2022 Academy Awards

2022 Academy Awards – International Feature Film

2022 International Films General Introduction

There were 91 official entries in the International category. Because of the Covid pandemic, I have, so far, been able to view 85 of them, along with two that were withdrawn after I had seen them.

One observation after watching the films of 87 countries (including the United States) is that cigarette smoking is back in full force. Whether this is a result of general global anxiety or just widespread product placement, I can’t say.

Unlike last year, there was no discernible theme to this year’s entries. Several films dealt with the challenges of childhood, most notably Playground from Belgium, with an outstanding performance by 11-year-old Maya Vanderbeque. Others include When Pomegranates Howl, which represented Australia, but takes place in Afghanistan, On the Water from Estonia, Shambala from Kyrgyzstan, The Pit from Latvia and Fansani: A Tale of Survival from Malawi.

As for the five nominees, I preferred The Hand of God, Paolo Sorrentino’s autobiographical account of growing up in Naples. The Oscar favorite, Drive My Car, I found pretentious. Flee is a moving animated documentary about a gay Afghan refugee. The Worst Person in the World earns my award for the most poorly chosen title of the year. I’m glad that Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom gained a nomination, particularly because it reminded me of my own visit to Bhutan more than 40 years ago.

My favorite international film of the year, Lingui: The Sacred Bonds, about female solidarity in Chad, didn’t even make the Oscar shortlist.

Both Indonesia with Yuni and Egypt with Souad entered films about teenage girls caught between traditional Islamic customs and modern freedom of choice. Of the two, Yuni is more focused and more compelling.

The worst of the year’s entries? No contest: Titane from France, a stupid film passing for a masterpiece. I will say that I am bracing myself for Memoria from Colombia, which a companion at a post-screening dinner of a different film insisted was the worst film he had ever seen … ever.

Comedies don’t generally win Academy Awards, so I do appreciate it when countries enter them anyway. My favorites this year were The Good Boss from Spain and The Broken Glass Theory from Uruguay.