Archive for the ‘Oscars 2016’ Tag
Every time we say that a certain year is the craziest season ever, the coming season proves to be more insane than the previous one. And that fact holds true for this year, as momentum shifted all throughout the season. Between #OscarsSoWhite, #OscarsSoStraight, the Spotlight/The Big Short/Mad Max/The Revenant momentum shift, the existence of Jacob Tremblay, and Diane Ladd being “upset and chagrined”, we’ve finally come to the near end of the awards season a.k.a the pitstop which is the Oscars!
And as you figure out if you’re Team Ryan vs. Rachel, bear vs. Brie, spies vs. space, and Saoirse vs. Furiosa, let me present my predictions in all Oscar categories.
The screenplay categories are usually reserved for Best Picture contenders unless there’s something so groundbreaking that comes along (such is the case for Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 2004 or Pedro Almodovar’s Talk to Her in 2002). This year’s nominees however had a small crossover with the Picture category as it’s only Bridge of Spies and Spotlight that got in here (for the record, the other six nominees are all ineligible here). That said, this one is the token award for Spotlight for many reasons: it’s a really good screenplay, it tackles an important topic, and it’s a consolation for being the frontrunner back in October – November. Ideally, Bridge of Spies is the runner-up, but it just feels like a filler nomination here. I’d probably go with Inside Out because the complexities of it is just something the writers would probably acknowledge.
PREDICTION: Spotlight (Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer)
ALTERNATE: Inside Out (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie del Carmen)
Using the same logic above, all but Carol here were nominated for the Best Picture category, which is a shame basically. But enough about my personal feelings. The strongest contender here is The Big Short with its WGA and BAFTA win under its belt. Just like Spotlight, the director is also one half of the film’s writers, it’s also tackling an important and very American issue, and it’s a consolation for being the frontrunner back in early January. The closest to an alternate is probably Emma Donoghue as she translated her own work from a literary piece to the big screen, and Room is that little film that could ignite real passion.
PREDICTION: The Big Short (Adam McKay, Charles Randolph)
ALTERNATE: Room (Emma Donoghue)
What was supposed to be a really messy category ended up a really safe one as we enter the Oscar nomination stage. Remember when the Globes, SAG, BFCA, and BAFTA have different lineups in this category? And while it’s a bit unusual that Sylvester Stallone missed both SAG and BAFTA (and by miss, we mean he wasn;t even nominated), he still remains as the frontrunner here. The thing here is after his Globe win (okay his BFCA but really lol), his next stop is directly at the Oscars, and for things to work his way, both the SAG and the BAFTA must have different winners so that no one can gain momentum. The only two people nominated for both were Christian Bale and Mark Rylance. Luckily for him, the un-nominated Idris Elba won SAG (and while Elba was excellent in it, it’s basically an answer tot he diversity issue) while Mark Rylance won BAFTA. It also didn’t help that Rylance basically uncampaigned for himself the whole season — only attending the Globes when he lost that one. Watch out for Mark Ruffalo though especially is Spotlight comes strong at the Oscars. But alas, come Sunday night, we’ll be living in a world where we have acting Oscar winner Rocky Balboa.
PREDICTION: Sylvester Stallone, Creed
ALTERNATE: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
In a year when we can finally call both Jennifer Jason-Leigh and Rachel McAdams as Oscar nominees, it’s rather unfortunate that the win isn’t between the two of them. Like Ruffalo, McAdams has a small chance as I think she’s the dark horse in this category. Then there’s Rooney Mara (or as Diane Ladd calls her, Rooney Moore) who won the Cannes (again, as Diane Ladd calls it – the Carn) Best Actress award for Carol. By now, Carol just feels like an afterthought at the Oscars, and I don’t see it winning anywhere here. The race here is basically between GG + BAFTA winner Kate Winslet vs. BFCA + SAG winner Alicia Vikander. In previous instances, the former is the stronger case than the latter (see wins by Marion Cotillard, Christoph Waltz in Django, Nicole Kidman, and Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady). However, it has to be mentioned that in the two instances that Kate won, Alicia Vikander was nominated for her turn in the low budgeted sci-fi Ex Machina. The two wins of Vikander where she beat Kate Winslet was for The Danish Girl, the same performance that’s nominated here. I think that’s a very important detail in this discussion, and add the fact that Vikander is an ingenue playing a suffering wife role (in short, this category’s two hard-ons), and voila, you have your Oscar winner!
PREDICTION: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
ALTERNATE: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Leonardo di Caprio. End of discussion.
Welp I’m joking. With the end of the discussion part I mean. But yes, it’s time to say goodbye to the memes. Leonardo di Caprio is finally winning an Oscar. And I can already imagine the standing ovation. It’s gonna be long, and there’s gonna be tears, and a camera will be panned to Kate Winslet crying as if it wasn’t Rose’s fault why Jack died in that obscure little movie they starred together 19 years ago called Titanic (do you remember that one?). And I’m happy for Leo, as we know that’s one off his bucket list. He knows this is the closest chance he had at winning, and he milked every moment of it surpassing all his co-nominees. As for starters, he went all the way to the Pope. I mean he has God on his side already (sorry Matt Damon but God is farther than the space you’re stuck with in The Martian). Second, di Caprio is so intense as an actor that you have no idea he almost died
getting that Oscar shooting The Revenant (did you experience that too Bryan Cranston? No? Oh better luck next time). Third, he knows how to choose the roles that will finally net him the win (There’s a reason why he passed on that Jobs role, Fassbender). And lastly, he even sent a prepared Skype video of his speech at the BFCA when he can’t attend (Not even Eddie Redmayne thought of doing that last year). Basically what I’m saying is that it’s time.
