Featured: Those Other International Film Nods
Parasite winning the renamed “Best International Film” Oscar is as locked as Fort Knox. Nothing else has to be said why, but let’s just move on to the films that will lose gracefully to it. The other four films come out from an always competitive shortlist picked by the Academy. Some countries are very familiar, while others make a breakthrough for their country’s representation in global cinema. Getting to the final five at the Oscars is massive. So, with the exception of Parasite, here is the rest worth watching.
Pain And Glory (Spain)
If it weren’t for Parasite having the recognition it has, Pedro Almodovar, one of the world’s best living directors, would take his third Academy Award, second in this category, for his autobiographical tale of regret and remembrance. The film is in my Top 10 of 2019 and many were happy to see Antonio Bandaras finally get his first nomination as the jaded director struggling with physical pain and the internal suffering that cuts him off from his creative ideas. It’s such a reflection of Almodovar in real life, as a child growing up in a small village and having his sexual awakening, and struggling to reconnect with his muse after decades of silence. We like movies about filmmaking, but this one is very personal.
Les Misérables (France)
Along with Pain And Glory and Parasite, this debuted at Cannes last year where it won the Jury Prize behind the latter’s Palme d’Or victory and the former’s Best Actor win. Newcomer Ladj Ly uses the riots in Paris of 2005 as a backdrop for the revolution of the oppressed, the African and Arab population protesting police brutality which had resulted in deaths. Three members of an anti-crime squad in a rough neighborhood find themselves in the line of fire as locals rise up and protest their presence among many things. The neighborhood, Montfermeil, is a setting from Victor Hugo’s famous novel of the same name and the tensions within that single place boils to the same levels as Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.
Honeyland (North Macedonia)
This is an interesting nomination because the film also was nominated for Best Documentary Feature; plus, it’s Neon’s second film in the category with Parasite. It covers the life of a beekeeper in a small village and the relationship with her mother and a neighbor. The second film to be nominated in this category from the small East European nation (1994’s Before The Rain), is an organic vision of a dying life in a changing world over a lengthy period – shooting lasted three years – and presents us the labor of love and hardships from another place that hides in between the Balkans.
Corpus Christi (Poland)
Thanks to the success of Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland this decade has been quite successful with their movies in the Oscars, finishing off with this one. Director Jan Komasa gives the story of a juvenile youth who finds a spiritual awakening the redemption path it needs, especially since the youth cannot be accepted as a priest and him mistakenly being one leads to a job running a parish. Besides its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film hasn’t been really seen here but will be released in April by Film Movement.
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