In a surprise to no one, Mexico announced it was submitting Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” as the nation’s submission for the Foreign Language Film Oscar. This was a foregone conclusion months ago and was even more of a lock after the Netflix title earned rave reviews at the first three fall film festivals as well as took home the Golden Lion at Venice. Now the question is how much of an impact “Roma” can have in the other Academy Awards categories and who else is a player in Foreign Language Film.
READ MORE: Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” is immensely moving and a stunningly personal glimpse into the past [Review]
The critically acclaimed black and white period piece should provide the streaming service with some of its first Oscar nominations. Cuaron seems a likely Best Director and Original Screenplay nominee. The “Gravity” helmer may also earn a Cinematography nod even tough that’s not his traditional forte. Additionally, Cuaron and Adam Gough could earn editing honors, but considering how many long takes are in the picture that might be less probable than many think. Yalitza Aparicio is either a Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress contender and Anna Terrazas costumes and Eugenio Caballero’s production shot also have a shot at getting recognized. Of course, Netflix is hoping for a traditional Best Picture nod and potential win as well. Both are possible, but even Netflix knows a very strategic and intense campaign will be necessary to get the membership fully on board. And, of course, there’s the perceived lock for a win that isn’t really a lock, Foreign Language Film.
Make no mistake, “Roma” is clearly the frontrunner to win the global Oscar category, but Paweł Pawlikowski’s “Cold War” has a puncher’s chance. What helps Cuarón’s cause is that Mexico has never had a FLF winner even after eight previous nominations. Moreover, it doesn’t really hurt Pawlikowski and Poland’s case that “Ida” already won 2014, but it is significant that Mexico has not (it should be a PR point for Netflix in phase two). But if Amazon pushes “Cold War” like you hope they would, the film was second to Palm d’Or winner “Shoplifters” at Cannes, it could surprise in February. Beyond “Roma” and “Cold War,” however, a battle is already brewing for the other three slots.
Major nomination players that have already announced as official submissions include the aforementioned “Shoplifters” (Japan), “Girl” (Belgium), “Crystal Swan” (Belarus), “Birds of Passage” (Columbia), “Burning” (South Korea), “I Am Not A Witch” (United Kingdom), “Border” (Sweden) and “Sunset” (Hungary). Additionally, “Capernaum” should be Lebanon’s entry, Denys Arcand’s “The Fall of the American Empire” is expected to be Canada’s (it’s a sequel to the 2004 winner “The Barbarian Invasions”) and “The Guilty” should be Denmark’s, but all three have yet to be formally announced. One nation that could upend the nomination race is France which appears to be choosing between two very well received films: Oliver Assayas’ “Non Fiction” or Xavier Legrand’s “Custody.” You can find all the official submissions so far, here.
It should also be noted that many major critic groups may not select “Roma” as their Foreign Language Film for two reasons. The first is because it could win their top prize and, second, the perceived need to give a boost to critical acclaim favorites such as “Burning,” “Birds of Passage” or “Shoplifters.” Three films that might be in desperate need of committee save to make the shortlist which is announced in December.
Needless to say, “Roma” will be an Oscar player on numerous levels, but the Foreign Language Film race has a lot of twist and turns still ahead of it. You might want to start paying more attention to it.