PREDICTION: Leonardo di Caprio, The Revenant
ALTERNATE: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
There’s one performance that swept all the precursors in this category this year, and obviously it’s the same performance winning on Sunday night. Brie Larson will walk away with an Oscar for her riveting performance in Room. There really is a strong support for the movie (as proven by director Lenny Abrahamson’s surprise Directing nod), and Brie is this award season’s darling with trades calling her as the next big thing already. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s friends with some of the it girls in Hollywood (co-nominee Jennifer Lawrence as for starters, Amy Schumer too, and then Rooney Mara as well). It’s basically a coronation of another Hollywood it girl, and we can’t be happier enough as she deserves it.
PREDICTION: Brie Larson, Room
ALTERNATE: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
History is about to be rewritten as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu will win his consecutive Best Directing Oscar for The Revenant. With the narrative of how much it was difficult to make The Revenant, he’s about to be rewarded with a second Oscar in here especially since he also won the Directors Guild which is the most accurate precursor in this category. Both McKay and McCarthy will be getting their dues in the Screenplay category, and Abrahamson is the unique passion vote that has no chance of winning. Miller could have had the momentum on his side had he won the DGA which unfortunately he didn’t. At this stage, no matter what happens in the Best Picture race is different, as this one’s a lock already.
PREDICTION: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
ALTERNATE: Adam McKay, The Big Short
This is a really strong category, and I applaud the Academy for going with films like When Marnie was There and Boy and the World here. That said, this is Inside Out‘s award, as it probably won 99% of all the Animated Feature awards given throughout this season (and deservedly so). It’s a bit sad when you think how the film didn’t fare stronger outside of this category (except for that weak Original Screenplay one.)
PREDICTION: Inside Out
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
Ever since the Academy changed the voting winner of the pattern here (they’re up for grabs for the whole membership instead of a small panel of voters who will sign they’ve watched all five movies nominated), the winner has always been the most buzzed film of the group. Son of Saul is that movie this year. Coming off from a Jury Prize winner at Cannes, winning countless Foreign Language Film mentions one after the other, Hollywood can’t resist this Holocaust story. That said, there were rumors that this didn’t make it the shortlist in a popular vote. In that case, watch out for crowd-pleasing Mustang as France aims another win in this category. That said, I’d still give Son of Saul the advantage.
PREDICTION: Son of Saul
The documentary about the late Amy Winehouse seems like the frontrunner here as it won majority of the precursors in this category. That said, it’s really not the type that wins here if we’re basing it at history. Interestingly enough, the closest contender is about another musician – Nina Simone, as Netflix campaigned the hell out of What Happened, Miss Simone? Netflix has been very eager to duplicate their TV domination at the Oscars, and the all around snubbing of Beasts of No Nation will just pump themselves up further in this category. That said, I wonder how the great Joshua Oppenheimer feels, that every time his documentary is nominated here, it loses to a musically-themed film (flashback to The Act of Killing losing to 20 Feet from Stardom two years ago).
ALTERNATE: What Happened, Miss Simone?
Now here are the rest of the technical categories (which is difficult because Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant are competing in eight of this (save for Score and Song) and we really don’t know how the Academy will vote here:
Remember when we used to be upset before when we feel like the Academy doesn’t recognize the greatness of Chivo Lubezki? I guess the Oscars make up for it so much that he’s now a shoo-in to win his third consecutive Academy Award in this category for The Revenant.
PREDICTION: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
ALTERNATE: John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road
While Sandy Powell is competing against herself in this category, I think it’s Jenny Beavan is the one to win the Oscar as part of the semi-sweep by Mad Max in here. That said, we really can’t dismiss the really showy costume work done in Cinderella.
PREDICTION: Jenny Beavan, Mad Max: Fury Road
ALTERNATE: Sandy Powell, Cinderella
While a nomination here is crucial for a movie aiming for a Best Picture win, only one of the last five winners of this category has won Best Picture (that would be 2012’s Argo). Lately, they’re into really showy and flashy editing which makes me think it’s between The Big Short and Mad Max: Fury Road. I’ll be giving the edge to the former.
PREDICTION: Hank Corwin, The Big Short
ALTERNATE: Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road
HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP:
And here’s another Mad Max/Revenant showdown. People have really been amazed by the makeup in The Revenant especially that of the close ups of di Caprio’s face, but I think the overall work in Mad Max: Fury Road will prevail.
PREDICTION: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega, Damian Martin, Mad Max: Fury Road
ALTERNATE: Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman, Robert Pandini, The Revenant
It’s time to give the legendary Ennio Morricone a competitive Oscar. Sure he won an Honorary one nine years ago, but this is one of the times AMPAS is playing catch up. The great thing is that he actually deserves it. That said, don’t underestimate the nostalgia that Star Wars brought to the voters as it’s done by the most nominated person in the history of this category.
PREDICTION: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
ALTERNATE: John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
To quote the mighty Diane Ladd, “I am upset and chagrined” with what happened to this category this year. While this has given us the delight of calling 50 Shades of Grey an Oscar nominated film, this year seems to be the most problematic. You know shit just happened when you’re rooting for Wiz Khalifa song, but See You Again was snubbed here. For what it’s worth, both Simple Song #3 and Manta Ray are great songs, and the producers have fucked up not giving the performers the right to perform their song in whole just because they are not mainstream artists. Sadly, the race is between two drecks: Sam Smith’s abomination of coming up with a Bond song, then there’s the pairing of Diane Warren and Lady Gaga who’s campaigning desperation combined made Leonardo di Caprio look like Joaquin fucking Phoenix. In a fair world, none of these two messes should have been nominated in the first place, but I guess an overdue win for Diane Warren will happen just so the Academy can finally be over and done with her.
