From 'The Grandmaster' to 'The Hunt,' what has the Academy chosen?
"The Broken Circle Breakdown" (Belgium)
I've had a sneaking feeling about Belgium's entry since well before I saw it, as I heard one account after another of people leaving festival screenings in floods of tears. Then I saw it, and got it: Felix van Groeningen's expert melodrama about two bluegrass-loving hipsters facing the terminal illness of their young daughter is emotionally wrenching stuff, saved from potentially maudlin territory by unusual social and cultural detailing (the soundtrack's a delight throughout) and fiercely committed performances -- particularly that of the extraordinary Veerle Baetens. Some have found it over-calculated, but I don't think the Academy will fall into that camp unless the leads prove too young and tattooed for their liking: this is a likely nominee. and could pull off an upset on sheer strength of feeling.
Notable awards: Best Actress, European Film Awards; Audience Award, Berlin Film Festival; Best Actress and Best Screenplay, Tribeca Film Festival; Best Foreign Language Film, Washington DC Film Critics' Association
International premiere: Berlin Film Festival 2013 (opened in Belgium and The Netherlands, 2012)
US release: November 1, 2013 (Tribeca Films)
Country's Oscar record: 0 wins, 6 nominations (Last nominee: "Bullhead," 2011)