French, Austrians up for foreign Oscar, Asians out
LOS ANGELES - Agence France-Presse
This film image released by Sony Pictures Classics shows Jean-Louis Trintignant in a scene from the Austrian film, "Amour." On Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, The New York Film Critics Circle announced their picks for best film and the top performances of the year, one of the first major awards in the drumbeat ahead of the Academy Awards. Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or-winning ?Amour,? a depiction of an aging married couple, took best foreign language film. (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Classics)French blockbuster "Les Intouchables" and Austrian Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner "Love" are frontrunners on a shortlist of nine published Friday for the best foreign language film Oscar.
The list of films still in the running -- whittled down from 71 movies in a long-list published in October -- also included films from Canada, Chile, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Romania and Switzerland.
Hong Kong movie master Johnnie To and China's Chen Kaige -- whose "Farewell my Concubine" won the top Cannes film festival prize in 1993 -- did not make the shortlist cut of foreign movies vying for an Academy Award.
The five finalists will be announced on January 10, along with nominations in all other categories for the 85th Academy Awards, the climax of Hollywood's annual prize-giving season, to be held on February 24.
"Les Intouchables" ("The Intouchables") by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano has become the film with the second biggest take at the French box office and the biggest French film ever overseas.
It tells the moving and poignant story of a wealthy quadriplegic Frenchman who hires a young black man from an urban ghetto to look after him following a horrific road crash.
Austrian filmmaker Haneke's tale of love and aging won the Cannes Film Festival's top prize in May, after the director took it home for the first time with 2009's "The White Ribbon." "Love" tells the wrenching tale of a man and his dying wife, chronicling the intimate details of Anne's physical and mental decline, as Georges fulfills a pledge to care for her at home until the end.
The full foreign language Oscar shortlist, in alphabetical order, is: Austria's "Amour" by director Michael Haneke.
Canada's "War Witch" by Kim Nguyen.
Chile's "No" by Pablo Larrain.
Denmark's "A Royal Affair" by Nikolaj Arcel.
France's "The Intouchables" by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano.
Iceland's "The Deep" by Baltasar Kormakur.
Norway's "Kon-Tiki" by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg.
Romania's "Beyond the Hills" by Cristian Mungiu.
Switzerland's "Sister" by Ursula Meier.
The shortlist will be winnowed down to the five nominees by Academy committees who will meet in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend of January 4-6, watching three films each day and then casting their ballots.
Last year's foreign language Oscar went to Iran's "A Separation," which presents a social expose of the Islamic republic behind the veneer of a taut family drama, while exploring themes of love, lies and honor.
Iranian authorities withdrew their candidate film in September due to anger at a US-made anti-Islam online film, which triggered protests across the Muslim world.