There is nothing more confusing or mind-numbing than the best foreign language film race. Each nation submits one contender and the five nominees are determined by a specific Academy committee. The winner is then judged only by members of the Academy who have to prove they've seen all five selections. In the past decasde this has caused great films such as "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and "Persepolis" not to get recognized and for films such as "Four Days in September," "Central Station," "Hero" and last year's "Waltz with Bashir" to lose to movies universally less regarded by critics and even moviegoers.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences still hasn't released their official list of Foreign Film entries, but because the nations tend to leak out their submissions most are already known. The good peeps at Indiewire have a pretty concise list of who's in and there are definitely some surprises. Spain didn't have much faith in Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces" with Penelope Cruz to get nominated and instead selected Fernando Trueba’s “The Dancer and the Thief." Italy picked the mostly unloved "Barria" over Cannes favorite "Vincere" and most surprising, Israel chose Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti’s “Ajami” instead of Venice Film Festival Golden Lion winner "Lebanon."