PREDICTION: Til It Happens to You (The Hunting Ground)
ALTERNATE: Writings on the Wall (Spectre)
Just for completely setting up a whole world in the entirety of the film, I guess Mad Max will win this one over The Revenant which is mostly criticized for it being an “outside shoot.” Don’t underestimate Bridge of Spies as this type of traditional production design has its passionate supporters, as proven by Lincoln‘s upset in 2012, incidentally another Spielberg film.
PREDICTION: Colin Gibson, Lisa Thompson, Mad Max: Fury Road
ALTERNATE: Jack Fisk, Hamish Purdy, The Revenant
What I’ve noticed here is that when different films end up winning Editing and Mixing, it’s because the winner in Mixing (which tends to go to musicals) aren’t nominated in Editing instead of the other way around. But when the Mixing winner is eligible for both, it wins both (the only time in the last 15 years it didn’t happen is when Slumdog Millionaire and The Dark Knight won one apiece). This same scenario can happen to both The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, but I doubt the majority of the voting body cares more than us, so let’s just say The Revenant will be winning both Sound categories.
PREDICTION: The Revenant
ALTERNATE: Mad Max: Fury Road
PREDICTION: The Revenant
ALTERNATE: Mad Max: Fury Road
The golden rule here is that when there’s a Best Picture contender here, count on it to make it a part of the sweep. That is unless you’re competing against another contender (see: District 9 losing to Avatar in 2009 or Master and Commander losing to Return of the King in 2003). As a matter of fact, you have to go all the way back to 1970 to see a Best Picture contender lose here with Patton. So what happens when you have three of the five nominees here are Best Picture contenders too? Then there’s the other fact, one where in all three Star Wars films won this category too. And among the prequels, two of those are nominated as well. This category could really go to many directions; thus, I’ll just be going with another Star Wars win. The Revenant can upset this as part of the sweep and because the much-talked about bear rape scene is the stuff that wins you Oscars here.
PREDICTION: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
ALTERNATE: The Revenant
There you ha..oh wait. We have Best Picture left.
What a crazy year for this category. As for starters, it seemed like Spotlight had the momentum all throughout the season being the uniter of critical choices as well as the populist one. It was a movie that has a strong message, it had a great ensemble, and it conveys a sense of “importance.” That is until, we’ve seen its televised awards performance dwindle. Remember when Michael Keaton was supposed to be nominated too? And then there’s the ACE Editing snub which made it seem like Spotlight was a weak frontrunner all along. Then came The Big Short getting in all the momentum as it got nominated among all guilds where it was predicted to receive. After all, it’s about an important time in America, it’s timely, it’s political, and it’s about white dudes. Then there was the Mad Max: Fury Road contingent as well; basically revived by the critics and hitting in precursors left and right.
Come Golden Globes, The Revenant ends up sweeping, and we’re all probably like “hey it’s just a makeup win because they snubbed Birdman last year.” Which was half true. But the other truth is that it’s from the current Best Director winner starring the likely Best Actor champion who is also the biggest star in the world. And while we’re at that, they snubbed both Spotlight and The Big Short whose total wins is zilch. The BFCA stayed safe and went with Spotlight again. At the Oscar nomination announcement, The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, Spotlight, and The Big Short all performed well, some more than others. But come Producers Guild Awards, which uses the same voting practice as the Oscars, The Big Short ended up with the win; thus making it the frontrunner again. After all, it’s about an important time in America, it’s timely, it’s political, and it’s about white dudes.
At the SAG Awards, current frontrunner The Big Short was expected to win the Ensemble award, which is mostly the equivalent of Best Picture then. So when Demi Moore (are we in the 90s?) announced “the cast of Spotlight“, oh wait we have a new frontrunner again, and it’s Spotlight. It was a movie that has a strong message, it had a great ensemble, and it conveys a sense of “importance.”
When the DGA awarded it to The Revenant, it’s getting clearer that Mad Max is a clear fourth in this race. Maybe The Revenant was the frontrunner all along. It topped the nomination tally, it has the Best Actor winner (which has a good crossover with Best Picture), and they really seem to buy its narrative of “we almost died for this film!” The BAFTAs follow suit but unlike the Globes, we can’t say “hey it’s just a makeup win because they snubbed Birdman last year.” Which was still half true.Again, it’s from the current Best Director winner starring the likely Best Actor champion who is also the biggest star in the world.
Now think about it. If The Revenant is winning this, then why it didn’t win PGA? How come The Big Short won there? Remember that it’s the one that used the same voting patterns as the Oscar. A movie with few #1s can still benefit if it has more #2s and #3s than a film with #1s yet has #9s as well. So which among between Spotlight (It was a movie that has a strong message, it had a great ensemble, and it conveys a sense of “importance.”), The Big Short (It’s about an important time in America, it’s timely, it’s political, and it’s about white dudes.), and The Revenant (It’s from the current Best Director winner starring the likely Best Actor champion who is also the biggest star in the world) will prevail?
PREDICTION: The Revenant
The Oscars happen on Monday here in Manila at 9AM! Happy Oscars day! Tweet to talk to me about the Oscars: @nikowl
Earlier today, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences has released the final tally of the submissions for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. As per Academy rules, only one film can be submitted per country. Now here are 81 photos from the 81 submissions all vying to win the Oscar title which is currently held by Poland’s “Ida.”
