Ajami, Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani, Israel
The Milk of Sorrow, Claudia Llosa, Peru
A Prophet, Jacques Audiard, France
The Secret in Their Eyes, Juan José Campanella, Argentina
*The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, Germany
For the first time in 12 years, two of the five nominees are from South America. For the third straight year, an Israeli film made the short list. Then there are the two Foreign Language front runners, which have been competing with each other ever since they premiered at last May's Cannes Film Festival, where The White Ribbon took first prize and A Prophet came in second. Haneke's picture is highbrow caviar; Audiard's, more a crowd pleaser. A week ago, at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards, A Prophet beat The White Ribbon for Best Film Not in the English Language. Haneke's possible advantage: his movie depicts the seeds of Nazism sown in a German village, and Oscar voters love to hate Hitler. Who doesn't? Also, The White Ribbon is a great work, if you can steel yourself to watch it.
But beware: Foreign-Language Film, like the Shorts categories, is voted on by select members, who often spring surprises. Last year they chose the little-seen Japanese film Departures over the art-house hits The Class and Waltz with Bashir. This time, they could choose the lady from Peru.
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