The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the seven finalists for the 2016 Foreign Language Film Academy Award and, as you’d expect in such a contentious category, there were some notable snubs. First off, here are the films that will be whittled down to five nominees next month.
Belgium, “The Brand New Testament,” Jaco Van Dormael, director;
Colombia, “Embrace of the Serpent,” Ciro Guerra, director;
Denmark, “A War,” Tobias Lindholm, director;
Finland, “The Fencer,” Klaus Härö, director;
France, “Mustang,” Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director;
Germany, “Labyrinth of Lies,” Giulio Ricciarelli, director;
Hungary, “Son of Saul,” László Nemes, director;
Ireland, “Viva,” Paddy Breathnach, director;
Jordan, “Theeb,” Naji Abu Nowar, director.
Shockingly not making the seven was Brazil’s “The Second Mother.” Anna Muylaert’s drama had earned strong reviews and was seen as something of an Academy crowd pleaser (it was also snubbed by the HFPA for Golden Globe consideration). Other films that were seen as major contenders were “Rams” (Iceland), “The Assassin” (Taiwan), “The Club” (Chile), “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence” (Sweden) and “Goodnight Mommy” (Sweden).
What’s most intriguing is the fact two films made the shortlist which were filmed completely outside their nominating nation. “Mustang” has a French director, but is a story set completely in Turkey about Turkish young women. “Viva” has an Irish director, but was shot in Cuba and centers on a young gay man trying to find peace with a father who doesn’t like the fact he’s a drag queen on the verge of stardom.
No matter what the case, László Nemes’ “Son of Saul” is still believed to be the clear frontrunner.
The final nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 5:30 AM PST.