*all images are screen grabbed from the movie trailers from YouTube or Vimeo
*all descriptions are taken from summaries online
1. Afghanistan (“UTOPIA”, directed by: Hassan Nazer)
It follows an Afghan woman as she travels to the U.K. for artificial insemination. Complications arise when a British student at the infertility clinic decides to swap the donor semen for his own and the woman finds out that he is from a family with a long history of military conflict in her homeland.
2. Albania (“BOTA”, directed by: Iris Elezi, Thomas Logoreci)
The story of Beni, a petty criminal and ladies’ man, and his beautiful young mistress, cafe waitress Nora, is set in an isolated café named Bota, located in a litter-strewn parched surroundings once used for locking away opponents of the Communist regime, and serves as a bleak background for a richly creative tale woven with enduring images.
3. Algeria (“TWILIGHT OF SHADOWS”, directed by: Mohammed Lakhdar Hamina)
1958 – Entrenched in its city in the heart of the Grand Erg, the Saintenac commander leads his ferocious war. Lambert’s arrival is perceived by Saintenac like a worm in the fruit, and the only way for the commander to beat it is to: “break the beak”. Lambert morally physically torturing Khaled, the son of the desert outraged by colonial injustice which is fighting for his dignity as a free man. Lambert refuses to execute Khaled and disarms the commander. Beyond this dark page of history, between beliefs and doubts, in the chaos of the war in Algeria, the men face their destiny.
4. Argentina (“THE CLAN”, directed by: Pablo Trapero)
The true to life story of the prominent and highly feared Puccio crime family in Argentina as it recounts the astonishing true story of a seemingly normal middle-class family that trafficked in the kidnapping, ransoming and murder of the wealthy.
5. Australia (“ARROWS OF THE THUNDER DRAGON”, directed by: Greg Sneddon)
Set in the 1970s, the story follows brother and sister Kuenphen and Jamyang where in a remote Bhutanese village, they learn traditional archery from their old warrior grandfather. The respected but eccentric old man uses a heavy hand and strict discipline to train the young Kuenphen in the art of traditional archery. It becomes clear Kuenphen has opportunities to further his interests while sister Jamyang must stay home to weave, cook and get married; a fate the young woman is not willing to accept without a fight. When Kuenphen has to leave the village to take his mother on a 3 day walk to the old castle for medical treatment, Jamyang’s own desire to explore a wider world other than the norm of following her mothers traditional life is stimulated.
6. Austria (“GOODNIGHT MOMMY”, directed by: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala)
Twin brothers welcome back their mother who just underwent a cosmetic facial surgery. However, they noticed the changes not only in her physical demeanor which led them to be suspicious of her real identity.
7. Bangladesh (“JALAL’S STORY”, directed by: Abu Shahed Emon)
This is the story of an infant, a child and teen named Jalal. The first story begins with Miraj, who rescues an abandoned baby from the river and raises him, calling him Jalal. However, after a series of misfortunes the villagers considered the baby to be a curse on their village. Poor Miraj has to abandon the baby yet back in the river again. The second story starts off with the nine-year-old Jalal who lives as a dependent of a large landowner, Karim, who desperately needs a baby to keep up his prestige informant of the villagers. As time passed by even after the series of incidents Karim’s Newly married wife was unable to conceive and eventually Jalal was bizarrely considered as a cause of the couple’s infertility problem by the clever Shaman hired by Karim. Jalal was thrown back in the river again. In the third story we see Nineteen-year-old Jalal works under a gang leader and budding politician named Sajib, who has kidnapped and impregnated Shila. He makes Jalal keep an eye on her, but Shila dies during a childbirth. Afraid that this child would affect his reputation and influence the result of the upcoming election, Sajib orders Jalal to throw the baby in the river. These three stories strangely connect and flow together as one.
8. Belgium (“THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENT”, directed by: Jaco Van Dormael)
The movie is a religious satire in which God exists and lives in Brussels, where he treats his wife and his young daughter very badly. In revenge, his daughter publishes everybody’s dying day on the internet.
9. Bosnia and Herzegovina (“OUR EVERYDAY STORY”, directed by: Ines Tanović)
The film tells the story of a middle-class Sarajevo family struggling with their everyday problems.
10. Brazil (“THE SECOND MOTHER”, directed by: Anna Muylaert)
Val has been a devoted live-in housemaid for a wealthy family in São Paulo for 13 years. From serving impeccable hors d’oeuvres at dinner parties, to keeping track of the father’s medicine regimen, to covering up for the teenage son (with whom she shares a deep emotional bond) when he gets in trouble, Val is a strong maternal figure in the household. One day, her daughter Jessica arrives from their hometown to take university entrance exams and has to stay with Val temporarily in the maid’s quarters. Ambitious, intelligent and with a rebellious streak, Jessica blatantly disregards previously unspoken, yet inviolable rules of the house—she frequents the family’s living and dining spaces and helps herself to the expensive ice cream. To Val’s despair, Jessica acts like a houseguest rather than the hired help’s kin. Slowly, strain in the household starts to rise as the matriarch’s initial polite acceptance of Jessica’s presence morphs into thinly veiled intolerance.
