Screen profiles all 65 films submitted for this year’s foreign-language Academy Award — a true smorgasbord of styles, genres and personal and political subjects

Over the following 14 pages, Screen profiles all 65 films submitted for this year’s foreign-language Academy Award — a true smorgasbord of styles, genres and personal and political subjects

So 2010 may not go down in history as a vintage year for world cinema. Even the official selection at Cannes was considered less thrilling than usual, especially in the year after The White Ribbon, A Prophet and Antichrist set the Croisette on fire.

There are, however, plenty of gems in this year’s 65-film submission list for the
best foreign-language film Academy Award including Cannes winners Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and Of Gods And Men, Berlin hits Honey and If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle and Venice/Toronto favourites Incendies and In A Better World. That’s not to mention Dogtooth, Peepli Live, Aftershock, Kawasaki’s Rose or Echoes Of The Rainbow.

Screen has taken an egalitarian approach in 2010, profiling all 65 of the entries, many of which do not have the festival pedigree of the above-mentioned. The Academy’s foreign-language committee has a smorgasbord of entries from which to choose: feelgood audience pleasers and unapologetic downers, political and personal subjects, historical biopics and fantastical mood poems.

Because of its one-film-per-country process, the Oscar cannot claim to represent the very best in world cinema, often unable to include great work which was not submitted. In the past the Golden Globes and Bafta have had a wider spread of films from which to choose.

This year there are fewer glaring omissions in the Oscar shortlist — Poetry from Korea and How I Ended This Summer from Russia are notable absentees — and for once the Academy’s foreign-language Oscar could pass by without a major shutout or upset. Then again, it is one category which always manages to be full of surprises.

Last Decade in Foreign-Language Wins

Year Academy Award, Golden Globe, Bafta

2009The Secret In Their Eyes (Argentina), The White Ribbon (Germany), A Prophet (France)

2008Departures (Japan), Waltz With Bashir(Israel), I’ve Loved You So Long (France)

2007The Counterfeiters (Austria), The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (France-US), The Lives Of Others (Germany)

2006The Lives Of Others (Germany), Letters From Iwo Jima (US), Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico-Spain)

2005Tsotsi (South Africa), Paradise Now (Palestine), The Beat That My Heart Skipped (France)

2004The Sea Inside (Spain), The Sea Inside (Spain), The Motorcycle Diaries (Argentina-Brazil)

2003The Barbarian Invasions  (Canada), Osama (Afghanistan), In This World (UK)

2002Nowhere In Africa  (Germany), Talk To Her (Spain), Talk To Her (Spain)

2001No Man’s Land  (Bosnia & Herzegovina), No Man’s Land (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Amores Perros (Mexico)

2000Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Taiwan), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Taiwan), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Taiwan)

By the numbers: Foreign Language Oscar


36 France (plus three special/honorary awards)

27 Italy (plus three special/honorary awards)

19 Spain

14 Sweden

12 Japan (plus three honorary awards)

9 Germany

9 Israel


8 West Germany

8 Hungary

8 Poland

7 Denmark

7 Mexico

7 Netherlands


10 Italy (plus three special/honorary awards)

9 France (plus three special/honorary awards)

4 Spain

3 Germany

3 Netherlands

3 Sweden


2 Argentina

2 Czechoslovakia

2 Denmark

2 Switzerland

1 Algeria

1 Austria

1 Bosnia & Herzegovina

1 Canada

1 Czech Republic

1 West Germany