With three prestigious French language films in play this year, how did a crowd-pleasing international box-office phenomenon backed by Hervey Weinstein prevail? (That’s a rhetorical question). Scott Feinberg broke down the possibilities at THR shortly before France settled on The Intouchables earlier today.
(1) The Intouchables, an $11.5 million dramedy, based on a true story, that was co-written and co-directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano and has become the second highest-grossing French film of all-time in France and grossed more than $355 million internationally (more than any other French film and, for that matter, any non-English-language film, save for The Passion of the Christ); and (2) Rust and Bone, a fictional drama that was co-written and directed by Jacques Audiard, a best foreign language film Oscar nominee three years ago for France’s Un Prophet, and features tour-de-force performances from Marion Cotillard, the best actress Oscar winner five years ago, and Matthias Schonaerts, the star of last year’s Belgian nominee Bullhead.
The third film is Michael Haneke’s Amour, which would not have been an option for France even if it had been released in the country prior to the Oct. 1 deadline; it is scheduled to open Oct. 24. The drama about the last chapter of a long marriage, which stars two veteran French actors (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) and premiered at May’s Cannes Film Festival (where it won the Palme d’Or), was claimed by Austria because the Academy’s rules dictate that a film’s nationality is dependent not on the language that is primarily spoken in the film or the origins of the stars, but rather on the origins of the majority of the film’s principal behind-the-scenes talent — the writer, director, and producer. Consequently, Amour was always going to be claimed by one of the two countries in which Haneke holds citizenship, Germany or Austria.