11. Bulgaria (“THE JUDGEMENT”, directed by: Stephan Komandarev)
In a small and poor village in Bulgaria, located close to the border with Turkey and Greece, Mityo loses his job and is forced to accept to work for his former commander in order to keep his house and pay his loans. His job is to smuggle illegal immigrants from Syria through the Bulgarian-Turkish border into the EU. Since the death of his wife, the relations between Mityo and his son are strained. The revelation of a terrible secret will force Mityo to face the past, in order to regain his internal peace and find forgiveness from his son.
12. Cambodia (“THE LAST REEL”, directed by: Sotho Kulikar)
The Last Reel tells the story of a forgotten film discovered beneath the Killing Fields, revealing different versions of the truth. In an abandoned cinema, a rebellious teenager named Sophoun discovers an old film starring her mother, offering her the chance to dictate her own destiny, but at the cost of uncovering some dark secrets about her parents’ lives during the Khmer Rouge regime.
13. Canada (“FELIX AND MEIRA”, directed by: Maxime Giroux)
The story of a love affair between Francophone Quebecer Felix and a young Hasidic Jewish mother, Meira.
14. Chile (“THE CLUB”, directed by: Pablo Larrain)
The film draws us into the troubling world of Catholic clergymen living at the edge of the continent — and far beyond the moral boundaries of their faith, as they’re living their cozy exile disturbed by charges of molestation.
15. China (“GO AWAY MR. TUMOR”, directed by: Han Yan)
Based on the famous Chinese comic series created by online cartoonist Xiong Dun chronicling the darkest hours of her life in a lighter and more amusing way. While fighting a malignant tumor, she wrote what became an explosively popular story and inspired millions of people with her optimism and courage.
16. Colombia (“EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT”, directed by: Ciro Guerra)
The black-and-white film spans 40 years in the relationship between an Amazonian shaman and two
European scientists (played by Brionne Davis and Jan Bijvoet) as they search the jungle for a sacred healing plant in the early 20th century.
17. Costa Rica (“IMPRISONED”, directed by: Esteban Ramírez)
A young girl gets involved in a family drama when she starts a secret friendship with a prison inmate. All parts involved, inside and outside, will have to deal with the consequences of such kind of relationship and what’s necessary to preserve it.
18. Croatia (“THE HIGH SUN”, directed by: Dalibor Matanić)
A compassionate look at the recent history of war-torn Yugoslavia seen through the lens of the three different love stories, set in three consecutive decades in two neighboring villages.
19. Czech Republic (“HOME CARE”, directed by: Slavek Horak)
Set in a Southern Moravian nursing home, the film tells the story of a nurse’s search for a cure for her own ailments that sets her off on a path of alternative medicine. The nurse Vlasta is helped in her quest by the daughter of one of her patients and her esoteric mentor.
20. Denmark (“A WAR”, directed by: Tobias Lindholm)
“A War” is a drama about the consequences of war. It follows army officer Claus Michael Pedersen, who is stationed with his men in an Afghan province. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for him — and his family back home.
21. Dominican Republic (“SAND DOLLARS”, directed by: Laura Amelia Guzmán, Israel Cárdenas)
A Dominican Republic-set drama that follows the long-time relationship between a beautiful and impoverished young local girl and her wealthy European lover, which is put to the test as issues of class, inequality and exploitation are introduced.
22. Estonia (“1944”, directed by: Elmo Nüganen)
The story of a country torn apart as the Red Army advances from one side and the Nazis conduct a fighting retreat from the other, the film tells the story of two brothers forced into choices that put them on opposing sides.
23. Ethiopia (“LAMB”, directed by: Yared Zeleke)
When an Ethiopian boy moves in with distant relatives, he takes his pet sheep with him. But the upcoming holidays spell danger for his beloved friend.
24. Finland (“THE FENCER”, directed by: Klaus Härö)
A thriller based on a true Cold War story of an Estonian fencing champ on the run from the Soviet secret police, the film tells the story of fencing master Endel Nelis, who finds himself teaching children in a remote small town while on the run. When the kids push for their fencing team to take part in a national competition in Leningrad, he realizes exactly what he wants to do with his life.
25. France (“MUSTANG”, directed by: Deniz Gamze Ergüven)
The film follows five Turkish sisters who have their basic freedoms stripped from them as they become women.
26. Georgia (“MOIRA”, directed by: Levan Tutberidze)
Moira tells the story of a poverty-stricken family living in a seaside city struggling to rise above the temptations of crime to make an honest living. After his release from prison, Mamuka is determined not to fall back into a life of crime, taking out a loan to buy a small fishing boat he and his unemployed younger brother name after Moira, the goddess of fate. But with a mother working abroad and a wheelchair-ridden father, the brothers find fate can be blind and merciless.
27. Germany (“LABYRINTH OF LIES”, directed by: Giulio Ricciarelli)
A young public prosecutor, Johann Radmann, sets out in the 1950s to expose the full story behind the mass killings at Auschwitz. This led to the first Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, in the face of great political and social opposition in West Germany.
28. Greece (“XENIA”, directed by: Panos H. Koutras)
It centers around a gay Cretan teen and his brother who seek their future and their estranged father in Greece.
29. Guatemala (“IXCANUL”, directed by: Jayro Bustamante)
The story of a young Mayan woman, living in a community of Kaqchikel-speaking coffee farmers, whose unwanted pregnancy brings her into final — and shocking — contact with the modern world she dreamt so much about, “Ixcanul” delivers a sucker punch about what Bustamante has called one driving theme of “Ixcanul”: the “impossibility of an underage woman, who is Mayan and lives far from a big city, to determine her own destiny.”
30. Hong Kong (“TO THE FORE”, directed by: Dante Lam)
The sports drama caters to a team of cyclers whose team spirit gets put to the test by their competitiveness and pursuit of personal glory.
