25 Contenders That Could Make The International Film Shortlist
Jan 29, 2023
Last year there were 93 nations that submitted films for the coveted International Film Academy Award. Only five were nominated, but they had a major hurdle to overcome first, the shortlist. Landing one of those 15 initial spots, judged by an estimated 900+ members of the Academy, is almost as coveted as a nomination itself. And if you’re an “established” filmmaking market that doesn’t make the cut, (as with France and “Titane” last year), heads may roll due to national embarrassment.
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Despite the pandemic, the race to make the International Film Shortlist over the past two Oscar seasons was quite competitive. The 2023 class is decidedly different. Perhaps it’s due to a pandemic-induced delay in overall global filmmaking or just a cyclical “off” year, but it appears to be a very open race for the shortlist this time around.
At this point, most observers expect “Close” (Belgium), “All Quiet On the Western Front” (Germany), “Decision to Leave” (South Korea), “Corsage” (Austria), “Holy Spider” (Denmark), “Saint Omer” (France), and “Bardo” (Mexico) to make the cut. But just because a film plays well with critics or festival audiences doesn’t mean it will charm AMPAS members. Especially Academy members watching from home. Yes, any member may participate this year, but they can still judge every film from their Academy streaming app (screenings and Q&A events are always available and have already started).
Once the shortlist is announced on December 21st, anyone participating in judging the selections for the actual nomination will have to screen them in a theater.
The Academy has not officially confirmed the films that have qualified for this category, but with the deadline now passed, most nations have announced their submissions.
There will no doubt be more 90+ contenders, but here’s a rundown of 25 submissions likely to make the cut.
This drama featuring non-professional actors won the Golden Bear at the 2022 Berlin Film Festival. Spain has made the shortlist just twice in the past decade, but “Pain & Glory” was nominated in 2020.
“All Quiet On the Western Front” (Germany)
This Netflix entry is a technical cinematic achievement that will also vie for Sound and Makeup nominations. It will have to overcome its familiarity and lack of emotional impact to make the five final nominees.
“Argentina 1985″ (Argentina)
This Amazon Studios film, which debuted at Venice, is a solid and unexpectedly entertaining period piece about Argentina’s historic Trial of the Juntas. Lead Ricardo Darin will be known to many Academy members which always helps.
“Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths” (Mexico)
Alejandro Iñárritu’s surreal and, arguably, autobiographical Venice premiere has not wowed the critics or audiences so far (it did not play well at Telluride, its second stop either), but that might not matter. The four-time Oscar winner has reportedly cut 20 min from the original 3-hour plus endeavor in the weeks since and he has enough fans in the Academy to at least make the shortlist (obviously, an assumption). This is also a Netflix priority so it will pretty much be everywhere.
“The Blue Caftan” (Morrocco)
Maryam Touzani’s drama centers on a closeted caftan maker who is moved by the arrival of a young apprentice into his midst. It took the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes and has earned mostly rave reviews.
“Boy From Heaven” (Sweden)
Set in Egypt, Tarik Saleh’s thriller won the screenplay prize at Cannes this year.
“The Box” (Venezuela)
Lorenzo Vigas‘s well-received drama screened at Venice and TIFF in…2021. With 31 submissions, Venezuela has only made the shortlist once.
A tearjerker, a lock for the shortlist, A24’s first international player and, no joke, a potential Best Picture nominee.
Vicky Krieps won the Un Certain Regard section Performance Prize (Best Actor) at Cannes and is trying to crash the Best Actress race. Would be very surprising if it doesn’t make the 15-film cut.
“Decision to Leave” (South Korea)
Park Chan-Wok took Best Director at Cannes and the film has pretty much played every single festival since. It’s absolutely on the shortlist.
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