Call me an optimist, but I'm always hoping for Oscar reform. I've been rather excited about recent rumblings that the Academy is finally, finally considering changing its rules regarding foreign film consideration. I saw one of the new nominees last week, The Counterfeiters, and I have to say that there were at least 20 or 30 other, better foreign language films last year. In fact, I'd have to say that The Counterfeiters is a contender for my worst list of 2008; it takes on an interesting story, but cinematically it's sheer amateur hour. The only reason it got nominated is because it takes place in a concentration camp. I also need to mention that the director, Stefan Ruzowitzky, made one of the worst films I have ever seen, All the Queen's Men (2002), starring Matt LeBlanc and Eddie Izzard as soldiers who go undercover as drag queens in WWII.
Did anyone notice that though La vie en rose earned three nominations (Best Actress, Costume, Makeup) it didn't get nominated for Foreign Language Film? Likewise, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (205 screens) -- filmed almost entirely in French -- was nominated for four awards (Best Director, Editing, Screenplay, Cinematography), but not Best Foreign Film. Why? Diving Bell doesn't count as foreign because it has an American director. Not to mention that each country is only allowed to submit one film, and France's choice, Persepolis (100 screens) was not nominated either. Instead, it was nominated for Best Animated Film! This type of thing happens all the time. In 2002, the foreign film committee rejected the Brazilian film City of God. It was released in 2003 to great critical acclaim and success, and was nominated the following year for four Oscars in other categories. In 2000, Taiwan chose to submit the hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, rather than arguably the greatest film of the past decade, Edward Yang's Yi Yi. Why couldn't both be nominated?