2017 Academy Awards – Foreign Language Films
This year, a record 85 countries entered films in the Foreign Language category for the Academy Awards. I saw 82 of these films. Before commenting on individual films, here are a few observations.
1. Normally, there are few comedies entered in this category, but this year was an exception. I attribute this to Sullivan’s Travels Syndrome, named after the classic 1941 Preston Sturges film. When times are hard and people are struggling to keep their heads above water, a good laugh goes a long way. Clearly, these are hard times around the world. Heading this list is my favorite film of the year: Toni Erdmann (see below).
2. Subtitle writers have become obsessed with using the words “moron” and “dude.”
3. A recurrent theme is the corruption of the justice system, starting with the police, but continuing into courtrooms.
4. Another recurrent subject is economic migration.
5. And another is the aftermath of war rather than war itself.
6. Unless, you’re a big-name director, it takes longer to raise the money to make a film than it does to make the film itself.
7. This was a great year for films from the former Yugoslavia.
Here are my comments on the five nominees and several non-nominees that deserve more attention.
The 5 Nominees
- Germany—Toni Erdmann
- Denmark—Land of Mine (Under sandet)
- Iran—The Salesman (Forushande)
- Sweden—A Man Call Ove (En man som heter Ove)
16 Notable Non-Nominees
- Iraq—El Clásico
- Russia—Paradise (Ray)
- Croatia—On the Other Side (S one strane)
- Kosovo—Home Sweet Home
- Lebanon—Very Big Shot (Film Kteer Kbeer)
- Slovenia—Houston, We Have a Problem
- Switzerland—My Life as a Zucchini (Ma vie de Courgette)
- Malaysia—Beautiful Pain (Redha)
- Bangladesh—The Unnamed (Oggatonama)
- Hungary—Kills on Wheels (Tiszta szívvel)
- Philippines—Ma’ Rosa
- India—Interrogation (Visaaranai)
- Serbia—Train Driver’s Diary (Dnevnik masinovodje)
- United Kingdom—Under the Shadow
- Argentina—The Distinguished Citizen (El ciudadano ilustre)
- Slovakia—Eva Nová