31. Hungary (“SON OF SAUL”, directed by: László Nemes)
Son of Saul is set in Auschwitz in 1944 and follows, in a claustrophobic manner, Saul Auslander, a Jewish Hungarian enlisted to assist the Nazis in their mass killing. While working in the crematoriums, Saul sees the body of a boy he believes to be his son. He starts what seems to be an impossible task: to try and rescue the body to ensure it receives a proper Jewish burial.
32. Iceland (“RAMS”, directed by: Grímur Hákonarson)
Set in a remote Icelandic farming valley where two brothers live side-by-side, but haven’t spoken in 40 years. When the entire valley comes under threat because of a lethal sheep disease, the brothers are forced to work together to save their prized flocks.
33. India (“COURT”, directed by: Chaitanya Tamhane)
It narrates the story of the trial of an ageing folk singer accused of performing an inflammatory song that may have incited a sewage worker to commit suicide in a manhole to expose the flaws of the Indian judicial system.
34. Iran (“MUHAMMAD: THE MESSENGER OF GOD”, directed by: Majid Majidi)
The film is a historical epic focused on the formative years of Islam’s last prophet and it’s the first installment in a three-part project about Muhammad’s life.
35. Iraq (“MEMORIES ON STONE”, directed by: Shawkat Amin Korki)
The movie is about the struggles of a film crew while shooting a film in postwar Kurdistan after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
36. Ireland (“VIVA”, directed by: Paddy Breathnach)
The film tells the story of Jesus, an 18-year-old Cuban working in a drag bar in Havana whose life is shaken by the return of his long-lost father, a renowned former boxer who served 15 years in prison for murder.
37. Israel (“BABA JOON”, directed by: Yuval Delshad)
Yitzhakis proud to maintain the same turkey farm that his father built when the family moved from Iran to Israel. Now that Yitzhak’s son Moti is thirteen, the expectation is that he will learn the familial trade and, in his own time, take over the business. But Moti is more interested in reconstructing old cars and trucks, a trade for which he obviously has a tremendous talent. The rebellious boy is not at all shy about letting his father know that he has no interest in turkeys, but for Yitzhak this rejection isn’t just a matter of personal interest — it’s an insult to all the values he holds most dear.
38. Italy (“DON’T BE BAD”, directed by: Claudio Caligari)
Detailing the high-partying life of two young friends, the film explores the life of excess in 1995 Ostia. In a life filled with clubs, cars, cocaine and booze, Vittorio and Cesare can’t be separated. When the call to find a greater purpose threatens to pull them and their lifestyles apart, they struggle to keep their bond strong.
39. Ivory Coast (“RUN”, directed by: Philippe Lacôte)
We follow Run who has just killed the Ivoirian Prime Minister. To accomplish this, he transforms himself into a madman, lying in wait until the precise moment when the politician emerges in public. Using his “madness” as a cloak of invisibility, Run assassinates the leader and escapes with the help of fellow dissident Assa, played by Isaach de Bankolé, the latter of whom pays the ultimate price for his subversion.
40. Japan (“100 YEN LOVE”, directed by: Masaharu Take)
The film tells the story of a directionless singleton who becomes inspired by watching a middle-aged boxer at the local gym and decides to start training in the sport.
41. Jordan (“THEEB”, directed by: Naji Abu Nowar)
Shot in the vast sandstone valley of Wadi Rum, Theeb is set in 1916 and tells the story of a young Bedouin boy struggling for survival in the midst of WWI as Ottoman forces fight to keep a grip on their crumbling empire.
42. Kazakhstan (“STRANGER”, directed by: Yermek Tursunov)
The film is the story of a young man, Ilyas, who survived the famine of the 30s, Stalinist deportation and WWII by retreating in a cave to live off the land, and finds himself battling society in a bid to retain his freedom. His secluded and nomadic life has not prepared him for the dramatic developments in his Soviet-era community, even though he tries his best to connect with the villagers.
43. Kosovo (“BABAI”, directed by: Visar Morina)
The movie tells the story of a 10-year-old boy after his father leaves to search for a better life in Germany.
44. Kyrgyzstan (“HEAVENLY NOMADIC”, directed by: Mirlan Abdykalykov)
An elderly herdsman, his wife, their daughter- in-law Shaiyr and their 7-year-old granddaughter, live together, occasionally visited by Shaiyr’s eldest son, Ulan, who studies in the city. Shaiyr’s husband has died many years before, swept away by the river, but she remains, unable to leave the bond of earth and beauty of the beguiling land. When a meteorologist Ermek moves to live nearby, Shaiyr’s measured life will never be the same again.
45. Latvia (“MODRIS”, directed by: Juris Kursietis)
Based on a true story, the movie describes a conflict between a young man and his mother, and its dramatic consequences.
46. Lebanon (“VOID”, directed by: Naji Bechara, Jad Beyrouthy, Zeina Makki, Tarek Korkomaz, Christelle Ighniades, Maria Abdel Karim, Salim Haber)
Six Lebanese women representing three generations, each one still waiting for the man in her life who was kidnapped during the Lebanese Civil War and is still missing. Their hidden emotional wounds are opened once again, one day prior to a protest in Beirut to keep their cause alive.
47. Lithuania (“THE SUMMER OF SANGAILE”, directed by: Alanté Kavaïté)
A bitter-sweet story of 17-year-old Sangaile’s desperate desire to learn to fly, balanced by a neurotic fear of flying and her unfolding relationship with artistic dress designer Auste.
