A few weeks ago in my review of Tsotsi, I objected to both that film's probability of winning the foreign language Oscar and also to how it's nomination enshrined it as a representative of contemporary world cinema. Now Tsotsi has actually gone on to win the Best Foreign Film award, further discrediting the Academy and irredeemably tainting one of their last reputable categories - a category which had already been flawed enough by its confining rules for eligibility. Tsotsi is an example of the trend in bringing to America foreign movies that are supposedly more commercial because of their similarities to our own mainstream productions, a trend that encourages filmmakers of the world to favor conventional narratives and effects-heavy spectacle over contemplative and pronounced works in order to fit in with rather than compete with the common entertainment audiences are used to.
No time is more perfect, then, for Evil to finally arrive in the States. On the surface it seems very familiar, reminiscent of Hollywood films and not altogether inaccessible to American audiences, but it also has the depth and substance we expect from our imports. This Swedish film was also in the running for the foreign language Oscar, way back in 2004 when all five nominees were distinct and worthy and didn't appear to be the kind of obvious drama that, like many of our own movies released each December for the Academy's consideration, are more intent on winning something material than being something monumental. The Barbarian Invasions took home the prize that year, but Evil would have been a fine choice. And two years later it is still a fine choice, one recommended as an alternative to any of this year's nominees, and particularly to this year's winner.