The number 5 has never seemed so small as this year – not just for the top acting categories, but for the Documentary and Foreign Language categories. This year, there will be 81 films competing for one of those five slots. Son of Saul is likely the winner, however. Here are the contenders:
Afghanistan, “Utopia,” Hassan Nazer, director;

Albania, “Bota,” Iris Elezi, Thomas Logoreci, directors;

Algeria, “Twilight of Shadows,” Mohamed Lakhdar Hamina, director;

Argentina, “The Clan,” Pablo Trapero, director;

Australia, “Arrows of the Thunder Dragon,” Greg Sneddon, director;

Austria, “Goodnight Mommy,” Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, directors;

Bangladesh, “Jalal’s Story,” Abu Shahed Emon, director;

Belgium, “The Brand New Testament,” Jaco Van Dormael, director;

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Our Everyday Story,” Ines Tanović, director;

Brazil, “The Second Mother,” Anna Muylaert, director;

Bulgaria, “The Judgment,” Stephan Komandarev, director;

Cambodia, “The Last Reel,” Sotho Kulikar, director;

Canada, “Félix and Meira,” Maxime Giroux, director;

Chile, “The Club,” Pablo Larraín, director;

China, “Go Away Mr. Tumor,” Han Yan, director;

Colombia, “Embrace of the Serpent,” Ciro Guerra, director;

Costa Rica, “Imprisoned,” Esteban Ramírez, director;

Croatia, “The High Sun,” Dalibor Matanić, director;

Czech Republic, “Home Care,” Slavek Horak, director;

Denmark, “A War,” Tobias Lindholm, director;

Dominican Republic, “Sand Dollars,” Laura Amelia Guzmán, Israel Cárdenas, directors;

Estonia, “1944,” Elmo Nüganen, director;

Ethiopia, “Lamb,” Yared Zeleke, director;

Finland, “The Fencer,” Klaus Härö, director;

France, “Mustang,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director;

Georgia, “Moira,” Levan Tutberidze, director;

Germany, “Labyrinth of Lies,” Giulio Ricciarelli, director;

Greece, “Xenia,” Panos H. Koutras, director;

Guatemala, “Ixcanul,” Jayro Bustamante, director;

Hong Kong, “To the Fore,” Dante Lam, director;

Hungary, “Son of Saul,” László Nemes, director;

Iceland, “Rams,” Grímur Hákonarson, director;

India, “Court,” Chaitanya Tamhane, director;

Iran, “Muhammad: The Messenger of God,” Majid Majidi, director;

Iraq, “Memories on Stone,” Shawkat Amin Korki, director;

Ireland, “Viva,” Paddy Breathnach, director;

Israel, “Baba Joon,” Yuval Delshad, director;

Italy, “Don’t Be Bad,” Claudio Caligari, director;

Ivory Coast, “Run,” Philippe Lacôte, director;

Japan, “100 Yen Love,” Masaharu Take, director;

Jordan, “Theeb,” Naji Abu Nowar, director;

Kazakhstan, “Stranger,” Yermek Tursunov, director;

Kosovo, “Babai,” Visar Morina, director;

Kyrgyzstan, “Heavenly Nomadic,” Mirlan Abdykalykov, director;

Latvia, “Modris,” Juris Kursietis, director;

Lebanon, “Void,” Naji Bechara, Jad Beyrouthy, Zeina Makki, Tarek Korkomaz, Christelle

Ighniades, Maria Abdel Karim, Salim Haber, directors;

Lithuania, “The Summer of Sangaile,” Alanté Kavaïté, director;

Luxembourg, “Baby (A)lone,” Donato Rotunno, director;

Macedonia, “Honey Night,” Ivo Trajkov, director;

Malaysia, “Men Who Save the World,” Liew Seng Tat, director;

Mexico, “600 Miles,” Gabriel Ripstein, director;

Montenegro, “You Carry Me,” Ivona Juka, director;

Morocco, “Aida,” Driss Mrini, director;

Nepal, “Talakjung vs Tulke,” Basnet Nischal, director;

Netherlands, “The Paradise Suite,” Joost van Ginkel, director;

Norway, “The Wave,” Roar Uthaug, director;

Pakistan, “Moor,” Jami, director;

Palestine, “The Wanted 18,” Amer Shomali, Paul Cowan, directors;

Paraguay, “Cloudy Times,” Arami Ullón, director;

Peru, “NN,” Héctor Gálvez, director;

Philippines, “Heneral Luna,” Jerrold Tarog, director;

Poland, “11 Minutes,” Jerzy Skolimowski, director;

Portugal, “Arabian Nights – Volume 2, The Desolate One,” Miguel Gomes, director;

Romania, “Aferim!” Radu Jude, director;

Russia, “Sunstroke,” Nikita Mikhalkov, director;

