‘Toni Erdmann,’ ‘The Salesman,’ ‘My Life as a Zucchini’ Advance in Oscars Foreign Language Race

List is dominated by European countries, but “Neruda,” “Julieta” and “Elle” don’t make the cut

Last Updated: December 15, 2016 @ 5:47 PM

Germany’s “Toni Erdmann,” Iran’s “The Salesman,” Canada’s “It’s Only the End of the World,” Switzerland’s “My Life as a Zucchini” and Denmark’s “Land of Mine” are among the nine films that have advanced to the shortlist in the Academy’s Best Foreign Language Film race.

A record 85 films had qualified for the award.

Three of the most high-profile films in the Oscars competition — Pedro Almodovar’s “Julieta,” Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” and Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda” — did not make the cut.

The shortlist is heavy on European films, including three from Scandinavia. Sweden is represented by the touching comedy “A Man Called Ove,” while both Norway and Denmark placed films set around World War II, Norway’s “The King’s Choice” and Denmark’s “Land of Mine.”

The Cannes sensation “Toni Erdmann,” from writer-director Maren Ade, is considered a frontrunner of sorts, but “The Salesman” director Asghar Farhadi is also responsible for the Oscar-winning “A Separation.”

“My Life as a Zucchini” is a rare animated entry on the Oscars list, a stop-motion story set in a home for orphaned children.

Also making the list: Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s claustrophobic family drama “It’s Only the End of the World,” Australian filmmakers Bentley Dean and Martin Butler’s picturesque drama set on a remote Pacific island, “Tanna” and veteran Russian director Andrei Konchalovky’s “Paradise.”

Several hundred voters from all branches of the Academy (the “general committee”) viewed the eligible films over the last two months, with the six films receiving the highest scores moving on to the shortlist. Another three films were then added by an executive committee.

The Academy does not release the names of which films were chosen by the general committee and which were saved by the executive committee, but it is likely that “Land of Mine,” “The King’s Choice,” “A Man Called Ove” and probably “My Life as a Zucchini” were general-committee picks. “It’s Only the End of the World” was almost certainly an exec-committee save.

Three phase-two Oscars committees, consisting of 20 Academy members in Los Angeles and 10 each in New York and London, will now view the shortlisted films and vote for the five nominees. The sensibilities of the phase-two committee tend to be closer to the executive committee than the general committee, meaning that exec-committee saves advance more often than not.

Other notable films that did not make the shortlist include Romania’s “Sieranevada,” Egypt’s “Clash,” Italy’s “Fire at Sea,” Finland’s “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki,” South Korea’s “The Age of Shadows” and the UK’s “Under the Shadow.”

The shortlisted films:

Australia, “Tanna,” Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, directors;
Canada, “It’s Only the End of the World,” Xavier Dolan, director;
Denmark, “Land of Mine,” Martin Zandvliet, director;
Germany, “Toni Erdmann,” Maren Ade, director;
Iran, “The Salesman,” Asghar Farhadi, director;
Norway, “The King’s Choice,” Erik Poppe, director;
Russia, “Paradise,” Andrei Konchalovsky, director;
Sweden, “A Man Called Ove,” Hannes Holm, director;
Switzerland, “My Life as a Zucchini,” Claude Barras, director.

Nominations will be announced on Jan. 24, with the Oscars taking place on Feb. 26.

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