48. Luxembourg (“BABY(A)LONE”, directed by: Donato Rotunno)
Adapted from Tullio Forgiarini’s novel “Amok,” Baby(A)lone” takes place in an affluent, contemporary Europe and centers on a girl and a boy who forge a unique partnership which involves violence but is meant to help them find love and hope.
49. Macedonia (“HONEY NIGHT”, directed by: Ivo Trajkov)
The film is a family and political drama focused on the night a senior government minister and his wife mark their 10th wedding anniversary. Set in Skopje in the early 1990s, the story of deputy minister Nikola and his wife Ana is an adaptation of 1970 Czech movie The Ear.
50. Malaysia (“MEN WHO SAVE THE WORLD”, directed by: Liew Seng Tat)
The film revolves around a group of comical villagers who spring into action after the owner of an abandoned house decides to restore it as a wedding present for his daughter. Through a series of unfortunate events, the house attracts what the men believe to be a spirit, and they band together in an effort to protect their village. The ensuing action includes everything from a missing camel to cross-dressing sequences.
51. Mexico (“600 MILES”, directed by: Gabriel Ripstein)
An American ATF agent gets kidnapped by a young Mexican man who works smuggling weapons across the U.S./Mexico border. The odd friendship that develops between them attempts to humanize the complicated relationship between the two countries.
52. Montenegro (“YOU CARRY ME”, directed by: Ivona Juka)
The film tells three loosely connected stories that intertwine in the workplace of three characters – namely a soap-opera set.
53. Morocco (“AIDA”, directed by: Driss Mrini)
A music teacher living in Paris battles a malignant tumor. Convinced that her days are numbered, she then decides to return to Morocco to reconnect with her roots and regain forgotten childhood memories.
54. Nepal (“TALAKJUNG VS. TULKE”, directed by: Basnet Nischal)
The film follows a village laborer who dreams of regaining his former aristocratic identity. A revolution sets off a chain of events that forces him to the city and he returns armed with the tools that will allow him to seek revenge on those who had wronged him and his family.
55. Netherlands (“THE PARADISE SUITE”, directed by: Joost van Ginkel)
The depiction of the lives of six people (young Bulgarian woman, an African woman, Serbian war criminal, a Bosnian man, a Swedish piano protege and his father) from different places and backgrounds who become inextricably linked in Amsterdam.
56. Norway (“THE WAVE”, directed by: Roar Uthaug)
The film is based on the 1934 real-life tsunami in Norway’s Tafjord, which left 40 people dead. Set at Geiranger Fjord, one of Norway’s top tourist attractions, it takes place in contemporary Norway and centers around a geologist who realizes the inferno is about to hit.
57. Pakistan (“MOOR”, directed by: Jami)
Focusing on the country’s declining railway system, the drama revolves around the story of a station master and his son after the sudden death of the station master’s wife.
58. Palestine (“THE WANTED 18”, directed by: Amer Shomali, Paul Cowan)
It tells the true story of a Palestinian committee in the town of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, that purchased a herd of cows from a friendly kibbutz owner and used them in a bid to undermine Israeli control.
59. Paraguay (“CLOUDY TIMES”, directed by: Arami Ullón)
A documentary film directed by Arami Ullon about her relationship with her ageing mother, who suffers from epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
60. Peru (“NN”, directed by: Héctor Gálvez)
A Peruvian forensic team, tasked with exhuming the remains of a group of people who were made to “disappear” some 25 years earlier, finds an unexpected additional John Doe, the only clue being small photograph of a woman found on his person. Fidel undertakes the long, complicated work of identifying the body, and must navigate the still-raw emotions of the families of the disappeared.
61. Philippines (“HENERAL LUNA”, directed by: Jerrold Tarog)
Set during the Philippine-American war, the film covers the period from the time Filipino hero General Antonio Luna was assigned to be the head of the revolutionary army as general in the Philippines to his assassination.
62. Poland (“11 MINUTES”, directed by: Jerzy Skolimowski)
The movie narrates the stories of several characters (an American film producer plays cat- and-mouse with a young actress while her husband tries frantically to reach her in the hotel room where the “audition” is taking place; a hot-dog vendor sells sausages in the street; a motorcycle courier pulls off near-miracles trying to dodge another jealous husband; a young man plans to break into a pawnshop) over the course of eleven minutes on a single day in Warsaw.
63. Portugal (“ARABIAN NIGHTS: VOLUME 2, THE DESOLATE ONE”, directed by: Miguel Gomes)
Three tales are told by the mythical narrator Scheherazade — that of an escaped murderer who ended up being a hero, a courtroom fiasco over a unique case, and a Maltese poodle shuttled among multiple owners.
64. Romania (“AFERIM!”, directed by: Radu Jude)
Set in Eastern Europe in 1835, two riders cross a barren landscape in the middle of Wallachia. They are the gendarme Costandin and his son. Together they are searching for a gypsy slave who has run away from his nobleman master and is suspected of having an affair with the noble’s wife. On their odyssey they encounter people of different nationalities and beliefs. Each harbors prejudices against the others, which have been passed down from generation to generation.
65. Russia (“SUNSTROKE”, directed by: Nikita Mikhalkov)
Based on a short story by Ivan Bunin, the first Russian author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature back in 1933, the film tells a love story, set against the backdrop of the Russian civil war of the late 1910s and early 1920s.
