frogsThis bizarre juxtaposition is particularly funny because I used to have a coworker who hated soccer because it was something "only penguins should play." While I've never been able to understand how he came to that conclusion, I'm sure he'll be rooting for the cute little buggers to crush the beautiful game in this titanic struggle for the chance at an Oscar.

France's current official submission for consideration in the "foreign film" category is a picture called Merry Christmas, about the famous (if you follow soccer) holiday match played between German, British and Scottish soldiers who climbed out of their trenches for a short day of celebration in the middle of World War I. The controversy is not about the quality of the film - instead, people are grumbling that it has failed to meet the qualifying standards for submission to the Academy. Apparently rules state that a film must a) have sold 200,000 tickets before submission, and b) have played "for seven consecutive days in at least one cinema between October 1 2004 and September 30 2005." While Merry Christmas is currently showing in a "technical run" in the north of France, no tickets are actually being sold to these screenings, so the whole qualification thing is very much in question.

In the place of Merry Christmas, many French film folks are pushing LucJacquet's blockbuster animal flick, The March of the Penguins. In addition to its massive success in the US ($70 million in box office receipts so far), the film was also a big favorite at home. Merry Christmas' US distributor (Sony Classics) is extremely confident that its film will qualify, however, so things don't look so good for the birds. That said, it would seem almost impossible for March not to be nominated for Best Documentary, so it's not as if the film is likely to be snubbed.