This year has been bigger than ever for foreign films. Rave reviews hit newsstands for yet another winner by Pedro Almodovar in Volver, and rightfully so. Word on the street says Penelope Cruz may receive an Oscar nod all of her own. Almodovar's film isn't the only foreign film creating sparks in 2006. Guillermo del Toro'sPan's Labyrinth, and Deepa Mehta'sWater, just released to DVD are creating their own fireworks. Again, these only comprise some of the many foreign films making waves this year.

But the question that arises during award seasons is do these cinematic masterpieces (perhaps I'm over-exaggerating by saying that, but I can think of a few possible homeland contenders that reek in comparison) deserve an undiscriminating chance to compete within the broader Oscar categories nortmally dominated by American and British productions? Or should they be content with the category snugly (or, depending, on your standpoint stiflingly) created just for them?

The debate is in the air as publicists work hard with what little funding they have to bring their foreign babies before the eyes of the Academy's elite to coo at. Mind you these publicists must be clever in their ways as America simply forgets to buy tickets to their films. I've run out of fingers to count on for the number of friends that hate to read subtitles. Luckily, members of the Academy are less trite in what makes or breaks their movie going experience. Still, their abilities to make choices (to me best epitomized by Hillary Swank's Best win for 2005 -- a decision I'm still recovering from) are cause for discussion.

So what exactly can foreign filmmakers do to get their films into a broader beam of the Oscar limelight? According to Variety's article on the subject it's simply to just make a great film. I'd like to say that all a good film needs in order to get noticed is to be good, but I feel like I'm lying when I say it. There are plenty of great films, foreign and American, that the Academy probably never even saw that might be suitable for categories like Best Supportin Actor and Actress. Maybe the fact is that during Awards season a good foreign film needs a little luck, a lot of publicity, but most of all a more open mind from those who say what goes where in the Oscar categories. ...