The Academy unveiled the shortlists for nine different categories on Monday, including Best Foreign Language Film, Original Song, Original Score, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Live-Action Short, Animated Short, Visual Effects and Makeup & Hairstyling.
In the Best Foreign Language film category, nine films advanced from the eligible 87 films submitted from as many countries. Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” from Mexico, Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Cold War” from Poland and Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum” from Lebanon were on the Oscars shortlist and are all favorites to be nominated.
Also on the list, from Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or winning film “Shoplifters” and Lee Chang-dong’s South Korean film “Burning,” which stars Steven Yeun. Rounding out the list were Colombia’s “Birds of Passage,” Denmark’s thriller “The Guilty,” Germany’s “Never Look Away,” and Kazakhstan’s “Ayka.”
“Birds of Passage” was co-directed by Ciro Guerra, whose “Embrace of the Serpent” was nominated for the foreign Oscar in 2016, while “Never Look Away” is the new film from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose “The Lives of Others” won the Oscar in that category in 2007.
Among the notable omissions were Belgium’s “Girl” and Sweden’s twisted “Border,” both of which were well-received at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Here’s the full Foreign Language list in alphabetical order:
Colombia, “Birds of Passage”
Denmark, “The Guilty”
Germany, “Never Look Away”
Poland, “Cold War”
South Korea, “Burning”
This year’s foreign shortlist was always going to be fiercely competitive. Given the number of acclaimed films and significant filmmakers among the 87 eligible films, cutting the field down to nine was bound to leave out some substantial work no matter what choices were made.
And it did. While work from past winners Pawlikowski and Donnersmarck made the cut, Laszlo Nemes, who won for “Son of Saul” three years ago, didn’t make the shortlist. Neither did past nominee Rithy Panh (“Graves Without a Name”). or first-time director Lukas Dhont’s “Girl” and Ali Abbasi’s “Border” also reportedly played well to Oscar voters but didn’t make the shortlist.
Unlike the other categories that utilize shortlists, the foreign-language list is the product of two different groups of voters. The general committee, which is made up of Los Angeles-based volunteers from all branches of the Academy, views all the eligible films and scores them on a scale of 6 to 10. The six films with the highest average scores advance to the shortlist.
Then the Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, which is made up of a couple dozen members particularly devoted to the category (Academy president John Bailey among them), meets with reps from PricewaterhouseCoopers, who reveal the general committee’s six choices. The committee then deliberates and add three more films to complete the shortlist, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that they often choose films that might be less friendly and more challenging than the six.