Jesse Kornbluth, with eight amazing foreign films worth seeing.
The Oscars are Sunday. Despite the absence of nominations for African American films and actors, I’ll watch. For Chris Rock. And because a few of the films I liked – “The Big Short,” “Brooklyn” and “Spotlight” — are nominated. But I will, as ever, be thinking of films I’ve seen last year that deliver more protein than most American films produced by studios. That is, foreign films.
So here’s my contribution to the pre-Oscar hype: some suggestions for foreign films that won or were nominated for Oscars. (It belatedly
occurs to me that I think of independent American films as foreign films.)
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, the first Iranian film to win the award. (At the Berlin Film Festival, it won the Golden Bear.) The night I saw it, no one moved for 120 minutes. And when it was over and the credits were running — in Farsi — no one got up. How can this be? It’s just…a little movie. No. It’s not. It’s a lot more. [To buy the DVD from Amazon for $7.35 or to rent/buy the streaming video, click here.]
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In East Germany in the 1980s, for example, the Stasi — the secret police — had 90,000 employees and 173,000 informers. In a country of 16 million people, that’s huge; it means that one of every 63 East Germans collaborated with the Stasi.
Jennifer Lawrence’s first leading role won her a nomination for Best Actress. Mesmerizing.
IN A BETTER WORLD
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film. Directed by Susanne Bier, a personal favorite.
Bernardo Bertolucci’s masterpiece was nominated for Best Screenplay Based On Material from Another Medium. The film asks: What kind of man gets himself in such a pickle that — on his honeymoon — he’s given a gun and asked to kill a professor he’s always admired?
The film contains one of the great dance scenes:
Alfred Hitchcock’s second American film was nominated for 6 Academy Awards.
Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN
Nominated for Best Original Screenplay. One of my favorite movies. Many reasons, but especially one scene: a drunken dance from the jukebox to the table. [To buy the DVD from Amazon or stream it, click here.]
BATTLE OF ALGIERS
Winner of the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival, nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Foreign Language Film. It was also banned for years in France.
This article originally appeared on The Head Butler