66. Serbia (“ENCLAVE”, directed by: Goran Radovanović)
Focused on a tiny Serb community living in a UN- protected enclave in Muslim Kosovo, Enclave looks at the legacy of ethnic cleansing and internecine conflict through the eyes of a small boy, Nenad. Every day Nenad is taken to school from his father’s farm in a KFOR armored car to study alone in a school with no other pupils. Like any other boy of his age, all Nenad wants are some friends his own age. Each day, through narrow observation slits in the military vehicle he sees two Albanian boys and a shepherd boy – who has lost his father in the war and hates Serbs.
67. Singapore (“7 LETTERS”, directed by: Royston Tan, Kelvin Tong, Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Tan Pin Pin, Boo Junfeng, K. Rajagopal)
An omnibus anthology of seven different short films tackling the identity and culture of Singapore.
68. Slovakia (“GOAT”, directed by: Ivan Ostrochovský)
Former boxing great Peter – played by Peter Baláž, part of Slovakia’s 1996 Olympic boxing team – is in a bind. His girlfriend is pregnant but they can’t afford another child and now they need to find the €400 required for an abortion. Out of options, Peter decides to make a return to the ring, but up against unscrupulous promoters and boxers half his age, it’s all he can do just to survive.
69. Slovenia (“THE TREE”, directed by: Sonja Prosenc)
The Tree is a drama centered on a family that finds its safety behind the walls of their own house. As time goes by, their shelter slowly turns into a prison, but nothing can keep the children from yearning to be free.
70. South Africa (“THE TWO OF US”, directed by: Ernest Nkosi)
Set in Alexandra, South Africa’s largest township, “Thina Sobabili” tells the story of two siblings who escape tragedy in the impoverished slum to build a life together.
71. South Korea (“THE THRONE”, directed by: Lee Joon-ik)
The film is about the brutal tale of a prince who was deemed unfit to rule and was locked in a rice chest by his father.
72. Spain (“FLOWERS”, directed by: Jon Garaño, Jose Mari Goenaga)
In the film, a woman named Ane mysteriously receives flowers regularly. After her secret admirer is unexpectedly killed in a car accident, she discovers the truth of his identity. When she begins to leave flowers at the site of his death once a week, it catches the attention of the man’s widow and mother, who discover there was more to him than they knew.
73. Sweden (“A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE”, directed by: Roy Andersson)
The last in Roy Andersson’s trilogy about quiet desperation, the film consists of a series of comic vignettes tied together through the misadventures of two traveling salesmen peddling novelty items.
74. Switzerland (“IRAQI ODYSSEY”, directed by: Samir)
Director Samir tells the story of his globalised middle-class Iraqi family, scattered between Auckland, Moscow, Paris, London and Buffalo, New York. It shows Iraqis as secular, cultured and open to the world in contrast to how they are normally portrayed in the media.
75. Taiwan (“THE ASSASSIN”, directed by: Hou Hsiao-hsien)
The movie is set in 9th-century China, where a young woman is abducted as a child from a decorated general and raised by a nun. She is trained in martial arts and returned as an exceptional assassin, after 13 years of exile, to the land of her birth, with orders to kill her betrothed husband-to-be.
76. Thailand (“HOW TO WIN AT CHECKERS (EVERY TIME)”, directed by: Josh Kim)
Adapted from a book of short stories by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, the film is set in a small Thai town and tells the coming-of-age story of an 11- year-old boy who tries to prevent his gay older brother from being drafted into the military.
77. Turkey (“SIVAS”, directed by: Kaan Müjdeci)
The story about a boy and his dog with a brutal twist set in the archaic world of rural eastern Anatolia, the movie unfolds in the violent world of dog-fighting with its pint-sized antagonist and his faithful friend Sivas, the film depicts the harsh world it lives in.
78. United Kingdom (“UNDER MILK WOOD”, directed by: Kevin Allen)
Residents of a fictional Welsh community share stories and poems of their life in their seaside town in an adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ much loved classic of modern British poetry.
79. Uruguay (“A MOONLESS NIGHT”, directed by: Germán Tejeira)
A divorced cab driver shows up with a black eye at the home of His ex-wife’s new family; he’s Been invited to dinner and I desperately wants to reconnect With His young daughter. A professional magician’s car breaks down and I ends up spending an emotionally intense night with a young, widowed toll booth worker. A singer-songwriter serving a lengthy prison sentence is released for one night to perform at a local community center. These three deeply Engaging Stories About unfold yearning for connection in parallel, one New Year’s Eve in a small town in Central Uruguay.
80. Venezuela (“GONE WITH THE RIVER”, directed by: Mario Crespo)
Dauna is subject to the rigid conventions of an ancient culture. For her, life on the Orinoco delta cultivated a strong curiosity for what lies beyond the river. Her natural talent for language and learning was always nurtured by her family and Father Julio. Tarcisio, her childhood sweetheart, also patiently supports her, but doesn’t know how to deal with social pressure in the Warao community. Dauna is sure of her love for Tarcisio but fears he will succumb to what tradition dictates, thwarting her ambition for academic development.
81. Vietnam (“JACKPOT, directed by: Dustin Nguyen)
The film is based on the real-life story of a poor, southern Vietnamese lottery ticket seller named Lanh. One day in 2011, Lanh made a casual verbal agreement to sell some tickets to a deliveryman who promised to pay and pick them up later. Lanh later learned that one of the tickets she had set aside for the driver, which he hadn’t yet paid for, had won $300,000. Instead of cashing it in herself, she tracked down the unknowing driver to inform him of his good fortune and hand over the winner.
To check out the trailers of the entries this year, head over to Nathaniel R’s The Film Experience as he compiled it there.
Talk to me about it on Twitter: @nikowl