Oscar Nominations 2013: The race for best Foreign Film

This was a very, very good day for everyone associated with “Amour,” Austria’s submission for the best foreign-language film Oscar. “Amour” was a lock for one of the five nominations in that category, but it also won four other nominations, in categories where the presence of foreign-language films is not common: best picture, best director (for Michael Haneke), best actress (for Emmanuelle Riva) and best original screenplay (for Mr. Haneke). 116604954_amour_356219b
After winning awards and lavish critical praise at every festival at which it has been shown, “Amour,” the story of an elderly Parisian couple facing their final challenge when the wife falls sick, remains the clear favorite for the foreign-language award. But are five nominations too much of a good thing? Will the presence of “Amour” in the more publicized and more prestigious categories somehow dilute its support in the foreign language race? Will Academy voters be tempted to vote for “Amour” for best picture or best director and figure that some other film should as a result be given recognition in the less-heralded foreign language competition.

Oscar-2013.1If there was a surprise in the foreign-language nominations, it was the absence of “The Intouchables,” the French submission. That movie, a bromance about a rich Parisian quadriplegic and his African caretaker, has been setting box office records all over the world, and was backed by the Weinstein brothers, who have an enviable track record in Oscar races. But the movie received reviews that were lukewarm at best, and Academy voters apparently felt that way about it too.

But the foreign language category was not a total loss for the Weinsteins: “Kon-Tiki,” a dark-horse from Norway that they are also distributing, did make the final cut. “Kon-Tiki,” an old-fashioned seafaring drama about the explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 expedition to Polynesia on a raft, was one of two Scandinavian movies to get a nomination, with “A Royal Affair,” a historical drama from Denmark, being the other.

Thursday was also a rewarding day for Canadian filmmakers, the government-supported National Film Board of Canada in particular, who for the third year in a row placed one of their movies in the final five. Curiously, all three films deal with the fallout of conflicts in what used to be called the Third World, with this year’s entry, “War Witch,” a French-language film set in Africa.

The final contender is Pablo Larrain’s “No,” from Chile, about the 1988 plebiscite that ended the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet; like Mr. Haneke’s “Amour,” it was a prizewinner at the Cannes Film Festival last Ma

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