The Best Foreign Language Oscar can propel the winner into the big international league, and is highly desired.
Michael Hanecke’s “Amour” is another much-admired work from the Austrian writer and director dealing with the final months in the life of a retired music teacher, played by 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva, and her husband of 60 years played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, who came out of retirement just to take on the role.
Already covered with glory at Cannes and the Golden Globes “Amour” looks at the couple’s struggle with the debilitating effects of two strokes on both Riva’s health and her quality of life. The film has a total of five nominations, including best picture, best director, best original screenplay for Haneke, and best actress for Riva. It is considered the front-runner for the Oscar.
Norway’s entry is “Kon-Tiki,” the dramatised story of Thor Heyerdahl and his famous expedition of 1947. An experimental ethnographer and adventurer, Heyerdahl set out to prove his theory that people from South America could have settled in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. To do this he builds a balsa raft using original techniques, and sails across the Pacific from Peru to Polynesia with five crewmen. It is the first Norwegian film to win Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
Chile’s “NO,” directed by Pablo Larraín is the true story of a Chilean advertising executive who is recruited by opponents of the Pinochet regime to create an advert persuading people to vote against a referendum supporting the dictator. While many on the left fear that the government will rig the voting, the hero hopes that his marketing skills can sell the Chilean people the possibility of a better world
Director Pablo Larrain along with his wife, actress Antonia Zegers presented the movie at the last New York Film Festival, and it was a critical hit at Cannes.
Denmark’s “A Royal Affair,” directed by Nikolaj Arcel examines the relationship between the Queen of Denmark and a German doctor who is her husband’s trusted advisor. It leads to sweeping changes in the country. Married as a teenager to the mentally unstable King Christian VII, Queen Caroline Mathilde finds herself drawn to the compassionate and intelligent Johann Friedrick Struensee. They become lovers and work together to reform Danish society.
The film was in competition at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival and won a Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the Golden Globes.
Canada’s “War Witch,” is directed by Kim Nguyen. In a war-torn central African nation, a 12-year-old girl is abducted from her village and forced to fight as a child soldier. Over the course of two years, Komona endures a brutal and horrific existence that will damage her irrevocably.
Nguyen spent 10 years bringing this story to the screen, basing his script on the stories of actual child soldiers and shooting entirely on location in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.