Serbia, “Enclave,” Goran Radovanović, director;

Singapore, “7 Letters,” Royston Tan, Kelvin Tong, Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Tan Pin Pin,

Boo Junfeng, K. Rajagopal, directors;

Slovakia, “Goat,” Ivan Ostrochovský, director;

Slovenia, “The Tree,” Sonja Prosenc, director;

South Africa, “The Two of Us,” Ernest Nkosi, director;

South Korea, “The Throne,” Lee Joon-ik, director;

Spain, “Flowers,” Jon Garaño, Jose Mari Goenaga, directors;

Sweden, “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” Roy Andersson, director;

Switzerland, “Iraqi Odyssey,” Samir, director;

Taiwan, “The Assassin,” Hou Hsiao-hsien, director;

Thailand, “How to Win at Checkers (Every Time),” Josh Kim, director;

Turkey, “Sivas,” Kaan Müjdeci, director;

United Kingdom, “Under Milk Wood,” Kevin Allen, director;

Uruguay, “A Moonless Night,” Germán Tejeira, director;

Venezuela, “Gone with the River,” Mario Crespo, director;

Vietnam, “Jackpot,” Dustin Nguyen, director.

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Though it came out at Sundance, then skipped Telluride, Brooklyn’s screening at the New York Film Festival sent the quietly “off the radar” movie headlong into the Oscar race. The reaction to the film this time around trumped the reaction at Sundance probably because things have begun to crystalize, particularly for people who are following the Oscar race and looking for the one film to really knock their socks their socks off. AwardsDaily will be seeing the film – at long last – on Monday. The reaction to it from various sources over the months are solid indicators that it will do very well with Oscar voters – and will likely snag the top nods for Picture, Actress, Screenplay, Costume, Production Design for starters. The only slight snag is Best Director. The relatively unknown John Crowley isn’t as well known as some of the bigger names heading into the race, like David O. Russell, Quentin Tarantino, Alejandro Inarritu, Steven Spielberg, and other relative newcomers Tom McCarthy and Lenny Abramson.

What will it take to get Crowley in there? Exactly what the film has right now: hard core passion, affection and love. The metacritic rating will likely rise as critics from other outlets add their reviews but so far it’s not exactly a critics’ darling. That won’t matter, of course, because we know that the critics don’t align all that much with the industry anymore, if they ever did.


Apparently there have been some strange goings on at the hands of (what the Church of Scientology is calling) rogue Scientology members hoping to thwart any Oscar hopes for Alex Gibney’s Going Clear. Vanity Fair writes:

The organization’s alleged smear campaign involves making a documentary about and writing a profile of Gibney, according to the Reporter, for which a writer has begun reaching out to members of the Academy’s documentary branch. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Rory Kennedy confirmed that she was one of the documentarians contacted by this writer. The writer, however, did not disclose for which publication he was working.

“In this context, to not say [that he wrote for Scientology magazine Freedom] was disingenuous, and I thought something was suspect,” Kennedy said. “He definitely had an agenda.” The Reporter adds that there have been increased aggression and confrontations during Q&As for the documentary in recent weeks.

The Church’s response to Vanity Fair:

When reached out for comment, Scientology’s media center said, “This is yet another publicity stunt by Alex Gibney to influence awards voting by spinning legitimate criticism of his one-side propaganda. . .Since we found out about a year ago that Alex Gibney had done a film on Scientology, we have been aggressively answering the false allegations in his film because he never presented us with a single one of these lies before release.”

Of all of the things we know about Alex Gibney, desperate need for publicity is not one of those things. He wouldn’t be the first person to claim harassment at the hands of the church.

This Hollywood Reporter story goes into it in more depth, pointing out how defensive church members are and how personally they’re taking Gibney’s film.

And this strange paragraph, which hasn’t been picked up yet by mainstream press:

The increased hostility comes at a tenuous time for the Church of Scientology, which, in addition to dealing with Going Clear, is in the spotlight for its association with Cathriona White, a 28-year-old Irish makeup artist and girlfriend of Jim Carrey who died of a suspected suicide Sept. 28. White, who was found with pills — including Ambien, Percocet, Propranolol and Zofran — had been active in a Scientology-sponsored “Survival Rundown” therapy program, and several mysterious guards were present at her home in the days following her death (though they were gone when THR visited the home Oct. 6). According to former Scientologists, the “SRD” therapy can be destabilizing.

As far as Going Clear’s Oscar chances, never has the doc category been more competitive than it is this year. The members will either be drawn to Going Clear or they will shy away from the controversy brought by the Church of Scientology. Calling members from the doc branch and trying to smear Gibney is a clumsy and awkward way to try to influence Academy members. Their best option here would have been to just lay low. As it is, they’re helping the film every time they act out.

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