Monsieur Lazhar

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Searching for Sonny Elliot reluctantly heads home for his ten-year high school reunion, but instead of the expected disappointments he discovers a missing friend, a murder and a mystery. Writer/director Andrew Disney’s feature debut is an indie rarity in that it’s as funny as any big screen comedy. The laughs come in part due to Disney’s sharp and witty script, but credit should also go to the main cast of Jason Dohring, Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney. The trio has a smooth and perfectly timed chemistry together, and they help make the film a joy to watch. The lovely Minka Kelly helps in that department as well. [Extras: Commentary, additional scenes, bloopers, featurettes] Also available on Blu-ray.

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There’s a solid chance that you haven’t heard of most of these movies. Yet they exist – out there somewhere as a thorn in the side of movie fans trying to see as much as possible. Nuggets of potential waiting to be picked up from the movie orphanage by a distributor and given a warm home with cup holders in every seat. The European Film Market is fascinating for that reason and for the way people attend it. Tickets this year were around $600, but that’s a reasonable price for companies sending representatives trying to find the next moneymaker for their company or the hot movie to bring to their festival. That means screenings come complete with people on cell phones and unimpressed buyers walking out after ten minutes to hustle next door to see if the other movie playing has any promise to it. It’s a bizarre way to watch movies, but it makes a kind of sense given the massive size of the movie list compared to the tiny amount of time to see everything. There were upwards of 675 movies in the EFM this year, all of them with their own selling points. Here are the 87 most interesting-sounding with descriptions found in the official catalog. For the most part, I haven’t seen these movies (and didn’t even know about many of them until the Berlin Film Festival), but they all have something going for them that should earn them a spot on your radar.

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Foreign Language Film

The Best Foreign Language Film category is an odd one in that most movie-goers (and probably most Academy members too) haven’t actually seen many of the nominees. Or in some cases, any of the nominees. They’re subtitled for one thing, which is enough to turn off some people, but the bigger issue is that they also aren’t usually readily available. For the record, the true Best Foreign Language Film of the year wasn’t even nominated. Well, one of the two best wasn’t even nominated, and the other one is going to win. The Kid With a Bike deserves a spot on the stage, and while I wouldn’t be able to choose between it and the film that’s actually going to win it would have been nice to see it honored. So why isn’t in on the list of nominees? Because its home country, Belgium, chose to submit something else instead. The nominees are listed below with my prediction for the winner in red…

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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A little over a year after jailing and banning their most famous filmmaker from making movies, Iran might win an Academy Award for Best Picture. It would be a first for the nation whose government seems to strongly dislike creativity and freedom of speech, but its entry this year, A Separation, almost seems like a sure thing. Come February, writer/director Asghar Farhadi and Iran might be standing on the winner’s podium. But it’s not a done deal yet. A Separation and 8 other films were announced last week as part of the Oscar shortlist – just one step away from becoming an official nominee. They include a Danish comedy set in Argentina, a masculine drama about the underground world of illegal bovine growth hormones in Belgium, and something marvelous from Wim Wenders. It’s, to say the least, a varied group. Except that almost all of them are dramas from writer/directors.  So, yeah. Subject matter-wise though, it’s a full spectrum. The final 5 will be announced tomorrow morning, but here first are the trailers from each of the 9 shortlisted movies from far off lands (like Canada):

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