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Michael Haneke - 'Amour'
Pro: As if it wasn't clear enough already to sentient film folk, Michael Haneke's second Palme d'Or in four years sealed the rigorous Austrian formalist's status as one of the medium's premier artists. With “Amour” standing as one of his most broadly acclaimed and most accessible films to date, and with Sony Pictures Classics giving it a full-steam campaign, he's never stood a better chance at mainstream Oscar recognition, and his awestruck peers in the directors' branch are among the likeliest to make that happen.
Con: This branch used to be generous to international auteurs, but not since Fernando Meirelles in 2003 have they nominated a non-US director for a foreign-language feature – sadly, subtitles are an obstacle even with this smart branch, and some voters may feel Best Foreign Language Film is a sufficient place to recognize it. Meanwhile, Haneke's film may be accessible by his standards, but it still isn't an easy sit.
- Guy Lodge