Omar

Oscar Predictions 2014: Foreign Film

Best Foreign Language Film remains one of the tougher categories to predict well in advance, but the last few years have seen the race narrow in the final weeks to reveal an obvious winner. In a Better World, A Separation, and last year’s Amour were all easily identified winners before the Oscar telecast. This year appears to be no different. The nominees come from a fairly respectable spread of countries including Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, Italy, and Palestine. Cambodia’s submission is only their third ever and their first to receive a nomination, and just as notable is the fact that the film is a documentary. Hopefully they’re happy with the footnotes, though, as they won’t be taking home the gold on Oscar night. Keep reading for a look at all five of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Language Film along with my predicted winner in red…

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Omar2

There is a giant metaphor sitting in the Occupied West Bank, in the shape of a wall. That isn’t meant to diminish the massive, real-world impact that the wall has on the inhabitants on either side, mind you. It’s simply that the enormous Israeli barrier, bisecting the lands and lives of the people around it, is an extraordinary symbol. Like that of Cold War Berlin, it stands as a powerful representation of something, though what that may be depends on the artist. And few  have handled it quite like Hany Abu-Assad. Omar, Abu-Assad’s second Oscar-nominated feature, is the story of a young man stuck in the middle. The titular Omar (Adam Bakri) is linked with the wall from the very beginning. He climbs up and down with just a sturdy rope, commuting (illegally) between his home neighborhood in the West Bank and the bakery where he works. The first act of the film follows his small-time scheme, with friends Amjad (Samer Bisharat) and Tarek (Iyad Hoorani), to shoot an Israeli soldier. All of them are inexperienced and thrilled by the prospect of striking the army, though Tarek emerges as the one with the most ties to the big leagues of organized Palestinian resistance. Complicating all of this is Omar’s chastely passionate relationship with Tarek’s younger sister Nadia (Leema Lubany), inching its way from pecks on the cheek to a proposal of marriage.

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inside llewyn davis 04

Three-hour lesbian drama Blue is the Warmest Color was announced the winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, a choice that many foresaw as likely but not a sure thing. The jury that awarded the honor was led by Steven Spielberg and also included Nicole Kidman, Ang Lee, Christoph Waltz and Lynne Ramsay. For the second place Grand Prix winner, they picked the latest from the Coen Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis, while for Jury Prize (considered the third biggest deal) they chose Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s Like Father, Like Son. Like Father, Like Son was also recipient of an honorable mention from the Christian-based Ecumenical Jury, whose top prize went to The Past — the star of which, Bérénice Bejo, was named Best Actress by the main Cannes jury. Blue is the Warmest Color also earned multiple honors from the fest, taking the critic choice FIPRESCI Award for the In Competition category. The biggest surprise of today’s announcement seems to be Spielberg and Co.’s naming of Bruce Dern as Best Actor for the new film from Alexander Payne, Nebraska. After the jump, you can find a full list of main jury winners (from the festival website) and other honorees announced over the weekend accompanied by links to our review of the film where available.

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