Surveying the Best Picture field with the 2013-2014 Oscar season on the way
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Release date: Dec. 20
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Sabrina Ouazani
Pros: It’s doubtful that most voters had heard of him three years ago, but Iranian writer-director Farhadi gained a lot of fans in the Academy with his moving 2011 marital drama “A Separation” – a hugely well-received winner of the Best Foreign Language Film award that Sony Pictures Classics also smartly maneuvered to a writing nomination. The new film has some similar themes and dramatic principles, plus a setting (Paris) and stars (chiefly Oscar nominee Bejo, who won Best Actress at Cannes) that some voters might find more immediately accessible.
Cons: Upon its Cannes debut, Farhadi’s follow-up wasn’t quite as unanimously acclaimed as its predecessor – it’s arguably a soapier piece of storytelling – and lost out in the buzz stakes to another French title, Palme d’Or winner “Blue is the Warmest Color.” They’ll again be competing for attention in this race (France didn’t submit Farhadi in the foreign-language category), and while many voters will find “The Past” more appealing, critics will likely do more to support its rival.