The Academy has narrowed its list of foreign language film contenders to nine in advance of the nominations announcement for the 86th annual Academy Awards.

The biggest surprise omission has to be Saudi Arabia's "Wadjda," a film many thought might go the distance and win the Oscar. Two other films we've been predicting, Canada's "Gabrielle" and Chile's "Gloria," were left off the list as well, while other high profile contenders like Iran's "The Past," Australia's "The Rocket" and Israel's "Bethlehem" were nowhere to be found, either.

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Films from 76 countries were originally submitted for consideration in the category. The nominations are being determined in two phases. The Phase I committee screened the original 76 submissions between mid-October and Dec. 16. The group's top six choices were augmented by three additional selections voted on by the executive committee and voila, nine-film shortlist. (Any guesses as to the three that were saved?)

The five nominees will be selected by invited committees in New York and Los Angeles who, between Friday, Jan. 10 and Sunday, Jan. 12 will view three films per day and then cast their ballots.

The nominees in the category will be announced alongside all other Oscar nominees on the morning of Jan. 16, 2014.

Here is the shortlist of contenders remaining in the Best Foreign Language Film category:

Belgium, "The Broken Circle Breakdown," Felix van Groeningen, director

Bosnia and Herzegovina, "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker," Danis Tanovic, director

Cambodia, "The Missing Picture," Rithy Panh, director

Denmark, "The Hunt," Thomas Vinterberg, director

Germany, "Two Lives," Georg Maas, director

Hong Kong, "The Grandmaster," Wong Kar-wai, director

Hungary, "The Notebook," Janos Szasz, director

Italy, "The Great Beauty," Paolo Sorrentino, director

Palestine, "Omar," Hany Abu-Assad, director