The Nominees: Best Foreign Language Film

This is the first of several posts I will be doing to highlight the 80th Academy Awards nominations. More to come in the next three days (woohoo!)

Foreign Language Film Nominees

Beaufort

Israel; Directed by Joseph Cedar – This is the seventh Academy Award nomination for Israel

Synopsis: In the days leading up to Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, the soldiers stationed at the mountaintop outpost of Beaufort live under a barrage of constant attacks. Frustrated by the knowledge that they are risking–and often losing–their lives in defense of a fortress that will soon be abandoned, the men struggle to do their duty while grieving for their dead comrades and preparing for the evacuation. [source]

What the Critics Have Said: “[Director] Cedar’s understated humanism — passionate but never glib or easy — renders all the more painful the unstated coda that, six years after Israel’s retreat from Lebanon, the wounds opened all over again.” – Ella Taylor, Village Voice

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The Counterfeiters

Austria; Directed by Stefan Ruzowitsky – This is the second Oscar nomination for Austria.

Synopsis: In the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, a group of prisoners with skills ranging from finance to forgery are put to work under the direction of a master counterfeiter manufacturing perfect replicas of foreign bank notes. As the Nazis plot to cause the collapse of the U.S. and British economies by flooding their markets with false bills, some of the prisoners use delaying tactics to forestall the plan. [source]

What the Critics Have Said: This is a first-rate piece of film-making that should appeal to fans of last year’s The Lives of Others. – Wendy Ide, Times UK

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Katyn
Poland; Dir. Andreq Wajda – This is Poland’s eighth Oscar nomination.

Synopsis: This account of the events surrounding the 1940 massacre of captured Polish army officers in the Katyn Forest focuses on the story of a captain and his wife, who refuses to believe he is dead. A gesture of friendship within the harsh confines of the prison camp where Andrzej and his fellow officers are held will result in the mistaken identification that helps keep his wife’s hopes alive. [source]

What the Critics Have Said: [Polish master] Andrzej Wajda turns one of the major tragedies of 20th century Poland into a highly emotional wartime drama. – Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter

More Information: Official Site; imdb.com; wikipedia
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Mongol

Kazakhstan; Directed by Sergei Bodrov – This is the first (take that Borat!) Academy Award nomination for Kazakhstan

Synopsis: In twelfth-century Mongolia, nine-year-old Temudgin, who will grow up to become the warrior known as Genghis Khan, must flee his home shortly after choosing the spirited Borte as his bride when his father is murdered and a rival seizes power. With the help of his blood brother, tribal prince Jamukha, the adult Temudgin battles his rivals and works to unite the region’s warring clans under his authority. [source]

What the Critics Have Said: Encompassing shifting tribal alliances, a love story for the ages and a sworn friendship transformed into enmity, Mongol traces the formative years of legendary warrior Genghis Khan…. this Central Asia-set historical epic from Russian helmer Sergei Bodrov (Nomad) boasts breathtaking landscapes, dazzling cinematography, bloody battles and unique traditions. – Alissa Simon, Variety

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12

Russia; Directed by Nikita Mikhalkov – This is Russia’s fifth Oscar nomination and prior to 1992, the Soviet Union received nine nominations.

Synopsis: Twelve Russian jurors deciding the fate of a young Chechen accused of murdering his adoptive Russian father go over the details of the case in the school gymnasium that is serving as their jury room. As they argue with each other while struggling to reach a verdict, illustrating their views with stories from their own lives, the case itself becomes a metaphor for the problems plaguing modern Russian society. [source]

What the Critics have said: Expansively, dramatically, magnificently Russian, Nikita Mikhalkov’s loose remake of 12 Angry Men plays like vintage jazz from a veteran band.Ronnie Scheib, Variety.com

More information: official site; imdb.com; wikipedia

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