‘Roma’ and ‘Cold War’ Lead Oscars Best Foreign Language Film Shortlist

Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 22


The Academy unveiled the shortlists for nine different categories on Monday, including Best Foreign Language Film, Original Song, Original Score, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Live-Action Short, Animated Short, Visual Effects and Makeup & Hairstyling.

In the Best Foreign Language film category, nine films advanced from the eligible 87 films submitted from as many countries. Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” from Mexico, Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Cold War” from Poland and Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum” from Lebanon were on the Oscars shortlist and are all favorites to be nominated.

Also on the list, from Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or winning film “Shoplifters” and Lee Chang-dong’s South Korean film “Burning,” which stars Steven Yeun. Rounding out the list were Colombia’s “Birds of Passage,” Denmark’s thriller “The Guilty,” Germany’s “Never Look Away,” and Kazakhstan’s “Ayka.”

“Birds of Passage” was co-directed by Ciro Guerra, whose “Embrace of the Serpent” was nominated for the foreign Oscar in 2016, while “Never Look Away” is the new film from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose “The Lives of Others” won the Oscar in that category in 2007.

Among the notable omissions were Belgium’s “Girl” and Sweden’s twisted “Border,” both of which were well-received at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Here’s the full Foreign Language list in alphabetical order:

Colombia, “Birds of Passage”
Denmark, “The Guilty”
Germany, “Never Look Away”
Japan, “Shoplifters”
Kazakhstan, “Ayka”
Lebanon, “Capernaum”
Mexico, “Roma”
Poland, “Cold War”
South Korea, “Burning”

This year’s foreign shortlist was always going to be fiercely competitive. Given the number of acclaimed films and significant filmmakers among the 87 eligible films, cutting the field down to nine was bound to leave out some substantial work no matter what choices were made.

And it did. While work from past winners Pawlikowski and Donnersmarck made the cut, Laszlo Nemes, who won for “Son of Saul” three years ago, didn’t make the shortlist. Neither did past nominee Rithy Panh (“Graves Without a Name”).  or first-time director Lukas Dhont’s “Girl” and Ali Abbasi’s “Border” also reportedly played well to Oscar voters but didn’t make the shortlist.

Unlike the other categories that utilize shortlists, the foreign-language list is the product of two different groups of voters. The general committee, which is made up of Los Angeles-based volunteers from all branches of the Academy, views all the eligible films and scores them on a scale of 6 to 10. The six films with the highest average scores advance to the shortlist.

Then the Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, which is made up of a couple dozen members particularly devoted to the category (Academy president John Bailey among them), meets with reps from PricewaterhouseCoopers, who reveal the general committee’s six choices. The committee then deliberates and add three more films to complete the shortlist, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that they often choose films that might be less friendly and more challenging than the six.

The Academy never reveals which of the shortlisted films are general committee picks and which are exec committee “saves,” though it’s not hard to make an educated guess. On this year’s list, several of the films were clear audience favorites and are likely to have made the shortlist because of votes from the general committee: “Roma,” “Cold War,” “Capernaum,” “Never Look Away” and “The Guilty” all fit in this category, and perhaps “Shoplifters” or the dark-horse entry “Ayka” as well.

“Burning” may well have been an exec committee save – and a historic one, marking the first time that a South Korean film has ever made the shortlist.

With the field narrowed to nine, members of the Academy in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and London are now invited to watch all the remaining films over a three-day weekend in January, and vote for the final five nominees. Academy members outside of the U.S. and U.K. will be permitted to watch them on the secure members’ website, and anyone who sees all the films that way can vote.

Here’s the full list of all nine categories via the Academy:

Documentary Feature

“Charm City”
“Crime + Punishment”
“Dark Money”
“The Distant Barking of Dogs”
“Free Solo”
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”
“Minding the Gap”
“Of Fathers and Sons”
“On Her Shoulders”
“The Silence of Others”
“Three Identical Strangers”
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Documentary Short Subject

Black Sheep”
“End Game”
“Los Comandos”
“My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes”
“A Night at the Garden”
“Period. End of Sentence.”
“’63 Boycott”
“Women of the Gulag”

Foreign Language Film

Colombia, “Birds of Passage”
Denmark, “The Guilty”
Germany, “Never Look Away”
Japan, “Shoplifters”
Kazakhstan, “Ayka”
Lebanon, “Capernaum”
Mexico, “Roma”
Poland, “Cold War”
South Korea, “Burning”

Makeup and Hairstyling

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“Mary Queen of Scots”
“Stan & Ollie”

Music (Original Score)

“Avengers: Infinity War”
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
“Black Panther”
“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Death of Stalin”
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
“First Man”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“A Quiet Place”
“Ready Player One”

Music (Original Song)

“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
“Treasure” from “Beautiful Boy”
“All The Stars” from “Black Panther”
“Revelation” from “Boy Erased”
“Girl In The Movies” from “Dumplin’”
“We Won’t Move” from “The Hate U Give”
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns”
“Trip A Little Light Fantastic” from “Mary Poppins Returns”
“Keep Reachin’” from “Quincy”
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG”
“A Place Called Slaughter Race” from “Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“OYAHYTT” from “Sorry to Bother You”
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born”
“Suspirium” from “Suspiria”
“The Big Unknown” from “Widows”

Animated Short Film

“Age of Sail”
“Animal Behaviour”
“Bird Karma”
“Late Afternoon”
“Lost & Found”
“One Small Step”
“Pépé le Morse”

Live Action Short Film

“May Day”

Visual Effects

“Ant-Man and the Wasp”
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Black Panther”
“Christopher Robin”
“First Man”
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“Ready Player One”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”
“Welcome to Marwen”

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Awards will be handed out on Sunday, Feb. 24.