'Only God Forgives,' 'The Impossible' among 46 films in running for European Film Awards
Last year, I had the great pleasure of attending the European Film Awards -- the continent's answer to the Oscars -- in Malta. As predicted by pretty much everyone, Michael Haneke's "Amour" cleaned up that night -- much as it did almost every Best Foreign Language Film prize on the awards circuit across the pond. This year, it seems a much more competitive field, as indicated by the longlist of 46 films for this year's EFAs.
Unveiled by the European Film Academy, the list is the combined result of national committee selection and outside adjudication: the 20 countries with the most EFA members each put forward one film to represent them, while a panel of experts, including festival programmers and critics, select the remain entries. From this list, the EFA's 2,900 voting members will determine the nominees, which will be announced on November 9.
Looking down the list, it's hard to identify a potential sweeper in the "Amour" vein, though plenty of worthy titles catch the eye. A film one might have assumed would be a slam-dunk for EFA glory -- France's Palme d'Or winner "Blue is the Warmest Color" -- is absent from the list, ineligible by virtue of its late domestic release date. (Same deal with the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.) It'll surely be a robust presence in next year's awards.
Meanwhile, the only two French productions on the list (not counting the country's participation in numerous international co-productions) are Alain Guiraudie's "Stranger by the Lake" and Francois Ozon's "In the House." I doubt the French selection committee would be so naively adventurous as to select Guiraudie's sexually explicit cruising-ground thriller to the Academy, so is this a sign that Ozon's deliciously black-hearted comedy of tale-telling could be the country's eventual Oscar entry? It might just be. (If you're wondering Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" is absent from the list, that's because eligibility is limited to films by European directors.)
A number of the shortlisted films are already in this year's foreign-language Oscar race, including Romania's "Child's Pose" (a sure bet to be EFA-nominated for its star Luminita Gheorghiu, at the very least), Bulgaria's "The Color of the Chameleon," Sweden's "Eat Sleep Die," Greece's "Boy Eating the Bird's Food," Serbia's "Circles" and Georgia's "In Bloom." Also in the running are Spain's "Blancanieves," Iceland's "The Deep," Israel's "Fill the Void," Norway's "Kon-Tiki" and Afghanistan's "The Patience Stone" (here by virtue of its European co-production status), all submissions for last year's Oscar.
Due to the continent-spanning remit of the awards, eligibility dates for the EFAs can be a bit elastic, meaning a number of what we might see as 2012 films are up for the awards this year -- among them such high-profile titles as Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" (sure to feature in the technical races) and Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Impossible." The latter selection gives Hollywood a degree of rooting interest in the nominations, as does the unexpected inclusion of Nicolas Winding Refn's predominantly Danish production "Only God Forgives." The latter seems something of a long shot, though I'm all for any attempt to get Ryan Gosling to attend the December 7 ceremony in Berlin.
Meanwhile, with the caveat that there's plenty here I haven't seen, the six titles I'd most like to see up for the Best European Film award are: "Berberian Sound Studio" (UK), "Betrayal" (Russia), "Child's Pose" (Romania), "A Hijacking" (Denmark), "In the House" (France) and "The Selfish Giant" (UK). Oh, go on, throw in Ireland's "What Richard Did" as a seventh nominee. I won't complain.
The full longlist is on the next page. What are you rooting for?
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
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