Three more countries have revealed their candidates for the foreign language award at next year's Oscars, just in time for Monday's deadline. I guess it's more dramatic to wait until the last minute, especially if you're a country whose film industry is "hot" right now.

That certainly describes Mexico, which has earned seven nominations over the years (but no wins), including one last year for Pan's Labyrinth and two others in the 2000s. This year, our neighbors to the south have chosen to be represented by Silent Light (Luz Silenciosa), a drama by Carlos Reygadas about a Mennonite who strays from his faith and his marriage when he meets another woman. The film won a jury prize at Cannes this year (sharing it with France's Oscar submission, Persepolis) and is currently showing at the New York Film Festival.

A fellow NYFF entry is Spain's Oscar hopeful: The Orphanage (El Orfanato), a thriller about strange events at a house that used to be, um, an orphanage. Cinematical's Scott Weinberg reviewed the film at Toronto and loved it, calling it "entirely captivating from start to finish." The director, Juan Antonio Bayona, is a first-timer -- but the film was produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone), who knows a thing or two about a) thrillers and b) creepy orphanages. Picturehouse will open the film in the U.S. on Dec. 28.

Spain has a history of 19 nominations and four wins in the foreign language category, coming in behind only France and Italy. Its last victory was in 2005 for The Sea Inside.

Finally we come to Brazil, which has four nominations and no wins but could be a contender this year with The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias), which has garnered great reviews at the festivals it's played and already has U.S. distribution. Directed by Cao Hamburger (mmm... cow hamburger...), it's about a young boy in 1970 who befriends his grandfather's Jewish neighbor, follows the World Cup, and deals with the political upheavals surrounding him.
categories Oscars, Cinematical