Foreign Language Film category. In their great and unmatched wisdom, the Academy decided back in April that the word “foreign” was outdated and possibly bigoted, so they decided to rename the category as Best International Feature Film and expand the field.
I for one am 100% behind this move. I mean, for far too long have international films from the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand been ignored in this category simply because the dialogue is in English. It’s about time that we truly be as inclusive as possible to all our neighbors outside the US.
*whispers from the side*
The films still have to be in a foreign language?
*still more whispers*
Then what the hell’s the point?
No, up YOUR ass!
Okay, so it turns out the name change is just pandering, as the eligibility requirements remain exactly the same. Each participating country can submit one film which debuted on their soil between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019. The films must be feature length (over 40 minutes) and have a dialogue track primarily NOT in English (as in at least 50%). The expansion is in the shortlist of semi-finalists, which will grow from nine to 10.
The entire list of eligible films can be found on the Academy’s official website here. Ninety-four nations submitted a film, with 93 being accepted, which I believe is a new record (sorry, Afghanistan). Newcomers to the competition this year include Ghana, Nigeria, and assholes, Uzbekistan (10 points if you get the reference; the points mean nothing). The field will be narrowed down to 10 with a shortlist to be announced on December 16.
This year I think I’m actually a bit ahead of the curve. Normally I don’t see any foreign films (*gasp* I used a no-no word!) until at least after the shortlist comes out, if not the final nominees. Usually this is due to lack of availability or access. However, in just the last week I’ve knocked two off the list, and given their critical praise and awards resumes to date, I have at least some confidence that both will be on the December shortlist. The two I’ve seen so far are Colombia’s entry, Monos (review can be found here) and South Korea’s film, Parasite, which won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (review coming soon). Keep an eye on your indie and arthouse theatres for them to trickle out over the next few weeks and months.
And with that, our coverage of the 92nd Academy Awards is officially underway! Stay tuned for more updates as they develop, with the next major release likely to be the entries for Animated Feature.
Join the conversation in the comments below! Have you seen any of these films? Are you interested in any? Do you know where some might be available for early viewing? Let me know!