Friday, February 28, 2014

Awards-Nazi Award nominations: Foreign Film

Just getting this category in under the wire because some titles waited until the last possible moment to open up. Anyway, I should always start with the disclaimer that my Best Foreign Film shortlist is often subject to change or revision if I eventually catch up with titles that I couldn't see in time (note that I haven't seen Blue Is the Warmest Color yet, but I may consider it next year when it'll be eligible for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar).

Check out the world cinema I most responded to this year.

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Felix von Groeningen)
This achronological family study somewhat alienated me at first sight with its arbitrarily odd structure, but the emotion at its core resonates even louder on second viewing. The performances are beautifully spun together and the fullbodied bluegrass covers are beyond compare.

The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg)
Superbly dramatized tragedy about the swift and unforgiving momentum of mob mentality, like a boulder rolling down a hill and leaving ruined lives in its wake. Feels especially pertinent in an age when knee-jerk reactions to unsubstantiated "news" dominate online conversation in a sort of crass public court. Mads Mikkelsen is excellent at selling the melodrama without becoming too bathetic.

The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh)
Those of you who remember my nominees for Best Documentary may note the irony that this film was on my Just Missed list for that category, while The Act of Killing is on my Just Missed list here. The only justification I can offer is that admired both of these unconventional docs about foreign horrors from bygone decades pretty much equally, and I felt both deserved a nomination somewhere.

Omar (Hany Abu-Assad)
A taught thriller that doesn't skimp on the entertainment factor while delivering its sociopolitical commentary on the violent state of revolution that currently scourges much of the Middle East. Abu-Assad's slick mis-en-scene is neatly offset by the gritty, naturalistic performances of his cast, with high marks for its intense leading star Adam Bakri.

Wadjda (Haifaa Al-Mansour)
While there may be nothing particularly revelatory about the film itself (aside from what it represents for female artists in Saudi Arabia), in plain terms of structure and execution, it is utterly impeccable. And it's got just about everything you need in a good movie: hero you can root for, deftly applied levity, and something meaningful to say beneath its surface. What a wonderfully told story this is.

Just missed:
The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)
The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki)

1 comment:

  1. You should check "Big Bad Wolves" from Israel. One of the best foreign films that I've seen this year.